IMONOLITH - Rising From The Ashes
April 2, 2020, a year ago
From the ashes of the Devin Townsend Project rises Imonolith! Throw in key pieces from Threat Signal, Arkaea, Methods Of Mayhem, Noise Therapy and Econoloine Crush and you’ve got a genre hybrid of a heavy outfit that is ready to tackle the world with their debut album State Of Being.
Comprised of longtime DVP members Ryan “RVP” Van Poederooyen and Brian “Beav” Waddell alongside Jon Howard, Kai Huppunen and Scott Whalen, Imonolith are no joke as evidenced by lead singles “Hollow”, “Instinct” and “Dig”. BraveWords caught up with RVP to talk all things Imonolith and State Of Being ahead of the March 27 album launch!
BraveWords: What are the thoughts and feelings in the Imonolith camp ahead of the release of State Of Being? You guys really have a blank slate in terms of who and what you guys are and how you can present yourselves to fans?
RVP: “Here’s the thing. There’s always going to be expectations. And as far as the band, you know, we’re made up of members of Devin Townsend Project, Threat Signal. Kai played in Methods Of Mayhem and Noise Therapy and Scott was in Econoline Crush for years. People are using that term supergroup. I can’t stand that term. We’re a band and we’re as equal as any other brand new band out there. That’s the way we approach. Apprehension, a little nervousness? Yeah, I think so, but at the same time, we’re doing what we love. We’re writing music we love. And we’re putting this out because we love what we’re doing with that. I think that’s natural to have those feelings. But honestly, we’re looking at things like, hey, here’s our offering. We hope you guys love it. We love it. We put everything we had into it. And we really hope it does well.”
BraveWords: The response to the leadoff singles “Instinct”, “Dig” and “Hollow” has been hugely positive. Does that help with your morale and confidence right out of the gate?
RVP: “It’s been awesome. No question. The whole band is very excited about everything. The response to both those singles have been incredible. And you know what? You get your haters as well. You get the people who don’t like it or even say stuff. But that’s only natural. It’s like they say in the business, if you don’t have any haters you’re probably doing something wrong. It’s all good. It’s like you get a bit of both sides. But the bottom line is it’s been very positive and we’ve been very excited about the results, like Spotify numbers have been great, the videos, everything. It’s just been a really good response.”
BraveWords: Does Imonolith feel liberating for you and Brian in a way? You guys were a part of the Devin Townsend Project for years where Devin had a really concise and planned vision of the group. Here you can take the reins and make this thing whatever you want.
RVP: “The band (Imonolith) started between Brian and I because we were still in Devin Townsend Project but we knew eventually it was going to come to an end because Devin likes to change things up. Devin Townsend Project was the longest serving thing he had done. We knew it was getting close, so we started writing all this music, which eventually became the band Imonolith, and we started out in 2015.
“It was such a big difference because Devin would come in with the new album and go here it is, learn your parts. You can put your fills or add your little touches to it, but it’s kind of the guidelines. There were some songs where I get to recreate, but when we came in with Imonolith it’s like starting from scratch. Do whatever you want. There are no restrictions whatsoever. And just to get back into that scenario, that band type of feeling as opposed to feeling like a session player, it was amazing. And we got to write the music that we love that we thought was really cool and we knew we would enjoy playing live. So it was a total reversal from what we were doing with Devin. The feeling is great just to put your own music out there the way you envision it.”
BraveWords: Given your experience performing alongside Brian, there must be a certain amount of chemistry and shorthand at this point. Did that help with your decision to decide to pursue a new project together?
RVP: “That made it very easy. That’s why we decided to start this band. Brian and I had very similar influences musically. On the road we hung out all the time in the Devin Townsend Project and Band. There’s just all these common things that we had that just made it very easy for us to get together and start a band. The same thing goes with guys like Kai. I knew him for quite a while. John and Scott, I didn’t know much, but I knew of them. Once we got it all together, it just felt right and it was very easy. Brian and I, we’ve been brothers for many, many years. So it was a very easy decision to go this route.”
BraveWords: The idea of genre is bounced around and debated a lot in heavy music. Did you guys have a defined sound or vision for Imonolith? Because you all bring very different styles and backgrounds to the table.
