Having spent the better part of the last decade working in The Devin Townsend Project together, drummer Ryan ‘RVP’ van Poederooyen and guitarist Brian ‘Beav’ Waddell discovered a common love of groove-laden heavy music. In their down time, the two began writing songs together in 2015 between tours. The duo knew that working for a mercurial genius like Townsend would have an expiration date as his muse would take him elsewhere at some point. That moment came in early 2018. That’s when RVP and Beav began reaching out to other like-minded friends. Bassist Byron Stroud (Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad), vocalist Jon Howard (Threat Signal, Arkaea), and guitarist Kai Huppunen (Methods of Mayhem, Noise Therapy) listened to the first 15 songs the guys had written and were immediately intrigued. Imonolith was born and a beast awakened.
Last month the quintet dropped its debut single “Hollow” on the world, and the response was immediate and emphatically positive. As the group prepares to enter the studio to finish recording its debut album, Metal Nation caught up with Ryan to chat about moving out of the progressive mold and finding his “groove” again, what listeners can expect musically, and where Imonolith wants to go with its sound.
What did you want to do musically, creatively with this band that you guys have not been able to do in previous projects?
“The biggest thing is, write what we love. It wasn’t, we’re going to be a metal band or a hard rock band, we just wrote songs. Like ‘Ah, that’s a cool riff man– But it’s more like a rock song–Well, who cares, let’s write it.’ So, that’s what we did with Imonolith. I think a lot of people are almost expecting us to be influenced, or a continuation of all the bands the members played in, but it’s not. What it is, is a bunch of music we truly enjoy playing and enjoy writing. So you’re going to get the heavy stuff. For sure you’re going to get that. To be honest, you’re not going to get anything really progressive (prog) on this album, but you’re also going to get rock stuff. Stuff that’s a little more catchy and commercial I guess you could say. It‘s a pretty diverse album that we’ve worked on. We don’t want to be a one trick pony with this.”
You’ve released the first single Hollow, which gives us a taste of the more accessible, catchy side of your music, but what cans listeners expect overall from the Imonolith sound?
“There’s a heavier side. Just crushing metal, cool riffs, pretty crushing vocals. Then there’s the more accessible side. And then we have stuff that’s kind of combined between the two, where it’s still punishing and metal in a way, but there’s still this overall groove and catchiness to the project. I think there’s a common theme throughout, that you can always move to something in this music. It doesn’t matter if we’re crushing it or it’s something a little more catchy, there’s always a consistent groove and hooks. Hooks don’t always mean catchy. Hooks can be super heavy as well. One of my favorite bands of all time is Pantera. They could crush it at any given moment, but one thing that Dime and Vinnie always put out were consistent hooks. Whether it’s ‘Walk’ or ‘Mouth to War’ or ‘Becoming…’ All those songs are killer, among many others, but that was always a consistent thing through their records, and I think we have the same type of thing.”
You have your brother Jay van Poederooyen and Brain Howes producing. Beyond the familial connection, why’d you choose them and what do they bring to the Imonolith sound?
“We wanted to step out of the norm. We didn’t want to get a metal producer, let’s put it that way. Because we aren’t just metal. We thought, if we work with these guys, let’s see what they can bring. Let’s see how they can make the song interesting. And that’s the thing, I know they’re diverse people. When we brought ‘Hollow’ to them, surprisingly they made it heavier than what we had. A lot of people think when you work with the guys who produce Nickleback, Airbourne, Hinder, or something like that, you think they’re really going to ‘pop’ it up or whatever. But they did the opposite. They do what’s right for the music. They actually slowed the tempo down of the song a bit, and they introduced some really weird guitar overdubs, and really got Jon to hit up the heavier vocals in the song. That’s exactly what we were looking for. Brian and Jay, they did ‘Hollow,’ but for the rest of the album its actually just going to be Jay producing, mixing, and engineering the record. We just brought Brian in on the one song because he has great ideas. He’s a great melody-maker. He helped shape our melodies. It was a great experience. and we can’t wait to get back in the studio to get this record done with Jay.”
Imonolith return to the studio March 6th, and is hoping to have the record completed and out by early summer. You can listen to the complete interview with Ryan below and check out the first single, “Hollow.”