Imonolith – Doing What They LoveMonday, 18th February 2019
It’s always exciting to catch a band at the beginning and watch them build from the ground up. Of course, it’s even more exciting when that band contains a host of well-known musicians who have been a part of bands like Devin Townsend Project, Strapping Young Lad, Fear Factory, and Threat Signal. This is the ground floor of Imonolith, a new modern metal band that has all of the potential to launch themselves into the stratosphere in a moment’s notice. In talking with drummer Ryan Van Poederooyen about the fresh band, it’s clear he’s thoroughly passionate about what Imonolith can offer, and is willing to put the legwork in to make it happen. Check out his thoughts on getting fans involved, what he feels the band has to offer, and a look ahead.
Dead Rhetoric: One thing I noticed right off the bat – how important is fan feedback? You asked fans vote on the logo choices and things like that through social media.
Ryan ‘RVP’ Van Poederooyen: We want to involve the people who support us. I hate the word fans, it drives me nuts. It makes them seem like they are lower than you or something, which they aren’t. To be honest, without the people who support us, we simply can’t do this. I couldn’t do what I did with Devin Townsend Project if we didn’t have all of those fans backing us up.
So our approach was to involve them as much as possible. Let’s have them vote on a logo, or which song to release as a demo first. They voted on that, and felt involved from the get-go. I think it’s extremely important. I really like it when I see other bands doing that. I don’t think it’s done enough to be honest – because we are nothing without them. So let’s involve them as much as possible. That’s our take on it.
Dead Rhetoric: I think you get a lot more buy-in quickly, as people are more likely to invest in a band when they feel like they are a part of it.
RVP: Exactly! Hopefully in a few years down the road, when we are playing places and selling them out all across the world [laughs], they will remember and say, “I had a hand in that.” It’s a cool thing for someone who supports a band that they love.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you think Imonolith has to offer the metal community in terms of the band itself or your sound?
RVP: The thing about Imonolith is absolute honesty. What we are going to offer is music that we truly love. We aren’t trying to fit into a certain genre – we aren’t trying to be prog for example. Devin Townsend Project was a prog band. We are putting out music that we truly believe in. I believe in the phrase ‘do what you love and love what you do.’ We are applying that phrase to this band. We aren’t going to be a one-trick pony.
A band that I have admired for a long time is Faith No More. Look at how many types of music that they include in their songwriting. They bounce around. We aren’t as diverse as them but we definitely don’t stick to metal. We definitely aren’t doing prog. There’s rock and hard rock stuff; there’s definitely some songs with 200bmp kick drums and blast beats and others like “Hollow” that are radio songs. We love it, just like everything else we do. I think our offering is just honesty – it’s something that we love and it’s going to be diverse in its own realm.
Dead Rhetoric: As you were mentioning with Devin Townsend, a lot of you are coming from larger band backgrounds. Do you feel any of the pressure of expectations given the make-up of the group?
RVP: I think being in the music industry, period, puts high expectations on any band. That can have a negative impact on you getting out of the gate. We don’t necessarily look at that. We know we are coming from many backgrounds with bands that are pretty well known. But the bottom line, is that it comes back to just doing what you love and doing the music that we enjoy. As far as the people who have reacted so far, it’s been amazing. There’s always going to be negative and positive results, but the positive far outweighs the negative stuff.
If there was anything negative said about expectations based on what we have already done, it’s because they expected us to continue, or have influence from Devin Townsend Project, Strapping Young Lad, Fear Factory, or Threat Signal. We aren’t going to do that. Devin Townsend does a phenomenal job at being Devin Townsend. Why the hell would we want to write like Fear Factory or Strapping Young Lad? They are out there; they have done it. We want to be Imonolith. We are going to write what Imonolith writes. We get it – maybe not everyone from our past bands will dig it, but we have to be honest moving forward.
Dead Rhetoric: In that regard, I think it was probably a wise choice to lead with a track like “Hollow” with the world and social media being what it is. That way the catchier side of the band has already been established, instead of leading heavy and then people getting upset by a ‘change.’
RVP: There’s definitely that side to our music. We have more than one of those songs and we are proud of every one of them. At the same time, we released a demo version of “The Reign,” which has blastbeats and 200bpm kicks. It’s full on heavy for the whole song. But yeah, when you are releasing singles, you are trying to get it into the masses – you are looking for radio play or getting on playlists and things like that. We want to make sure that we release the right singles for that format. Again, we definitely made it known that [“Hollow”] was catchier, but we do other things as well.
Dead Rhetoric: What makes a good song – what are the most important ingredients, regardless of whether it’s catchy or heavy? What makes a song work?
