I know I have said this plenty of times before, but I often find that the best way to discover new music is by listening to the recommendations of bands that you like. Mondegreen first came to my attention after we’re only afraid of NYC started raving about them. I actually saw them live for the first time supporting NYC back in the summer of last year at King Tuts.
That night I am pretty sure they won over a number of new fans, or at the very least they converted me to the ways of the ‘green. I think it’s safe to say that the boys have got a few Pavement albums in their record collection, there are even touches of Deerhunter or perhaps even The Fall in there.
Yes, they might well wear their influences on their sleeves, but at the moment they sound pretty much like nothing else that’s going on in Scotland at the moment and for that I salute them.
Would you care to introduce yourself?
I’m Matthew and I play guitar and sing with Mondegreen. Fraser (drums) and Allan (bass) are my bandmates and we’ve been kicking around for a while now, you just haven’t heard of us because it’s all a big secret and nobody let you in on it.
How would you describe the music you make?
We like to mess around with the standards a little. It seems more natural to us to chop a few beats off our bars and add a few extra notes to our chords; that’s just part of musical experimentation, but cut-and-paste pop became our thing after a while. We could never write a perfect pop song, so we throw a hissy fit and question what a perfect pop song is anyway.
How did you come together as a band?
Mondegreen is a test-tube band brought together through the power of wanted ads. I think we should all meet our friends this way, I only met one psychotic serial killer and he didn’t even try to kill me.
How did you start out making music?
My neighbour gave me a short-scale acoustic guitar when I was six, but I never learned how to play till my parents bought me my first cruddy wee electric guitar when I was twelve. I stayed in and jammed along with The Bluetones and The Beatles and Nirvana until I could find a band of my own. I played in a few school bands playing Radiohead covers and started a few bands that failed – the best one was called Satanic Beate Troupe and I swear the world is a worse place without it. Mondegreen is a continuation of the first gigging band I was ever in, The Covergirls.
What process goes into the way you write songs?
The songs tend to be written around guitar parts – I’m only singer by default! If I come up with something useful I keep at it until there’s enough there to jam with the band. I sometimes record demos and send them to the guys, and we show up at rehearsals and it usually just comes together. I suppose it’s actually quite controlled, as there isn’t really a great deal of improv other than the odd noisy guitar solo where we can let our hair down a bit. We like the songs to be short and eventful.
Who are your big musical influences?
Ennio Morricone was a big influence on the style of the band. He helped bridge a gap for me between popular and classical music. If you apply classical ideas to pop you can break the verse/chorus/verse monotony, and that was the idea I wanted to explore when writing. I like The Beach Boys, Scott Walker, Tom Waits, Jacques Brel, Evil Superstars, Brainiac, Cardiacs, Trencher, King Crimson, and I hear little bits of all of them in our recordings.
What kind of influence do you feel that where you come from has had on the music you create?
Scotland is a great wee place, don’t get me wrong, but it is cold, dark, wet and miserable for long periods of the year. So unless you’re able to poke fun at your situation you’ll end up a pure miserablist. Our songs are pretty downbeat if you take the lyrics on their own, but the goofy music puts a positive spin on it and nobody’s any the wiser. But we’re crying inside 🙁
What can people expect to see/hear from your live shows?
You’ll hear no sound checks (they are for wimps), zero chat in between songs, kazoos and 15% more cowbell for your money. And you’ll see the drumsticks flying all over the place, high levels of concentration, higher levels of mistakes, and the lowest slung bass guitar in history.
Has there been a particular gig that has stood out for you so far (good or bad)?
We had a great time in the summer up in Aberdeen playing with Min Diesel and Pensioner, two great bands we highly recommend. That stands out as the most fun we’ve had at a gig, and the music was brilliant too. Even the drive there and back was a hoot.
What are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond? Do you have any new releases planned for any time soon?
We’re recording our LP with Ross at Chime Studio now, that’s our big target for this year. It’ll be great to have it finished but we’re having a great time messing around at Chime and seeing where the record takes us. Beyond that, world domination obviously, a duet with Dolly Parton and our own line of Mondegreen curtain/bed spread sets. That would be awesome.
You can catch Mondegreen playing live at the Captains Rest on Friday the 4th of March supporting last weeks Scots Way-Hay starlets PAWS. Their ‘Headless’ EP is also available to download on their Bandcamp, it’s free, it’s awesome and you really should check it out.
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