Label: Vagrant Records
Agressive Melodic Pop from Brampton Ontario
Press darlings they may be, but a good band is still a good band—and make no mistake, Moneen is a FUCKING good band.
— David Lawrence (Nerve Magazine)
Kenny Bridges Chris Hughes Peter Krpan Erik Hughes
Ask Moneen what kind of music they play, and they won't offer up a simple, soundbite-friendly answer. "We always get asked that, and we'd never really thought about it that much," muses frontman Kenny Bridges. "So it became a fun little game for us to come up with the most terrible tagline possible, just to confuse people. The one we came up with is 'aggressive melodic pop.'"
While such a description is far from terrible or confusing — Moneen's music is indeed aggressive, melodic, and poppy — it still doesn't begin to capture the myriad complexities and layers of this Toronto four-piece's unique brand of powerpunk. With influences ranging from the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds to the Dillinger Escape Plan, Thingy, and Jimmy Eat World ("anything that's over the top and pushes the limits," Kenny explains), Moneen display a songwriting sophistication and technical prowess that belie their brief three-and-a-half-year existence and early-twentysomething ages. "We just can't write a quick little pop song," Kenny admits. "If we wrote two-minute songs, I don't think we'd be able to get enough good stuff into the songs. We want every song to be like a little adventure — with a beginning, a middle, and an end —
Case in point is "The Last Song I Will Ever Want To Sing," the harrowing, sensory-overloading coda to Moneen's second full-length opus, Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now? Kenny describes the band's favorite new track as "a pure journey. It's almost 10 minutes long, but it doesn't feel long. The best kind of long songs are the ones that people get so engrossed in, they just fly by."
In a way, it seems like Moneen's entire career is flying by. Forming from the ashes of the band Perfectly Normal in 1999 in the Canadian suburb of Brampton , and mysteriously naming themselves after a "beautiful French girl," they debuted a mere one year later with the EP Smaller Chairs For Early 1900s, followed by 2001's critically acclaimed full-length, The Theory Of Harmonial Value. Both were released on theWinnipeg-based indie label Smallman Records, but by 2002, Moneen had already caught the attention of one of today's most influential and respected independent record companies, Vagrant (home of Dashboard Confessional, Rocket From The Crypt, Saves The Day, and Paul Westerberg, among others). " Now Smallman (to which Moneen still maintain great loyalty) and Vagrant have joined forces to co-release Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now?
Recorded at the Audio International Studio in sunny Ojai, CA (which was just fine with Moneen, as it afforded them the opportunity to escape Toronto in the dead of winter), produced by Face To Face frontman Trever Keith, and engineered by Get Up Kids knob-twiddler Chad Blinman, Are We Really Happy... strikes a perfect balance between the more straightforward, hard-driving rock of the quartet's early EP and the dreamy, ambient, self-described "artsy" soundscapes of The Theory Of Harmonial Value — thus demonstrating how hard Moneen push themselves and how far they've come in such a short span of time.
Are We Really Happy... also definitely differentiates Moneen from the current crop of emo bands to which they will, for better or worse, inevitably be compared. "I think our main difference from those bands is we actually get angry," Kenny explains. And though we are very emotional in the way we play, and we do take ourselves seriously in what we do, at the same time we don't take everything so seriously that it's overbearing."
Still, many new Moneen tracks ("Start Angry...End Mad," "Thoughts Weigh Heavy," "With This Song I Will Destroy Myself," "Closing My Eyes Won't Help Me Leave," the austere piano ballad "I Have Never Done Anything For Anyone") take a gravely solemn departure from the typical boy-loses-girl lyrical fodder of many acts in the same scene. "Our first record was all about girl problems, but a lot of this record is about death," reveals Kenny, who recently suffered the passing of a close family member for the first time. "But even though there are a lot of lyrics that aren't so happy, overall it's a really positive record; I hope people listen to it and realize that they can get something positive out of the bad things in life. We're actually pretty positive people who have a lot of fun I cannot stress enough how much we like to have fun."
Anyone who's seen Moneen's live show can attest to that statement. A great deal of the much-needed levity of Are We Really Happy..., which balances out the disc's weightier subject matter, is inspired by Moneen's joyful, gleefully unhinged concert experiences. "It all comes down to the live show," Kenny asserts. "When writing for this record, deciding what direction we wanted to go in, we said, 'Let's just write some stuff that's really fun to play live!' And that was it. It was the easiest thing ever. That's when the whole album came together."
There's no doubt that both Moneen and their eager audiences will have plenty of fun at the band's upcoming gigs. "People connect with us really well live, because we don't have any attitudes; there's no boundaries or 'we're cool and you're not' aspect to our show at all," says Kenny.
Soon concertgoers south of the Canadian border will have the opportunity to be entertained by Moneen, as the group intends to tour the U.S. practically nonstop. "We're really excited, because if we can get what we have in Canada in the States, we'll be set," declares Kenny. "We don't want to be huge or anything, we just want to have a fanbase that we can have fun with and make every show really, really good. And we'll do whatever it takes onstage — even if there's hardly anyone at the club, we'll never say, 'Oh well, there's only 15 people here, so we don't need to try.' We're not afraid of playing to only 15 people!" However, judging by the impressive, career-establishing accomplishment that is Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now?, Moneen probably don't need to worry about having to play for such sparse audiences for very much longer.