Monument : Interview with Peter Ellis

Peter Ellis is one of the best young frontmen in the UK. He has recently returned from a short stint fronting White Wizzard he is back with a grand intention, to bring back true British heavy metal. We caught up with Peter to find out more about The More I See, White Wizzard and Monument’s plans for world domination….

When we last met you were still singing with The More I See and it looked like the band was going places, was it a difficult decision to leave?

To be honest, no, it wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I will always be greatful for all the chances that I got to showcase what I can do while being in TMIS and I am aware of the fact that there is people out there that would kill their mum to be able to say they were in a band with the ex-guitarist of The Prodigy, but the truth is that we had absolutely no financial backing from anywhere with TMIS and it took an insane amount of hard work (mainly from Gizz) and sacrifice to create this buzz around the band’s name. Also, I was never 100% into the music. Don’t get me wrong, I think TMIS is one of the best Thrash Metal bands in the UK but I have never been a Thrash Metal guy really… I’ve always been more into British Heavy Metal like Priest, Sabbath and Maiden, so White Wizzard was a great chance for me to finally show the world what I can do and also play a style of music that I love.

How did the White Wizzard thing come about?

I played Download 2010 with The More I See, same year that White Wizzard opened the second stage and Jon Leon was in the audience during my performance. Two weeks later I got an email from the band saying that they and their management were very impressed with me and asked if I would like to go to Los Angeles to audition for the band.

How did Gizz and the rest of TMIS take the news when you said you were off to LA?

Gizz couldn’t have been more supportive and I will always appreciate that fact. He was like “Mate, this is something you just have to do and I will support you all the way” which he did. Same goes for the rest of the guys.

Your stay in the US was short lived, what went wrong?

Basically after we released the “Shooting Star” single we came to the UK and did a very successful headline tour. The plan was for me to go back to L.A. after that to record my vocals for the new album, Flying Tigers. The band’s manager suggested that I apply for a tourist visa (instead of doing it the proper way and applying for an artist visa) which I did but my visa application was denied because the person at the American embassy said “I didn’t have enough ties to the UK at the time”. So that’s what happened with my visa, it wasn’t down to tension within the band or anything like that and it was the last thing any of us wanted. I still have a great relationship with everyone in White Wizzard.

Your vocal style seemed to divide the White Wizzard fanbase, looking back were they the right band for you?

Same thing happened when Dio joined Sabbath or when Bruce joined Maiden, Coverdale joining Deep Purple, etc. etc. Bottom line is that you had a singer from the UK (with a VERY “British” way of singing, haha) singing for a band that, when it came to vocals, had a very “American” sound, of course there’s gonna be people that don’t like it and I totally get it. Also you always get emotionally attached to the line up that a band has when you first discover them, it’s a natural human thing.To this day there’s people that think Maiden where better with Paul DiAnno! Is it true, no. Fact of the matter is I gave the fans that came to those shows more than any other singer in the history of the band, night in and night out, on a consistent basis.

You’ve not wasted any time in getting a new band together, how did you go about assembling the Monument line up?

I have known all the guys in the band for years and we’ve played together in various occasions in the past. A couple of the guys dropped me an email saying they were interested in auditioning when I announced that I left WW and I was looking for musicians and the other two I just gave a ring to see if they wanted to have a jam. It all happened very quickly.

Was it difficult finding 4 musicians who had the drive and the talent to fulfil your vision?

Not really. Like I said, we’ve all known each other for years (as parts of the London music scene) and there’s a lot of mutual respect between us and also a very similar vision as to what this band needs to be.

How are the creative duties shared in the band, Do all the members have an input in the song writing and arrangement or do you have a definite idea in advance of how things are going to sound?

It’s all pretty much done by me, apart from maybe some arrangement ideas that we might come up in the studio and also Dan might play a riff slightly varied to make it sound a bit “bigger” ect. I write all the music and lyrics at the moment which is something that I’d like to see change in the future as I would love for the rest of the guys to be able to use Monument as a platform to express their musical ideas.

Monument recently played their first gig in London, how did it go?

Best first gig I’ve played in my life. I never expected so many people to show up, let alone them knowing the lyrics to the songs already (the two songs on myspace) without a proper release out yet! Just goes to show how hungry Metal fans are for a genuine TRUE British Heavy Metal sound. I want to make an impact in today’s Metal scene with Monument and bring PROPER Heavy Metal back in the UK (and the world). I know it’s a hugely ambitious statement and weather we do it or not depends on many factors outside of the band. It might happen or we might fail but we sure as fuck are going to try our hardest and if this fail believe me it’s not going to be because of lack of effort or talent…

The reception for the new track “Rock The Night” has been great, you happy with how things are going so far?

I am really excited to see such a positive reaction to it. I am really passionate about what I do with Monument and it’s things like that which make me keep going for it and believe me it’s not an easy thing to do with no backing from anywhere. No rich daddy paying for stuff here… We are all blue collar guys from blue collar families and we go through some major sacrifices in order to even afford to be in this band… It’s not as easy as most people think, especially in today’s climate and the state of the music business.

What’s the next step? Any Label interest and is there an album in the offing?

There have been talks with a number of labels and we are close to finalizing a management/recording deal as we speak so hopefully I will have some good news on that next time we speak. We have started pre-production for a 4 track E.P. which is hopefully going to be ready by mid September if not faster.

How about live dates, will you be venturing out of London?

The plan right now is to do a few more London shows and do the best job we can on the E.P. then we will look into booking some shows outside London as well as some festival appearances.