I recently got the opportunity to speak with the lead guitarist, Jason of We Are Monroe about the release of their debut self-titled EP and their plans for the future. You can read our review of the EP here as well as check out their website and Facebook page for show information and more. Read the interview below, and if you want to download and listen to the full interview you can do so here.
First off, can you please tell the names of the members in the band and their roles?
Pat – He’s singer and does a little bit of back guitar
Ben – Who plays Drums
Pete – Whose on the bass and does a bit of back vocals
Jason – Plays most of the lead guitar and does some back vocals
How did you guys meet?
Ben and Pete known each other since grade school kept in touch throughout the years. Ben was a hired musician and when they both finished school, Pete wanted to join the band, so they played music together for a while. When their last project ended, they wanted to start something up and I met those guys at the beginning of a new adventure they were trying to start through a mutual friend, another musician who was supposed to be in the band. Right away we really clicked, we were musically, initially compatible. We started as a three – piece, and eventually we realized that we wanted to move into a more, rock, direction. I realized that my voice was suited more to acoustic/folk stuff, and it didn’t fit to what we were trying to do. So we found Pat, who was in another band. And we kind of stole him from that band as they were kind of coming to an end anyway. He was at the top of our list, and we jammed with a few guys, but he was the top of our list, eventually he came back form travelling and agreed to come by, and then it became obvious that something was happening that was really cool.
Where did the name “We are Monroe” come from?
We were kinda brain storming one day, and after a while, the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe stood out. Sort of like the Warhol Pictures. There was something about it that seemed cool, and matched the aesthetic of it. Originally we wanted Monroe, so we Google searched it to see if it was available, but there was an obscure band that we had never heard of that didn’t seem to have much going on, but we didn’t wanna take any chances, so eventually we slowly added the “We Are” on and the “We Are” is the collective idea, the reference is the spirit of the collective, and that’s where that came from.
What genre would you classify as? Who would you compare yourself too?
A lot of the bands tend to reference/fall under is post-punk revival. Sort of like what The Strokes are doing when they first came up, and same thing as The Killers. It’s a title really and post-punk revival is something that is easiest for us to say. Its rock, there are some pop sensibilities. It’s more of the mood/vibe when it really comes down to it. The more we write songs, or the more we try to tap into what we continuously worked towards as our sound. It’s a point of reference, but from there it’s more about the mood of the song. We knew what we were good at, but eventually we kinda just opened up a little more.
What is the music scene like in Montreal?
For a band like us there is still something indie – rockish there is a good collection of bands that are really active and gigging around, still helping each other out. Overall Montreal has become pretty eclectic about not necessarily one type of band, but about seeing what kind of bands can matchup and cross genres. The one thing that keeps coming back is the sense of community. I think there are a lot of the gaps that perhaps could’ve existed 5 – 10 years ago when Montreal was starting to get the reputation as the next “Hot Bed” for music. That bridged a lot of gaps, so that young bands who are just starting out could associate with bands what had a little bit more of a track record.
Which artists were your inspiration when you were growing up?
When I was younger, and a bit more naïve, I had a distorted view of what it meant to be in a band and have success. There were bands that matched up to that like Radiohead, Green Day, Weezer or Oasis. In the last 5 – 10 years since I’ve been in Montreal and being in bands, gigging and touring a little bit you develop a deeper appreciation of working in the industry. As well as the different levels of what it is to be successful. For me now, any level that would continuously keep me making music, touring, being able to make record and make a living. To become a “Working Class Band”.
Ok now on to the EP! You recently released your first self-titled EP. How did you see it turning out? Did it turn out the way you wanted it to?
We recorded that EP back in November. Going into the recording process we had a list of songs, which we could choose from, and a limited amount of time. We were trying to figure out what would make sense in what songs to put on, and how many songs it should be. We recorded in this old school studio, so it was a bit more out of the pocket to do it. All these factors made us have to decide what was going to be on the EP. The mixing was only a matter of 3 – 4 days. We had an amazing time, that it became just the fact that it was less about the songs, and more about the experience. We got the first part of the rough mixes a couple weeks later, and we were convinced it would be something we weren’t expecting. Everywhere we listened to it, it just kept surprising us because it was cool listening to it in other locations. All in all we had a great experience and we’re really happy how it turned out.
Why choose to release an EP first instead of an album?
The EP was already what we felt was good for us. For a lot of different reasons; being an independent band, not having a label behind it. It was the reality of where we were at the time. The idea of a full album is not over, its not like people are not gonna get it. For now we gravitated towards the notion of the idea of releasing less music but more frequently. Let people know where you’re at, and let people see you evolve as the months go by. It’s easier to do independently.