RVP: “We approached the record as let’s write music and lets not specify a genre. The idea with this record was write the best songs we possibly could. If we wanted to write something heavy and that was the vibe we would do something heavy. If we wanted to write something catchy, we would write something catchy. I came in, for example with the vocal melody of the chorus for ‘Instinct’ and I said to Brian here’s this vocal melody. I showed our producer and he loved it. He’s like, ‘you guys got to write a song on that’. So we wrote this song around the vocal melody. There were no restrictions in that sense. And it wasn’t like we were trying to be a rock band or a metal band. We’re just wanted to be a band writing music we love. So I think the album will show that a lot too. When people listen to it, they’ll go, OK, they’re not a one trick pony. They’re kind of all over the map within the rock hard rock/metal zone. That’s what we were going for and we feel we achieved it.”
BraveWords: Take us through your collaborations with Johannes Eckerstrom from Avatar and Jens Kidman from Meshuggah. Those are some fantastic gets for a debut record!
RVP: “Jens and Johannes absolutely killed it. It was incredible. The reason we went with those guys was A, they’re incredible performers, they’re immense talent, but also their voices seemed to really mesh really well with John. And that’s important. You just don’t want to get a guy to guest on our album. We get guest appearances and we chose them very carefully and say that could sound cool with John. I’ve been friends with Jens for years and years from touring with Devin Townsend Project. He’s a really good friend. He only guest appeared and I didn’t know this until he told me, on one other bands album and that was Mushroomhead ... We’re very grateful to have both those guys on the record, because, like I said, they’re immense talents, great people and it seemed like the perfect fit with John’s voice.”
BraveWords: You had the opportunity to work with your brother Jay Van Poederooyen, who mixed, produced and engineered State Of Being. How was that dynamic?
RVP: “It was awesome. And it’s interesting how we work together because a lot of people think, uh oh, brothers getting into the studio together. But Jason’s a producer. I’m a songwriter/drummer. And the thing is, I approached it that way. Jason is going to tell me this isn’t good. This has gotta go. You’ve got to try this. I came into it very open minded. Look at the bands that he works with. He works with Nickelback, and right now he’s producing a Simple Plan record. And he works all over the map, but he wanted a metal band in his resume. So this was the perfect opportunity for him. So working with him was incredible, but at the same time I was very open minded and listening to all of his ideas because of his credits and past work. It’s like you want to get the best you can out of any producer. With that being said it worked out amazingly and we’re really happy with the results.”
BraveWords: Touching on your time with Devin in the Devin Townsend Project and Band, what are some of your big takeaways from working with a man who is largely seen as one of the most creative forces in heavy music?
RVP: “First and foremost, I’m extremely grateful that I got to play with the guy for 15 years. Devin as a person, let’s start with that. Heart of gold. He’s a pretty private person, but when he opens up to you like, it’s a heart of gold, and one of the funniest people I know too. Oh, my God. That guy had the whole tour bus in stitches night after night. As for an artist? He’s like a Frank Zappa man, he’s one of a kind. You know what I mean? He does his own thing. It’s pretty out there stuff. He can write a beautiful song and then he can write the craziest thing you ever heard about masturbation or farting puppets. He just does whatever he wants and I really admire that. I love that he’s a first rate version of himself and not a second rate version of someone else. That’s something that I’ve always taken pride in with my career and as a person, too. I’ve had that same approach. And the music he’s put out with the various bands that he’s done is incredible. I have nothing but positive things to say about Devin. You know, the breakup with DTP, for example, it was expected. We knew it was going to come. So it wasn’t like it was a huge shocker when it happened. You’re shocked when it does happen, in a sense of OK, it’s finally happening. But we all understood when it did come down. So it didn’t affect our relationship at all. It’s just like... we get it. Time to move on. Thanks for 15 years of fun and all the best. Then he released Empath and what a heck of a record that is. I’m very happy for him. Continued success to the guy. Whenever I see him it’s great. It’s still the same Devin it’s just we’re not playing in the same band anymore.”
BraveWords: You guys launch State Of Being the exact same day as your headline European tour. Hell of a way to kick off the first chapter for Imonolith!
RVP: March 27 is the album’s release date and then on March 27 we’re playing our first headlining show in the UK ever in Sheffield. It’s really exciting. We’re spending five weeks in the UK in Europe and we’re going for it. It’s going to be a little bit different though. It’s like I’m used to playing to 3000 (seat) theaters with Devin and now we’re going to be playing 300 seaters and starting out fresh. And that’s exciting believe it or not. It’s like building this and hopefully turning into something big. We’re just, again, very grateful that we can go over to UK and Europe and headline a tour. To be able to do that on a first record is amazing. Never mind your first tour. So we’re hoping all these shows are going to be a lot of fun with a lot of people there.”