Monophonics : ‘Punched In’ and ‘Putting the Energy Out.’

Evoking the soulful, funky psychedelic sounds of the late 60’s and early 70’s by capturing the vibe and the energy of the genre but with a unique feel for...

Evoking the soulful, funky psychedelic sounds of the late 60’s and early 70’s by capturing the vibe and the energy of the genre but with a unique feel for the present and expression all their own, Monophonics, a six-piece from San Francisco, celebrate the release of their new LP Sound of Sinning on the same day they hit World Café Live Philadelphia downstairs stage on Tuesday, April 14 2015 at 8:00 pm and bring with them their energetic live show bound to get the crowd jumping. Brian LaPann Trio opens.

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Monophonics have been around since 2005 and have several records to their credit. In the beginning, the band started as an “instrumental” band, but over the past few years, they have become more of a vocals oriented band with the addition of vocalist and frontman, Kelly Finnigan. An excellent direction it was as is the album from 2012 In Your Brain , a remarkably soulful/ funky psychedelic achievement, packed with one feel-good-song after the next.

I wanted to get a little insight about what all the buzz is about for Philthy readers; so, I had a chance to catch up with Kelly Finnigan of Monophonics for a brief chat as they make their way across the country on their Sound of Sinning tour en route to the Philly show next week.

Jon from Philthy: How does it feel to be coming to Philadelphia and have your record released when you are here?

Kelly Finnigan of Monophonics: Feels great to be able to bring the record to all parts of the country and world is something that we don’t take for granted, and the fact that we are a traveling band, and we get to play in Philly and New York, Chicago, Seattle, Miami, New Orleans…all over the country and all over the world…..we do a lot of touring in Europe as well. We love Philadelphia! It has a rich history in music especially soul music MFSB, Gamble and Huff and just all the great soul records that came out of Philly; so, we are excited, man!

Jon: What went into the making of your new album and how does it compare to what you have done previously?

Kelly: We started on the record in January 2014, and it was all done by January 2015 and that was with touring in the States and Europe. The flow and the rhythm we got going was really good in terms of writing and recording and producing. It was all in-house DIY myself with guitar player, Ian McDonald. We do all the producing and recording in our own studio. It’s all analog. We recorded tape. We use lots of old microphones, pre-amps, compressors, etc. ….there is no like watching the studio clock or wondering how much money you are paying….it’s all in-house under our own umbrella, and there is no real pressure or record label. I think between the last record and this one there is a progression and a maturity in the songwriting. Writing and recording, coming up with parts….in the process, we have matured and just have gotten better just off of our past experiences and what we’ve learned.

Jon: How do you manage to make this music sound so fresh and invigorating? What are you thinking about when you write songs?

Kelly: It’s our approach. We are well aware that what we are doing has been done, Just like all music….Nobody is coming up with new genres….I guess some EDM people want to believe they are, but I’m not buying that but…I’m mean we are very conscious that it’s 2015. We are not trying to make people believe it’s 1970 or 1965 or whatever the record sounds like….we want to be a modern band, but we have an old school approach and old school influences, and that’s where we meet in the middle. We are all conscious of the fact that we are competing with modern bands and a soundtrack to 2015. So, we are just trying to walk that line old vs. new….let both be heard when you turn the record on. It’s like you want to hear the old influences, but you don’t want it to be too nostalgic or throwback because that takes away from the attraction of us being a new band. In terms of what we are thinking, it’s bridging the old and the new: How can I come up with a unique part on my instrument that represents progression as a musician as a musical mind something that is very much today but also being true to the old school way and old school approach?

Jon: I understand you have a great live show. What can we expect from you in a live performance?

Kelly: We are very energetic: lots of energy. We like to think of it as a show…like Lee Fields, man… He puts on a show for 90 minutes. He’s putting on a show…he’s at work! He’s punched in and he’s at work, putting the work in and you can feel that, and that is what we try to do too. We do it as a band. We are all up there having fun and partying putting in our all….puttin’ the energy out, the good vibes out. We want you to come and you don’t need to think if you had a good or bad day, or what is going on. When you come in the room, we want you to just focus on having a good time with us.

Jon: What have been some of your favorite places to play live?

Kelly: Greece is an amazing place in terms of music fans and people and culture. It’s just a beautiful thing. We got to go to Greece a couple of times….we will be back in July. We played Morocco last summer…Paris, France. We love Seattle, Chicago, Brooklyn and Philly….We love playing in our home town of San Francisco, L.A. …Austin, TX…

Top 3: Greece, Paris and then a tie between our hometown, San Francisco and Chicago…. I have to put San Francisco in there especially at The Fillmore as it’s very special to play there.

Jon: What or who are some of your influences musical and / or non- musical?

Kelly: Musically, we are all fans of Stax records/ Motown…. We are big on the musicians who don’t get the credit like the documentaries “The Wrecking Crew” or “Standing Behind the Shadows of Motown”… “The Muscle Shoals” documentary…the spotlight on a lot of musicians we love and appreciate….As a band, we are hugely influenced by Sly and the Family Stone, Pink Floyd, The Beach Boys, but also like Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, but we also love The Zombies. We are pretty much into soul and rhythm and blues, but we are also big fans of rock and roll, 60’s pop and California pop. It’s a wide range. We’re not just a group of guys who listen to soul music. We listen to everything.

In terms of non-musical, I would say we are big fans of art and film, people like Stanley Kubrick and those kinds of minds of people who came along in their industry and changed things…very much people on the forefront of new ideas and new approaches. We are big fans who have found their calling and practiced their craft so well that they are able to bring something new to the table to that craft.

Jon: What can we expect from Monophonics for the remainder of the year?

Kelly: There is a lot of touring…We are on the road for 5 or 6 weeks now of all of the United States. We will go back to California and do some local shows in Northern California and do a festival and then we go to Europe for a month to do London, Paris, Berlin, Hamburg, Geneva, Switzerland…we’ll be in Budapest….We’ll be in Greece, Romania…all over Europe…that’ll be through July, and we’ll be back in California in July…we’ll play more festivals. We’ll do a festival with Mr. Charles Bradley….a great performer along with Lee Fields….we’ll be very busy through August.

Jon: Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?

Kelly: Let the music speak for itself. You can hear a progression that’s pretty cool from a band that has had a lot of growth and over the years and matured and had not been scared to change or embrace new things. That’s hard for a lot of bands. They get stuck in what they are and kind of fearful. If they change too much, they might drive people away. We don’t have that problem. We are not scared of that.

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Jon Crary is an avid music fan. Jon's roots are the late 70’s punk and the new wave scene, but his influences are early 70’s glam- Roxy Music and David Bowie. His tastes evolved in the 80’s to include his influences’ copiers – Japan, Duran Duran and New Order. He hosted a radio program where Echo and the Bunnymen and the Smiths were staples. Now, their legacy is well documented. Many people think he has great taste in music, and he actually has a good record collection. He is also a semi-musician having played the bass guitar in a French garage rock band. Now, you will see him enjoying the new music of this and the last decade…thanks to Interpol “Turn on the Bright Lights” album for which he will forever be grateful for revitalizing music for the new generation and old.