HIGH FIGHTER - A Million Miles Away
March 12, 2015, 8 years ago
Vocalist Mona Miluski never had any intention of fronting German stoner rock band High Fighter. She's not complaining about doing just that, but two years ago she was poised to conquer the world with metal bashers A Million Miles and the press folks locked into the band's debut album, What's Left behind, were set to give them the push they needed. Nothing ever goes as planned, of course, and thanks to issues and assorted bullshit on both professional and personal levels A Million Miles tragically crashed and burned far too early into their flight. Miluski freely admits she was devastated by the turn of events, but 2015 finds her back in business on a new and improved and - as recent experience has taught her - a rock solid foundation."I can say that 2013 sucked for everyone involved in A Million Miles," Miluski begins. "Ten days after the release of our debut album we went on the road, and ten days later the band parted ways. Like you said, it was a tragedy for me because the band was my life, it was the ground I stood on, I breathed for the band. I totally lost my ground when we split up. There are several personal reasons why we broke up and it was a tragedy for all of us. The album got really great press so it was a shame things fell apart, but shit happens."
"We parted ways in April 2013 and I talked to Shi (ex-A Million Miles guitarist Christian Pappas) again at the end of 2013 because we've always been best friends and we can't stop making music together. It took me almost a year to get back on my feet and for us to put things back together and start searching for other musicians."
In the end High Fighter was formed as a patchwork experiment, an attempt to see if the pieces rounded up would actually fit together."Our guitarist Ingwer (Boysen) was with Buffalo Hump, a stoner rock group based close to Hamburg. We didn't know him so he came up for a jam session, but we were still looking for a drummer and bassist. He told us he was still with Buffalo Hump but they didn't have a singer at the moment, so there was a drummer (Thomas Wildelau) and a bassist (Constantin Wüst) looking for something to do (laughs). We arranged a full jam and it turned out to be a perfect fusion, as if we'd known each other for years. From the very first tone it all came together naturally."
Which may be an odd thing to hear for anyone familiar with A Million Miles. With the exception of Miluski's voice the two bands have very little in common sonically, and she's also taken things in a grittier and more brutal direction on High Fighter's debut EP, The Goat Ritual. Asked if it was strange switching lanes into a stoner doom direction, Miluski shakes off the suggestion."Absolutely not. I come from the old school heavy metal scene and I did metal in the past, but over the years I turned more to the stoner and doom scene. I was listening to Kyuss when I was 13 and I grew up with a lot of desert rock as well, so with High Fighter I feel that I've come home. For Shi as well because he was always the guy in A Million Miles who came up with more of those Down / Corrosion Of Conformity / Crowbar riffs; everyone else was more on the heavy metal side. For me and Shi, doing this sound with High Fighter is nothing new. We're very comfortable with what we're doing now."
From a Canadian point of view, High Fighter sounds as if veteran blues-charged rock singer Sass Jordan is fronting Down. Miluski has carried her signature clean vocals over from A Million Miles - where the comparison was first made - and those unfamiliar with the lovely Ms. Jordan would do well to check her out as a comparison just for the hell of it."I listened to Sass Jordan after you told me that and I'm very happy with that comparison," says Miluski. "In the past so many people have compared me to Sandra Nasic of the Guano Apes, and now when people hear 'Black Waters' from the new EP they say it reminds them of Angela Gossow in her Arch Enemy days. I don't necessarily agree, but that's because I prefer the comparisons to more soulful blues singers."
So, was the the EP a test to see if High Fighter's members could work together without killing each other?"Hopefully we won't kill each other in the future," she laughs. "It wasn't a test. We jammed as a complete line-up in June 2014; we drank a lot, we smoked a lot, we jammed heavily, and the music just came out so fast because this band is full of creative energy. We rehearsed three or four days a week, and when we had the songs together we decided to record them live. We wanted to present the songs as they came out over the month that we jammed together."
As in recorded live off the floor, no legion of software gremlins waiting in the wings to fix things on the way to the final mix."It was recorded in our very fucked up rock n' roll rehearsal room (laughs). We recorded it over one grey October weekend. We played all the instruments live so nobody was allowed to drink (laughs) because if anyone made a mistake we couldn't edit. So, on the Saturday we recorded all the live instruments and on Sunday I put my vocals on the songs, two or three for each one, and that was it. We wanted to present our first tunes directly and pure and in your face as if you're standing in our rehearsal room."
High Fighter plan to record a full length album in the fall of 2015, but it's highly unlikely they'll lock themselves up in the rehearsal room a second time..."Not for a full album," Miluski confirms. "Just doing it over one weekend was 20 hours each day, so we were losing our minds (laughs). We want to book a proper studio but we absolutely want to record it live. I love to work that way and I love the way I sing in that environment. When I listen to my previous work with A Million Miles, I actually don't like it because I can hear the editing that went on, I can hear the weeks of mixing. I just want to go in and do one take for each songs. The same as you get from us when we perform live. We don't want to fake anything."
That includes Miluski's dedication to High Fighter and putting the past behind her. Asked if any songs from the A Million Miles calatalogue will resurface at some point in a High Fighter set, the answer is not bloodly likely."We had our own spirit in A Million Miles so I don't think you can compare that band and High Fighter," says Miluski. "I really don't want to go back to those songs. A Million Miles is my past. Today, two years later, I can honestly say that I'm glad it all happened this way. If you would have asked me this in May or June 2013, I would have cried like a baby (laughs). I would never put an A Million Miles song into a High Fighter set because what's done is done and I'm very happy with the way things have turned out."