Embodying the raw grittiness of DIY indie rock music perfectly, MONO 01 are an edgy, exciting new addition to the rock scene from the Bedfordshire area. Having formed during their A-levels, MONO 01 are made up of Nathan, Will, Tyler, and Sam. Something about their music is incredibly powerful and rough, with these brilliant undertones of indie rock and post-punk garage music to their sound. Fresh off the release of their self-titled debut EP, the band’s sound is really interesting and unique. The vocals have a definitive grit to them too, really reminiscent of vocalists like Pete Doherty or Alex Turner. To me, the really stand out element of their music is the quirkiness of the guitar, with really intricate riffs accompanying blurry, distorted vocals. The sound’s quite experimental too, with this hazily unique vibe to it; it’s really hard to put them in the same box as another band or music genre, as they manage to encompass and embody so many different things in their music perfectly. There’s a really sick sound which lies within all their tracks, which is that of roughness, DIY rawness, and just pure indie rock bite. This concept of DIY rock is one which punk band Wonk Unit introduced me to, and basically embodies all the factors which make rock bands proper rock bands; the struggle and emotion and power you can hear in the music, the aggression in the drumming and the longing and pain in the lyrics. To me, my favourite tracks on the EP are The Narcissist, with its brilliantly catchy mesmerising guitar and softly distorted vocals, as well as What I Want, featuring a funky beat, with really exciting guitar running throughout. Girl on the Other Side of Town is a fantastic track too, with the solid guitar throughout pairing with the grittiness of those really raw, real lyrics. I love the chorus where the guitar just lifts to hit that note, in such an unexpected, uncompromising way. And that’s my favourite thing about MONO 01; they’re so different and stand out as a nonconformist, alternative band. Lost Dreams is a class track too, with really great guitar from the off; what I love about the group is just how well composed their music is. All the elements tie in together so brilliantly, creating this messy rock sound, yet retaining a meticulous indie edge. The band have a gig coming up at Proud Camden on 2nd December, and you can purchase tickets here…for more on the band, you can read my interview with them below.
Tell me about your band; who’s in it and how did you form?
Nathan: Before we started MONO 01 I had been doing some little bits of guitar and recording for some of Sam’s projects. We realised we worked pretty well together so decided to make an album in our free time at school, recording all the parts and mixing the album together using what equipment our school had. It ended up working quite well and we decided to do some gigs, recruiting Tyler on guitar and Will on bass. It’s all just evolved from there really. To be completely honest when we first started I didn’t even think we’d finish the album haha but I’m glad to see that we’re still going
Will: I was a latecomer to the group and that came about by chance! The bass player they had dropped out before the first proper performance Mono 01 had played, so Sam rang me up one evening and said they desperately needed someone to play for them. I jumped on the opportunity because I love playing, the problem was, I had to learn 9 original songs in a week during which time, I was revising for A levels which were getting closer. Long story short, we managed to get a couple of practices in before the gig and there we were: MONO 01
Tyler: 4-piece band formed through mutual connections at school
Sam: The band was formed when I approached Nathan about making an album together. It then became apparent that we would need to form a band for live performances and so we therefore asked Tyler and Will to join in our project
Where are you guys from and what’s the local music scene like?
Nathan: We’re from Shefford in Bedfordshire. There’s a few great venues around like Esquires in Bedford, Club 85 in Hitchin and The Horn in St Albans where we played our first gig. It’s also pretty close to London by train so that opens up a lot of opportunities
Will: So we are from small villages in one area of Bedfordshire. Being from small villages, the music scene is very quiet! It has proven to be extremely difficult getting gigs near where we live because there really aren’t very many venues
Tyler: Bedfordshire, not as great as other areas but does a job
Sam: We are based in Hertfordshire where the local music scene is relatively quiet and mostly consists of gigs in local pubs
You’ve noted some of your influences as Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, and Johnny Marr- all class acts! Which other musicians have influenced you, and who did you grow up listening to?
Nathan: Well for me personally Arctic Monkeys and QOTSA would by far be my main influences. I’ve always loved the energy of Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not and that album in particular has influenced my writing and lyric style quite a lot since I first started writing. Queens of the Stone Age on the other hand are in my opinion probably the greatest rock band in history. They have such an immense sound that makes all of their riffs just epic. Another band I love is the Killers. Sam’s Town is one of my favourite albums and the song writing on that has definitely inspired my own
Will: I grew up listening to a lot of old music, car journeys with my dad and his CDs has impacted me more than I thought it would. I love David Bowie, The Human League and Simple Minds, but artists which have influenced me most would have to be The Stranglers. They influenced the punk movement heavily, inspiring bands like the Sex Pistols and The Clash and I admire that. My playing style is very similar to that of their bass player – JJ Burnel, one of my idols. I think their mindset has rubbed off on me too and I really enjoy studying their lyrics and finding the meaning
Tyler: Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Guthrie Govan are all notable influences of mine, outside of instrumental acts, my style is influenced by Circa Waves, Catfish, Dorje, and many more
Sam: The musicians that have influenced me most include bands such as Switchfoot, Coldplay and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band as well as solo acts such as John Mayer
Who’s the dream artists to collaborate with?
Nathan: Queens of the Stone Age definitely. Everything Josh Homme touches turns to gold and he’s basically just the Jesus of rock
Will: I think Royal Blood would be an awesome artist to colab with! We have a different sound to them, but I think that by working with them we could come up with something a little bit different and very interesting!
