On Thursday August 23rd, the German band High Fighter played a gig in the Little Devil in Tilburg, The Netherlands. Before the show DutchMetalManiac’s Tim van Velthuysen spoke with High Fighter’s vocalist Mona Miluski. She also recently started her own music agency called All Noir, after her time working for Napalm Records.
Hey, how are you?
I’m good. I’m sitting here with you in sunny Tilburg having a beer with my guys. It’s our first show in Tilburg, in The Netherlands ever today. It’s a tour start, so first day of the tour is always great. It’s good to be here, lovely place here at the Little Devil. I’m good, thank you.
First of all, in June, your guitarist Shi, broke his leg. How is he doing now?
He’s doing well, you can see him over there, he is drinking beer. He’s fine. It was with Mantar, we’ve been on a few shows with Mantar together this summer. While loading our stuff out in front of the venue he missed one step at the back of the van, he fell down and broke his leg twice. But he’s fine, he’s alive! Thank you for asking. He’s also coming on stage, even while he can’t walk or load and carry stuff, but he is here with us and we’re very happy that he is here with us and can play the shows, even while sitting. He tries to be the new Dave Grohl.
Looking forward to tonight’s show?
Yes, we are. Like I said it’s the first time for us to play in The Netherlands, especially Tilburg. We’ve always wanted to play here, especially in the Little Devil, because we heard many good things and lots of friends from other bands play here. There are so many bands playing here at this really cool location. So, we’re looking forward to the show. It’s free as well, which I think is awesome. So, hopefully there will be some people here and we will have a good time.
I will experience it for the first time later tonight, but can you describe what makes a High Fighter concert special?
I think what it makes it special might be that it’s really authentic. We don’t have a really rehearsed show, poses or something. It’s very energetic, it can get very wild, sometimes maybe even uncoordinated on stage. We just let the energy happen and we don’t think much about a posing performance or something, it’s very natural.
After tonight you’re leaving for a tour in the UK, which also was where you first toured, back in early 2015. Looking forward to it?
Yes, we are. Especially to play cities like London again. The first time we played there in 2015 was our first tour with the Polish band Sunnata, good friends of ours. We’ve been around at that time for half a year or something, we had one EP out. London was totally packed and there were people singing my lyrics, I was like what the fuck is going on here. Now we will also play other places we’ve never been too, like Edinburgh. I am very looking forward to play in Scotland for the very first time. Lots of cool places, including a festival show on Saturday, Riff Fest. So, we look forward to be back in the UK. It’s a difference between main Europe and the UK, especially when it comes to booking and hospitality for example. There are so many bands touring the UK and every band wants to play the UK. So, it’s a bit different. When you come here in for example Tilburg, I will be straight honest, everyone is welcoming you, you get nice food, everything is great. When you’re a small, underground band, like we are and you come to the UK, it sometimes is a little bit tough. Sometimes you won’t get any drinks or no food. Then it’s more like if you want to play here, be happy that you at least get a stage. But we got good shows I think and we are really looking forward to be on the ferry tomorrow going to the UK.
Is there also a difference between the audiences?
Not really, no. I don’t think there are many differences in that all over Europe. Of course, you have some cities where is very much going on. Like in Germany for example, Berlin or Hamburg. There are metal or rock shows every night. There people are sometimes maybe a little bit lazy for showing their energy. Then you go to other places where people are more excited, because there aren’t a lot of shows happening there. There you can still feel that people really breathe it. However I think that a rock ‘n’ roll spirit is a rock ‘n’ roll spirit and a metal head is a metal head all over the world. It’s the music that connects, I think that’s the most important and that’s the same all over the world.
You already said it, with that UK tour in 2015 you were just recently formed and only had your debut EP The Goat Ritual, released. Now, it’s 3 years later, 4 since High Fighter’s start, and you also released your debut full-length Scars & Crosses, how do you look back at those past years?
We are very grateful. What we did with both records, it got us so many shows and cool festivals. With just one EP and one album we played Wacken, Summerbreeze, Desertfest Berlin & Antwerp. It got us on so many tours with awesome bands we are huge fans of like Ahab, Conan, Downfall Of Gaia, Mantar, Crowbar, Brant Bjork. A lot of cool shows.
We mix a lot of styles, sometimes even in one song, it’s metal, blues, stoner, doom, sludge and it’s human to categorize. When you see someone, you put him into a category, when you hear a song, you put it into a category. If you can’t put something into a category, it’s confusing. I think we confused a few people at the beginning. Like when we played a metal festival, there were people who thought we were very much stoner rock. When we played a stoner rock festival, people were saying that we were so much metal. We just kept it going, we ignored that. So, we never wanted to fit into one style. We are grateful that people think it’s more and more okay that we are that mixing band.
We are very grateful that both records got us at so many shows. That’s what we like to do most, playing live. Being out on the road, having a good time with the people we meet at our shows and the bands we tour with.
We are already working on a new album now, so exciting times, in the past and in the future hopefully.
What was your most memorable memory of those past years?
I can’t name you just one. We played big shows like Wacken, that was huge for us of course. We made great friends like for example in Ahab, Downfall Of Gaia or Elder. We got so many good memories on every tour, every gig we are. We try to enjoy every time. For me personally, one of the best shows I ever played was Stoned From The Underground, it’s a great festival in Erfurt, Germany. That is of my highlights, because of the vibe and the energy. It was in 2015 and there were like 2000 people celebrating the show with us and we were totally blown away by the people. Also our first bigger tour with Ahab, when we played in Paris, was also one of the best shows I will always love to remember. I can’t really name you one single memory, it’s the whole picture.
In what way has High Fighter grown since then?
I think that we played live a lot really got us together, in our performance and inside the band. Another also very important fact is that we grown together as a band, we write our songs together. There is not really one composer in the band, we write all songs together. That’s why we also need more time for a new album, because we play so much and because of five people writing an album together. I like that way because it brings us together and everyone brings their own influences into the band and into the music. There’s a family vibe in High Fighter, it’s not just a band who meets for an album production or right before a tour. We all live in one city, we rehearse two times a week and besides touring and rehearsing we hang together a lot, it’s a family. To me growing together like that is more success than having big record sales or something like that.
So you all write an album together, how about the lyrics?
I write the lyrics myself, but I always told the guys that if anyone has some lyrics they could bring them in, but I think that’s my job. So far I wrote all lyrics. I am not that good in writing a good riff though.
Where do you get your inspiration from for your lyrics?
Life, definitely. I am not a very happy writer, it’s very dark and deals about a lot of the past and demons in your soul. My lyrics have some very dark issues, but that’s the inspiration life gives me, history, society, struggling in life, going through a lot of pain in your soul. That inspires me most. I am not that good in writing a happy song or a love song.
We already spoke about the mixing of musical styles. What gives High Fighter its uniqueness?
Especially that we mix genres, we don’t try to be a specific genre only band. We just let it happen and we are very natural people. We’re not trying to pretend someone else, bigger or special, it’s just us. We try to let all styles that we get inspired from happen into one own High Fighter sound.
On your Facebook it’s stated to be Heavy Stoner Bluescore.
Yeah, we came on that when we were really stoned or drunk, I think. It’s a mix between stoner rock, doom and metal with some influences from the blues and also hardcore. Sometimes I would say it’s beauty meets ugliness. In one part it can be very beautiful, melodic, bluesy, stoner rock-ish and then it just gets very mean, ugly and in to your face from one second into the next.
You already mentioned that you’re a writing a second album, which is set for release in early 2019. Can you already tell something about what fans can expect from it?
We don’t change our way to write and keep going on mixing stuff. I would say it still will be under that stoner/doom/sludge/blues/metal-flag but a few songs may be a little bit more progressive, even one or two songs being more straight forward, almost punk-ish. We are currently working on it and we are going to record it this winter, to release it in Spring 2019.
Looking forward to it!
You also worked as a PR-manager at Napalm Records. A few months ago you decided to leave Napalm Records and start your own music agency, All Noir. What were your reasons for making these decisions?
I’ve always enjoyed working for Napalm, I learned very much. I am very grateful for my time at Napalm, it’s a great company with great bands I really love and admire. I am still friends with lots of bands there and I am very grateful for my time at Napalm.
I am also a very colorful-minded spirit and while I was working for Napalm I sometimes got bands or other companies that wanted to work with me, also some non-record companies like festivals or tour promoters. I always had to deny because I was working full-time with Napalm.
Over the years I realized that I am a very free-minded and colorful spirit. The time came that I thought it would be the best time now to also start doing other things. I always did album promotion. I wanted to get more new experiences for myself and being the colorful person I am and do more colorful jobs. I also wanted to be a lot on the road with High Fighter. I think I am person who needs to be own boss, to be free and to be a very freedom-loving spirit. I think that was the main reason.
I am still in a very good relationship with Napalm, I even work for bands like Powerwolf at the moment. There is no bad blood or anything, I like the company. For me, the time came to move on and to do more colorful work. Now I do album promotion, live promotion, booking and management for bands. I also do festival promotion for festivals like for example Desertfest Berlin or Sonic Blast in Portugal, which is an awesome festival. I am very happy about that. I learned a lot at Napalm, but it was time to spread my wings and fly like a free bird.
Is there something special on what All Noir stands for?
Yeah, because I think I can offer a lot more than just an album promoter can do. There are lots of freelance promoters like I am but they focus on for example just print promotion, just online promotion or just radio promotion. They also mostly focus on bigger companies and bigger bands. I do many underground bands. My heart beats for the stoner-, doom-, sludge- and black metal scene. So a lot of underground no-name bands who can hire me and also some bigger ones. I can also help with some booking or managing. I now manage a few bands as well. So, I can also offer some special services for the bands and companies.
It doesn’t depend for me on the size of the company or band, it’s about quality for me. So, I can work with a quality band or company, it doesn’t matter if it’s small or big.
I can offer more than just one service. I also work all over Europe. I know people like all over Europe, like for example you here in The Netherlands. I think I can offer a bigger package for bands.
Is it limited in terms of genres?
Not really, it’s very colorful too. However, of course I prefer my favorite colors of music. I have a lot of stoner rock, psychedelic rock, doom and sludge. Also bands like Powerwolf I do tour promotion for. It’s not really limited, but I am not the right person anymore for, for example, symphonic metal bands. It’s just not a style or genre I really like, metalcore is also not my favorite style of music. It’s important for me that I know what I am doing with a band and that I know that I stand behind the music I promote, so I really listen to a band. For me it’s not about earning all the money and then doing a shitty job and ruining my reputation. I can only do a perfectly good job when I really love what I am doing and love the bands I work with.
It’s also about a few less heavy bands right? You recently sent a post-blues band for example.
Yes, you mean The Ghost And The Machine from Austria, a really good band. They’re different from what I usually do.
I really liked it.
Yes! When they sent me their music I was really impressed. It can be music for like a cool movie, very atmospheric and bluesy. I was really impressed by them, immediately at the first moment I heard them. So, I didn’t care that I was usually more metal or stoner rock. I really like them, it was very interesting to me, it was very special. Then I don’t really care about the style, but there of course are also a few styles I am not the perfect promoter for. If there would be a indie band or an indie pop band I would like, I couldn’t do that, because I don’t have the right network for it. I especially work with rock and metal people. I also couldn’t work with a punk band only, because I don’t have the right contacts to promote them. Mainly if it’s good rock or good metal, it doesn’t matter what subgenre it is, it’s good. I am not really a fan of that opera/symphonic style. Even though I am a professional, I need to be a little bit a fan as well of the music I promote.
Then you really feel it.
Yeah, because I work with a lot passion and heart. I can’t feel the passion and heart when it’s music I really don’t like.
How does it feel to now have your own music agency?
It feels great! I’ve never felt so good like I do today. It was the right step for me. I got great bands and great companies I work for right from the beginning. It’s more various. It’s just not album promotion over and over again. Every day is different and I enjoy it. I am my own boss and I can work from every place all over Europe. It doesn’t matter whether I am on tour or at home. I feel very happy about that step I made. I know it was a risk, especially in the music business. It’s a very tough business, it can be very brutal. I think I’ve grown some balls over the years to hopefully survive for the next years.
How do you think your life would be without music?
It wouldn’t be a good life. I started doing music very early. My father is a professional guitarist in bands and he never did anything else. I played in my first band when I was 13 years old, I always sang. I started singing very early, I think I was four or five years old. Music is everything for me. If it wouldn’t be music I would maybe work with animals. I am a nature person, I love animals, I have an old horse. Maybe I would work for a animal rescue station or be a guard on a lonely island.
Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to DutchMetalManiac’s readers?
Thank you DutchMetalManiac for having High Fighter. We are looking forward to play tonight’s show, it will be our very first time to play in The Netherlands and we hope to come back to all the Dutch crowds very soon again. Make sure that you check us out.
I’m Tim van Velthuysen and I started DutchMetalManiac back in 2014. I’m 27 years old and I live in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Of course, I like metal, but I can also appreciate other musical styles. However, metal is what I mostly listen to. I also like going to concerts, meeting with friends and watching movies (especially arthouse).