Monster Truck on Europe, heavy metal, and the HMAs

CBC Hamilton reached bassist and vocalist Jon Harvey on the eve of the Hamilton Music Awards to talk about the band’s two HMA nominations, their current European tour and the state of heavy metal in Germany.
Monster Truck is in the midst of a European tour before heading back to Canada later this month. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

It might be difficult for Monster Truck to pick up a Hamilton Music Award this weekend should the band win.

Mostly because there’s about 6,815 kilometres between them and Mohawk College’s McIntyre Theatre.

“It’s going to be hard to get back in time,” laughed bassist and vocalist Jon Harvey, from the band’s van just outside Salzburg, Austria.

CBC Hamilton reached Harvey on the eve of the HMAs to talk about the band’s two award nominations, their current European tour and the state of heavy metal in Germany.

Q: What does it mean to get recognized at home?

A: “It’s awesome. Getting recognized by your city is always cool. It’s great that they’re giving us a chance, even though we’re probably not going to be there. Typically how awards shows go is the bands that show up get the award – so we’ll see how it goes. [Laughs]

“It’s pretty awesome, man. My parents get real excited about it, and we’re always thankful that Hamilton embraces us as one of their own and pumps us up.”

What has the response for the new record been like since you’ve been out on the road?

"It’s been really good. Europe seems to like it quite a bit. We’ve been out here for … it’s our 22nd show today. It’s been really good. The U.S. is starting to listen a little bit, and Canada has always been great. They’re the only reason that we’re over here, so – it’s pretty awesome to actually experience your record do pretty well, because I’ve never sold more than 500 records of any album I’ve ever done. This one’s doing pretty good, so we’ve gotta be happy about that.”

“It’s been a good year, lets put it that way.”

You guys have been playing music in Hamilton for over a decade — how have you seen the scene change in that time?

“I think there’s a lot more attention put on the Hamilton scene because a lot of bands have gotten popularity in Canada and elsewhere. I think it’s really important that the scene keeps growing.

“It’s getting good — the changes are obvious. You’ve got like us, and the Arkells and Junior Boys and The Reason and a whole bunch of other people doing good things — and it’s incredible to have that much talent coming out of a small city with no real venue.

Is there something about a small city that fosters a closer community and more creativity?

“Well, in Toronto there’s just too much. There are so many bands, and so many people that it’s confusing. There could be 20 shows in a night. It’s hard to nurture a scene when the crowd’s split out over 10 different events. In Hamilton, there’s typically one or two things going on in a night, so it’s easier to have a sense of community because people see each other more often.”

How does touring in Europe compare to playing in Canada?

“It’s a lot less driving. [Laughs] And people are really cool — people out here are really into rock. It’s a stark difference from America. People out here still listen to the same bands they listened to when they were 16 or 17 years old and still love them with the same passion.

"It’s way more interesting — especially touring with a band like Vista Chino. The two guys were in Kyuss back in the day and they play a lot of Kyuss songs, and like half the people I talk to at shows are saying, ‘Yeah, I remember seeing those guys back in ’94. So when they like you, they really like you, know what I mean?

“In Canada and in the States, people are a little more undetermined on what they really really like. Of course, there are people who would jump off a building for Pearl Jam, but there’s not really any real attachment to bands that come and go.

“They’re a little but more serious about their rock and roll — put it that way.”

Europe seems to have an attachment to rock and to heavy music, especially if you look at something like the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany.

“Germany is awesome for metal – it’s like the metal haven of the world. Tons of people listen to heavy music, shows are great. But it’s funny, because those same people who listen to heavy music also listen to other styles of music, too. It’s not as particular, you know?

“People don’t have to adhere to a certain set of rules when they pick what bands they like as opposed to North America. Here people tend to be like ‘No, I’m a punk, or ‘I’m a metalhead’ or ‘I’m really into dance music.’

“But everyone over here is just like ‘Yeah, I like music. What have you got?’ And that makes it way better.”

That must be refreshing as a musician.

“Oh it’s awesome, man. We’ve gotten such a cool reception for a first time over here – it’s been pretty insane. We’ve been really lucky to be on the tour that we’re on, and people are just into it.

“When we got here, people already knew who we were. We played in Salzburg Austria last night and there were two dudes in the front row singing all the songs. And I’m like…okay – we’ve never been here before but you know all our tunes? That’s cool.

“It’s definitely an awesome, different experience.

So when do you guys plan to be back in Canada?

“We fly into Toronto on the 24th and then we leave for a Canadian headlining tour on the second.”

And is there a Hamilton date coming up?

“Yup. December 22nd we’re playing the Hamilton Place Theatre. That theatre is just incredible sounding — we played there with Deep Purple and it just blew my mind.

“Plus, it’s nice for my parents to get to come to a show and sit down. [Laughs] It’s awesome to feel like your parents are really proud of you — I don’t think I gave them a reason to be before. [Laughs].

“It’s cool to be able to say ‘Hey, I did something.’ "


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