"We're Definitely Bringing Something New To The Metal Scene" - Munro
Belfast is an interesting place to go for a gig, but considering that it takes about an hour to fly there, it’s surprising that not many people choose to do so, especially since there is amazing talent across the Irish Sea. We managed to catch Jake Munro and Lyubomir Ahtapodov from one of Belfast’s upcoming bands, Munro, as they were performing at the Limelight that night, chatting about music, vlogging, and more music!
Your first gig was the Metal 2 The Masses competition - how was that experience for you guys?
JAKE: Terrifying, beyond all comparison!
LYUBOMIR: The first ever!
J: It was [Lyubomir’s] first ever gig, and my first for a while, but that was actually here [at the Limelight, Belfast]. It was terrifying; it really does shine a light on everything that is different about playing live; in a studio, it’s completely different rehearsing than it is playing live. Everything just sounds different, everything’s louder, and there are people watching you! If you fail, they get to see it!
L: It was cool ‘cause the moment we walked off stage, we were thinking about getting new ones.
J: Yeah, the second we got off stage, it was like, “We need another one”, straight away, let’s do it! So we weren’t put off by the experience, even though it was terrifying.
What is your opinion on the metal community in Belfast, and how do you think it differs from other metal communities in the UK, and rest of the world?
J: In terms of the metal scene here, it is alive. There are a lot of bands here. Some of the metal bands choose to be outside of the loop, where there are some like the bands we’re playing with today [Cursed Sun, Words That Burn] who are very friendly, very inviting, like to have people in a group of bands, play gigs together. But where I used to live in Wales, there’s no metal bands. Ironically, that’s where Bullet For My Valentine came from!
L: There’s a lot of metalheads; the scene is a little conservative, more fans of old school bands, or death metal, or heavy metal, I don’t know.
J: We’re definitely bringing something new to the scene.
L: See how people accept it!
You’re currently working on your 3rd album - how has that been for you guys?
J: Hard. I’ve been wanting to write something new for a while, and I feel as though the first album [“Time Fuels Revenge”] was like, “Holy crap, I have a studio now, so let’s see what I can do; What’s the weirdest shit I can do?”, just creepy, weird stuff. The first album was recorded, and I had the seven-string [guitar] for about a week, so I had to get to grips with that pretty fast. Second album [MonochRomantic] was a little more of what I wanted, a lot of the songs that feature on the second album were actually already written by the time the first album was done; in fact, the mix is roughly 3 years old, so I’m not entirely with how it sounds, so in terms of the songwriting, I’m pretty pleased with it. The third album, it’s really out there.
L: Yeah, [the third album] is more modern with sound and composition, and also I think it’ll be more of a band effort as opposed to a solo effort - that’s the plan anyway!
J: This is gonna be the first album I’ve written with the whole band, so we’ll see what happens.
Has the writing process changed at all since your last album?
J: The writing process has changed because now I have more equipment. Before, I had nothing; I just had built-in effects on the computer, and that was it. But now, as you see with the rig I play with now, it’s also what I use to write all that vlog music, ‘cause the amount of effects on it are amazing! Now, I’ve been tinkering with outside stuff, so like the Line 6, and pedals, different mixing packages, so it’s gonna be a completely different mix, completely different software, completely different hardware. I’m even gonna try playing with different strings, and different tunings. Also gonna be introducing an 8-string at some point; a lot of stuff’s gonna change!
Who would you say are your biggest influences for your sound?
J: Biggest influence ever, for me, when it came to writing was Periphery, Trivium, Bullet For My Valentine, stuff that I listened to back in 2005/2006, a long time ago. But for the 3rd album, the new influences are coming from Tesseract, so we’re going for more of the sort-of ethereal stuff, a lot of crazy effects.
L: I’m coming from more old-school metal background - it is black! In terms of bass playing, I’ve been checking a lot of different styles of players, like...it’s a classic rock player, Billy Sheehan, insane finger speed! I love slapping, slapping on the bass. Guys like Victor Wooten, he’s a jazz bassist, he’s immense, he’s a big influence. I’m trying to incorporate these techniques into my bass playing. At the same time, I’ve been listening to stuff like Tesseract.
You often vlog rehearsals, and different stages of the band onto platforms like YouTube; do you think that vlogging the band is a good way to get your name and sound out across the world?
J: I think nowadays, it’s the only way you can get your band out, because all music is incredibly saturated, with everyone who thinks that they’re the next best thing. If everyone thinks that they’re all amazing, then obviously the people that matter like record companies and PR people, they’re gonna hear all these kids saying “I’m great, I’m amazing”, and they’re just gonna drown it out. The thing is, vlogging is incredibly modern. Vlogging is so new, a direct blog to your listeners. So instead of having to go through a record label, who then mass-produces stuff, you just go directly through the vlog, and straight to the people. I drop music in every now and again, and our first show saw people from different parts of the world coming over to see us, so it’s really impacted it, and I think it’s probably the only way to really get out there anymore. The same with Ola Englund [guitarist, The Haunted], and Keith Merrow [guitarist, Alluvial]; two amazing guitarists who are now very heavily involved in the mainstream metal scene who started out on YouTube.
