Monument – Aces HighMonday, 11th June 2018
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel about the different eras of Iron Maiden between Paul Di’anno, Bruce Dickinson, and the Blaze Bayley eras?
Ellis: First of all, I think Blaze is an incredible singer. I think he just had the misfortune of replacing Bruce Dickinson, that’s all there is to it. He’s an amazing singer, but not for Maiden. He’s not a tenor singer. I wouldn’t even say it was a bad choice, because they knew Blaze and had toured with him in his other band. In a situation like this, when you are going on the road for months on end, you may not care as much if he can sing all the high notes as much as you want someone you can get along with. And he’s cool to be around – that can be much more important. And fans sometimes don’t understand those things, unless you are a musician in a band. He did a great job, but Bruce is Iron Maiden.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you define success for Monument? What do you see as the next steps to take for Monument to reach another level of sustained popularity or impact in your career?
Ellis: I think we are at crucial point where more and more people are becoming aware that we exist, and are becoming aware of what we are all about. It’s a case of going on the road, doing the best shows that we can, and put on the best performances we can do – come up with the best songs that we can and build things one step at a time. I think fans are desperate for a band like Monument and have been for years, and no one has dared to give it to them. At the same time, it’s a lot of pressure and a big responsibility to be viewed in the manner that we are being viewed by fans. With that said, we feel so strongly about what we do that it’s just a matter of keep on doing what we are doing, and the rest will just happen naturally.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider three of the ultimate metal albums of all-time personally, and what have been some of your favorite concert memories that you have taken in as a concert fan?
Ellis: Painkiller – Judas Priest, Iron Maiden – Powerslave. I would say Manowar- Kings of Metal, there are personal reasons. I just love Manowar. These three to me are the top. Favorite concerts – too many. The first time I watched Iron Maiden as a teenager, that was killer. Who else, Dio, I remember seeing him at the Astoria in London before it closed down – 2005 or something like that. Again, just seeing Ronnie James Dio for the first time, it was like a religious experience. What a voice, you know. There are too many. Judas Priest was amazing as well. I’d say those three were my all-time favorites.
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us about your work as the owner of Leather Rebels, which is responsible for making championship belts for organizations like the WWE, Nike, and the Lip Sync Battle UK among others?
Ellis: Sure. My father was a wrestler, so I grew up in the business. I’ve always had a fascination with title belts since I can remember. I was much more into the belts than anything else. How things started for me with Leather Rebels is around 2013, I was just at the point that I was so fed up with the music business and disillusioned with everything. It doesn’t matter how good you are, unless you have some backing, it doesn’t matter. I wanted to do something as a hobby that had absolutely nothing to do with music. I grew up in the business, let me try to see if I could put a belt together. And it was the most natural thing I’ve ever done since music, it was shocking. I still have my first leather strap, and it looks similar to what I do now.
I started a little Facebook page and started making them, and people started buying them. One thing led to the other, and suddenly I had major companies getting in touch with me for belts. It started as a hobby, really – it’s quite incredible to think how far it’s progressed.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you believe there are certain traits you’ve been able to learn through running your own business that also apply to elevating your music career and output for Monument?
Ellis: I’d say the opposite – I’ve learned things throughout the years trying to get Monument to a certain level that I’ve applied to Leather Rebels that have made Leather Rebels a success.
Dead Rhetoric: Now concerning your relationship with the WWE- what impresses you the most about their sustained ability to be the leaders in professional wrestling entertainment?
Ellis: Branding. Vince is a genius. What I mean by that is he doesn’t know everything, but he certainly does know who the best guy is to have in every single position. If you work for the WWE, you are the best at what you do in that job for the world. Whether it’s belts, graphic design, the guy that makes the rings, the guy that does the graphics for the television, the music. That’s down to Vince’s vision. That’s had such an impact on me, following my vision. It doesn’t matter if certain people don’t like it, or say something bad- who cares. Stick to your vision- if you have the right vision, and you pursue it relentlessly, it will happen. That’s my philosophy, and I got that from Vince.
And you wouldn’t believe the level of micromanagement that goes on that Vince is involved with – even when it comes to the belts. And branding, the way he does branding, is second to none. Think about it- I know many millionaires and I do business with many millionaires, but he’s the only guy I work for that started as a millionaire and has become a billionaire. That doesn’t happen by accident.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the agenda for Monument going into the next twelve months as far as promotion, touring, festivals, videos, special items to expect?
Ellis: We are doing seven to eight festivals in Europe – some of the bigger ones. After that we are looking to go out on the road and promote the album. Both as headliners and supporting bigger, more established acts. After that, we have some things in the works. We are discussing the possibility of doing some time of live album, but that still needs to be finalized. I’ve already started writing material for the next album – I’m already half way through writing the next album, believe it or not. I don’t waste time, so you will be seeing a lot more of us over the next couple of years.
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