Interview with Mona
On a consistent basis, I interview the bands who are attempting the jump over the pond (or even the border with Canadian bands) where we talk about both their struggles and their triumphs over seas. Most recently these bands included acts from Kaiser Chiefs to Bombay Bicycle Club and most recently Abandon All Ships but there are the bands who are from the United States who first find success in other countries like the UK and Canada. One of those bands is the Nashville based Mona.
With their debut US record dropping a week ago to the day, they are poised for success here and I got the opportunity to talk to lead vocalist Nick hours before they hit the stage in Boston. With the band poised to tour with famed Noel Gallagher of Oasis next month and most recently coming off some time with The Airborne Toxic Event, they are sure to be all over your radars soon enough!
Release date: 02/28/12
Label: Universal Island Records
Mona's Official Website
Buy at: Amazon
So you’re on this tour now headlining. How has that been going considering you’ve been opening for people in the past on their tours as of late?
Yeah, like in the states, we did some really small stuff. It’s kind of weird because we’re used to playing bigger rooms. The last show we did in the UK was 2,500 people after ten months, so it went so fast and then here it’s a much bigger country. Things work differently in the states but I love small rooms. These are like my favorite places. We’ve played to nine people and we’ve played to nine thousand and my favorites are around the two fifty group. I just love that type of feeling. It reminds me of being a kid in church when I was growing up so yeah, I like it a lot. If I could play for the rest of my life in that kind of a venue and still get the word out as big, then I would do that but I mean obviously, one needs to grow but sometimes we’ve missed it. Obviously you’re happy because you’re playing bigger places but even when we were playing the UK and Germany and stuff like that and places start getting bigger, you kind of miss it. You feel more and more distant the bigger it gets.
And then I’ve been talking to a bunch of bands that are from the UK so they’re trying to cross over here while you guys have experienced a lot of success over seas and then your first album is coming out here. So maybe how has that been? Because you’ve opened on pretty big shows here like you were with The Airborne Toxic Event and that was theaters and then going out with Noel Gallagher in April. All those shows are going to be huge shows again.
It’s a bit of a mind game because you come back from wherever and it doesn’t feel real. So until it happens here, it’s not that those people don’t mean anything because we made a lot of friends and fans but it just doesn’t feel like it is resonating yet until its’ your own country so I mean I’ve had friends that are in bands with similar things who have had huge success in other parts of the world but till they did it here, it didn’t feel like it mattered. There’s a little bit of that but you have to have a lot more patience because it is so much bigger. It’s not hop in the van and hit the whole thing. It’s awesome! You go from Glasgow to Brighton, that’s like the North of the UK to the South of the UK and you can do it in like the distance of Chicago to Nashville. Not even thinking of trying to go East Coast to West Coast. So it’s a chess game mentally because you got to be patient.
And then the first one comes out here Tuesday which is huge and the song’s on the radio so people are starting to hear it. How excited are you to finally have a full length record out here?
It will feel like it’s materializing. You’ll meet people and they’ll be like ‘What do you do?’ and you’re like ‘I’m in a band’. ‘Do you have an album?’ ‘Kind of not here We have an EP but the single you can download’. It’s frustrating. Even friends and family are like ‘Well can I go to wherever and buy it?’ We just weren’t here so it was stupid to release a record and not be able to follow it with a tour and we’re doing Leno on the same day. It’s kind of like a foot print, like a first step. It’s like ‘Okay, let’s get started!’
And then maybe you said you’re working on the second record because the first has been out from my understanding in the UK for a while, just not here. How do you go about the writing process?
I mean I write all the vocal melodies and stuff like that but the band definitely collaborates. Right now, it’s just trying to collect ideas and figure out what direction we’re going to do next. I mean you have bands like The Strokes where they do albums that are pretty similar but the second was another step. If you were into them, you appreciated the second album more and you have bands like U2 where they completely redesigned themselves. We’re trying to figure out how far to go with it and how much do you want to take and experiment or piss off your fans that quick. I think we’re feeling out things with time but the way I write is all on my own so as far as lyrically, as time goes by, it’s not really going to ever change. I don’t really sing anything unless I believe it. I’m not a great story teller. I’m more of I guess an expressionist. You can feel what I’m kind of shouting across the room where as Dylan when he’s talking about the Jack of Hearts and all this story stuff. My brain just doesn’t work like that. I guess I’m more of an emotional baby. If it’s a mean song, you can tell because I sing it pretty angrily.
Then maybe, a soft one, do you remember the first CD or cassette you ever got as a kid or the first concert?
All my first musical experiences were in the church so I didn’t really discover rock and roll till later. I remember in an old beat up Dodge Caravan my mom had this sixties and seventies ’Crusin’ Classics’ CD that she got at like a Shell station which was old Doowop stuff. We used to listen to a lot of oldies which I think is hilarious because as an adult, some of that soul music is the most sexual music that was around at the time but I can’t really remember the first. I remember stealing like a Aerosmith CD from a Walmart or something. I can’t remember which one it was but I think it was because I saw Liv Tyler and Alicia Silverstone in that video and I wanted them. I didn’t know if they were like in the band or who they were, I just remember seeing the video and I wasn’t allowed to watch it. I was sneaking around watching it thinking this is awesome but then, I obviously got Nirvana amongst other things.
"Mona" by Mona - release date: 02/28/12..