As Yet Untitled

Friday, February 03, 2006

Disheveled - Mon Frere

As 2005 drew to a close, Three Imaginary Girls asked their readers to vote for their favorite Northwest Releases of the previous year. Filling out the top ten were the Long Winters, the Decemberists, and Mon Frere. Their five song EP, Real Vampires, beat out dozens of other contenders to land comfortably at number nine.

“I don’t know who voted, but thanks,” says Mon Frere guitarist Kyle Swisher. “It was definitely the first recording session, the first recording, that I actually liked. It made me feel good because I liked it, and I’m glad other people did too.”

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More after the jump.
Also in print in the greater Northwest, or online at Disheveled

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At 2:10 PM, Blogger Tyson said...

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“It’s fantastic that this happened,” adds keyboardist and vocalist Nouella Johnston. “It makes me feel like I’m in a band.”

It’s been one year since Mon Frere released their Real Vampires EP. Two since they won the EMP Sound-Off Competition. It is, perhaps, only right that they maintain this yearly schedule with the upcoming release of their debut full-length.

“We just really wanted to get this album out,” says Swisher. “We’ve been a band for two and a half years, and anyone who has followed us only has five songs. We really feel kind of bad for not having the album out sooner. Once we got 11 songs we were all cool with, we went with that.”

“We’re almost done with everything,” says Johnston. “I don’t think it’s radically different, but everyone who has heard it so far says it’s more quote unquote mature sounding. I don’t know, they all seem to know exactly what it means.”

Among those who know exactly what it means are Cake label owners Evan Brubaker and Troy Glessnor, who are helping produce and master the new album.

“I just recently finished all my guitar noises and bloop,” says Swisher. “All that’s left is some mixing. Probably shouldn’t be anymore than a week, a week and a half. It should be wrapped up by the end of the month. Evan is helping us out. We’ve known Evan for almost a year now, since he put out our Real Vampires EP. We’ve built up a pretty good relationship. He got some good performances out of us.”

“It’s great,” adds Johnston. “I didn’t feel rushed in any way. For the last EP we all kinda whipped out six songs in a week and recorded it immediately. But I think we all took a lot more time for this one; Kyle sat at home and wrote a couple songs, and I wrote a couple songs. So it was more individual songwriting than writing in a group.”

“Some of these songs are ones that we actually wrote a few years ago and didn’t feel right for the EP, but felt great on the full-length,” says Swisher. “It’ll be interesting to see if people can tell which were the first batch of six songs we wrote versus the newer ones.”

The older songs he’s referring to date from when Mon Frere was something of a side project for Swisher. After the demise of Johnston and drummer David Haasl’s band, Swisher asked them to join.

“It came together fast, and the reason was we were offered a show at the Mount Lake Terrace Pavilion, so we had to write six songs in two weeks,” says Swisher. “We banged them out. Two of the first six songs we wrote will be on the full-length. We did our first demo right in time to send it in (to the EMP Sound-Off), but we weren’t counting on making it or anything like that. I knew about the competition because my grandmother would send me articles, you know, anything local music related she passes on to me. I was quite surprised when, right in the middle of work, I took this random phone call that said we had made it.”

“We were only really playing for two months before we did the Sound-Off competition,” continues Swisher. “We only had performed five, if you can call them that, shows at the pavilion or in my basement for Halloween. It was our first time in front of an audience that large.”

If they were nervous, they didn’t show it. They swept Sound-Off, eventually winning the grand prize: two free days of studio time, the results of which eventually became the Real Vampires EP.

“I had my friend Blake Wescott, who did the old Pedro the Lion and Vogue albums, record it as a favor for me,” says Swisher. “We were really rushed to do those five songs in two days. Blake and I stayed around after we did drums, which took from noon to nine at night, while I did my guitar stuff, which took until four in the morning. Just so we could get the whole thing done.”

So what would have happened if you didn’t win Sound-Off? What was your plan?

“We didn’t have any money to record anything else,” says Johnston. “We were going to continue playing swimming pool pavilions and basements for the next couple years. We upgraded really fast.”

“Without the EMP, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” says Swisher. “We would have just ended up playing whatever show we could get. But EMP knocked us up into a new bracket, so we could play at Graceland (El Corazon) or the Vera, places we’d never played before. It’s not like cheating, since Nouella and I both have been in other bands, but it’s that weird sort of not having to pay your dues thing.”

Since then, the band has undergone some radical changes. They recently decided to let drummer Hassl go, and hire on new stickman Dustin. Explains Swisher: “The reason behind the switchover was just for the longevity of the band, and everyone being on the same page.”

Johnston is somewhat more blunt. “Ever since he started drumming for us, we’ve been dissatisfied. Lately, he’s been getting less and less motivated. We didn’t have a talk with him. Our roadie Jordan told him for us. He wore a suit to his last show. It was all very awkward, because we all knew, even he knew why he was leaving. We just kept having the same conversation over and over again. So we saw an opportunity and we took it, because the drummer we originally wanted, which is Dustin, his band fell apart, so we decided to ask him to join us.”

“He didn’t write any of the album,” continues Johnston. “He was actually brought on after we had recorded the drum parts with our last drummer, which was difficult. We’re still deciding whether or not we want to take an extra month and go back and re-record the drum parts. It’s confusing. I hate it. We haven’t even played a show with Dustin yet. It’s really new. We’re a little freaked out.”

Luckily, there will be plenty of opportunities to get their touring legs in the near future. After the new album drops, the band is planning on a relentless touring schedule.

“We’ll be on tour every other month or so next year,” says Johnston. “So we can keep our jobs and personal lives in Seattle going.”

“We’ll build ourselves up to going national,” adds Swisher. “I’m sure we’ll start out doing some West coast jaunts, so hopefully by the end of the year we’ll be hitting major cities across the U.S.”

Which means more Mon Frere in your future. Get excited. Get prepared.


www.monfrere.net

 

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