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Moneen In Advance

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Monday, 27 July 2009

There are few moments of greater anticipation in the day-to-day operation of a band than that magic minute when, with a brand new album in hand, the group visits its record label to show off what they've done. It can be very tense; when the elected representative of a band sits down with the people that have championed them to that point and voluntarily elects to dissect their newest offering, there can be cheers and celebration at a job well done or tepid commentary that will send the group back to the drawing board and the potential for rejection looms large. To date, such frustration is a totally foreign concept to Brampton, Ontario's Moneen but, having just inked a new deal with Dine Alone Records, the worrisome stimuli remain; after all, the band's forthcoming fourth album will be its first with Dine Alone (although the band still remains on Vagrant in the US) and, with a sterling reputation for producing fine post-punk albums, expectations will run high. Even so, while the album did not yet even have a title at the time of the interview [it has since been announced that it will be called The World I Want To Leave Behind and will be released on September 15th –ed] while Moneen singer Kenny Bridges was aware of such potential heat, he was not feeling it in spite of some dramatic changes the band has made to its sound this time out.

Bill Adams vs. Kenny Bridges, singer of Moneen

KB: Hello?

BA: Hey Kenny, it's Bill Adams calling. How are you?

KB: I'm pretty good, listen – can you call me back in two minutes? I'm just about to walk into an office.

BA: Yeah sure. I was planning on going to go for a cigarette after the interview but this is just a cheap excuse to go now.

KB: Okay cool.

[Five minutes lapse]

BA: So how are things?

KB: Things are great! Things are real good.

BA: You said you were just walking into an office, what offices are you walking into?

KB: I'm walking into the Dine Alone office.

BA: That's cool, now what's going on here exactly? I've heard rumor that there is a new Moneen album forthcoming, but I can't find any information about it anywhere.

KB: Haha! That's right! Because we don't allow people to know anything! No, we're just about to make all of the announcements about the new record. We were mastering it yesterday and that will be finished today so, as of today, we have a newly finished record.

BA: Cool! What's it called?

KB: There is no official name yet, but there will be soon.

BA: Okay, so what's the difference? I mean, I think it's been a while since we spoke, but congratulations on Red Tree – it's three years old.

KB: Oh thank you. Wow – yeah, it is [laughing]! It's funny how fast time just blows by in between records but it was important time. There were some things that we went through in between Red Tree and this new album that caused us to really take our time with it and not rush. We have a new drummer in the band and that's not something you can take lightly. When you have a new member in the band – especially when you're also writing new songs – you don't want to jump into it blind so we just really took our time to make sure the songs are the best they can be. They definitely are too – there are no regrets or misgivings wondering if we could have done this better or that better. Pretty much everything on the record is how we wanted it and better, in some cases, than what we thought would come out. The hardest thing was actually deciding what songs were going to go on the record because there were no songs that we really felt were bad; generally when you're recording, there are extra songs and they end up being B-sides and, even when you're listening back to them, you know they're going to be B-Sides but, this time, none of the songs that were cut from the record are by any means worse than the ones that are on the record.

BA: You're very lucky. If you're in a position where you're sure that this one and that one should be put out as Japanese B-sides.

KB: Yeah. When we were deciding what two or three songs weren't going to be on the record, it was actually really difficult because those two or three were really good and we found ourselves wanting to have as much of a life as any of the others that made the record. Unfortunately, we couldn't just leave them on; having a mammoth record doesn't really hold people's interest so much.

BA: So how many songs are actually on the record?

KB: It's looking like it will be an eleven-to-twelve-song record; more songs than we generally put on an album, but this time all the songs aren't six minutes long and up so we had a bit of luxury to put more on.

BA: And how many tracks ended up getting left off?

KB: About three.

BA: That's cool. So what's the difference with this untitled record? Every band has that moment where they develop a plan and say, 'Okay, this is what we did and that was really cool. But there's this little thing and that little thing and I don't really want to do those again, how do we want to change this?'

KB: Yeah – in the case of Moneen, we usually have a really good idea of what we want to do, but we also know that we've never been the band that wants to perversely try to repeat ourselves at all. I think in the past we've been really good at sounding like ourselves, but also pushing ourselves forward and I think this record is a good case of that too. We developed a particular approach to how we wrote the songs and they turned out to be a lot more focused on this record. This time, I feel like a lot of the songs can stand alone and you could just strip them down to an acoustic guitar and have them remain just as powerful because I think they're just really honest songs. That's really good too because that's what we've always wanted and we haven't always wanted to rely on so many layers. On a lot of out old stuff, if Hippy and I weren't playing guitar together, the songs wouldn't really work. Now, I'm not saying that any one of us in the band could just drop dead on stage and the show would go on and sound normal, but I think these songs do stand alone a little better than they have in the past.

