Formed back in 2012 at Colchester 6th Form college by Tom Knights and Josh Harrison, The Mono Polys cite influences as ranging from Joy Division to The Velvet Underground. Since forming, The Mono Polys have been going from strength to strength. They’ve supported Ex Libertines Gary Powell and The Rifles, received airplay on both Radio 2 and 6 Music, played a number of London dates, including a couple of This Feeling nights, and debuted track ‘Insomnia’ on Soccer AM.
Now working as a three-piece, with the addition of Luke and Isaac and the absence of Josh, The Mono Polys released a new EP earlier this month. We caught up with them to find out more…
Hi, how are you and what have you been up to so far this week?
Tom: We’re all good, thank you for asking. Tom has been finishing some Uni work, writing some music and rehearsing with Luke in their Brighton set up. Apart from that, Luke just likes to sleep most of the day. His drumming brother Isaac finished his AS Levels this week in Colchester and celebrated by skate boarding across the Essex and Suffolk borders for 8 hours. His time would have been better spent getting his hair cut.
The EP titled Blossom was released last year, what was the reaction like?
Tom: It was released last February and we had some great reactions. Special thanks to Janice Long and Steve Lamacq bringing the nation’s attention to it, and ‘Insomnia’ ended up as no 1 on some Dutch indie chart, which was rather pleasant. But basically it meant a lot to us to be able to get some of our work in a format to be consumed.
We continue to have a good reaction from that EP and it’s something we are very proud of, especially as it was the first time we had worked collectively as a band, and this was especially pleasing as Joel Stoker from the Rifles oversaw the production and we could not have worked with a nicer guy. A couple of the things that amazed was that we began to have followers in some far flung countries, and some twat put one of the demo copies on eBay… What’s that all about?
Identity, the second instalment in the trilogy of EPs is at the end of this month, what can you tell us about it?
T: Identity is a collection of songs that I wrote in my first year at Uni. They reflect some of my life experiences during this time and questions about my own identity. I guess looking back now, I was surrounded by and open to too much negativity, things that happen in everyday life that I guesT:s I had not previously experienced in my life, and with little mental armour to confront them. Most frustratingly, I questioned these things very personally and whether I was capable of dealing with them or not. The only solace or closure I could find was when I expressed these emotions in the written song….Very late nights and early mornings exorcising them through the art of music!”
What can we expect from the third instalment?
T: We have over 60 songs just incubating at present and, depending on our mood at the time (and Luke’s ability to get out of bed), we will determine which ones we will record for the people. Whatever we chose, the songs will maintain a melodic character and there will be a message in there for everyone. We are thinking of calling it ‘The twenty guilty pleasures of suicide pop’, or alternatively it may be called ‘Crackchurch’… We are still working on the concept, but hopefully it will be out before the end of the year.
You played at Alternative Great Escape last week, how did that go?
T: It was OK, I guess we treated it as more of a rehearsal or jamming session. At present we are performing as a three piece and it works. Our synth man, Josh left over Christmas, he travelled to Senegal to continue his work as a missionary and – although this was an initial blow – we haven’t found the right replacement as yet. It was great to play in Brighton, as both Tom and Luke study there and the crowd who had gathered appeared to enjoy themselves which, after all, is what Brighton’s all about.
Isaac: Oh, and Tom has this habit of running off literally seconds after a gig… It’s most annoying.
For those that still haven’t had a chance to see you, how would you summarise yourselves as a live experience?
T: It’s difficult to say; we’ve played up and down the country and the reaction has always been positive. There is definitely an energy and a message in our music and we like to think the arrangements are improving all the time, and we do work hard at it. Our challenge is to get in front of bigger audiences.
Luke: I think those who come to our gigs feel they have heard the songs before – the music is melodic and easy to digest. However, we need more to familiarise themselves with Tom’s lyrics. Often simple in delivery, but actually if you can get where he’s coming from, the songs open themselves up for dissection and debate. It’s the kind of music that old ladies would actually understand what the songs are about … Does that make any sense?
You’re also supporting the Rifles in a couple of weeks’ time, excited?
T: Yes, Yes, Yes! To play at the Electric Ballroom for the first time will be another great experience. We have been very lucky to be introduced to these guys and they have been great mentors to us. When I first met Joel and Luke a couple of years ago, they were so generous with their time and advice. We could not have wished to have met such a sick bunch of guys and this has taught us a lot. We love watching them perform, they are so underrated in today’s fickle music scene, but just listen to the catalogue of great tunes they have written and – if you haven’t already – you must see them live. Everyone must go to a Rifles gig. And, of course, a Mono Polys gig!!
Who would you consider as musical influences for you as a band?
T: There are many, including Diive, Joy Division (because we can be bloody miserable), the Drums, the Cure, the Doors….and currently listening to Wire, Velvet Underground, Galaxie 500, Ariel Pink, Kraftwerk and Vaiko. We do get into that punk/new wave decade of the late 70s and early 80s, and are still discovering new stuff all the time…. Have you heard the Teardrop Explodes’ live version of ‘Sleeping gas’?
Are there any other current bands/artists who you rate right now?
T: Two bands you should look out for are Decoy Jet and Morning Smoke, they have great potential. And we obviously rate The Rifles and enjoyed watching Dexters progress – two great bands that work hard and deserve greater success. We have been fortunate to support both, though are in no way similar. However, part of our hang up is questioning how good the music really is out there… Too many Ed Sherran clones etc. Not sure if the art of writing a good song with a melodic vibe is on top of everyone’s agenda, and thus results in a lot of mediocrity in today’s music industry. How many great guitar bands do you see at your average local venue and you stand there having no idea what they’re singing about ?
Is there anything else we can expect from the Mono Polys before the year is through?
T: Yes. Next week we will be doing an acoustic set for Rio Ferdinand’s downloadable lifestyle ‘5 mag’, Isaac will be getting rid of his mullet, we will be recording the next EP over the Summe, hopefully some more decent support gigs around the country and – before the year is out – our manager wants us to have counselling!
Thank you Gigslutz, as always, it’s been a pleasure.
Thank you, The Mono Polys, for answering our questions!