By Carl Begai
Vocalist Mona Miluski never had any intention of fronting German stoner rock band High Fighter. She’s not complaining about doing just that, but two years ago she was poised to conquer the world with metal bashers A Million Miles and the press folks locked into the band’s debut album, What’s Left behind, were set to give them the push they needed. Nothing ever goes as planned, of course, and thanks to issues and assorted bullshit on both professional and personal levels A Million Miles tragically crashed and burned far too early into their flight. Miluski freely admits she was devastated by the turn of events, but 2015 finds her back in business on a new and improved and – as recent experience has taught her – a rock solid foundation.
“I can say that 2013 sucked for everyone involved in A Million Miles,” Miluski begins. “Ten days after the release of our debut album we went on the road, and ten days later the band parted ways. Like you said, it was a tragedy for me because the band was my life, it was the ground I stood on, I breathed for the band. I totally lost my ground when we split up. There are several personal reasons why we broke up and it was a tragedy for all of us. The album got really great press so it was a shame things fell apart, but shit happens.”
“We parted ways in April 2013 and I talked to Shi (ex-A Million Miles guitarist Christian Pappas) again at the end of 2013 because we’ve always been best friends and we can’t stop making music together. It took me almost a year to get back on my feet and for us to put things back together and start searching for other musicians.”
In the end High Fighter was formed as a patchwork experiment, an attempt to see if the pieces rounded up would actually fit together.
“Our guitarist Ingwer (Boysen) was with Buffalo Hump, a stoner rock group based close to Hamburg. We didn’t know him so he came up for a jam session, but we were still looking for a drummer and bassist. He told us he was still with Buffalo Hump but they didn’t have a singer at the moment, so there was a drummer (Thomas Wildelau) and a bassist (Constantin Wüst) looking for something to do (laughs). We arranged a full jam and it turned out to be a perfect fusion, as if we’d known each other for years. From the very first tone it all came together naturally.”
Which may be an odd thing to hear for anyone familiar with A Million Miles. With the exception of Miluski’s voice the two bands have very little in common sonically, and she’s also taken things in a grittier and more brutal direction on High Fighter’s debut EP, The Goat Ritual. Asked if it was strange switching lanes into a stoner doom direction, Miluski shakes off the suggestion.
“Absolutely not. I come from the old school heavy metal scene and I did metal in the past, but over the years I turned more to the stoner and doom scene. I was listening to Kyuss when I was 13 and I grew up with a lot of desert rock as well, so with High Fighter I feel that I’ve come home. For Shi as well because he was always the guy in A Million Miles who came up with more of those Down / Corrosion Of Conformity / Crowbar riffs; everyone else was more on the heavy metal side. For me and Shi, doing this sound with High Fighter is nothing new. We’re very comfortable with what we’re doing now.”
From a Canadian point of view, High Fighter sounds as if veteran blues-charged rock singer Sass Jordan is fronting Down. Miluski has carried her signature clean vocals over from A Million Miles – where the comparison was first made – and those unfamiliar with the lovely Ms. Jordan would do well to check her out as a comparison just for the hell of it.
“I listened to Sass Jordan after you told me that and I’m very happy with that comparison,” says Miluski. “In the past so many people have compared me to Sandra Nasic of the Guano Apes, and now when people hear ‘Black Waters’ from the new EP they say it reminds them of Angela Gossow in her Arch Enemy days. I don’t necessarily agree, but that’s because I prefer the comparisons to more soulful blues singers.”
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Photos by Frau Siemens Fotografiert