Interview: The Download Tapes – Monster Truck

They’ve become regulars at Download with a huge following. Mark Bestford chatted to Monster Truck’s keyboardist Brandon Bliss about touring with Deep Purple, the difference between Canadian bands and the rest of the world and why Eastern Europeans are some of the best music fans.


So you’ve got a new single out?

Brandon “We do. Yeah.”

What’s the single about?

“That’s more of a John question. But it’s pretty obvious, it’s about his girlfriend. In fact, I think he often introduces the song as ‘this songs about my girlfriend.’ So it’s self explanatory,

With new music coming out, are there plans for an album to go with it?

“Yes, we do. I’m not allowed to divulge specific dates, but it’s not too far away. Yeah.

So more of the same usual stuff, lots of rock and roll and blues.

“Absolutely. Like we don’t want to stray from the tried and tested path, you know? But yeah, Monster Truck is like, we just have our sound, it’s just that’s what happens when we all get together and play and that’s people responded to it right away. We’ve stretched it a little bit here and there different ways. But we stick pretty true to the original Monster Truck form just because A it’s so much fun to play and B that’s what people love. And that’s what’s brought us over here so many times and continues to take us all around the world.”

It’s a tried and tested formula for so many from your home country as well.

“Absolutely. Like, Canada does have a pretty great scene and reputation of rock bands. So yeah, we’re just proud to be among all that, you know. We’re going home tomorrow, but we have, next weekend there’s a festival. I think we have seven or eight Canadian festivals over the next two months. So yeah, we’re going to continue that Canadian rock tradition this summer.”

What do you think it is about Canada to bring all the rock music out rather than all the metal that you get from elsewhere?

“I don’t know. That’s a good question. Um, there’s a little bit of Canadian metal happening but it’s nowhere near what is happening everywhere else. You know, we got Rush and Neil Young and you know, that kind of stuff is like Steppenwolf, John Kay, he’s a Canadian guy. So like, I don’t know, maybe it was just those pioneers that kind of instilled this rock and roll tradition. And maybe we’ve never had really big metal bands to influence the rest of them.”

You’re back here for the fourth time. Do you have a tour coming up as well?

“Yeah, we do.”

What’s it like actually being back out on the road again?

“In all honesty, it feels really good. It’s like a sigh of relief. You know, for two years, we didn’t really know what the hell was going to happen when. And then even if we were going to come back, were the people still going to be coming out? To see it? You know what I mean? So we did a Canadian Tour about a month and a half ago, let’s say. Two months ago, and people were coming out so finally that was that sigh of relief of ‘okay, thank God, it’s still here.’ You know, people still want to come and see rock shows. And so yeah, it’s pretty much just feeling happy that we’re back to doing what we love to do.”

And you’re coming back again to the UK later in the year.

“Absolutely. We’re really excited about that tour. The UK has always been kind of our second home. This was the first place we played outside of Canada. And we’ve probably played here more than anywhere else. And the fans here are kind of, we have more of them, and they’re better fans. And you know, we just, we really are pretty impressed by how amazing the English rock scene is. And yeah, this whole island just knows how to do rock and roll better than anywhere else.”

You’ve got some great support bands on that tour as well.

“Well, yeah, we just met those guys today. Those Damn Crows. And yeah, we had a good little hang just before they went on stage. And yeah, we made plans to have a beer later. And they were saying how excited they were about the tour and so are we because yeah, like I said, we weren’t sure when and if it was gonna happen. And the response this week since we announced has been really good. So yeah, now we’re that much more excited.”

Are there any really big difference between touring at home and coming over to the UK?

“Yeah, the drives are way shorter here. And the fans are, the fans just know rock and roll better. You guys have such a great history of heavy music you know. We’ve toured with Purple a few times now and that was like, kind of an education as to like, you know, this is how you’re supposed to do it. And then, ever since we came that first Download trip 2013 it was like, it was really obvious that these people are like, the best rock and roll scene in the world. So it’s yeah, you guys get more shows, more tours. There’s more historic bands from here. So it’s like, it’s really special because of that.”

With all the touring you’ve done over the years have there been any real stand out moments from those tours?

“Yeah, for me, it’s been all the three different Deep Purple tours that we’ve done. Because I’m a keyboard player, and I play the B three, and Don Airey’s like, Don and I became friends. And you know, he’s took me under his wing, and I learned so much from him. He would invite me up to come and watch and I’d be this far away from him, you know, really like going to school and learning how, he’s probably, in that band, is the most distinctive, heavy rock keyboard band there is. So yeah, I can’t say how thankful I am to have done all that stuff and to have learned from him. And you know, hopefully we get to do it some more. But definitely Deep Purple for me.”

Are there any good tour stories?

“Um, Jesus Christ, there’s, we’ve been going pretty steady for 10 years, so I have a million of them. But I think about, we did a European, no UK dates on that one, but yeah, in 2017. That was our first time going to a lot of Eastern Europe places like Romania and Bulgaria. And it was like such an eye opener. Like, I remember Bulgaria showing up and we wouldn’t come into the venue till midday and nothing was set up at all, the production manager was a big, angry German guy, and he was so mad that the Bulgarian crew wasn’t getting the show together. And even our tour manager was like, ‘I don’t know if this show is gonna happen.’ Like, what a shit show this is. And then sure enough, by doors, there was a line a mile down the street and then 16,000 people losing their minds, and it was like, it was like, a really foreign land that, you know, it felt like nothing was gonna happen. And then it was one of the best shows ever.”

East Europeans tend to be more into the heavier stuff, they really took to the band then?

“Yeah, absolutely. Like, I think it’s, I don’t know, it’s kind of It feels to me like those countries are just, there’s just more energy, you know, like, they sing along more and, the Spanish do that, the Italians do that too. And it’s like, I don’t know. I don’t know if they do that for every band, or it was just we’re lucky enough that that happened, the shows that were on. But I don’t know that the European crowds are just so electric. It’s a lot different from the North American crowds.”

Interview and photos by Mark Bestford