Monster Truck’s Jeremy Widerman on Alice in Chains, Southern Rock and SGs
Canadian rockers Monster Truck make a groove-oriented, high-energy classic rock sound that also works in a touch of Southern rock. Guitarist and vocalist Jeremy Widerman, bass player and lead vocalist Jon Harvey, keyboard player and vocalist Brandon Bliss and drummer and vocalist Steve Kiely just wrapped up a lengthy tour with Alice in Chains, and Gibson.comcaught up with Widerman before a gig in Huntington, W.V., to talk touring with Alice in Chains and why the SG feels so great in his arms.
When were your first drawn to the guitar?
I always was really interested in classic rock music, and I was almost forced into it in the beginning from my father, but at the time, I didn’t find that musically accessible. I didn’t ever try to emulate those bands, because it seemed out of reach. Then, of course, ‘90s grunge and alternative came along, and it felt like I could be a part of it. It was an immediate shift of listening to these bands I loved and then actually wanting to play, from the ‘90s grunge thing.
What guitarists did you listen to growing up?
I hate to say Kurt Cobain did, because I’m sick of hearing about Kurt Cobain at this point, but the fact you hear about him so much is because of how many people he influenced. When Nevermind came out, that was the moment I wanted to pick up a guitar. From that point on, it’s been an evolutional process and led me right back to classic rock. Jimi Hendrix, Tom Morello, Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad—so many.
There’s a Southern rock aspect to Monster Truck’s sound.
Yeah, a lot of us have influences from Southern bands. We don’t listen to a lot of Canadian rock music. A lot of it I don’t like at all. A love of our influences have been pieces of Skynyrd and even Grand Funk Railroad has that working class sound that also takes itself from a lot of Southern rock. Sometimes it’s odd, being we’re from Canada, but those are the bands we listened to and that influenced us. A Southern band doesn’t have to be from the South.
You just wrapped up a big tour with Alice in Chains. How was it?
It was great! The reason we’re on the tour is because they handpicked us to be out with them again. After the tour we had with them last year in Canada, wanted to go out again. That’s a huge feather in our cap, and they’re great guys. They’re always available. Their crew has been the best taking us under their wings and helping us with day to day business. It’s been one of the best situations we’ve had touring with headliners.
Tell me about the writing process for you current album, Furiosity.
That was one of those things that happened over a long period of time. It was a three-year process, and it was a really big process that allowed us to put a lot of different flavors on the album. It’s something I hope we can do for the next record, but there’s a tighter timeline for the next album. We’re shooting to record this winter, so we’re really trying to make a big push this summer to get a bunch of new songs prepared.
What are your go-to Gibson guitars for recording and live?
My go-to for recording a 1972 SG Deluxe that I bought in haste because I had come back from a session where I had a producer who was expressing the importance of vintage Gibsons. I bought this ’72 Deluxe with a broken headstock that had been repaired cheap and not really properly, so I used it for a while, and it got snapped again from misuse. I had it repaired again, so it’s an interesting guitar, because it’s better than ever right now and pretty much the only guitar I’m unwilling to tour with because I would hate to have something happen to it again!
For live, I went and bought a Gibson SG in mustard yellow, because I liked the weird color of it, and it played really well and something about it spoke to me. It’s turned into my main guitar. I just started playing it, and the thing with guitars is that there are no rules. That guitar just feels perfect, and it’s become my go-to guitar every night for a whole year now.
What are some of your other Gibsons?
I’ve got a really great Gibson SG Junior , 1962. I’m leaving it at home for now, but will start touring with it soon. I also have a 2006 Les Paul Studio that I bought new in 2006 and that I’ve really beaten up, so it’s a cool guitar, because Gibsons get better the longer you’ve used them.
What makes the SG your favorite guitar?
The thing with the SGs I like is that they’re light, and I’m doing a lot of jumping and running and all kinds of craziness on the stage. Also, the way the neck fits on your body when you have it strapped allows you to get up higher on the neck easier. It’s almost more designed for playing leads and solos up high. There’s also the intangible, in that it looks awesome, and every guitar has a soul to it.
Why did you initially gravitate towards Gibson guitars?
It’s one of those things that is ingrained in rock ‘n’ roll history. A lot of bands that I grew up listening to played it, and since then, I’ve started playing them, and I haven’t experimented. When I find something I like, I stick with it, so that’s what happened ended up happening. I’ve fallen in love with almost every Gibson I’ve had.
What’s next for Monster Truck?
Home! (Laughs) We just wrapped up a 10-week tour, so we’re really looking forward to just going home for a while.
You can download Monster Truck’s first two EPs for free via www.ilovemonstertruck.com .
Photos by Anne Erickson