Published Sep 12, 2018Katie Monks felt lost.
Gruellingly extensive tours in support of Dilly Dally's debut full-length, 2015's Sore, garnered international praise for the Toronto band's raucous and potent blend of fuzz-rock, but at a cost. The singer-guitarist and her three bandmates were drained — physically, emotionally and creatively.
"I think it got to a point where it was just too much of one thing," Monks tells Exclaim! "It's like if you eat too much spaghetti, you just want to throw up. I think it was too much Dilly Dally and everyone was just throwing up Dilly Dally everywhere."
The band's last tour in 2016 saw them opening for Californian pop act Grouplove throughout the United States, both leading up to and immediately after the presidential election. Tensions were high across the country. The negative effects hit Monks, guitarist Liz Ball, bassist Jimmy Tony and drummer Benjamin Reinhartz like a train.
"I think I was spread so thin, I think all of us were in the band, that I think we all just had a lot of wounds to heal and that needed to be separate from one another," Monks explains. "I just kind of made a conscious effort to bail off the map. I was able to carve out some space. I didn't even know I needed it."
Over the phone, she sounds relaxed, confident and, most importantly, happy. Going off the grid rejuvenated the 29-year-old's spirit, allowing her to "really get in touch with Katie again."
Heaven is Dilly Dally's rebirth. The sophomore record darkly plods along, tackling topics of substance abuse and the dissolution of friendships amidst a storm of distorted guitar and thunderous drums, but it has an undertone of something brighter: hope.
Swapping her trademark growl for moments of softer singing (as well as her Fender Mustang for a white Flying V guitar), Monks exudes both vulnerability and confidence as she spouts affirming mantras about believing in yourself and the sacredness of what's inside you.
"I feel like a big part of it was acknowledging the fact that I am fragile," she says. "I do need to place boundaries in my life and protect myself in some ways and take care of myself and take time for myself.
"I really explored my femininity in my vocals on this record, and my femininity in general in myself, in a way that I'd never really done before in my life. I found this whole other aspect, I guess. Another colour of me, a shade or something."
The "cozy" community that Monks has established for herself in Toronto consists of both like-minded artists and friends who knew her before Dilly Dally had found success. She accredits the latter to keeping her grounded.
"Dilly Dally is like creating this fantasy dream world and I know there are a lot of holes and rips and tears in that kind of picture, this fantasy, where people do get glimpses of who we really are and the inner workings of this project. But generally, it's art. It's something that came from a fantasy in my mind. So, for people who just know who I am completely despite that? So grounding."
As Monks and her bandmates embark on a month-long tour alongside fellow punks FIDLAR, she looks forward to discovering the "stage Katie" behind Heaven's new songs.
"I'm just so excited for all those screws to be tightened up," she gushes. Her enthusiasm is infectious. "This is it. This is Dilly Dally."
Heaven is out September 14 on Dine Alone Records. Catch them on tour now.