Interview with Mario Welke of MONOLITH

Mario Welke of Monolith

Let’s kick off this interview with a talk about your upcoming album “Daddy Plague.” What can you tell me about the creative and recording phases for this record?

The writing process started in mid 2018. It was clear to me that its going to be an album in the long run, but I first started with an EP to see how much I can fit into 1 recording session. The creative process is pretty simple, I just sit down with the guitar and start playing until I find a riff that I like, then I keep on building and adding more layers with the other instruments.

How would you describe your initial exposure to music?

I started just listening to whatever music was played on MTV (that feels like ages) and didn’t really had a specific genre I enjoyed. Until the video for “Coming Undone” from KoRn was released and I got immediately hooked, they definitely were my bridge into heavier music.

Monolith - Daddy Plague

How did you get into playing guitar?

I didn’t really do that on purpose. I wished for a guitar hero game for Christmas, but my father said he won’t buy me that so instead I got a real guitar. Everyone thought it would be just a two week gimmick before I would lose interest, well that didn’t happen but at first I just wanted to play riffs from my favourite songs, it was only after a friend asked me to found a band when I put in a bit more effort into actually learning.

Did you start to listen to music differently once you discovered guitar?

Not immediately only when I started playing in bands and tried to write my first own songs, I got to appreciate music much more because I paid attention to the finer details, a small dead note here or a pull of there can add so much to a song.

Who were some of your early guitar influences?

I was still an edgy teenager when I started playing guitar and basically the only bands I listened to where Korn and Arch Enemy so my earliest influences have to be Brian Welch and Christopher Amott.

Tell me about your guitar technique.

As much as I enjoy all the technical stuff, I personally like to keep it simple. Overthinking what you want to play leads to frustration.

What guitars are in your connection?

I own an Ibanez RG550-RF, Ibanez RG421EX-BKF, Höfner, HCT-CS10 and a couple of western and acoustic guitars.

With the advancement of the technology and amp/effect simulation, do you still use pedals?

Looking back a couple of years ago I loved playing around with pedals. Some still got a special place in my heart but when I am recording demos at home, I just use simulations. In the studio I usually rely on what my amps provide.

In your opinion, what are the three skills that every guitarist must bring to perfection?

Timing – I still remember when I was practising without a metronome. Bad timing just makes everything worse.

Finger sets – If you show up to a rehearsal and don’t even know which chords you have to play when they give you a key you just suck.

Preservation – Learn how to save your ideas, be it written down, be it recorded or paint them if you have. I love going back through old ideas, sure some of them are terrible but when you look at something you wrote 5 years ago and then you can work on it to improve it can lead to some great songs.

Back to music, what were the biggest challenges you faced as a guitarist when making “Daddy Plague”?

The lack of feedback, when you got a band with you usually have someone say that it’s a good or a bad riff, but usually the first time someone even hears anything from the songs is the sound engineer when I’m recording. I usually bother Kira, who provided guest vocals for the song “Justified” for her feedback on my home recorded demos.

How do you go about channeling inspiration into writing?

There is no specific process, I just sit down whenever I feel like it and just play something on the guitar, sometimes there is something I like, sometimes there is only trash.

Tell me about your guitar rig you use for recording your material.

I used 2 amps. For the lead guitar stuff, I use a Crate Blue Voodoo 120. For the rhythm guitar I use a Randall Diavlo RD45H.

What are your five favourite pieces of gear in 2019, and why?

Scarlett Focusrite 2i2 – Because it allows me to record guitar at home really easy.

Amplitube 4 – The amp simulations are just crazy good and make your demos not sound like complete dogshit.

Ibanez RG550-RF – well it’s my newest guitar so that’s a given.

T-Rex Octavius pedal – the sounds you can create with that thing are just fantastic.

Crate Blue Voodoo 120H – It was my first non-combo amp, so it always has a special place in my heart.

What other dragons are you looking forward to slaying?

For now I am working on the next couple of songs to record but I take a slower approach now because I am still excited about the release of “Daddy Plague” once that is done I will focus more on new songs. Also I’m keeping my eyes open for musicians to play live shows with.