“The Spice Girls with a double kick drum,” wasn’t exactly the response I was expecting when I asked singer Lizi Blanco how she’d describe the sound of her band The Beautiful Monument – “just don’t say we sound like Paramore!”
Clearly this comparison has been made perhaps a few too many times before and it’s something that makes her audibly bristle, perhaps with no small justification. However that was just one of many surprises I was presented with during our all too brief but memorable phone call to her native Newcastle in New South Wales.
Lizi also describes herself as “a bit of an asshole” when asked how the band came together. Turns out she’d “got fed up with playing guitar and didn’t want to do it anymore” and already knew that Alex Henderson played guitar in the band Falsifer. The two met under dubious and very Rock n Roll circumstances and instantly became close friends. Lizi wanted to dedicate herself to being a front woman and asked Alex to take over guitar duties. Bassist Amy MacIntosh was the next recruit, and lastly was second guitarist Andy Skombri, who Lizi had met in another line up in a Battle Of The Bands years earlier.
With a singular vision and admirable determination she assembled the band from the ground up. “I’ve got a very talented bunch of best friends. I’m very lucky,” Lizi states with sincerity and respect in equal measure. The band has been through a few personnel changes since 2013, but according to Blanco, this is the definitive line up.
When it comes to the writing process, the band is very much a democracy. All members bring in their own influences and styles which makes for a band that has its own sound as well as a diverse range of material. Far too many bands have imploded due to their main songwriter’s unwillingness to let other members share in the composition of new songs, quite often resulting in a limited sonic palette.
A recurring theme of their second and most recent album I’m The Reaper is mortality and loss, due to Blanco recently experiencing the passing of many people close to her. This quickly becomes apparent after listening to singles “Reaper” and “Stay”.
“Within the span of two years I lost six or seven people, which was a lot… it was rough,” she says, still clearly affected by the experience. “They were very important people to me and the more their legacy lives on, the more I talk about it, the more people remember them and I don’t think they should be forgotten. The grieving process was a whole new world for me,I’d never lost someone, I didn’t know what it was like, it was very overwhelming. The album was a very cathartic experience.”
Talk soon turns to shows and the upcoming Good Things tour in December, featuring Parkway Drive, A Day To Remember, Violent Soho, Bad Religion and Trivium among others.
“I cried when I found out I was going to be on the same lineup as A Day To Remember, so I am beyond excited,” Lizi says almost bashfully. Although the thrill of playing big stages is almost palpable, she confesses a fondness for the intimacy and closeness to the audience of smaller club shows. “I like both for different reasons.”
So what’s next for The Beautiful Monument? “At the moment we’re just focusing on the Good Things Tour. We want to put on the best high-kicking performance we can on that, but we’re always writing. The grind never stops.
The Beautiful Monument will be appearing on the Good Things traveling roadshow this December. Head here for tickets and details.