What was the main inspiration behind the EP?
The sonic element of having it being raw and trying to avoid putting in extra instrumentations that wouldn’t be live. A real representation of what people can expect to see when they come to see a show. Also the fact that we did the bed tracks, like the drums, bass and main guitar was all live off the floor, it gives the EP a that other raw element.
Can you tell me anything special about your songwriting process?
It differs from song to song, generally we write very democratically. A lot of songs will start with either a guitar riff, or a beat to have a rhythm section. Its lot of jamming is what it is. Sometimes Pat comes in with a vocal melody and we come in to cater that melody. Sometimes a song will take forever to come together, sometimes it takes weeks. Sometimes it’s a challenge cause you want it to sound good and have high expectations. Some best songs we feel we’ve written were written in 15 minutes, creating the melodies.
Why did you choose these for songs four songs for the EP? Do the songs have any special or significant meanings behind them?
Give Me Some Love was one of the first songs written as the four of us after pat joined the band. We felt really, really strongly about. It came together really quickly and we had a good feeling about it right away. It the oldest song on the EP, and it was sort of a no brainer to have a song like that on the EP as an easy introduction. Old Orchard made the cut do it its brute energy. You can’t hide behind a song like that, because it’s fast and fun and energetic which is what we want to show that we’re about. Modern Day Gentleman was newer at that point and it was a really different than everything else we had written at that point. Tear Yourself Apart was all about the vibe and darkness of the song. It’s a creepy kind of song. But what happens on the guitar is interesting to our sound and us. There were a few others songs we were interested in. We recorded five but it didn’t come out the way we wanted.
So is there anything you can say about a second EP or new album in the future?
We’ve been talking about the idea of trying to release music more frequently, but less songs at a time. There are 3 – 4 people that are interested in working with us and help record our music. We’re gonna try to build up a few collection of songs over the weeks and months until the end of the summer. When the rest of the guys get back after vacation in the fall, then we will go into it. We don’t now if its gonna be 1 – 2 songs a month, but its gonna be often. Also trying to exploit YouTube as a means to get out there, by doing live performances and putting that online.
What are your plans for the rest of the year? Any tours that should be noted?
A few things happening in Montreal between now and end of August. An acoustic showcase on 17th at Le Petit Medley through Yo Montreal Production Company. There might be a Montreal show, a show in Quebec. Through Facebook and our website we can put all shows and tour [Linked above]. We post in there as often as possible.
Great that’s about it for me; do you have any last words?
We’re excited about meeting new people and playing in new cities. We’re always excited to play wherever we are welcomed and meeting people. Trying to make ourselves accessible, and talking to people and build a fan base one person at a time. If anyone is interested check out our shows, write messages, email or tweet to us.
Air Marshal Landing’s debut record You Used To Be Me is set to be released on the 4th of June. In preparation for the release, the track Little Town is available to download on a “Name Your Price” basis from their Bandcamp page, alongside a music video which you can watch below. The video was directed by Michael Schmidt and includes, “one of us dressed in drag, one of us twirling an evil moustache, and one of us failing to be a hero.” Little Town, an indie number, contains a mention to Death Cab For Cutie’s Summer Skin alongside incorporating the surprising use of a melodica at the beginning. The electric guitar riffs accompanied by synchronised percussion give off The Strokes vibes and make you want to “dance back to where you came from!”[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7At526aLco]
Fans have the chance to enter-to-win an exclusive vinyl test pressing of Comedown Machine by letting them know your favorite track from the album on Twitter using the hashtag #ComedownMachine. More details and official rules about the contest can be found here. To purchase the album you can either buy it from iTunes or order the CD, 12″ vinyl, and T-shirt from their official store.
After only being together since September of 2011, this band has produced a lot of exceptional tracks in a short time frame, and are constantly playing shows. It seems as if they are going to have a promising future too. You can stream Another EP below [Edit: Stream no longer available], and download the other EPs on their Bandcamp Page. For tour dates go to their website or their Facebook Page.
Tokyo Police Club finished the second of ten 10-hour long studio sessions yesterday, recording a electric-infused cover of Jimmy Eat World‘s pop-punk hit “Sweetness”. Joined by Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit, the Ontario indie rock outfit don’t really make too many changes to the song aside from a brief electro interlude near the end. You can check out “Sweetness” below.
For the next part of the ten-song series, the band will be recording a cover of “Under Control” by The Strokes.
