Thanks for accessing this interview. I know that the initiative to form the band was in charge of its vocalist. Tell me, how did these events happen?
Dan Baune: Yes, so there was actually an enterily different line-up that did the first EP “Rock The Night” back in late 2011/early 2012. I myself joined in late 2012, when we started working on the debut album “Renegades”. Literally a week after I joined I remember going into the studio and recording a cover version of Deep Purple’s “Black Night” for Ian Paice’s Sunflower Jam cancer charity, in honor of Jon Lord who had just passed away recently. Bob Katsionis from Firewind contributed the keyboard solo for this, which was fantastic. So I wasn’t there in the very first inception of the band, but Peter, myself and the rest of the gang definitely shared a vision in those early days, where there was very little classic tenor/falsetto singing in heavy metal, especially in Britain, and we just wanted to bring that melodic sound back, but with a modern twist.
Who are your current members?
Dan Baune: Currently we are: Peter Ellis on vocals, myself and Lewis Stephens on lead guitars, Giavanni Dürst on drums and Daniel Bate on bass guitar. Ocasionally Nik Sampson (guitarist at Devilment, Prolapse A.D.) and Chris Dale (bassist at Sack Trick, formerly of Tank and Bruce Dickinson) help us out on tour when one of us is indisposed.
What material do you have edited?
Dan Baune: we have 3 studio albums out now, and a live album is coming very soo
Let’s talk about his first album “RENEGADES”, a fresh album, with excellent riff and a lot of melody, something I haven’t heard in more current bands for some time to express it in some way. When does the composition of this album begin and how was its compositional process?
Dan Baune: Thank you for the kind words! Yes, that was exactly what we were aiming for, lots and lots of melody, but an agressive modern vibe overall. First albums are always fun to do, because sometimes some of the songs are in people’s minds for years and finally come to fruition you know. Some of the songs on this album were already on the demo EP, so we just re-recorded them in a better fashion. For the other songs, Peter and I got together to do some pre-production demos. He generally has a rough idea of the song as a whole and then we do the fine edits and arrangements together, before taking it in to the band to work out drums and bass and so on. Most songs start with some chords and a strong guitar or vocal melody, and we build it from there.
What is the theme of the lyrics on this album?
Dan Baune: There are many lyrical themes on this album! We always like doing a few songs about historical or mythical subjects. Crusaders is a historic song for example, Fatal Attack is about Jack The Ripper and Omega has more of a spiritual undertone. And then we like doing things that are a bit lighter and more fun too, like Runaway which is a sort of medieval star-crossed lover song, and Renegades, which is more angsty and describes how we feel in the metal community, our generation especially. On the whole, I would say the album is about brotherhood. In this band, we’re a family, and at the time we were young and hungry for success, we would have walked through flames for each other you know.
In this album they have the participation of a member of Judas Priest. Who is he and how does his participation come to the album?
Dan Baune: Yes, this was Ritchie Faulkner (the Falcon!!!). He came in and played a fantastic solo on our song “Rock The Night” around the time that he joined Judas Priest, replacing K.K. Downing who had just left the band. We know him from the scene in London, there’s this place called The Monarch in Camden where he used to play regularly. It’s a sort of scene hang-out where a lot of musicians mingle, and there’s a metal jam most every Sunday. I think Peter and Ritchie had been friends for many years before I met him.
In 2016 they publish their second studio album after having had a great impact with their debut album. How was working on your second album after revolutionizing the metal scene with your debut album?
Dan Baune: The second album is always a lot harder, because you have your whole life to write the first album, and suddenly you only have a year or so to write number 2. Plus there are expectations now, so it’s a lot of combined pressures! But we were very fortunate, our debut album got us a great record deal with Rock Of Angels Records in Greece, who have been amazingly supportive ever since, and we couldn’t be happier. With their support, we were able to go to a fantastic producer called Scott Atkins, who has worked closely with Andy Sneap and has a similar style of production. That was exactly the sound we were chasing at the time, so it was a perfect fit. If memory serves me right, the writing actually happened fairly quickly. We were sure of what we were doing and were a well oiled machine by then, and very motivated. The recording process was more stressful though, as it was the first time some of us had worked with a top producer such as Scott. In that environment, mistakes aren’t tolerated you know, every performance is constantly under the microscope and everything is improved as much as possible, which takes time, but is ultimately very much worth the effort! For me, A Bridge Too Far from this album is still my favourite Monument song to this day.
How long did it take you to compose “Hair Of The Dog” and how was your method of composition?
Dan Baune: I would say it took about a year. We like to work you know, so as soon as “Renegades” was released, we started writing and recording demos again, whenever there’s time. Often, Peter, Lewis and myself would just jam with our guitars in hotel rooms when we were on tour, and then when we got back home, Peter and I would meet up, because we both lived in London, and record demos at my home studio. As I was involved from the beginning of the process this time around, I had a bit more creative input too, which was fun for me and enriches the material overall. And when we had 12 to 15 good songs down like this, we got together as the entire band to play the material in a rehearsal room to see which are the best songs, and then we narrowed it down to 10.
How do they become part of your Greek record?
