For an up-and-coming metal band, the loss of a guitar player could be a fatal blow. That’s not the case for Sky Monitor: despite the loss of their lead guitarist Kristjan Tomasson, the metalcore quintet is getting some of their biggest breaks yet.
“I’m scared to even be in the same room as Within The Ruins,” says Devon Hare, the band’s bassist, referencing the Massachusetts-based metalcore quartet that Sky Monitor will be opening for on Nov. 17. “Those guys are top notch.”
Formed in March 2012, Sky Monitor includes brothers Ndidi and Katuma Nhussi - on vocals and drums respectively - with guitarist Dennis Simnard and their newest member Matt Simpson, who replaces Tomasson on lead guitar.
Initially bonding over their shared love of such bands as Killswitch Engage and Protest The Hero, Sky Monitor’s musical influences run the gamut from jazz to hip-hop. In July, Tomasson left to pursue a career in the private sector. He still remains close with his former bandmates, even filling in on the occasional gig if needed.
“We all kind of saw it coming,” Hare says. “It always felt like he was a bit on the fence. He loves the music, but then, there’s real life and trying to find a career.”
Sky Monitor’s live sets are often a far cry from what you’ll hear on their self-titled debut EP, released in April. The band enjoys improvising on stage, even altering the speed and tempo of its songs.
“If the musician isn’t having fun, the crowd isn’t having fun,” Hare says. “You’re paying to see a local band, they should be giving you something. Not just, ‘Here’s our songs. Thanks for coming out, Mom.’”
Hare finds continual inspiration in a genre of music that might seem bleak and gloomy.
“Metal is a physical and emotionally uplifting genre,” Hare says. “A lot of people see it as depressing or angry. Even when I’m listening to some dark ass Opeth song, it’s never, ‘Oh, that’s so sad.’ It’s, ‘Oh, that’s so crazy how they did that!’”
Hare first picked up the bass at age 13, after telling a girl he had a crush on that he was a bass player. He quickly realized that he’d better learn the instrument.
“I didn’t want to seem like a lying idiot,” Hare says a decade later. Much to Hare’s surprise, he found himself falling in love with the bass instead of the girl. Hare is quick to play down the highlights, self-deprecatingly admitting his experiences as bassist have not always been glamorous.
“I’m sweating over an instrument that isn’t gonna get me laid,” Hare says, laughing. “Telling people I’m a bass player is a social turn off. ‘So you’re just the third guitarist who wanted to look cool?’ It’s like, ‘No, that’s not how it is.’
“We put in so much hard work,” Hare says. “It’s like a team sport. We bleed together.”