Sam: Switchfoot have always been my favourite band growing up. I would most like to collaborate with them
Who are your favourite new upcoming bands?
Nathan: I know he’s probably now not considered upcoming but I love Rat Boy I think he does some great stuff. His songs are so relatable to growing up British, he’s basically like if The Inbetweeners was an indie band
Will: I’m quite liking listening to Counterfeit, a punk rock band from London! Lead singer Jamie Campbell Bower knows how to get an audience going!
Sam: My favourite upcoming band is “Sam Gifford and The Innocent” and “MONO01”. This is a completely unbiased opinion…..
What’s been your favourite album/ single to be released this year?
Nathan: Iggy Pop’s Post Pop Depression. Such a good combination of some awesome musicians, with great psychedelic sounds and lyrics. Not to mention when you combine Iggy Pop, QOTSA and Arctic Monkeys members it’s not exactly gonna be shit is it?
Will: I think my favourite single to be released is Enough by Counterfeit! The tone of the drums makes that song stand out, I’d love to go see them play that song live
Tyler: The Life of Pablo
Sam: Where the Light Shines Through by Switchfoot
What’s the dream venue/ festival to headline?
Nathan: Simple. Reading. Although to be honest my dream is to be playing anywhere where you’ve got a sold out crowd singing every last word of your songs. Also Red Rocks is pretty cool
Will: Glastonbury main stage has got to be the dream! It’s a long way off but a closer goal is the BBC Radio 1 introducing stage!! That would be a great way to get our name out there!
Tyler: Coachella/ T in the park
Sam: To headline Glastonbury alongside Bruce Springsteen wouldn’t be too bad
What influences your lyrics?
Nathan: I’m influenced by a range of things to be honest. We’ve got some tracks like Scaled Hands and Get Out Of My Face with your typical schoolboy romance and hopelessness but I also love to write lyrics that are a bit more unique or story based. Lost Dreams for example is about a friend I had who was always wanting to be a big star in musical theatre but I wasn’t too sure if they’d be able to make it. That got me thinking about what would happen to someone like her if they didn’t make it, inspiring me to write about a girl failing to succeed, turning to prostitution, having the child of a client and dying in the street from an overdose with the child crying next to her. A bit of an over-exaggeration you could say but I quite enjoy writing songs like that, where you imagine what might have happened in a certain situation (FYI she is doing quite well for herself phew so nothing to worry about)
Will: In terms of this album, I haven’t had an input on the lyrics that’s all Nathan. But if I’m writing songs I’d draw on things I find important! I hate love songs, so I’d never write about that. I’d also never write a song with empty lyrics; too many songs today are just like hypnotic beats brainwashing people. I was talking to one of my flat mates the other day and she was listening to some grime/house/I don’t even know, and she told me that the music I listen to was crap. I asked her if she thought that the music that she was listening to right then was better than Bowie… She said it was, and I was astounded. She said you can’t twerk to Bowie….. And I really had no words
Sam: Nathan is the lyricist for MONO 01’s tracks. However, in my own projects I am most inspired by real experiences and situations which are applicable and relevant to anyone listening
Given our current political climate, is politics something you’d ever consider writing about?
Nathan: Yeah definitely! I’m a massive fan of bands like Rage Against The Machine and the Dead Kennedys. I’ve written more political stuff for other projects but it’s yet to come into MONO 01 stuff. I’d love to write more obscure sort of political lyrics, like something satirical from the perspective of a dictator or something. That could create some really interesting songs, although the good old “FUCK YOU I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME” is still good
Will: I would write about politics yes! I’d much rather be getting a message across about actual problems in this world than just write meaningless shit because it would be popular. If you can make people think as well as enjoy the music – that’s the real goal!
Sam: Won’t be writing a love song for Donald Trump anytime soon…
What are the band’s plans in terms of recording and gigging?
Nathan: As for gigging, we’ve got a gig at Proud Camden on the 2nd December and some others lined up in the new-year. We want to get a lot of festival slots in the summer hopefully and also play at the Unis of all the members. As for recording, we’ve started writing new songs for a second album and might start recording in the Summer, probably using equipment at Sam’s Uni. The second one’s looking to be a lot heavier than the first, and a bit darker
Will: Being scattered across the country in different universities makes it pretty difficult for us. We are working on a new album, ideas come from each of us whether it be some lyrics or a riff, and these are put together usually by Nathan and Sam; a second album is on its way!! In terms of gigging, we are going to do all that we can! Travelling is expensive for us students so we are trying to arrange gigs in times where we are all back together in the same place!
Sam: We next gig in Camden on the 2nd of December. I’m sure we will gig as much as possible. I think we are all also thinking about the possibility of a second album
What’s the best gig you’ve been to?
Nathan: To be perfectly honest I’ve never actually been to a gig where we weren’t playing haha, but at our first gig we played alongside Scholars who were honestly amazing, such a mental live band! I was completely deaf by the time they finished but they really were on another level and their frontman was mad
Will: Has to be when I saw Simple Minds ft the Strangers in Glasgow 2015! My two favourite bands in one concert, you can’t beat it! We also got right down the front in the mosh, which I love! Could never sit down for a gig, always got to be jumping around!
Tyler: Joe Satriani at Hammersmith Odeon
Sam: Seeing Switchfoot in Edinburgh was well worth the 800 mile day trip