Dan Baune: So, I briefly mentioned our friendship with Bob Katsionis earlier on. Now, Bob’s band Outloud came to the UK for a tour in 2015, so we went on tour together to support them. Bob is a fantastic human being, a very humble guy, and he immediately thought to introduce us to the head of their record company, Rock Of Angels Records (ROAR). The head of this company, Akis, is a great guy and we hit it off immediately. He shared our vision and was also a huge NWOBHM fan like us, so it was a perfect match!
Why do you decide to baptize the band with the name Monument?
Dan Baune: The name Monument encaplulates to aspects for us. Number one, Monument is a part of the city of London. The urban jungle of this great city has always massively shaped us creatively, our ambitions and our outlook on life, and I believe that this is very much reflected in our music. Secondly, it signifies what the band is. It’s a Monument to all the great British bands that came before us, it honors our predecessors and brings that sound into the new millenium, with a solid foundation that cannot be moved. We are here to stay!!
United Kingdom has been the mother of great bands like Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, etc. What new exponents does the current English scene offer, when I refer to new ones, do I focus on the last 10 years to the present?
Dan Baune: Sadly, the scene in the UK has changed in recent years and there are very few emerging bands that have a classic or melodic sound. The UK scene very much leans towards the US phenomenon of Metalcore and Deathcore these days. But there are a few lights in the black of course, bands such as Toledo Steel and Primitai, and although they are not new, bands like Diamond Head and Saxon are still releasing amazing records to this day! Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Germany in particular are places where the more traditional Heavy Metal sound is much more alive, so we love going there to play, and there are many emerging bands.
I know you have participated in major European festivals. How is a Monument show and what is the reaction of the audience in their concerts?
Dan Baune: Yes, we’ve been very fortunate to play on some very big stages, last year we even got to share the stage with Judas Priest (Metal Day, Slovenia) and Iron Maiden (Rockwave, Greece), which was an amazing experience! The crowd loves it, I think they find us refreshing. So many bands these days come and play this super technical stuff, but don’t move an inch on stage, or they take it much too seriously, never smiling you know. We like to have fun on stage, to spread positivity and give the audience the opportunity to escape and forget about their lives for an hour. We love putting on a bombastic show with pyrotechnics and theatrics. Because, let’s face it, when the last of the giants retire… Lemmy and Dio are dead, Black Sabbath have retired, Kiss and Slayer are on their last tour, who is left… Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica perhaps?… When these guys also retire, who will fill their slot headlining the major festivals? Who will headline Rock In Rio? Avenged Sevenfold perhaps. Or Nightwish. But most Metal bands these days don’t put on an epic show that could match such an endeavour. We want to be that band!
In 2018 his third album comes to light, and now I realize that they publish a disc every two years, at least on these three albums so far. What can you tell me about this new record work?
Dan Baune: “Hellhound” was a very different experience than the previous two albums. We were contemplating to go back to Scott Atkins, to do a record with the same sound as “Hair Of The Dog”, but we decided we wanted to evolve some more. “Hellhound” is a very different record. On the one hand, we listened to the fans and chose songs that we thought they would enjoy. For example, the first two albums both had ballads, and as much as I love writing them, we rarely play them live and the fans never mentioned them as their favourite songs. So, we chose not to do a ballad on this album. Also, we had an instrumental on the first album, not on the second. The fans said they missed an instrumental, so, we put an instrumental on this album! Now, in terms of production and sound, we were very proud of what we did with “Hair Of The Dog”, but we felt a little bit like we were hiding behind all that big production. We wanted to make a record that was more real, more live and more down to earth, unpredictable and dangerous, not too perfect. So that’s what we did, and we found the perfect producer for the job. Tony Newton had just mixed the latest Iron Maiden live release (The Book Of Souls – Live Chapter) and was looking to transition into doing more studio recordings. He became available and we jumped at the opportunity to work with him, and he did a stellar job!
Your vocalist has a privileged vocal record. How is it to work with him?
Dan Baune: I love working with Peter, he is like me, very straight forward. He says what he means and he means what he says. There is no ego when we work together, only the results matter, and we both want the best for the song and the band, always!
What are you trying to capture with your lyrics on this new album?
Lyrically, we like to keep the mixture I was mentioning before. There are some historic epic tales, like William Kidd and Attila, some more urban legends like Death Avenue and Night Rider, and there are some songs for the fans that celebrate our Heavy Metal culture and lifestyle, like Creatures Of The Night and Wheels Of Steel (a motorcycle reference).
The sound of your records is impeccable, as are your graphic designs. Who are the people in charge of all this?
In terms of the sound, as I explained throughout our conversation, we like to change things up in terms of production to keep things interesting for ourselves, as well as the fans. Generally speaking, Peter is the main songwriter and has the long term vision and sees the big picture. I am more of a details guy, and I am in charge of engineering a lot of the material for our records (recording, editing, arranging etc.). But it really comes down to the performances at the end of the day, and all of the band members are amazing players and have their own distinct styles, the sum of which makes Monument what it is sonically! In terms of the graphics, again, Peter is generally in charge of the concepts and stories, as he is with the lyrics. We have been very lucky to have a great relationship with Stan W Decker, who has been doing all the Monument artwork from day one. He is a prolific artist, always working, he’s done some amazing stuff for Blackmore’s Night and Ross The Boss for example. A true professional, we love working with him!
Alejandro Allo 11/26/19