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Interview with Shelby Ouston (The Beautiful Monument)

After a year of keeping a close and excited eye on Melbourne’s The Beautiful Monument, it was awesome to have the chance to have a chat with the bands bass player Shelby about TBM’s explosive growth, tokenism and queer representation in heavy music and their upcoming tour with Tonight Alive. 

You guys have had a huge year so far, and have just come back from showcasing at BigSound, how was that experience? Did you guys get to check out any new bands when you were there?

BigSound was absolutely incredible! We had such a fantastic time hanging out with bands, meeting industry professionals and the like, and watching so many rad bands! We got to check out Ruby Fields, Jess Locke, Polaris, Belle Haven, Drown This City, Hockey Dad, and fucking British India played a secret show at one of the industry parties! We’ve all got such a diverse taste in music, so this was an absolutely awesome time for all of us, being able to check out all our favourite bands at once.

You’re also about to hit the road with Tonight Alive, what have the preparations been like for those shows?

The preparations have been insane. We’re constantly working on our live show to make this the BEST show we’ve ever put on. We’re super excited for this run of dates. It’s our first proper tour so it’s one we want to make super special.

Tonight Alive are on the UNFD Roster, and aside from supporting them on their tour, TBM has also been announced for Unify Gathering 2018….is there a bit of love blossoming between UNFD and TBM?

We like to think so haha. Triple J Unearthed and Architects chose us to support Architects back in May and that was our first time meeting a bunch of the awesome people at UNFD. They were all lovely people, and we’ve been loving the opportunities they’ve been giving us since we first played for/met them.

I know you guys spoke to KYS last year about the lack of women featuring on 2017s UNIFY line-up, and no doubt you’ve seen some of the backlash about this year’s line-up for the same reason, what is it like for you all, hearing all the negativity in spite of the efforts the festival curators have made this year? Does it give you the shits that some people might view your placement on the line-up as an act of tokenism rather than a genuine appreciation for women making amazing heavy music?

This is something that we absolutely hate, obviously. It’s so lame that some people are believing that UNFD would put any of these bands featuring females on the line up just because they have females in them. We’re proud of everything we’ve done in the last year, and stoked on the opportunities we’ve been given. We’re honoured to have been asked to play, and its even cooler that there are some fantastic bands with females in them that are doing so well for themselves, also playing that festival.

Bands with female members, as much as people might not want to admit it, are not in abundance in the heavy music scene, but I’ve noticed more and more girls stepping up into these bands. Do you guys hope that TBM will inspire more girls to get in amongst it?

Yeah absolutely. We’re just doing what we love, and we want everyone to do the same, regardless of their gender. If we were to inspire girls to get in the scene, whether that be as a musician or a sound chick or a photographer… anything, we would be stoked. For anyone reading this who’s ever thought about it, just go ahead and do it. Follow your dreams. It’s worth it, no matter how long it takes.

From my own personal experiences, aside from females being a minority in heavy genres, I’ve noticed that members of the queer community are also few and far between. I understand you identify as a member of the queer community, I would love to know if you have any thoughts or experiences about queerness and queer representation in relation to heavy music? Or is not something you really think about?

I’ve genuinely never thought about it, unless I’m being a bit of a toss and thinking that a lady is attractive and wondering about her sexuality hahaha. I’ve thought a bit about this now that you’ve mentioned it though, and there are a handful of bands I could pick out with queer members in it. I think the queer community is under represented in the ‘mainstream heavy’ scene. But if you search, you shall find. There are all kinds of people playing music, it’s just a matter of finding them.

On a bit of a lighter topic, I’ve got to ask; Is it reeeeeally true you had never played bass before joining TBM?

Haha, yes! I’d never even touched a bass before Lizi started the band, then she needed a bass player and I always wanted to be in a band, so I did it. I just played a bunch of shitty basslines for the first few years, but after I went to a music uni, I learnt so much and got significantly better haha.

What have been your fave music releases of 2017 so far?

Mine personally have been from genres sooo different to our own. Of course, Belle Haven’s ‘You, Me and Everything In Between’, Alpha Wolf’s ‘Mono’, and Aburden’s ‘My Old Friend’ are band favourites, but my personal favourites have been Meg Mac’s ‘Low Blows’, Vera Blue’s ‘Perennial’ and Camp Cope’s split 7” with Cayetana have been absolute standouts for me.

What’s the biggest difference from where TBM was a band this time last year, to today?

This time last year, we’d just finished a run of shows along the East Coast, gone to Adelaide for the first time, and we were playing all of these really small shows. It was incredible and great fun, but this year we really stepped it up a notch, and we’ve only really played shows that have been international supports, and the TA tour and we’ve just stepped it up in a big way that’s worked so well for us. We’re beyond stoked about where we are now.

What international band would you be most keen to go on tour with?

Oooooh, this is a good one. I think we can all collectively agree that we would love to go on tour with A Day To Remember. I mean, who wouldn’t!?

Photo By Andrew Bromley.