Friday, September 27, 2013

Interview With Rare Monk (8/23/13)

One of our favorite new little bands on MuzikDizcovery this year has been Rare Monk. From first listen, they have blown us away by their ability to make segments both crushingly powerful and infectiously catchy, even within songs. The group just finished up their largest tour to date opening up for The Dangerous Summer, and at the Baltimore date of the tour they graciously answered questions from us regarding topics such as playing in new places, the removal of Sleep/Attack from Bandcamp, new music, Daytrotter, music videos, and far more that you can read below.

Firstly, can you introduce yourselves?

F: I’m Forest, I play bass.
D: I’m Dorian, I sing and play guitar.
I: I’m Issac, I play violin.
R: I’m Rick, and I play drums.
J: I’m Jake, and I play guitar.

You guys are about halfway through this tour with The Dangerous Summer. How’s it been so far?

F: It’s been really awesome. The halfway point is quite a milestone but all the venues have been really cool. The bands that we are touring with are awesome, you should definitely check all those guys out and grab all their CDs and shit.
D: The Dangerous Summer’s fans have been really really supportive so far. All the shows have been awesome. It’s sweet to be playing to packed houses full of fucking stoked kids. It’s cool.

This is your first real big country spanning tour, correct?

F: This is the first that we’ve done as a package. We did one in March that we booked ourselves, and then we’ve done a couple ones hitting a couple states, but this is only our second time hitting the east coast.

How’s it feel to go to all these places that you rarely ever go to and play shows there?

J: It’s crazy man. Seeing different cities is pretty amazing. We’re really lucky to be able to do this and scrape by enough money to be able to afford our living situations on the road.
F: There’s a lot of corners of the country we haven’t seen before so it’s really cool.
D: Every time we go out it’s new stuff. It’s cities and corn fields.
F: That’s the United States right there.

Any unforgettable experiences from it?

F: Café Du Nord in San Francisco was stellar. I think that was at least my favorite show so far. Montreal, finally getting up to Canada was awesome, the kids up there are really cool and stoked and very supportive.

What happened to the Sleep/Attack album? I know you guys had it on Bandcamp for a while, but it’s now been taken down and replaced with the Death By Proxy EP. What’s going on there?

F: We can’t quite talk about that necessarily, but just look out for some new tracks coming out in October. It’ll make some more sense why we took those tracks down. You can still buy the hard copy on vinyl or CD, it’s just not up streaming anymore. It’ll all make sense soon. We may or may not legally be able to say what’s going on quite yet, but cool stuff is happening.

You shot a pretty crazy video for “Underground.” What can you say about the filming of it?

F: It was a pretty crazy thing. I mean, two tons of dirt were involved that had to be hand delivered.
D: We literally went an hour away from the studio and had to shovel a ton of dirt.
F: Literally a ton of dirt.
D: All the earthworms. Then our buddy Dylan, we gave him the song and the general themes that we were discussing but as far as it went together.
F: We basically let him do whatever. We basically had no part in it except for saying that may be a little too much. But most of the first cut ended up staying in the video. And all the worms were returned back to the natural habitat unharmed! It was one day shooting, it was like really crazy. Dylan got like a 15 person crew together and they shot everything in one day and they all volunteered their time and we had a small budget and it was pretty great. It was the second time that we’ve worked with him. We also did a video for “Shoot Me Down,” and he directed that as well. He’s an awesome dude, and he’s taking care of us on small budgets which is hard to do.

You’ve made a pretty diverse range of sounds in your first record, from the bouncy indie pop of “Death By Proxy” to the heavy, instrumental sounds of “Mama Bear.” Which do you think represents your sound as a band more?

D: I think that kind of contrast is representative in that we are likely to just head off in any given direction in any moment.
J: Listen to all the bridges separately. Also big choruses seem to be a recurring theme.
F: I mean it’s great. Everyone brings in some stuff and everyone contributes equally so we are able to use any small idea and bring it into a Rare Monk song whether it be a synth part or or a guitar part or a vocoder part. We can create unique sounds because everyone is into different start.

Is it a tough putting together a cohesive record using all those little sounds you sort of go off on? Is it hard to tie it all together to make it flow?

F: To some extent. This record was our most cohesive record, our other EPs were even more all over the place. I think maybe a couple records down the line we may finally hone it in. It was really cool working with Skyler. Even though the songs were super diverse there are definitely recurring themes. For instance, the guitars are pretty much treated the same way throughout, so that’s one little way that we kept it all together. We did main tracking in about a month so previously we had worked and done it in big chunks over a long period of time. This time we wrote the record in a much shorter time so it was more of a snapshot instead of taking a year to write six songs. This time we had written all the songs in about four months or so. It’s getting weirder though.

What made you guys put an instrumental song last on the album?

F: Because it’s badass. It sounded cool, so we put it on. It was a popular live song, and we recorded it once before and just kind of wanted another opportunity to record it again because it’s such a crazy song.
D: We thought we could do it. We were in a better recording environment than before and just liked that song.
F: We heard what Skyler did with it and we knew that was the end of the record right there. All the guitar tones got bigger than we’ve ever done before on this record.

You also recorded a Daytrotter session. How was that?

R: The Daytrotter session was awesome. We got in there and they were super, super nice guys, it was very professionally done. We were a little shaken up since the day before we had driven from Des Moines to this spot. It was an awesome experience. It was all broadcast live as well so it was very organic feeling.
F: Those guys really have their stuff together. It’s really really cool. We just came in there after a super long crazy drive over ice fields and shit and they made us feel really welcome. I was sick as hell so I wasn’t feeling really good but it was awesome. They just have some stellar equipment in there and they know what they’re doing and the guy we worked with was awesome.
J: It’s just surreal being there because you know so many people have played there. It’s a place where so much magic has happened.
F: I think they treat every band with an equal amount of respect which is refreshing.

What are your plans for after this tour?

F: A lot of stuff is moving around right now. We’re trying to figure out what’s going on. We may be going back on the road in October and November. We have those new tracks coming out, that’s a big thing. Yeah, it’s going to be crazy. We’re going to put these new tracks out and follow up that with a bunch of touring and stuff.
D: More tours, more recording, more tours, more recording.
F: The next couple years we’re going to be really busy. I don’t think we’re going to be stopping at all in the next two years. A lot of stuff we’re going to be pumping out and just staying on the road forever. Hopefully get overseas at some point and do the festival circuit next year and just keep building.

Are there any last things you guys want to say?

F: This tour in particular, since this is our seventh time out on the road, something like that. We’ve had successful tours beforehand but this tour is a milestone for us. Playing to consistent crowds has been a really cool experience. We just feel like the fans are coming up to us every night and it feels like a fanbase is kind of starting to form.
D: There’s just a lot more energy involved in the crowd. We love The Dangerous Summer’s fans.
F: Yeah, their fans are really excited about coming to shows and sticking around for all the bands.
J: And we’re not playing dive bars anymore. Every show is a step up from any touring we’ve done before, which we’ve booked ourselves, which is basically what we could get.

I want to thank all the guys again in Rare Monk for taking time out of day to speak with us. Sleep/Attack really is one of the best records I've heard this year, and it says something to their talent that so many writers on this site have started supporting them. As stated in the interview, there is no way to digitally purchase Sleep/Attack anymore, but you can still purchase the physical copy on the group's Bandcamp page. Also be sure to keep up with the band's Facebook page for their big announcement and new music!

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