Interview: Mona

This Ohio born, Nashville based four-piece have been enjoying extreme amounts of praise from the press despite only having played their debut UK gig in January. Already being named one of the ones to watch for 2011, we see what it’s like to live with the pressure all this hype can bring.

Mona frontman Nick Brown explains how the new record may well be the antidote to artistic bulimia as well as potentially helping listeners to find God. Whether you’re a southern baptist from Tennessee or a homosexual Buddhist, the new record has something in it for you…

How many interviews are you doing today?

NB: We’ve been doing quite a lot recently. It’s exciting that people are getting interested though.

There’s a lot of press attention because you’re already being talked about as one of the bands to look out for in 2011, which is quite an achievement.

NB: It’s a little crazy to be in there without even having played our first gig in the UK yet. The first one is tomorrow. I think we were in a top 50 up and coming poll before we even brought out a song.

How do you feel about the hype?

NB: Hype’s dangerous man. If you have a bunch of guys talking about a hot girl and you’ve never seen her, then when you finally do she’s never gonna be as hot as they said she was. It’s exciting but at the same time it’s a lot of pressure.

You feel the pressure to look like hot girls?

NB: (laughs) There’s a lot of pressure on us to be what everybody thinks we’re going to be.

Are you excited to be seen for the first time then?

NB: We’re confident with the live thing and very excited to actually get in front of some people and play so we can, for our own sake, feel that we deserve some of the things that people are saying about us. The talk can be good for the attention, but dangerous for the conclusion of everything if you’re not careful.

Maybe in a year’s time we’ll re-interview you and you’ll be full of ego, with this booth being full of women. Where do you want it to go?

NB: I definitely have a lot of ambition, but for me this is all very humbling and it’s about the music, so I’m not worried about the ego thing, but the women scenario might happen (laughs). But in all seriousness it’s not about money or the status or the press, to me it’s exciting for people to have a curiosity in the music.

What are you trying to get across in the music?

NB: For me I just want to provoke. I don’t care if it’s good or bad, I just want humans to feel, whether they want to scream at God or stop believing in God or whether they find God or find love.

So you can potentially find God through buying this album?

NB: Whatever your version of God is you can find it. Whether it’s love or release or whether you play a song and get in a bar fight. I just want to be the sound-track to whatever emotion it is. Whether it’s a teenager loosing their virginity in the backseat of a car or loosing a loved one. I just want to connect to humans, no matter what point they’re at in their lives. Some of this sounds pretentious and contrived but back in the day we were strumming on animal hair and beating on skin, dancing on fires, so music is powerful. In every culture before they go to war there’s drummers. Music has much more of an impact in our lives than any of us realise. It can change the atmosphere and mood much faster than anything else. I don’t care if they say we’re one of the top ten bands of 2011. I want them to say when I’m in this mood I’m putting on this Mona song.

What moods have you been in while writing this album?

NB: Heartbreak, hatred, longing, passion. It’s things I’ve gone through myself and also I’m like a sponge so I soak up other people’s experiences. Whether I’m talking to a southern Baptist from Tennessee or a homosexual Buddhist about time and space or chocolate, I like hearing people’s stories and seeing things through their eyes. We’re all very different people but the one universal language we all share is song. To understand that you have to bump into as much life as you can.

Name a particular instance in your life that has come across on this record.

NB: There’s a sense of the dream. When you are working hard on something and you feel like you’re banging your head on a door and that can be a dark place.We’ve had some pretty intense dark drunken nights. That situation can be a bit difficult and then as you see the door start to swing open darkness moves to hope. Some of the songs embrace this dualism, going from ‘Is this even going to matter?’ to ‘This could change the world completely’.

Our whole band motto is ‘Dead Serious, Just Kidding’. We’re just 4 dudes banging on instruments but look at John Lennon, Bob Marley, or Bob Dylan. A song can change the whole fucking planet. You have to be smart enough to take yourself seriously but also naive enough so that you can do anything. A lot of good artists have this dualism. Being a good artist doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a good human but that’s a whole other dualism.

As long as you’re open minded you can learn from these experiences you’re having and develop as a person though.

NB: That’s the key thing. You’ve got to be open-minded and really take it in for what it is to learn. I think the second you stop being teachable is the second you’re dead.

It’s the same thing with the hype.

NB: The music industry right now is so quick it’s like: ‘here’s a song, it’s been packaged, now here’s the next one’, instead of well ‘what is this group doing next? What’s their album sound like?’

No one gives a shit anymore. With American hip hop in particular; no one cares whose rapping, it’s just artistic bulimia where people just devour anything and they puke it up and wonder why they’re not happy and not being nourished. Rock’n’roll is dying a little now too. We want people to fall in love with a band and an album again, the whole idea.

Is that why you’ve not got many songs on the myspace, is it all a build up for the album?

NB: Yeah. We’re trying to force people to savour it. Chew on this for a while. There’s plenty of songs written but we want people to digest what they have. We’re not trying to cash in. You have to train people now because TV and society and iTunes is training to do the opposite. Everything’s fast food and we’re trying to convince people, look there’s still red wine and steak out there. People couldn’t just go on the internet and download tracks before the modern world, and now we want to make it that way with us, savor what you have.

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