RVP: What makes a great song is that you play for the song. There are so many metal bands that go for the fastest blastbeat or drum fills, or shredding guitar and screaming throughout the whole song. There’s nothing wrong with that stuff, but our motto for Imonolith is to write for the song. There was a point in writing “Hollow” when I went to the studio to record my drum tracks. The drums are pretty easy on that, there’s nothing difficult. At one point, the producer asked if I could actually make a part more intricate. He understood what we were doing, but wanted us to hit them a little harder in that section. That’s great – we are still playing for the song, just making it a little more intense and cool.
For any upcoming bands out there – you know what attracts people the most? Great songs. Whether it’s death metal, pop, rock – it doesn’t matter. Every genre has its great songs. That’s what we focus on. We want all the parts to contribute to a great song.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you have any sort of timeline for the release of an EP or full-length?
RVP: “Hollow” is the first single, and we will be releasing a second one soon. But we want “Hollow” to do its thing for the next couple months. There’s no date as of yet, but we are planning on releasing a full-length album in summer 2019. People should stay posted for the exact date. We are going into the studio to finish recording the record on March 6. That’s when I will be going in to finish my drum tracks. We should have the album done and mixed/mastered by the end of April at the latest I hope. From there, we will decide when the album will be released.
Dead Rhetoric: It’s good that you’ve got something already in the works and hook them in while you have the momentum rolling.
RVP: That’s exactly it. Release “Hollow” and let people know what we are doing. There will be some other stuff on YouTube showing various sides of what we are doing. But yeah, the band has been together for a year and we needed to get something out there.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel are the more immediate goals of Imonolith that you’d like to achieve, other than releasing the album?
RVP: That’s an easy one – tour the world! We want to get out there and we want to tour like maniacs. We are made for that. All of us love it and we all miss it because we haven’t done it in a year now. I think the last member to do any touring was Jon [Howard] and he did a tour with Threat Signal last March. That’s our main goal, to get the album out and try to tour as many places as possible. That’s also something we are working on now. We have three shows booked in Canada: February 23rd in Vancouver, March 1st in Calgary, and March 2nd in Edmonton. Those are just going to be some warmup shows to get out there and play, then we head back into the studio. We are working hard right now to solidify some tours and some dates.
Dead Rhetoric: Are those dates in there to capitalize on some live energy before the studio?
RVP: That was our thought going into it. Have some shows and get pumped up – we will have our music down for the recording. I think it will bleed into the recording and add some excitement to it. Just get in there and nail it. We are really excited about everything – releasing the record and going out on tour.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of the challenges of starting a band from scratch, even when it is full of known musicians?
RVP: It’s a new group of people. Even though you know each other and have been friends for years, you still have to acclimate to personalities. You have to understand where they are coming from, how they play, and how they write. All of those things come in play and you work through them. That can be a challenge in any band when you start. For Brian [“Beav” Waddell] and I, that was seamless for us because he was playing bass in the Devin Townsend Project. But playing with Byron [Stroud], Kai [Huppunen], and Jon – that was new.
But the thing is, there wasn’t much of a hiccup at all. It was really easy. We are all really happy with how the music is going and laughing at rehearsals. It’s an awesome situation and it’s a band! I loved my time in Devin Townsend Project and I’m very grateful for the 15-16 years I played with Devin. But in the end, I was a hired gun. It’s nice to be in an actual band, and to have that comradery. It’s a really good situation.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of your greatest moments looking in your musical career?
RVP: There’s a lot! The top ones would probably be playing Royal Albert Hall, which was absolutely amazing. That’s such an iconic gig. Red Rock Amphitheater in Colorado – I’ve seen so many live DVDs from that place and playing there was incredible. We also got to play with Gojira and Opeth at that show. Then there are all those festivals – we played Wacken, Summer Breeze. It’s amazing. I love playing live so much. The bottom line is when it comes down to it, those shows are the highlight reel shows for me – especially Royal Albert Hall and Red Rocks. I’ve played places that are bigger with Devin, but those two venues are the most iconic, so they stick out the most.
Dead Rhetoric: Just to cover the rest of the bases, what’s next for the band besides the mini-tour and recording?
RVP: Getting out a second single, releasing the album in the summer, and setting up as many tours as we can. This is a full-time band. We want to do that as much as we possibly can. We don’t want to treat this as a side project because it is not one. We are putting a lot of effort and time into this, so we are treating it as we treated things in Devin Townsend Project. We want to do the exact same thing. We want to tour everywhere, put out a few albums, and build a great following. For this year, it’s pretty plain and simple. For this year, we have “Hollow” out and it’s doing great. We want to release a second single and release the album, then do a ton of touring. Tour for two years if we can. Let’s just get it out there and make an impact on this first record. That’s our goal and our two year plan, so to say.