Interview Muna Noor
Text Aizyl Azlee
Image Island Records
Steadily rising since back in 2010, Mona has made quite the name for themselves with their brand (or some would say Kings of Leon’s brand) of ringing-guitar-strum rock (we’re not much for labels). JUICE recently sat down with frontman Nick Brown for a chat at Splendour In The Grass 2011. We grilled him about their recent move to Nashville, their relationship with Kings of Leon and the current music climate.
You moved to Nashville, is that home now?
No, it’s headquarters now, it’s not ever gonna be home.
Why is it not home?
Uhm, because we’re a couple of Ohio, Kentucky boys, so you know, I think that’s always gonna be home for us.
Do you think there’s a conveyor belt mentality towards churning out music at Nashville?
There is, in a negative way, if you’re in the wrong circles. I think everyone who’s been successful in Nashville kind of becomes their own island, does their own thing, even the people who are now moving there. Jack White moved there, The Black Keys and Kings of Leon are all from there. All those people became their own islands. The local scene gets kind of convoluted, and people think that they’re doing stuff on a very small, small scale, but the people waste years just doing stuff locally, so it’s very important that, no matter where you’re at, not to fool yourself with just something local, have a bigger vision to get out of where you are, as opposed to just being a big fish in a small pond.
You guys have been compared to Kings of Leon a lot, how do you feel about those comparisons?
Jared [Followill] is one of my best friends, so we’ve been friends and fans of each other for a while and we don’t think we sound alike, I think it’s just one of those things. We’re from similar backgrounds, I come from a Pentecostal church, my father was a pastor, we’re both soulful singers, our bands are four dudes up there playing epic rock, so we understand it but we definitely have our own fingerprint. You know, U2 got compared to The Clash, Kings of Leon got compared to The Strokes, if you look back in history now, those bands don’t sound anything like each other. But if I gave you a taste of a candy bar, the first thing you would say is, “It kinda tastes like uhhh mixed with uhhh” It’s just what humans do. So it’s fine, we don’t expect something to be handed to us, we know it’s gonna take time for people to learn our personality and our vibe.
You mentioned church just now, are you guys deeply religious?
I wouldn’t say religious. The word, the original language in Latin or Hebrew, religion means “to bind”, as in to bring together to bind, but nowadays I think it’s more like to bind, as in bondage. We don’t go to church, we don’t claim anything. I got kicked out of a seminary once back in Bible college. I don’t like organized religion in that way. I think you just have to be pure when it comes to art, religion, sexuality, politics, any of it. The most powerful thing is honesty and it’s not claiming a title, I don’t care if you’re Buddhist, I don’t care if you’re Christian, I don’t care if you’re gay, I don’t care. It’s about being yourself and being honest. Get over the titles and the labels, I don’t get this sh!t.
Do you think there’s any need for albums anymore, now that we’ve got downloads?
Most definitely we do! I think that people need to remember that music is still an art form, it’s not just entertainment. I love pop music, I love dance music, I love hip-hop music, but there’s also stuff about the arts and humans expressing themselves, being interpreted by other humans, it’s a powerful process, you can’t do that in a single. You need a cohesive voice, I mean, like when you’re a fan of a band, people couldn’t wait for the album, and you’d sit down and you’d start Track 1, and you’d listen to the whole thing, and there was a process, there was something to be said, it was a ritual.
I think most rock lead singers are pussies, and I think this whole “indie, let’s be quiet, let’s play for our 13 friends from art school”, well, we need to get rid of that mentality. Speak out, and speak it bold. Stop trying to be cool. Good music’s for everybody, it’s not just for the cool kids. I’m all about accessibility.
You talked about using your platform and speaking out. When artists get that big, do you think they have a responsibility to their fans also, to maybe preach something in particular? Have a message?
I think you have a responsibility just to be honest. Somebody’s not necessarily dealing with the same issues, so maybe one celebrity doesn’t have that many convictions. So have fun, but just be honest, and be that guy for people. Maybe someone may experience something that to them, every time they’re on a platform, they have to say it, because it’s really conviction. But also, don’t just try to be Bono and try to just slap some bullshit that no one, you know, what are you, are you an activist, or are you a singer? Are you a rockstar or are you, whose side are you on? It’s one of those things where you need to be careful with that too, because I think people get lost in it.
Splendour In The Grass 2011 saw Mona rocking it out at Woodford Queensland. JUICE was flown over by Air Asia X to catch the festival. Splendour In The Grass 2012 is approaching ever closer, and it’s set to be held at Gold Coast, and you can find out more about the festival and what it has in store this year at www.splendourinthegrass.com.
You can head on over to www.airasia.com to book your flight tickets. Air Asia X has flies daily to Gold Coast from Kuala Lumpur and back. Air Asia X also flies to Melbourne, Perth, Seoul Tokyo and many more music-friendly cities. Check for flight schedules and ticket prices and don’t forget to ask about Air Asia X Premium and its lie flat beds.
You can check out more of Mona at www.monatheband.com.