BA: So it's almost a little poppier? Like pop song format, verse/chorus/verse and three and a holf minutes long?

KB: Uhm, I wouldn't say it's poppier at all actually….

BA: More in construct than in sound I mean.

KB: I started listening to a lot more singer-songwriters and started funneling that inspiration into our own songs and it was interesting how it turned out. Before, we always had the sensibility of, 'There are no rules, you can do whatever you want' and we still carry that but we tried not to go off on so many tangents unless it was really calling for it – you know? This time, it was more about the song just having a really strong meaning; we wanted the lyrics to hit hard and wanted to focus more than just capturing this crazy delay sound. There still is some of that though and while I might say that some of the songs are a little more simple, that's really not the case at all. We've played some of these new songs to people and we still get the same 'Wow – that's fuckin' crazy' reactions we always have. To us though, it seems more simple and stripped down but I guess what 'stripped down' means to us is not the same thing 'stripped down' means to other people.

BA: Now, you said that some of these songs have already been played for people, are you referring to a live setting or playing the tracks you cut that day for a couple of friends because you're really excited about them?

KB: A little of both, actually. We had a bunch of songs that we took over to Germany while were making the record and we tried that new stuff out. It was good; a long time ago – when we first started – when we'd play new songs, it wouldn't necessarily go over so well because I found that our older stuff wasn't so 'first listen-able' and I always found that our records would always take some time to grow on people. I always found too that, after they did grow on someone, they'd really stick with them and that was really nice but, this time, we were getting a really good reaction even on the first play of the songs and, as a band, that's a really good compliment; that you can do what you do and have people react to it immediately.

BA: That is cool. Do you think that's a matter of the songs themselves or the fact that people are a little more receptive with time? I mean, Moneen has been around for almost ten years now and, at this point, fans must have a clue of what they're going to get and recognize that the songs are indeed new material and still distinctly Moneen.

KB: Yeah, I think there's a little of that at work, but we were also trying it out in Australia at the Soundwave festival tour that we did which was essentially playing to a lot of new people and it was cool because we were playing these songs to a lot of people that didn't have any idea who we were and they weren't screaming and running away or whipping bricks at us; they were congratulating us, in fact, on really liking our band even though they'd never heard us before. It was really cool to come home after that and finish the record because we had this new confidence behind us.

BA: That's cool! Now, you've got this upcoming festival in Kitchener, will it be part of a tour or is it just a one-off show?

KB: We're just doing a few one-off things throughout the summer. We didn't really want to tour hard through the summer and we just wanted to make sure that the record was ready to come out. We also wanted to make sure that, when it did come out and we started promoting it, we'd be able to represent it as best we could so, instead of just jumping in and playing live, we wanted to take our time and make sure we were ready to give the best presentation when the time came. We just don't want to be a crappy band at all anymore [both laughing].

BA: Does the new album have a release date?

KB: I don't know an exact release date yet, but we're about to announce an EP [Editor's note: this interview pre-dates the release of the Hold That Sound EP, out now on Dine Alone/Vagrant] that we're releasing in June. Even though the new record isn't going to be out until probably late August or early September, we wanted to do something for our fans that have been waiting for a really long time. So we put together an EP with a couple of songs from the record and then a B-Side and some alternate versions of stuff. It's not just an EP with some crap we found laying around; we just mastered it and I think it's a really strong EP and it's kind of special.

BA: So what else do you feel like talking about? What else would you like to see in this article?

KB: Oh – have you heard about our side-project?

BA: What's your side-project?

KB: It's a band called Hunter and it's myself, Erik Hughes – Moneen's bass player – Greg Dawson, Jordan Hastings from Alexisonfire and Billy Curtis and what we're writing is, like, old school minute-and-a-half punk rock/hardcore. It is so good! It's not like the stereotypical side-project sort of stuff; we'll listen back to the songs and really enjoy them a lot in their own right.

BA: That's cool, does this project have legs under it yet? Have you started touring it or maybe recording?

KB: Yeah! We played two shows recently that went really well. The first of the two was busy but a lot of the people there were friends of ours but the second show had a lot of our friends there AND the club was pretty much packed and there were all these people up front singing along that we didn't have any idea who they were. It made us laugh because we turned to each other and actually said, 'Wow! This is, like, a real show!' It was kind of funny because the music is really intense punk rock and we're really breaking our bodies playing hard, but we're also smiling because it's just so much fun. We have two seven-inches ready to put out and Dine Alone is going to put them out. One's called 4 and we're putting that out on June 15th. It's just really cool to me because it's a really fun side-project, but it's also actually really good!

Artist:

Moneen Online

Moneen Myspace

Album:

The World I Want To Leave Behind
will be released on September 15th on Dine Alone Records, but is not yet available for pre-order on Amazon. Check out footage of the recording sessions here on Moneen's mini-site.

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