Stepping forward into the Sydney music scene with horn section in tow, Our Monk look to the past for inspiration delivering classic pop songs riddled with elements of other genre’s like swing and doo wop. Playing Mum at World Bar this Friday, 28th of January we caught up with vocalist Anthony ahead of the show.
Music Feeds: So you guys have a horn section, what made you want to bring in some brass?
Anthony: A few years ago we thought it would be fun to use horns for a one-off show so we composed specific parts for some of the songs from our first album. Around the same time Mark was writing ‘I’ll Be Around’, which with its drunken swing feel turned out to be a great showcase for the horn section. The first show went down so well we didn’t want to let them go and at this stage we still haven’t.
MF: Your music has a very nostalgic quality to it in my opinion, was this intended? If so, why?
A: You can definitely hear that we were looking to the past for inspiration in our earlier material, like ‘It’s Not Easy’; being an intentional tribute to Doo Wop. Initially we did it simply to learn how to write good pop songs, but we also love how The Beatles or The Beach Boys (who else?) were able to write great tunes in any musical style. We’re finding our latest material is marrying the influences in a distinctive way, which is exciting.
MF: There seems to be a lot of attention paid to arrangements, how much time do you tend to spend fine-tuning a song once the basic structure is laid down?
A: We consider good arrangement inherent in good songwriting. We don’t tend to deem a song completed until the basic arrangement is settled and starts to sound presentable. Since we primarily work individually on our own songs, the time spent fine-tuning varies greatly.
MF: How does the songwriting tend to work with the band?
A: We’re definitely not the kind of band that will come up with a song by jamming an idea at rehearsal. Generally someone writes a song and only presents it to the rest of the band once a good demo is made. From there the band works on any improvements collectively, but the final say is always with the songwriter. There are times when we collaborate more, but we usually find we’re much more productive when one person takes the reins.
MF: Listening to some of the songs I can hear horns, strings and even organ bouncing around there, what is your set up on stage like?
A: We make the most of a pretty standard rock band set up by today’s standards; drums, bass, guitar and keyboards/guitar with Mark and myself sharing lead vocals and everyone doing backups. We do plenty of instrument swapping so it definitely helps to have that versatility within the band. Add to that tenor and trombone that also double on percussion and we manage most of the stuff on record. Needless to say a show on a small stage for us can be a bit of a logistical nightmare, but it does keep things fun.
MF: What are your plans for the next few months?
A: We’ve spent the second half of last year recording a bunch of songs and are just putting the final touches on things now. We’ll be playing lot’s of venues as we release the singles as well as heading back to the studio to keep up with our writing. We basically want to dedicate the next few months to raising Our Monk’s profile and create plenty of momentum for ourselves throughout 2011.
Our Monk play Mum at World Bar this Friday, January 28th