Once hailed as the leaders of the Next British Invasion, Arctic Monkeys have returned with Suck It and See, once again proving that the British are still enchanting all these years later. However, this album represents a departure from the Monkeys’ traditional format of quick vocals and whimsical guitar riffs. With a heavier emphasis on distortion and an attitude befit for a grizzled, veteran rocker, Suck It and See sounds less like pop-rock and more like the album The Strokes should have made.
The album begins with the dark twang of singer Alex Turner’s guitar when suddenly his vocals pierce the vibe and lead into the song’s melodic first verse. Add a triumphant chorus and sprinkle in a bass walk or two and you have “She Thunderstorms” which sets the tone for the rest of the record. You won’t hear any of Turner’s near-breathless courses, though. Suck It and See relies more on a slower melody rather than the usual Arctic Monkeys tempo. While it’s depressing that they shook what used to be their trademark sound, “She Thunderstorms” demonstrates that the new, more mature Arctic Monkeys are just as talented as the band that made “Fluorescent Adolescent “ and “I Bet That You Look Good on the Dance Floor.”
But the most interesting song by far on the album isn’t “She Thunderstorms.” Oh no, my friends, that song is rather tamed compared to “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I Moved Your Chair.” Someone must have cranked up Nick O’Malley’s bass because this track is the hardest and heaviest track the Monkeys’ have ever produced. As strange as it feels to write this, this song almost sounds… metal? I’m perplexed that Arctic Monkeys did a song like this, but strangely I’m okay with it. They’ve shed the punk attitude and have taken up the mantle of total badasses. On another other album I would have hated it, but Suck It and See’s darker tone allows this song to shine. Of course, the lyrics are still sarcastic and ridiculous like all Alex Turner-penned songs, especially with the heavy bass and in your face drums. This track is sure to become a fan favorite at concerts because of the audio assault it wages on your ear drums. Just listening to it makes you want to wear a leather jacket, light a cigarette, and spray paint something vaguely political on a nearby building.
The whole album personifies what it means to be a rock star and no song embodies this theme better than the title track and obvious double entendre “Suck It and See.” The song follows Turner as he tries to seduce a young women with golden pick up lines like “You’re rarer than a can of dandelion and burdock/And those other girls are just postmix lemonade.” If you are British, this line is probably hilarious. If you’re like me and are confused why flowers are in a can, the line is basically “You’re a rare soda compared to Country Time lemonade mix”. Excluding the lack quick-fired lyrics, “Suck It and See” is probably the most traditional Arctic Monkeys song on the album. Every line is full of sarcasm and the boyish charm that we all fell in love with back in 2005.
Although there are a lot of gems layered throughout the album, Suck It and See is far from perfect. It suffers from a few duds, specifically the track they teased back in March, “Brick by Brick.” Fans of classic rock might enjoy this throwback track, but in my opinion its cheesiness and overall feel doesn’t fit well with the rest of the songs. The call and response verses are really corny and derail the album after its strong start (“She Thunderstorms”, “Black Treacle”). Thankfully they’re able to pull it back together and despite a couple dull moments, Suck It and See is a great example of how a band can successfully evolve and mature. Arctic Monkeys are back and prove that the Next British Invasion isn’t dead. It’s just getting started.
Standout Tracks: “Black Treacle”, “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I Moved Your Chair”, and “Suck It and See”
The Strokes‘s new album, Angles, is currently streaming on the band’s official website. The album will be released on March 22, 2011, so be sure to support the band and pick up the new record in about six days time.
VEVO have announced a partnership with music festival Bonnaroo, held annually at Great Stage Park in Manchester, Tennessee. The website, widely known for its music video streaming service, will be presenting a live and on-demand web cast of performances and interviews from Bonnaroo at no charge, courtesy of sponsors like Ford. Fans can watch their favorite artists perform live at Bonnaroo on the VEVO.com website, VEVO Mobile (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android), all VEVO connected devices (Google TV, Boxee), and VEVO’s syndication partners (YouTube, AOL, BET, CBS Interactive Music Group, etc).
It should be interesting to see how the live streams pan out. Will advertising be extremely prominent on VEVO’s website? My immediate guess is yes, as providing so much content at absolutely no cost to viewers will be quite costly for VEVO – especially when considering hosting and bandwidth costs. For advertisers and lesser-known musicians, this could be a great way to reach out to music fans – either to expose new artists or to advertise. We’ll find out soon enough.
The Strokes made an appearance on Saturday Night Live last night to perform two songs from their new album Angles. They performed new single “Under Cover of Darkness” (listen here) and “Life Is Simple In The Moonlight”.
Watch the performances below.
“Under Cover Of Darkness”:
“Life Is Simple in the Moonlight”: