When guitarist Paul Slater moved to Ontario, he left behind B.C. and his days with the stoner metal band Sir Hedgehog. Settling in Ottawa, Paul placed a “musicians wanted” ad online. He had in mind, for the band that was to become Monobrow, a sound influenced by Black Sabbath, Budgie, Kyuss, Captain Beyond, and Funkadelic. “This was the kind of band I wanted to form, not that the ad prevented people who wanted to form emo bands from contacting me.”
He found bassist Sam Beydoun: “We clicked right away.” But they still needed a drummer. “We found Brian (Ahopelto) around January 2009 through another ad. It was obvious from the first jam that Brian was the drummer for us, as the chemistry was instant.”
And then there was the decision about vocals.
“We didn’t plan to be instrumental, but after a few months we decided that we were happy being just a three-piece, and didn’t want to add another person. We’ve collaborated with synth players and horn players, so we are open to using other sounds within the context of our style. Being instrumental, though, we are conscious of always striving to keep things musically interesting for the listeners; unfortunately, for many people, instrumental is synonymous with boring. We don’t have a particular label that we prefer for our sound. Stoner doom is fine with us, as we are in that ballpark, and that is the crowd most likely to be into us. Stoner rock, doom, psychedelic, progressive are all terms that we’re cool with.”
In this edition of Talking Albums, Monobrow’s Paul Slater.
Back in September 2019, when we began recording our fifth LP, A Decorative Piece of Time, we had expected to be holding a piece of glorious vinyl in our hands by spring 2020. Like everybody’s plans, ours haven’t quite worked out. Even before the pandemic, the recording seemed to be plagued by delays… circumstances beyond our control seemed to postpone every overdub and mixing session that we had booked. Thankfully, we were able to at least complete all the overdubs before the lockdown started.
Currently, we have an unmixed album in the can, album artwork in the works, and three musicians experiencing musical withdrawal symptoms. We still hope to have the album completed and released by the year’s end.
In anticipation of the gigs we had hoped to be playing this spring (and man, do I miss playing and going to gigs!), we had also ordered a new batch of T-shirts to sell. If anyone in the Ottawa area would like one delivered, you can place an order through our Bandcamp page, and I would be happy to do a no-contact drop-off. We also still have some copies of our last LP, The Nacarat, for sale as well as a handful of extremely limited posters featuring the work of noted Ottawa artist Jennie Lynn MacDonald.
Since mid-March, the three of us have been juggling working from home and looking after young children. Speaking personally, I really haven’t had the time or energy to devote to composing any new material, but Sam and Brian have each managed to record their own personal projects at home, both of which are very different than anything you would expect from a Monobrow record.
One thing that I have had time to do though, is listen to a lot of records.
Aside from revisiting my Pretty Things records following the recent passing of singer Phil May, two 2020 releases that I have really dug are Night Lands by Dead Sea Apes, and Saturnalia Temple’s Gravity.
Dead Sea Apes have become one of my favourite bands over the past few years, and I was really looking forward to seeing them at House of TARG during this year’s Psych Fest III. Dead Sea Apes are a mix of many influences, touching on psych, dub, krautrock, doom, even politically-charged dystopian acid punk (how appropriate) for one album. Night Lands consists of three sublime improvised instrumental pieces to lose yourself in. I’m almost never not in the mood to listen to it.
Saturnalia Temple are a breath of fresh air in the overcrowded doom metal genre. Instead of offering dumbed-down Electric Wizard and Sleep worship, I place these Swedes alongside the more left-field doom artists like Blizaro, Paul Chain, and Garden of Worm (though none of them sound alike). Repetitive riffing, killer lead playing, and echo-drenched sometimes black metal-ish vocals (which could be a deal-breaker for some) make for a unique trance-like atmosphere.
And these days, being in a trance is OK with me.
About Dead Sea Apes – Night Lands
Night Lands is comprised of three improvised jams recorded live in a rehearsal room in December 2019 and released in February. Echoes and Dust wrote that it is “an outstanding release from one of the best bands around at the moment.” The Sleeping Shaman wrote that with this album, you “could put on over headphones, sit in a darkened room and while away the hours lost in it thoroughly.”
All Dead Sea Apes downloads are now “name your price” during lockdown with all proceeds from download sales to the Trussell Trust Food Bank Network.
About Saturnalia Temple – Gravity
Kerrang gave this album 3/5, saying that “patience is demanded – but it’s rewarded, too, and these are sounds plumbed from the deepest darkness.” Grizzlybutts wrote that this is Saturnalia Temple’s “finest record to date…a very high recommendation is warranted.”
More from Monobrow:
Sam Beydoun (of Monobrow):
The Decay of Guilds – Convenient Words
Brian Ahopelto (of Monobrow):
echo/echo – Plastic Memory