They won MTV’s Brand New For 2011, beating Jessie J, The Vaccines and Jamie Woon. They have been picked as support for Kings of Leon and Morrissey for their shows this summer. And they released their self-titled debut album on Monday.
But who are Mona?
The short answer is: a young Nashville-based four-piece rock revival band.
The longer version is a bit more complicated.
Three-quarters of Mona learned their music (how to play, perform and work a crowd) in church. Frontman/guitarist Nick Brown and drummer Vince Gard played before in a Pentecostal Charismatic congregation, while bass player Zach Lindsey earned his stripes at a Southern Baptist congregation.
Guitarist Jordan Young completed the line-up later on in our tale.
‘We’ve had to walk away from a lot of the church,’ says Nick, as verbally forthright offstage as he is forcefully charismatic onstage.
‘But we’re all family people. We’re all mamas’ boys. We all try to be good brothers, to be good sons. The same thing with the band – we’re a family. But obviously with the band we’re more like a family in the Mafia sense. We’re a gang as well,’ adds the singer who dispensed with the services of his previous lead guitarist by ‘breaking my fist on his face’.
Nick and Vince grew up in Dayton, Ohio and met via their church musical group. Says Nick ‘I needed a drummer and Vince needed an outlet. We didn’t even get along as people, as friends, at all, it was more of a musical connection at first.
‘The friendship thing developed much later. But at first, growing up in church and having a little bit of a chip on your shoulder, you want someone that’s gonna play aggressively and have fun with it. And both of us were very zealous, even in the church, very passionate people. He beat the drums and I used to break pianos.’
Bassist Zach is from Bowling Green, Kentucky. And unlike the other two, in his church non-religious music was tolerated. ‘I was born listening to The Beatles,’ he explains.
Nick and Vince met Zach on the local gig scene in Nashville. In turn, he introduced them to Jordan Young, an old Kentucky friend who had grown up in the farm town of Breeding.
Mona was complete, although Nick says he was working on the idea of the band named after his grandmother for years.
‘There’s a lot of people that wanted to be in this band. There’s a lot of people that locally support this band. But as far as having people that understand their roles, and being happy with their roles, it’s chemistry, man. It’s just like a relationship. It’s a marriage,’ explains the singer.
Nick says the last track on the album, Trouble On The Way, signifies his band’s intentions.
‘There’s a sound on the horizon and the volume’s gonna grow.’
But he admits: ‘Even though we are full of ambition and very grandiose, at the end of the day it’s about having our own voice and our own career. And we wanna do this for the rest of our lives.
‘And at the end of the day, despite that huge, dramatic claim,’ he says with a grin, ‘we’re just four dudes making some noise in a garage and just having fun.’
See Mona on Thursday at the Wedgewood Rooms in Southsea with Life In Film and The Rubicon from 8pm. Tickets cost £8.50 from (023) 9286 3911 or wedgewood-rooms.co.uk.