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Live to Air with Moneen (2006)

It’s a crisp fall day and we’re on our way to CHRW, Western University’s radio station, where Moneen will be doing a live-to-air acoustic performance and then meeting with us. We arrive at the UCC and perfectly run into Alex, the Universal Artists promoter, who leads us to the studio – and I say perfectly, as he has just saved us 10 million minutes from having to find the hidden place ourselves.At the studio, we’re introduced to Erik Adler from The Gazette, who will be interviewing Moneen with us. This is a very brief introduction of sorts, as within seconds, the winners that are there to watch the performance swarm in with 5,267,489,123 pizza boxes. Yes, that many. (No, you’re a liar!)As everyone squeezes into the studio to watch and hear some sweet Canadian tunes, Moneen entertains everyone even before their instruments are touched. They are funny, funny guys. We got to talk to 2 of them: Erik and Peter…

You’ve been around since ’99 and you have just recorded your 5th album. How would you say your music has changed and evolved over the past 7 years?

Erik: This sounds really uh, I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I was really tired and I had to do long drive and I actually put on ‘Smaller Chairs’ and I celebrated our entire catalog. It was really weird but I listened to every album in a row, which is something I’d never really done before and it sounds so egotistical to say, I know, I know, but it was neat in the sense that I could really see how what we were thinking then and how the album’s evolved. It’s neat to like think how the songs have changed so much.
Peter: So give us the low down
Erik: I think at the beginning the songs were really simple, and just, uh, I don’t know, everything has stepped up, the songs have become more like…I don’t know, help me out.
Peter: I think we started out really simple on our first EP and then we got really experimental and crazy.
Erik: Yeah
Peter: With ‘Theory of Harmonial Value’ they’re very not simple songs at all, like they’re very complicated stuff and then we got very technical with ‘Really Happy’ I think, but somehow a little bit poppier. And then with ‘Red Tree’, it’s kinda like..
Erik: ‘Red Tree’ we got to work on for a whole year
Peter: And we were way more focused, so it wasn’t just craziness the whole time.
Erik: It’s been a big evolution.
Peter: It took a long time to write.

You talk about how the songs have become more complex and stuff, how does that change how you play them live?

Erik: You know what, it’s so much harder to rock out now to new songs.
Peter: They’re too technical.
Erik: Yeah, they’re…especially that Kenny’s doing a lot more singing now. Old songs like ‘Rath of the Donkey’, just like, like such a simple song, you could flail your body around and go crazy. It was you know, which is fun. We realize now that the new songs are so much like, you know, have to like concentrate.
Peter: We need to write songs like Underoath that just go like “DaNaNaNa” and then swing your guitar around “DaNaNaNa”
Erik: True, I like the destructive breakdowns. They’re simple but you know.

You’ve toured a lot across the United States, Canada and Europe as well. What do you see as the biggest difference between all the different fans? Have you noticed differences?

Peter: Umm, well in the UK, they call guitar picks ‘plectrums’.
Erik: And uhh….I think the Canadian kids get the most stoked.
Peter: Yeah. People in Canada appreciate music more than anyone. Actually in Europe’s really really appreciative too. States is very jaded and kind of, there’s just so many bands, so much music, that people are sometimes a little too cool for school.
Erik: Much, they’re way harder to impress. Especially in like the L.A. area, like California. It’s like Canada, Canada’s home to us. The shows always feel really good.

So, someone kind of stole what was supposed to be my next question during your Live radio session. I wanted to ask you guys about the song titles. They’re so unique and so long.

Peter: A lot of them are inside jokes. They’re just like funny.
Erik: I think a lot of our band is based on inside jokes, like even the name itself is based on an inside joke. And it’s a little weird that way cause we take music so seriously and our songs are so important to us but at the same time we like to be goofy, you know what I mean, and like have fun and not take life too seriously.

Part of your recording, you guys have a movie, when is that coming out?

