Rare Monk is a band that hooked me when I saw them live while opening for The Dangerous Summer in 2013. This band breaks the mold of other rock bands. Their first full-length record “A Future” comes out on July 7, 2017. This is a can’t miss record for music fans. This release invites the listener into a different realm of life.
I had the privilege of interviewing a band I have admired for awhile. In this interview, we discuss their new album, being from Portland, Oregon, and much more.
Rob: Who is Rare Monk?
Rare Monk: Rare Monk is a Portland, OR based indie rock band, gearing up to release their debut full-length album on July 7th featuring 10 brand new songs recorded in Portland with Skyler Norwood (Blind Pilot, Horsefeathers, Priory).
Rob: What inspired your latest single “Happy Haunting?”
Rare Monk: “Happy Haunting” started out with the opening guitar riff at rehearsal and we wrote the entire song in just a few sessions before we had any lyrics. Dorian then came up with the following theme: “Rather than accepting the death of a soul mate, a pact is made. Whoever dies first will remain – haunting the bereaved, keeping company and helping with mischief till they finally reunite in decomposition.”
Rob: How did you come up with “A Future” as your album’s title?
Rare Monk: These songs were written over the last year or so (2016), a year that was troubled in so many ways, and the songs are tinged with it. They deal with death and agency – our control (both individual and as a species) of how the future will play out. It’s easy to be deterministic – the world’s a shit show right now and it feels like all we can do is make popcorn – so there’s a lot of grappling and grasping for free will. The songs are also a lot of fun – big guitar fun – a commitment to giant choruses as a medium to discuss humanity’s doom and how we might prevent it. If there’s a unifying theme to the album, it’s that we have control over the music we make, that band practice is chaos under our control and feedback cures all diseases. Basically we don’t know what kind of future is in store for us, but it feels ominous…
Rob: How was the recording process different from previous releases?
Rare Monk: We actually kind of went back to the basics for this release. The last two releases we were working with a label and producers, so there was a little bit more pressure for the songs to be successful, which put a little bit of strain in the writing process. For this release we decided pretty early on that we wanted to self-release and take our time writing and recording these new songs. It relieved a lot of stress from the “industry” and resulted in some of our best material to date. We also went back to the studio and producer where we really started forming our sound 5 years prior and just had a really great time making this record.
Rob: What do you want fans to get from your new record?
Rare Monk: I hope that they want what we want… big choruses, heady lyrics, and complex instrumentation. This is definitely an album for the headphone audiophile and we hope the album is somewhat of an experience for our fans. Also sorry it took so long to put out a full length!
Rob: Describe your new release in 3 words.
Rare Monk: Death, Agency, Control
Rob: How has your band evolved since the beginning?
Rare Monk: In 2016 we faced several lineup changes. Our original guitarist and violinist left and our once 5-piece became a 4-piece with the addition of lead guitarist and vocalist Hugh Jepson. With the addition of Jepson, we started focusing more on writing bigger guitar parts, dueling leads, and adding beautiful falsetto harmonies.
Rob: How has Portland influenced your sound?
Rare Monk: Portland doesn’t get a lot of sunshine throughout the year. We really only have about three months of sun every year. So this kind of dreary environment has definitely influenced the apocalyptic lyric content, and spacey instrumental.
Rob: What are your plans for 2017?
Rare Monk: We will be releasing “A Future” on July 7th and heading on a small West Coast tour to San Francisco and Los Angeles. We are also planning a new EP to hopefully be released by the end of the year!