The Absolute Monarchs are a Seattle rock four-piece of eclaboussure torque. A Pixies-Pylon bullet to your boombox. Singer Joel Schneider is a firewall of combustion, throwing out spaces for the music to go. The band uses electricity to rouse the vision of a driver from his mud bog plight. Mud bogging, as in the sport where four-wheel drive vehicles get door deep in mud and see how far they can go before getting stuck. This driver, within his helmet and fireproof clothing, floors the pedal, huffs gas, sees things, and does an inhaled version of speed-zen. He hates what he does, mud bogging, and has a vision, a psychotropic event from the fumes in Surrealist automatism. The truck slows, begins to get stuck in the five foot high mud, RPM’s are redlined, fumes spew, and a Miró effect of parallel phenomena waves across his brain. The driver sees only lines. It’s automatic drawing, an assassination of painting. He wishes he were a watchmaker, or a goldsmith, or a dolphin, not a professional mud bogger driving a truck called The Titty Bullet through manmade swamps. The Absolute Monarchs’ guitarist Shawn Kock spoke, assassinating nothing:
The Absolute Monarchs: "Killing the Old"
How did you all get the drum sounds on “Killing the Old”? They’re dominant and huge. Was there a particular mic’ing or technique? They make me want to plow a field. Or plow an ox. Did you use the ox mic’ing technique? Shawn: The drum sound is all Mike (Stubblefield). He was very specific, saying, "Don't do anything with the drums. Maybe just a little reverb." He hits hard, consistently, and his drums are stripped down, his parts are stripped down and he holds his end down. I could see plowing a field to "Killing the Old”. It has the momentum, a couple of mics hanging off the horns of the noble beast. But it is a short song, so I hope you're plowing a herb garden.
Where did you record it? Who produced? We recorded this gem at Monkey Trench Studio in lovely Bremerton, WA. It's a sick place, a two story residential house with sleeping barracks in the basement, not too close or too far from Seattle. We decorated it with beer cans and Taco Bell wrappers. Greg Bennett recorded it, Mike Herrera mixed it, Mike Moen engineered it and the part I always bring up even though no one asks, Stephen Egerton from the Descendents mastered it. Am I bragging? Fuck yes, that was a huge deal for us.
How did the recording go? Any areas of ease or struggle? The recording was a pretty straight up affair, play the song all the way through till you nail it style. Very few overdubs, which surprised me because Miki has only been playing guitar for a little over a year and for me, it's like someone rearranges my frets the moment I walk into a studio.
What do you think of oxen? Funny you should ask, I just finished Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, and I'm paraphrasing, probably incorrectly, that oxen are one of the few beasts of burden that allowed Western culture to flourish and dominate. So for me, basically, fuck oxen.
Have you ever been electrocuted? I grew up in South Dakota. Our fun game there was to grab hold of an electric fence and grab the person next to you to unwittingly shock them. For some reason, they seem to get it worse. It feels like your heart is exploding in pulses but you gotta take one to give one.
What do you think about that Jesus statue that just got struck by lightning? Zeus 1, Jesus 0
When and how did the Absolute Monarchs form? I started writing a few of these songs towards the end of Das Llamas. And when people didn't start knocking down my door to start a new band, like I somehow thought they would, I started playing with my girlfriend’s sister Miki. I met Mike through my old roommate during a D&D style roll playing game we played on Saturday nights called Hero Quest. Mike had just gotten back into playing drums, so we three set out to find a singer. Enter Joel, with the guilded throated, chiseled features, and penetrating eyes. I think Mike met him at the Comet or something.
The Absolute Monarchs play TONIGHT for Kelly O's photo show “Drunks N Punks” at the West Seattle Easy Street Records. 8PM
Where does the Absolute Monarch magic come from? How do y'all get your sound? The magic comes from drinking mead from a pewter skull. The sound comes from the hangover.
Break down your gear for me, please. What do you love? What do you hate? I usually play a 1972 Rickenbacker solid body, it's currently not working, through a Music Man 150 head and a very old very beat up Vox 2x12 cabinet. It's all about the delay pedal for me. I have the same two Boss delays on my board set differently. One is always on, one is adjustable. I use a Fuzz Factory sparingly and a Jam Man for samples. I love pedals, I hate cords.
Word on the street is that you like to wear fringe when you play? Right. I wore a Davey Crockett outfit to one of our shows, it was suede with fringe, and a fake coon skin cap. The fringe kept hitting my strings so I took it off and played awkwardly shirtless, hairy, sweaty and chubby. I overheard afterward, "I wish Joel would've taken his shirt off instead."