Peter: Ooooooh.
Erik: It’s still up in the air.
Peter: We’re doing construction, we’re doing editing.
Erik: We’re still figuring out what, we don’t know what’s gonna happen.
Peter: We’re gonna re-shoot some scenes. You know, get our hairs cut, hairs cut. More appearances of Yoda. More Yoda, CGI, and uhh some animatronics. No, uhh, I think it’s gonna get edited a little bit and tightened a little bit more and it’ll probably be included with some other footage as well to complement it cause you know, you could just put it out now but then it wouldn’t feel quite as completed as we think it should cause it didn’t actually involve the whole recording process of ‘The Red Tree’, it was really just a pre-production that we did the summer before we recorded it and there was a lot of stress and pressure going on then so we’re a lot happier people, not as stressed as the way it looks in that thing, so we may like add more stuff to it.
Erik: His camera broke like half-way through it, so he got like us, like at our worst.
Peter: And missed the good stuff.
Erik: And then as soon as it got better, his camera, when we were watching the DVD, it doesn’t accurately represent what went on, you know, and it is pre-production, so it’s not even like, this isn’t even ‘The Red Tree’ recording, so there’s a lot of things we just want to make sure, you know, that they know how it is and what’s going on with it.
Peter: It’s a very honest side to Moneen. It’s very, it’s hard to watch for us sometimes, cause it’s very like painful, pretty real.
Erik Adler: Pretty broken down reality tv.
Peter: Oh yeah, oh totally, so painful, thing of our lives.

Speaking of pain and stress, touring and recording must be stressful at times, what would you say is the most stressful aspect, and how do you cope with?

Peter: I think that the most stressful thing for me is like spending like 15 hours in a vehicle or driving 22 hours in 2 days or something like that and freaking out in the van.
Erik: A lot of it’s like, touring, like a day off is technically like an over-night drive, like steady to get to the next venue, so it’s just like staying physically and mentally stable and unhealthy. You know when you keep doing it every single night and you’re running on so little sleep and so little food then you’re like you know and you’re getting up there and you wanna, our show is so important to us live, that we wanna make sure it’s as good as it can be every time, it can break you down, wear you down really fast. I think a lot of it is you know, in years and years of touring, it’s keeping yourself together, staying healthy, feeling good.

And what is something you guys do to physically deal with that stress?

Erik: Handball.
Peter: Handball, random sessions of handball at like gas station rest stops. I used to meditate, but I can’t find the silent time to do that anymore.
Erik: Like, I’ve read 3 books in this like 2 week tour so far. I like to do reading. Finding even like parks and places are so nice to me even, you know, like when we were in Germany, I’ll go look for like any nice park to go hang out in and just relax, you know, things like that totally keep me grounded and keep me together
Peter: I bring my fishing rod.
Erik: I think it’s just the balance, like the park, for me, is just the balance of a crazy loud show and all this excitement. I think that balance in life is so important regarding anything, you know, regarding everything. It’s like balance, the Jedi thing. It comes right down to Star Wars really.
Peter: I suck at balancing.

What do you think you miss most when you’re touring? You guys have a really intense touring schedule. What would you say you miss most or are most homesick for?

Peter: Friends, families, dogs.
Erik: My dog Max. I love that guy. When I get home he gets so excited it’s ridiculous, it’s the coolest thing.
Peter: Tell them about when you last left and took Max…
Erik: Yeah the worst, ok, before we go on tour I take my dog Max out for a last walk, like you know, I’m gonna be gone for a while, so I’m walking him to the park and he rolls in another dog’s crap. Hah. I had to pull him away, I’m like, ahhh, that’s so gross and then I had to leave him like that. Alright, well there goes my crappy dog
Peter: And then I came to your house, I got dropped off at your house and I start petting Max and you’re like “Ah, he’s covered in [shit]”
Erik: I still love him though.

How does it feel to be playing bigger venues?

Peter: Well it’s a lot more hype playing on the floor in a rec room to like you know, maybe 100 kids or something that are freaking out as much as you are. It’s a little different playing on a floor than it is playing on a stage with a barricade. Umm, I think we still try and give ‘er as hard as we can but
Erik: Those are still my favourite kind of shows, where there are no barricades, like Call The Office kinda shows where it’s just like insanity, you know, kids falling on the pedals, like things breaking…
Peter: Kids holding up your mic stand for you…
Erik: Yeah, like to me, I love those kinds of shows, you know, even basement shows are so fun, but yeah, on the other hand, like the big shows are pretty fun too, very exciting playing in front of a lot of people, but there is a different vibe altogether, different scene. There’s a sense of detachment when you’re playing in front of that many people, but I don’t know, I like both sides of it really
Peter: Well like those Pinery shows and like Old School shows that we played back in the day it’s like really important to us, well, to me, you know, you met a lot of people back then, like Bill who plays bass for Silverstein now, he always used to come out to shows at the Pinery, like we met everybody we know, and still know, and are still growing within sort of the whole music scene like Ian, singer from The Full Blast, he’s now doing merch for us and tour managing and so it’s all, that’s sort of where our musical family and our roots kinda came from and so those are special times, where as now it’s not special at all, No, it’s still special, we’re definitely lucky to give it up and be on a tour with Underoath “A LaLaLaLaLa”.

Photos by mindyourmind