A few days ago, the Monophonics stopped for an amazing show in Hamburg. Before enjoying the live gig, I had a quick chat with the band about creating a timeless sound, goals to reach, live shows and what’s important to take while on tour.
Finally the first in-person interview with an overseas band in over two years! Being a big fan of the newest album „If Only Us“ (2020) I’m really glad that three of the seven band members: Kelly Finnigan, Austin Bohlman and Ryan Scott took the time for a chat before soundcheck.
New Soul that sounds familiar
„I think it´s important that Austin and Ryan join us for the interview,“ Kelly Finnigan started when talking about the history of the band. “It was a college band and Austin and Ryan have been part of the Monophonics since the beginning. It’s two groups of bands combined to make one band. I joined later.”
How do you create your organic and timeless sound on the record? It always seems that we hear the same sound on stage, as we do on the album. Is it a secret of recording, band skills or vibing?
Kelly answered: „I would say that vibing is a good word. All the records that we made, they all start with a basic rhythm section that we record live. It’s always drums, bass, guitar, keyboards that we record live in one room. And once you get that, we start to add the horns and the vocals, strings and all the little things that go on top – the sweet things that make it music. All the individual pieces combined, makes it feel like a room of people playing together.”
You have a new record coming up soon, will you play it today? “Yes, we will play two new songs from the record. First one Warpaint ist already out. The new single will come out on Tuesday.”
What do you think about the upcoming soul music scene? Should they stick to the traditional sounds or should they experiment and try to expand the variety of the genre?
„We think everybody should do whatever comes naturally for them. Some like to be old school and some like to experiment,” Ryan tells me and Kelly adds: „We want to feel contemporary, fresh and new with the feeling of the old school sound. We want everybody to like the music without saying`oh that is old`. We want to feel familiar, with this nice blend of organic soul in it.“
The sky’s the limit
I think that’s what The Monophonics sound feels and sounds like. They have a familiar sound that has the power of telling you a good new story.
Before leaving for soundcheck we have a look in the future. Do you have any goals you want to reach? „Yes of course. The sky’s the limit,“ Ryan Scott tells me. Kelly Finnigan adds: “We want to travel to as many countries as possible. We’ve not played in Australia, and we’ve been to Japan as a backup band. Brazil and Mexico City are on our list as well. There are definitely a lot of places we’ve not been to yet, and we still want to grow and find new people to enjoy our music.”
Favorite moments in touring so far? „Greece was one of my favorite places in the last years“, Ryan answers. “We had to cancel many shows for well known reasons but Greece is definitely one of my favorite places.” „Traveling in Spain for the first time was for me one of the best things. Getting to a new place like that is always good,” Austin adds. „I have to say my best moment happened a little while ago, when playing at the Apollo.” Kelly Finnigan tells. “The Apollo Theater in Harlem, is one of the most historic places for American black music, soul and RnB.“
Touring and Traveling
Looking around the Knust, sitting here with one of the most famous soul bands these days, I just take the chance to ask something spontaneous at the end of our talk.: Give me two or three things you will always pack in your suitcases for a tour? „Oh that’s a good one,” Kelly Finnigan says laughing. „Probably I bring this,” Ryan says pointing to his trumpet at his side. „I think of my favorite shoes, like stage shoes. But everything changes on every trip for me.” „Pack enough underwear,“ Austin says and everybody laughs. Kelly adds: „ a good book and extra phone charger.“ „Yes and headphones”, Austin says, „And some sunglasses depending on the time of the year.“
I almost see them packing their things for a long tour like this one. Before returning to California The Monophonics will stop in UK for some shows. Then they played 20 concerts in a row.
To end the interview with something more serious, I ask them if they have a song they always feel good with on stage. “The set always changes but I think it’s Foolish Love cause we’ve never not played it. And it’s a song over the years the crowd really loves no matter where we are: Spain, Netherlands, Germany, UK or US,” Kelly Finnigan answers.
That sounds good. Thanks again for your time and the amazing show this April evening at Knust Hamburg.
The Monophonics live at Knust Hamburg
The show, I have to say, was amazing. Days later I can still feel the vibes that moved people to dance, shout and sing. Opening with ‘Chances’, the crowd was there right from the start. Feels so good to be back“ Kelly Finnigan opens the stage and he might have spoken for all of us. It was clear to see that the band is really vibing together. Every instrument gets a solo part, and everyone on stage gets the chance to show their talent. The band has a powerful energy that sweeps directly into the audience.
They played many songs from their newest album. Of course the title track If Only Us, followed by Suffocating, Last Man Standing and All In The Family.
We had the chance to listen to the live versions of Promises and Hanging On, from their 2015 album Sound of Sinning. Not to forget Foolish Love from their debut album, In Your Brain. I really loved listening to the magnificent guitar solo, surrounded by the piano, bass, drums and the horns on top.
I’m really looking forward to the new album Sage Motel coming out 13th of May on Colemine Records. The first two singles Warpaint and the next one, Love You Better are amazing. Mark your calendar or even better: Pre-order the record right now.
I think it was an evening everyone was satisfied with: On stage and in the crowd were only happy faces. Even later at the bar and waiting in line at the wardrobe, people were chatting together about the brilliant gig. Thanks guys for this night to remember.
Fotocredit by Caro for MUSICSPOTS