"We like to keep it loose" - An interview with Mark Monnone

Questa sera alle otto all'Elastico (Vicolo Facchini 2/a) arriva Mark Monnone, già bassista nei leggendari Lucksmiths. Presenterà dal vivo il suo nuovo progetto Monnone Alone, e ad accompagnarlo ci sarà un ospite d'eccezione come Gary Olson (Ladybug Transistor). Se volete conoscerlo meglio, ecco qui sotto una piccola intervista, mentre oggi pomeriggio alle 15.30 lo troverete anche a MAPS, sulle frequenze di Città del Capo Radio Metropolitana.

(mp3): Monnone Alone - Pink Earrings

Since the Lucksmiths broke up you seem to be involved in thousands of music projects, bands and labels: can you please make a little recap for your italian audience?
Ha ha, this might take a while — hope you're sitting down! I guess the main ongoing project is Still Flyin', which is odd as the band is based in San Francisco and I'm in Melbourne. They have something of a revolving line-up, so people can enter the band and leave quite frequently. It's so much fun touring with those guys though, so I try and organise my life in a way that ensures I don't miss out on too many shows. As well as Still Flyin', I often play bass with some solo/singer-songwriter folks like Darren Hanlon, Sally Seltmann, Guy Blackman and Geoffry O'Connor, plus Bart & Friends (with Bart Cummings from The Cat's Miaow et al) and I've also recently started playing with Mid-State Orange who are the continuing project of Louis Richter from The Lucksmiths. On top of that, I've been working on a bunch of recordings with my band Monnone Alone, which will hopefully become an album one day soon. That band also has an unstable line-up, so it is fun to hear how those songs get reinterpreted in the live setting. To make things even more interesting, I juggle all this playing and touring with running the Lost And Lonesome label. There you go!

What is the main difference between Monnone Alone and the other bands you played (and play) in?
Well, as Monnone Alone is often a solo thing, that'd be the main point of difference, though I definitely do prefer to play with a band. To be honest, I'd have to say the main thing is (when playing with the band) we like to keep it loose and pretty open to spontaneity, which is to say we don't really bother too much with rehearsing. And as I said, the line-up varies depending on who can play at certain times. Gus Franklin is the main drummer, I guess you'd say, but as he's often on the road with Architecture in Helsinki, I sometimes need to call on the services of other talented pals. The other main difference would be that this is the only band I actually play guitar and sing in, so it's nice to get up and bark out a few tunes.

Did you change the way you write music for this project since the Lucksmiths days? And what about the lyrics?
No, actually my approach to writing is quite similar still. A lot of the songs I play with Monnone Alone were written when I was writing songs for the last Lucksmiths album, First Frost. If anything, I do try and keep the arrangements a bit open to input from the other band members, whereas I would always have ideas pretty fully formed when writing with The Lucksmiths.

Lost And Lonesome is a really great indie label. Can you tell us something about how you work?
Thank you Enzo! The label started in the late-90s and has stayed pretty true to the initial plan which was to release music in Australia for friends' bands who I thought were amazing and something I could dedicate a lot of time to. As with most truly independent labels, we operate on a ridiculously tight budget with no outside help and try to do the best for our artists with the modest resources at hand. I have at times, hired professional publicists to help on certain releases but have found that a lot of radio and press people in Australia respond just as well (if not better) to dealing with the label directly. In the last couple of years, the label's expanded somewhat and some of our records can now be found in American and British shops and other European and Japanese mail-orders which is very exciting indeed.

How is the indiepop scene in Australia nowadays? What bands we should really discover?
Standing firm, my friend. Some of my favourite bands currently are Milk Teddy, The Motifs, The Icypoles, The Zebras, Twerps, The Harpoons, Oblako Lodka, The Ancients... Actually, I saw The Cannanes play again recently and they were as good as ever! Oh and Pete and Karl from Sodastream are playing together again in a band called Lee Memorial, which is very good news.

By the way, just out of personal curiosity, where did Julian Nation go? You should make him release new songs at any cost, he has a lot of fans in Italy!
Ha, yeah — you're right! I will chase him up and twist his arm!!

How is the european tour with Gary Olson going? What do we have to expect from the live show tonight?
It's been great so far — seven days and only three shows! Gary likes to play host and is very talented at planning out a day with a map. So far there's been lots of great train journeys, espresso, and happy hours. What to expect from the show? Hmmm... probably a couple of over-caffeinated, drunk dudes talking endlessly about train journeys!


Anonimo ha detto…
Yep, saw them perform last week as part of Fortuna Pop's 15th anniversary three-day celebration at the Scala in London and they were pretty darn good. Definitely a must see and not to be missed if you happen to be anywhere near the venue they are playing.