In Search Of Tone: Thomas V. Jäger Of Monolord

The opening riff of their debut album Empress Rising is all it took for me to become a Monolord fan. However, it’s songs like Vænir, The Bastard Son and No Comfort that keep me a fan. I feel like Thomas V. Jäger has shown he’s a master of his craft with each consecutive album.

Thomas V. Jäger

In Monolord, Thomas shows us his expertise in heavy hard hitting riffs, but last year proved his skills on the acoustic guitar with his debut solo album A Solitary Plan. Having Thomas discuss his perspective of songwriting and guitar tone in Part 5 of this series is beyond incredible.

Monolord has one of the best fuzz tones around in my opinion. I’ve been told that if I want to sound like you I need to start with a Boss Hyper Fuzz. What pedals are you currently using and are any of them custom made for you?

I got asked that question a while back, what item would I use if I only could choose one, I guess it has to be the Hyper Fuzz. All other fuzz pedals are boring in my opinion, so the FZ2 is a good start. But of course, it’s also how you play, what other gear you’re using etc. I have a FZ2 clone made by Hiero FX with a Burning Church on there. Check it out.

what item would I ise if I only could choose one, I guess it has to be the [Boss] Hyper Fuzz…

When choosing an amp, I’ve noticed a lot of debate over solid state vs tube amps. Do you have a preference? What amps are you currently using and do you use the same amps for recording and live?

I’m fortunate to be endorsed by Orange Amps and the Dual Dark is my all time fav amp so I’m gonna use that on the upcoming recording of our fifth record. I also have an Orange OR100 and a bunch of different cabinets with different speakers in them so I have all the variety I need. I also use smaller amps in the studio like the Micro Dark. I mostly use tube amps but in the US, my live rig includes the Orange CR120 which is a solid state and it sounds kinda cool.

Thomas V. Jäger

When dialling in a tone on your amp do you start with a clean tone or add a little crunch before the pedals?

Malcolm Young had the best guitar sound so I try to get as close as I can to that. Note that I’m tuned down to B so it won’t be the same of course.

Last but not least are the guitars. What guitars are you currently using and do you have a preference in single coil, Humbucker, P90 or active pickups?

I’m also endorsed by Lace Pickups and I love their stuff. High output humbuckers. I’ve never really tried active pickups as I really don’t wanna forget to change batteries or have to deal with any of that. That is also why I rip everything out when I get a guitar. One humbucker and a volume knob is enough. Less hassle. I just put a P90 in a V though. A bit noisy but cool sounding.

One humbucker and a volume knob is enough. Less hassle…

Do you have a guitar, amp or pedal that you have had for a long time and will never part with?

Yeah that would be my black Greco V’s, a model that’s really hard to get and I now have two! And although it’s broken, my old Orange OR120 from ’73 is hard to say good bye to.

Monolord ‘No Comfort’

I really enjoy songs like No Comfort, Larvae and The Cosmic Silence that have soft clean tone beginnings and sudden powerful riffs. When writing riffs and songs how do you know an idea is worth keeping?

I’m the one writing most of the songs in Monolord and I think I’m pretty good at producing myself. I go for a vibe or an idea, I record it on my phone and when I have the time, I go to my home studio and record it. I can almost instantly feel if it is boring or if it is a banger, but I cannot say for sure until we rehearsed it. When Mika and Esben do their thing it usually just comes together. Some songs fit right away, some songs you have to work on. If you have to work too long, maybe the song isn’t that good.

when I got a microKORG synth last year, I wrote a bunch of songs right away because the KORG was so inspiring…

When I play guitar, I try and play new things but many times I find I play the same riffs over and over. I will also play those same riffs and feel I was worse than the day before. What do you do for inspiration if you’re having an off day or to keep from playing the same things over and over?

I struggle from time to time but I’ve never really been in a tough writers block. I try to play a lot of different instruments. Like when I got a microKORG synth last year, I wrote a bunch of songs right away because the KORG was so inspiring. I can’t really play piano, but I learnt kind of quick. I also try to play in different tunings that I later transcribe to fit the Monolord tuning/sound. A thing that helps me tremendously is to record everything on my phone, or whatever device I have that is close. Sometimes when I’m stuck I go through old riffs and sometimes I find gold!

Thomas V. Jäger

There is an endless amount of music out there with more created every day. There are only a handful of notes and chords however. How do you create original music without repeating yourself or others?

This is maybe the hardest question of all. What I really like is that I have both Monolord, and all my other projects to work for. I’ve written my second solo album already and songs for the third album is coming on too. It doesn’t always have to be original if you do it right. It’s not like Monolord is about reinventing the wheel, but for our next album I think we’re on to something a bit different. It is exiting.

Do you have any practice routines or warm-ups that you do on a daily basis?

Not really. Some stretching once in a while.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. I really appreciate it! Is there anything else you would like to add?

Be kind to animals and stay the fuck home.

Monolord’s current album No Comfort is available from Relapse Records, while Thomas’ debut solo album A Solitary Plan was released last year through RidingEasy Records.

Label: Relapse Records | RidingEasy Records
Monlord: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram
Thomas V. Jäger: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Interviewed by: Josh Schneider