Excited to bring to you today an interview with Brooklyn based psychedelic rockers Monogold, who will be stopping by Atwood's Tavern in Cambridge this coming Wednesday, February 3rd. The guys have a spaced out, luxurious vibe complete with stunning instrumentation, breathtaking stage presence, and a strong musical sensibility about them that will keep your eyes and ears locked and squarely focused on them. Frontman Keith Kelly was nice enough to devote some time while prepping for the show to do a little interview with MusicBoxPete, where he talks about the band's humble beginnings, plus how they got interested in music, and what they like to do away from the stage. Here is the transcript from our chat:
Give us your names and roles in the band?
Keith Kelly: Vox and guitar
Jared Apuzzo: Drums
Michael Falotico: Bass
Take us behind the formation of the band and how you guys all met?
Jared and I met at SUNY Purchase. He was in the music dept studying studio comp and I was in the Fine arts program studying painting. We started playing together then, and continued with various line ups and bands after we graduated in Brooklyn. Jared and I decided to leave the band we were with and start our own new thing. I was writing in my home studio for the new project but we couldn't find the right people. Mike and I met while working together at a bar in Williamsburg and became good friends. He was working on his own music, but it sorta quickly became a no brainer what a perfect fit he was. Its pretty easy with us. We hang out as friends that happen to make music together. Thats the best way I think.
What were some of the bands that greatly influenced you growing up?
Our musical influences are all over the place! Some of them translate into what we do now and some definitely do NOT! For Jared growing up, his musical influences were Zeppelin, Floyd, Primus and Phish. As a drummer, I'm sure that makes sense. For Mike it was Liars, Guided by Voices and Metallica. For me it was Frank Zappa, Bowie, Radiohead and thrash metal. Makes no sense.
Is the songwriting process with you guys truly a collaborative effort or is it mostly handled individually?
Our songwriting process usually formulates when all three of us are in the same room. For the most part I usually come in with the bones of the songs (chords/melody/general structure ideas) then Mike and jared add their own elements. With Mike’s parts on bass, I write a lot of the time knowing that my chords are built mostly to support the vocal melody and leave the space for Mike’s bass part to fill in a lot of the melodic musical parts. Jared’s drumming is what gives the song its movement and drive, usually done in a very unique specific way.
As with Good Heavens tho, a lot of these songs were just written on an acoustic guitar in my bedroom. I had a bunch of these tunes I was just casually knocking around for awhile, and when I started playing them for the guys they took on a whole new shape, like “Wow, should we record these"? It was strange because it’s not what we normally do at all! We added components that we never had the chance to use and it was a lot of fun and a sort of a relief to jump out of our normal style and process. We used flutes and clarinets along with harps, pianos etc. Jared played piano, drums and percussion, and Mike played guitar with me on some songs as well as slide guitar and bass. We used an old boombox with a cassette drum sample on it, old organs etc, it was basically a lot of fun!
The energy that you display on record must translate well in a live setting, describe that dynamic that occurs when playing live?
Our recorded sound and our live sound we try to keep as identical as possible. Our recordings tend to be a bit more lush than live, and our live sound can be a bit more raw, but thats just inevitable when the energy of playing live happens. You play and hit harder. Cant help it.
About your latest album, "Good Heavens", what was the recording process like for the effort and what did you take away from the effort?
With the recording aspect of "Good Heavens" it was a bit unusual for us because we were dealing with so many live instruments. I use mostly electric guitars with a lot of pedals and loops etc, and for this it was mostly just acoustic guitars. Jareds drumming was a lot more subtle and subdued than usual, and mike when he wasn't playing the bass was all acoustic as well. So it was much more organic and immediate than were used to which was really nice! We walked away from this effort knowing that our songwriting is what connects and really matters. We didn't have anything to hide behind, sonically on this, its just the songs.They still sounded like us without all the loops and layers and still connected the same with people, which is what really matters. Also it was cool to have fun with the versatility with us as musicians, jumping around to different instruments and such.
What are some of your favorite songs off the new LP that you're most proud of and best represent the spirit of the album?
Some favorite songs off the record? Jareds favorite is "Mega Flora", mostly because he had a lot of fun playing piano on a track and not the drums as usual! Mikes favorite is "Feathers" because for a band that strives so much to have a full, ambient sound, we stripped that song down as much as possible and it was equally as strong. For me off this record would have to be "Mega Flora" as well. For me it was really neat putting together the ending part. We had our friend Zack Colwell playing the flute and recorded about 15 different versions of the end. I took the different versions and melded them together for that layered flute craziness build up thing. Thats my favorite.
Besides making music, what do you like to do for fun in your spare time?
Besides making music, Jared has his own studio in his house which he's always working on ( getting new instruments etc) . He just got a new piano and overhead mics for Xmas. That is essentially what he went to school for. Mikes an artist as well and has been working on his own comic series called Plorp Thoughts, which is hysterical and amazing. Ive been painting a lot lately and getting ready for a show soon, this summer.
What's in store for you guys for the rest of the year, planning any more shows in the not too distant future?
As for upcoming shows we have this run were doing with The Peach Kings, and then were probably gonna be doing our usual run down south for SXSW again.
Lastly, why should people check out your music and what makes you so original and unique?
I think what makes us different as a band is that were equal parts foreign and familiar. Its like someone you just met but feel as if you've always known. we try and always stay as honest and "us" in every facet we do. We do our own art our own videos, posters recordings etc. We can't help but be who and what we are, and for us, thats always a good thing. Thanks so much!!!!
Thanks once again to Keith for being ever so awesome in doing this interview! You may be curious yourself as to what these guys sound like live, so stop by Atwood's Tavern in Cambridge this coming Wednesday and partake in a few libations all while basking in the glow of some spaced out, psychedelic jams that will be totally worth your while. In the meantime, give them a 'Like' on their Facebook page over here, follow them on Twitter right here, and visit their official homepage at this junction here for more in depth info about them, including links to their music.