Interview by Miriam C.
For the German singer Mona Miluski isn’t her first rodeo because back in 2013 she debuted on the only (sigh!) full-lenght released by A Million Miles called “What’s Left Behind” but now she’s back with her brand new band called High Fighter, a new album (“Scars & Crosses”) and a new important deal with one of the best specialized label out there (Svart Records). High Fighter for Mona represents a new start but at the same time some well-earnt payback after how her musical adventure with A Million Miles ended. So, as the pheonix rises from ashes, Mona is back with an hell of a band! Prepared to be stoned!
Hello dear Mona, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine, how are you?
Hey Miriam, I am good, thanks! Just came back from an awesome tour, and the after-tour-blues depression got me, as always when we’re back from the road. Cheers for having us!
Back in March, High Fighter has signed a deal with the acclaimed Finnish label Svart Records: how did you get in contact with them?
In early 2016, we recorded some very rough demos from our upcoming album in our rehearsal space, and sent them out to a few labels. Svart Records, and between us actually we were really hoping back especially from them, were one of the first that showed up their interest and who told us we would be right up their alley… And we’re super stoked they felt the same way as we did, as we think they belong to one of the coolest labels our scene has to offer and we’re all big fans of their roster and work. There were a few more interested in working with us, but at this point we simply had to go with Svart. It feels like a perfect match, as they understand our sound and vision to 100%. And so far, we’re more than happy, feel home and very welcome in such great company.
High Fighter is a newcomer band from Germany. For our readers that don’t know your history, would mind to tell us how you got together?
Well, the story of High Fighter is pretty short but intensive I’d say. It all started as a very lucky fortune in 2014, essentially High Fighter is a fusion of two half bands. I have played together with our guitarist Shi in A Million Miles for about 5 years, until this band parted ways in early 2013. It took us almost a year to get our asses back to music, when it’s been in early 2014 we decided to start some new band project. We got joined by Ingwer on our lead guitar. He played in a stoner rock group called Buffo Hump, who had no vocalist to that point, so he came up with the idea getting his band mates Thomas and Constantin involved into our new band. And we’re glad he did, as the first moment we’ve all met, started jamming and whenever we’re out on the road since then, or at home here in Hamburg in and outside our rehearsal room, High Fighter became more than just a band to me. It became family.
“Scars & Crosses” is your first full-length and it was released on 10th June. Could you shed some light on the album’s genesis?
The thing is, we’re hard to categorize in first place, I have to admit. But I think this is what makes the album and our sound very special. It’s in our human nature, people usually need to categorize first and I always find it amusing how it’s hard to do so when it comes to our music. No matter how you call our type of music, we don’t care too much about any genre rules. We don’t try to be a pure stoner band, nor do we wanna be a doom or sludge band only, we let it happen. Are very open minded, and like to combine lots of styles into one sound. If you’re into desert rock, sludge, doom, blues and metal, am sure this album got something for you. It still has a rough sound and dark, sometimes even disturbing parts, but rounded up with a very warm vibe on the other hand. When it comes to the album’s genesis, we began writing the songs for “Scars & Crosses” shortly after we released our first EP “The Goat Ritual” and whenever we got the chance beside being out on the road. We had a lot of great and intensive moments to grow together as a band over the past 2 years especially due to playing live a lot, and so it did reflect our songwriting and sound…
Since “Scars & Crosses” isn’t your first release, how did you approach the writing and recording this time?
In the end of 2014 we’ve self released our first EP “The Goat Ritual”, we recorded that one live and on one weekend in our rehearsal room. You need to know, to that date we just came out of different bands with different backgrounds and also never shared one stage together as High Fighter. Luckily, we got the chance to play live a lot shortly after we released “The Goat Ritual”, followed by a few tours, several shows and festival gigs in 2015, but on the other side we’ve also right away started to write new songs for a first album. In our songwriting process we’re pretty much a jam band, everyone brings his ideas and input. Over the last year we have played lots of the album songs live already, and while we could grew as a band together, being on the road a lot and together 24/7 influenced the songwriting most, also our songs and sound had the chance and time to grow with us live on stage and as a band. “Scars & Crosses” feels way more homogenous to me now, then it did on “The Goat Ritual”, even I still love this EP and its super rough and heavy vibe.
I’ve read that “Scars & Crosses” was recorded live at RAMA Studio in Mannheim, Germany by Jens Siefert. For being quite a young band, it’s was a conscientious but at the same time a dangerous choice so I’m wondering if you have encountered any difficulties?
Never felt this as being dangerous. We already recorded “The Goat Ritual” live, since we have formed the band and wrote our first songs in heavy jam sessions, we like the way of how to present some kind of an authentic sound, we dig the way of recording as well as its sound, energy and dynamics. Personally I think, live recordings give an album a soul, more personality and character. This time, we just recorded in a real studio, wanted to get out of our hometown Hamburg and working with Jens has been just awesome! He’s such a rad and lovely guy and friend to work with, we have met him the first time when we toured with Ahab last Fall, after our mates in Ahab also recommended him highly, and we’re big fans of their last album “The Boats of the Glen Carrig” Jens produced, we’re glad about our choice we hit his RAMA Studio for about 10 days. Big credits as well need to go to Toshi Kasai, who mixed and mastered our debut album in his L.A. studio. We’re extremely stoked about having worked with Toshi and that he is a part of our album, I mean he is also responsible for the sound of The Melvins or Big Business records! Surely there is a difference between both records, even it all belongs together due to a natural process of the band, but I feel we have found ourselves as a band and in our sound due to playing live a lot in between both records. We were pretty well prepared for a live recording.
For the second time, you have collaborated with the visual artist Dominic Sohor for the creation of your cover album. Personally, what did you want to express with it?
“Scars & Crosses”, in my ears and eyes, is having a lots of pain, rage and fear but so much beauty on the other hand in common. We have indeed worked with Dominic Sohor again, as he is simply an amazing artist and he has been already responsible for the stunning artwork of “The Goat Ritual”. We love his work and very special, unique style. On “Scars & Crosses” he especially impressed me how deep he was reading between the lines of my lyrics. The front cover says it all…The beauty and the pain. Again and for “Scars & Crosses”, we have send him our music, a general vision and my lyrics. We did not have to change any of his drafts he sent us, nor the final result. Dominic always perfectly gets our sound and vibes, and we’re more than happy that he again put his magic on our album artwork.
Hypothetically speaking, what are for you the Scars & Crosses?
It’s the wounds and scars of your soul that life may have given you. It’s about your inner demons, a life between heaven and hell, this is why we also chose the cross as a symbol or metapher as the roots of all evil. But it’s also about to learn to live with those scars, even people in society or in any relationships will find your scars as a bad attitude, a bad character. On this album we say no, having your scars are not a bad thing and you should not change yourself or try to ignore these scars until you’re ‘worth’ to be loved. Learn to also love those who have their scars, we all have them… these darkest days, moments and demons in life, your entire history, our scars engrave us, they belong to us as much as the good sides.
In order to promote “Scars & Crosses”, you have released the single “Blinders” on which was featured on a video clip. Do you mind to share some insights about both song and video?
Yeah, we shot “Blinders” all on our own and in the good old DIY-way, we liked to keep it simple but intensive. Constantin, our bassist filmed (from the back of my shabby van ‘Dicke Bertha’ in the middle of the night and nowhere close to Thomas‘s place) and edited the video himself. Thanks to our great actor Alex, as well as the lovely dogs Rufa and Vania who were as well part of a fun and great video shoot that night. “Blinders” is one of our most fierce and heaviest metal tracks I’d say, and from an inside perspective the song’s heart represents the entire album theme of “Scars & Crosses” in some kind of way. It’s about all those scars that engrave us, and you often need to be a ‘blinder’ in life, change yourself until you will be accepted, liked or loved. Don’t be a ‘blinder’. Maybe you’re already ok, and the others are wrong, too weak or aren’t able to look behind the scenes, behind your scars. Having them is not a bad character and you should not change if you’re okay with yourself, until you’re ‘worth’ to be loved for someone else. We can’t just pick the good sides of someone, if we really wanna commit ourselves to love and accept someone.
You’ve toured along with Corrosion of Conformity, Ahab and Greenleaf. Which is the memory that you cherish the most about this experience?
There are so many great memories we share since our even short history of High Fighter, but indeed, that Ahab tour last Fall alongside with our friends in Mammoth Storm, has been a true blast and very special to us. Such great vibes and people on this run, we all became very close friends that will last forever. Probably one of the best times for us, but I also love to remember our show at Stoned from the Underground last year, our first band flight when we played Sonic Blast in Portugal, or our show in London back in April 2015 when we toured with Sunnata. The list of amazing experiences, great places, people and moments we had so far is long, and we just enjoy being out on the road together.
From what I recall Mona, this isn’t your first rodeo and taking a trip down memory lane back in 2012 you’ve released “What Left Behind” with A Million Miles. At the time, it saddened me a lot to learn about your split up. Personally speaking, was it hard to start over again to trust the right people? When did you understand that everything was working again in the right way?
Well, what is right and what is the wrong way….I think and nowadays, a couple of years after A Million Miles split up – which gave me one of the most hardest and darkest times of my life – but when I look back, today it feels like it is finally in the right place. It’s never been in the right way before. A Million Miles been together more than 5 years, we heavily toured, we just released a first and critically acclaimed album, and then sadly, exactly 10 days after its release, split up. It took the ground under my feet, and what’s saddened me the most, is that this band lost all their love, respect, vision, trust and hope in each other over the years, and we probably forgot why we once started music together or that we simply were not able, to stand for each other as a strong unit, any deep relation needs. It took almost a year until I really felt it again, after going through very bad times, depressions, but also a lot of self reflection and an important healing process. 3 years ago, I would have answered your question in a different way, today I can just be more than grateful and glad how things happen in life and a chapter closed, as otherwise I would have never became a part of High Fighter. For us, it’s about the good times, it’s a very chilled and relaxed band, we love each other 100%, with a lot of own manpower and everyone brings his input, creativity and spirit into the band. It did not take long after this band got together, that I could really trust again and being with my mates in High Fighter, is the most right and best place I could ever imagine to be in.
Between July and August, you have toured in Europe and you have shared the stage along with Earth Ship. Do you have any interesting news to share about this band? In addition to this do you have any further plans for a complete EU tour?
While we speak, we just ended this amazing tour with Earth Ship and Mammoth Storm, and simply had a blast! Great guys and great vibes on this tour. We have been already close friends of Mammoth Storm, since we toured with them together with Ahab last Fall. We were stoked seeing them again and had a wonderful time. Earth Ship are also a super rad live band, they kick ass and all bands had a lovely time together on tour. Now we have played a few festivals this year, such as Summer Breeze or Up in Smoke Festival, and have announced a bunch of more shows coming up in 2017. We hope to play live as much as possible again this year, being out on the road, are the best moments for us..
So, Mona, it’s time for your parting words – I really thank you for your time – please greet freely our readers and your fans. Thanks again and lots of love from Italy!
Thanks so much for having us on Femme Metal and we then hope to bring back some rock love during our tours! Stay high, and hopefully see you very soon at one of our shows!