Jeremy Widerman is the guitarist for the band Monster Truck. They won the 2013 Juno Award (Canadian Grammy equivalent) for Breakthrough Group of the Year. We talked about the band, touring, and hockey video games plus much more!
Where is the band’s hometown?
Jeremy: We’re from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
How did the band get started?
Jeremy: The band got started really in a non-serious kind of way. We wanted to start a band that wasn’t really going after anything in particular, career-wise. We really just wanted to have fun and play basic rock songs at bars. We were just going to be a bar band, something similar to a cover band that doesn’t play covers. Just try to get gigs in the area and have fun with it. We wondered why anyone wasn’t doing anything like this, basic riff rock band with strong vocals. It kind of grew legs on its own and people started to get excited about it, so we started taking it more seriously and putting more into the song writing. As we evolved the songs a bit, we saw the fanbase grow and we couldn’t stop it.
Where did you guys come up with the name Monster Truck?
Jeremy: It was an idea I had at a party we had, we were all standing around being drunk and Jon, Steve and myself had all joked about starting a band like this but it was just a lot of talk to that point. At the time, Steve and I were in another band, and he had this big Astro van that we nicknamed the Monster Truck. When we went places everyone was like “Let’s take the Monster Truck”. It got stuck in my head, and then we were at a party one night and I thought the name of our band should be Monster Truck so I ran up to Jon and Steve and told them we should do a band and call it Monster Truck. They thought it was a good idea, so we ended up having band practice two days later!
It’s definitely a name that once you hear it you won’t forget it.
Jeremy: I think it’s one of those things that people aren’t sure if they should take it serious or not, but once they hear our music they realize that it actually works really well.
Who are some of your influences?
Jeremy: Everyone in the band has a diverse palette as far as what they listen to in their daily lives. But the thing we were leaning on when we started was that Jon and I kind of bonded over our mutual love of ’69-’71 Grandfunk Railroad. It sounds specific, but if you know the history of the band it was a really important couple of years before they switched genres. Him and I used to sit around and listen to them a lot and we kind of borrow a lot of our riff style from them. We were like, “We should sound something like this but with an organ”, but then we’d listen to Deep Purple and take some of the riffier elements from Led Zeppelin and we wanted to mix all of those up. Naturally we added our own influences from growing up in the punk rock and grunge scene too. It was really just a marriage between classic rock and a lot of the stuff we learned playing guitar and bass on.
Now that you mention Deep Purple, you guys have opened for them, haven’t you?
Jeremy: We opened for them for 4 shows, which was kind of hard to wrap our heads around at the time because we were trying to keep it cool.
You guys also opened for Slash?
Jeremy: We toured with Slash last year for 3 and a half weeks at select USA tour dates and in Canada.
And Billy Talent?
Jeremy: We actually hopped on last minute because Sum 41 dropped out in the middle and there were 4 shows left. We got the call and I felt like we should have been on from the beginning and I think after we did the last 4 shows everyone felt the same way about that.
Since touring with these established bands, have you guys picked up much from them about touring?
Jeremy: When it comes to Billy Talent, they’re absolutely unbelievable live. Getting to open for them every night and opening for a band like that which is so tour tight and has the light show and is just so good, we watched them as something to strive for.
Tell me some about the upcoming album Furiosity?
Jeremy: A lot of work went into that. We recorded it once in Los Angeles and it didn’t turn out how we wanted it to, so we ended up redoing it, which was amazing that our label allowed us to do that a second time. When we came back to do it the second time, we went back to the producer that we had used for the Brown EP, which had a lot of success here in Canada. So we got him on board, we set aside two months and got a decent budget.
Who is your record label?
Jeremy: Dine Alone Records, located in Toronto Canada.
Are there any plans for a first single off Furiosity?
Jeremy: Right now we have ‘Sweet Mountain River’, which is currently #2 in Canada on the Rock charts. So we’re pushing that in the USA too, seeing if it can grow legs and be the catalyst for marketing in the USA.
You guys will be out on the road supporting the album?
Jeremy: Of course, we’ll be out with Sevendust for about 2 1/2 weeks, then we’re coming home to do the festivals in June and then in July we’ll be heading out with Alice In Chains.
You guys had a song featured on the newest NHL video game from EA Sports, NHL13, right?
Jeremy: We did.
‘Seven Seas Blues’ was the song… How did that come about?
Jeremy: I called our label because I have played that game religiously every year since I was 13 years old. I’ve been trying my own DIY Gorilla tactics to get different bands I’ve been in into the game. At the end of the day you have to know somebody and Dine Alone Records has contacts at EA Sports. So I asked the label to see if they could get us in, they got in touch with EA and EA said the soundtrack was already done for the year. They sent them the song anyways and they loved the song and wanted to try to find room, which they did.
I actually discovered you guys first on that game…
Jeremy: It’s opened a lot of doors for us and we have gotten a lot of new fans because of the avenue. Every now and again I post in EA’s message baord to see if anyone wants to play me.
Do you have any tats?
Jeremy: I actually don’t, I’m the only guy in the band that doesn’t have one. I’ve always dabbled with the idea of it but I change my mind all the time about everything so I’m worried about getting one and changing my mind after. It was something I just never ended up committing to. (Jon) Harvery has some amazing work on his arm though.
What instruments do you play in the band?
Jeremy: I play guitar and can play some bass.
Who sponsors your equipment?
Jeremy: I recently got sponsored by D’Addario strings, it’s the string brand that I’ve used since 15 years old. Also, I’m a Gibson-endorsed artist, which is cool because they have an awesome show room in Toronto. My 1972 Gibson SG got snapped in half by Air Canada, so I was down at Gibson to see what I could take out on loan for our tour.
For more info on Monster Truck, tour dates, merchandise and more check out their website at ilovemonstertruck.com!