The loneliness of the solo strummer? Disagreed, bud. Some men and women can turn their ten fingers into whole orchestras. Montrealer Elliot C. and his instrumental strain of sandy boogie, Morgue of Saints, is one such mirror conductor. If we didn’t tell you it was all EC, you’d never guess. You’d figure it was a gang of Heep devotees, jamming down after mainlining plate after plate of slow-cooked Salisbury steak. Of course, there’s a hell of a mash of Purple potatoes on the side. Yep, melting into these Kyuss crannies are rich Lord chords, crowning Morgue with a Machine Head heaviness. Grub and groove on down:
Feeling pepped up? Recharged? Yeah, that’s the thing: Unlike a lot of red-eyed reveries, Morgue of Saints doesn’t settle for a comfy couch and the clicker. Sure, that warmer-than-a-stolen-six-pack tone is relaxing, but the galvanizing backbeat of Elliot’s overtures inspires one to get up, get into it, and get involved. It’s music for doing. For being. For living. It’s the sneaky-toke motivational coach you need today.
See? It’s not really cruising solo after all. Look at you, riding shotgun. I think you two are going to get along just fine.
Of course, we had to know more. Erik Highter rolled over to fellow E-man Elliot. Erik asked five questions, Elliot gave him five answers.
The organ, that most neglected of metal instruments, gets quite a workout throughout Monolith, and helps differentiate it from the crowd. What led you to feature it so prominently? Is it an instrument you compose on, or do you work out the parts for it after the guitar and rhythm tracks?
I’ve always felt like the Hammond organ was an instrument that appealed very much to the stoner rock genre, but sadly, as you said, too often neglected. So I decided to craft the stoner rock album I dreamt of, an album that featured the Hammond organ on the majority of riffs. I wrote the organ parts after writing the guitar tracks.
Monolith sounds both retro and very now. There are a few drum patterns and a couple of guitar tones that make it feel very current, but the aesthetic as a whole seems steeped in a heady, early ’70s tea. Very few artists are able to make that mix of old and new seem so natural. Is this something you think about when constructing your songs? Where do you see Monolith on the continuum from then until now, or do you see yourself outside of any lineage?
The ’70s aesthetic is most probably due to my style of playing and writing, especially in the stoner rock department. It’s not really something I think about when writing. It comes to me naturally. I don’t see Monolith in a continuum. I see it just as it is, a 2014 stoner rock/metal album.
Morgue of Saints is an instrumental project, and to these ears it doesn’t need a vocal component. At any point have you played with the idea of vocals? Do you find being an instrumental band limits you in any way, musically or in finding an audience?
I had intended to feature vocals on Monolith but could not find a singer suitable for the project. The lack of vocals in the material released via Morgue of Saints most probably limits exposure, but not musicality. The main focus on both Sleep/Death and Monolith are the riffs.
Your prior album, Sleep/Death, is a massive slab of drone and doom, epic in both scope and tone. Monolith is a more uptempo album, jammy yet concise. To be honest, they sound like the work of entirely different minds and hands. Did you ever consider a different moniker because of this change in tone and direction? Do you see the two as part of a greater whole? Will future projects blend these two seemingly disparate parts, or branch off again in an entirely new direction?
I use Morgue of Saints as an output for my instrumental rock/metal solo material. I have another project called The Hundredth Century Collapse focused on ambient music. I had considered a different moniker when I planned on adding vocals, but MoS took it under its wing when plans were dropped. I’ve been toying around with the idea of putting out a shoegaze/doom album, but I can’t say for sure what the next album will sound like. I can assure you it will be in the stoner/doom/sludge/drone category.
Given what we’re sensing might your predilections, we’d be remiss not to inquire about your influences. And, what has caught your ear lately?My main influences for writing Monolith were Acrimony, The Sword, Electric Wizard, and Mastodon. Big Business‘s 2007 full-length Here Come The Waterworks has caught my attention lately. I love the fat distorted sound the guitars and bass achieve in unison, along with the tight vocal harmonies delivered by both the guitarist and the bassist.