If other small bands are inspired by you guys, do you think they should also vlog the band, and work a lot with social media?
J: Yeah, absolutely. I think the most important thing is visual, because that’s what people respond to now. It used to be how good you sound; that’s very important still, should be a staple of any band, but whenever you sound great, don’t just leave it there. The thing you need to focus on as much, if not more, are videos, and Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, getting out there, being responsive, and just making a visual thing that people can see. Whenever you scroll through Facebook, you don’t stop and play the video; that’s why videos on Facebook now have subtitles. So you need to make sure that there’s something flashy going on, or pictures, or a lot of stuff that you’re doing that people would be interested in, especially more modern stuff, like vlogging.
We have a few questions from fans on Twitter: @JimOwz2000 asks, How will the third album differ from the last one back in October 2016?
J: We’re gonna take the time signatures, and gonna fuck them up! So we’re gonna take the 4/4, and just go nuts on it, we’re gonna go Stephen Hawking on it, just put Pi in there, 3.14/4! So, we’re just gonna play with new time signatures, brand new effects like [Lyubomir] has a new bass head, gonna play with stuff.
L: Yeah, new bass amp with a lot of cool effects that I can implement. We just want to make it eclectic.
J: Eclectic is the world, yeah. That’s probably gonna be the name of the album.
@ValerianRequiem asks, What was the defining moment in each of your lives that made you decide to create music?
J: For me, it was my 11th birthday, and I was into AC/DC, and I had this one live videotape of a show back in 1972, and it was with Bon Scott with AC/DC; I used to just watch this videotape on loop all day, and I knew all the words, all the songs, all the orders - it’s the one where Angus Young breaks a string halfway through, and he goes backstage, comes back out with a white Gibson SG; I was like “Fuck! I wanna play that! That shit looks so easy!”. I was then like “Dad, can I have a guitar?”, and he says “You can have an acoustic, then after a year you can have an electric guitar.”. Outwardly, I was like “Great”, but in my head I was like “Fuck you Dad!”. Sure enough, on my 11th birthday, I walk into a family-friend’s house, where everyone is for my birthday, and he’s a guitarist too, this other guy, my dad’s old boss. He’s just there, sitting playing this fucking sweet looking red electric guitar, and he’s just shredding away on it, and I’m like “Ah, is that a new guitar”, and he just then handed it over to me! He’s like “That’s your guitar!” - I wish I had a video recorder back then, ‘cause that would be my profile photo; my face when I realised I have my first ever guitar! Sat there for 3 months, didn’t touch it, and after 3 months, had a chord book, just sat down there, and learned all the chords, learnt some AC/DC, System Of A Down, Trivium, and then I was songwriting within the first 2 years.
L: For me, the main turning point was 5th grade, maybe before that, but before the age of 10, my dad introduced me to Black Sabbath; he introduced me to a lot of stuff from the 70’s, which was his time. But the one that I immediately went for was Sabbath’s riffs, and from then on, I’ve never looked back, I’ve always listened to metal, and I’ve always thought “What would be the perfect album for me? Perfect songs?”, and so forth. It took a while to get a guitar, and to get playing. Later on to get a bass, but that’s when it started, with old Sabbath.
@l_gothgirl asks, How did you meet each other?
J: There’s a website called fastfude.org, it’s a Northern Irish site where people can meet and be like “I need this, I need that”, and I went through a few musicians who all thought “Ah, that would be great”, and then hear the album and be like “I can’t fucking play that! This is Belfast, no one can play this!”. And then that’s where I met Gaz [Wilson, drummer], who incidentally couldn’t play it, but he stuck with it, and he learned how to play the songs, and now he’s incredible playing it. And I actually met [Lyubomir] through Gaz.
L: Yeah, because we work in the same company.
Finally, what are your plans for the future? Any tours we can look forward to?
J: That’s a good question - we have been seriously talking about a tour for a while now. We’ve just been trying to decide where to go, because [Lyubomir’s] moving to Norway soon, so we’re thinking of either doing a Scandinavian tour with a band called The Parity Complex, which is this incredible Scandinavian band, they sound really really awesome, hit over 1000 plays on Spotify. If we don’t do Scandinavia first, then what we’re thinking of doing is doing a UK tour, so Northern Ireland, over to mainland, so Scotland, and then all the way down to London, playing all the shows there, and then to Dublin, and then all the way back up again. That’s pretty much what we have on the horizon in terms of touring. In terms of gigs, just gonna play as many as we can. If anyone says “We’ve got a gig”, put us on. “Where do you want to be? Headliner?” Just anywhere! Make sure we’re on it! We just want to gig as much as possible so when we do hit the tour, we don’t sound like amateurs.
Munro are currently working on their 3rd album.