Welcome to the first official issue of SoundSpot Uncovered. Join us in our ongoing adventure to discover new local Canadain bands. With Uncovered I wanted to bring full-length editorial content back to the internet. Most of all I wanted to give the artist the time they deserve to tell their stories. So relax, or bookmark for later as we learn about local Montreal, Quebec band WE ARE MONROE.
Often categorized as a post-punk revival band, the 4 guys behind We Are Monroe will themselves claim they are in no way trying to reinvent rock. The music they create is based on an mash of everything inspiring them, leading it to a drum/bass rhythm core. Ballsy, yet unpretentious, We Are Monroe delivers a form of dancy, indie rock with an edge, that intrigues from the very first chords, and smittens any crowd after just one song. True Story: there is a very real 93 year-old rocking lady to prove it.
Going as far back as the late 90's, We Are Monroe is a band which formed little by little over time, starting with the high-school friendship of Pete (bass) and Ben (drums); their coincidental, home-brewed beer-fueled meet-up with Jay (guitars) a few years later; and finally, the not-so-casual encounter with Pat (vocals, guitar) who was unashamedly snatched from his band by the other three members in late 2010.
Nothing says humble beginnings like a rehearsal space in a fabric store's basement, especially when the jams must be muted at the flick of a light controlled by the store's manager as customers walked in. Still, the hours of music each member has put in, all while slaving away at full-time professional jobs, have helped them pay their dues, first on the local scene, and now as they slowly grow their reach thanks to the reputation of their performances.
The raw, hard-hitting, high-energy dynamic that embodies each and every single one of their live shows has proven worthy as the guys are steadily selling out venues and playing internationally renowned festivals such as the Ottawa Folk Fest, the Festival d'été de Québec, and M for Montreal.
James: When we first meet the band was in a tiny jam space on the east end of town. The band would roll out on mini tours to the suburbs of Montreal focusing on winning over cafe crowds. Five years later, songs are in rotation on the popular radio stations. Your shows are selling out large venues, and you have opened for international bands. Your team has grown to include advisers that believe in the band as much as you. In your opinion what has helped you reach this sort of local success?
Pat: A lot of what has gotten us this far is attributed to everyone in the band being equally committed to making it work. We all still have day jobs, we all have people that we care for and families that matter to us. But most of all, each of us puts everything we can into the band. If you're in a band where you are the only one working hard It's never going to work. We understand that each of us has our strengths and weaknesses, and we work together for what's best.
I feel what worked for us, particularly in the beginning, was playing a lot of shows. At the start, it's difficult because you're trying to write, book and perform while learning what works and what doesn't. It's a lot, but at the beginning playing, shows is so important. That's where people are going to get a chance to discover your band. Thats where you're going to be building your first fans. Open for as many bands as you can.
As well, seeing a song performed live versus hearing it on the internet is way more impressive. A good live show will always be more memorable. People are less likely even to search you out unless they have some idea who you are. I also feel the internet is so flooded with content that having someone stumble upon you is so rare. You can't count on people just organically landing on your music. You need to be out there playing shows.
James: So you are playing shows weekly and balancing life. When did you know it was time to start bringing more people into the mix?
Pat: Well, the more we grew as a band, the more we realized we couldn't do it alone. Everyone you meet is a connection that may or may not help you further down the line. It's a small community in Quebec. Because of that building relationships and helping people out is so important. We met some incredible people like Dave Traina, Pat Sandrin and now we have our PR/Manager Roxane Trudel helping us out. If you are going to grow as a band, you need to find people that believe in you, as much as you do yourself. As well you have to be able to trust them fully.
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James: Can you take us back to when that support first entered into your life and what it brought to the table?
Pat: When we meet Dave Traina from the Damn truth, that's when we started growing as a band. The Damn Truth has been around for a long time, and we as a band always looked up to them. We are always pushing ourselves to get to that next level of success they have achieved. Thanks to Dave and his generosity, guidance, and support we are not too far off. He has mentored us and opened our eyes to more than just the music but how the industry works. He has helped us set the right goals. We can't thank him enough.
Dave Traina, Patrick Sandrin, and now Roxane Trudel each have different perspectives and ideas on how to do more with the music. Band meetings have become more efficient. We no longer talk solely about music and playing shows, but ask ourselves questions like "How do we get this song in front of bloggers?" or "What publication will write about our event?" and "How do we make sure we leave our fans with something more memorable each time." A great deal more gets accomplished with their guidance and advice.
James: Looking back at your band's first years was there a goal you wished you planned out earlier?
Pat: When you first start off, you have a lot of momentum. Everything is new and exciting, so there's an energy in the beginning. If you don't set goals, you start building expectations of where you should be and what you should be doing. You get so caught up in the momentum that you sometimes forget to step back evaluate where you are.
Maybe that's something that we took too long to do. Looking back at it I wish we spent more time, in the beginning, setting up goals and working towards them. It had taken a while before we started seeing the bigger picture or even how to go about reaching our goals.
James: What would you consider a great goal to start off with?
Pat: It's so critical that you explore your music first. Without having a solid sound, it's pointless even to start looking too far ahead. You have, to be honest with yourself and spend time with your music letting it mature. When you are looking for opinions, don't just ask your friends and family, because, they are going to be supportive naturally. Don't be afraid to put yourself and your songs out there. Send them in for review or ask online communities what they think. It may not always be something you want to hear, but every comment can help you master your music.
We Are Monroe - Midnight Cruiser
First single off of We Are Monroe's upcoming, full-length album set to drop in April 2017.
James: How has your music changed from the early days of exploring to now?
Pat: I feel like we are always evolving our sound. As time passes our influences chance and different aspects of our lives creep into the music. To me, I consistently see a change. In the beginning, we were doing a lot of heavier upbeat songs. Whereas now we are exploring slowing things down in some respects. We still keep that dancy, groovy undertone but we are playing around with tempo and it has been a lot of fun.
At some point early on we said to ourselves "Ok this is who we are, dancy, upbeat music," We realize now there is far more to explore than just very fast songs. Over time you get pickier as well. As you get more confident with your sound, you begin to push yourself to be better. Riffs at the beginning that would blow my mind I now listen to and think "Oh man what was I thinking."
James: Full-Lenght Album!
Pat: Wow I know right? It's been in the plans for a while now. It was always a goal of the band to create a full-length album. But we are still at an early stage in our band's life. What I mean by that is. All of us still have day jobs and lives outside of the band, so it's been a long process. Balancing shows, recording time and life adds up. Essentially it's been a challenge and a race against time. In the end, it is like anything else, if you love what you do, you'll find the time. You make sacrifices as well. This is where having everyone on the same page is paramount.
I can't wait to finish it and get it in everyone's hands. We recorded the last three songs, but we still have some time to go before we launch. We are aiming for the end of the spring.
James: What can people expect?
Pat: People can expect the same We Are Monroe. Like I said we explored a bit more variance in tempo and moods. We worked with Dave Traina from the freq Shop, and we also brought on Patrick Krief who was the guitarist for the Dears. Having an outside view was a great experience. It lead us to explore things in different ways that helped us ultimately mature us as a band.
James: How's the Spring and Summer looking for bookings?
Pat: This year we are aiming for more festivals for sure. We already have a couple booked. Will be announcing our summer shows soon. It's been the incredible support from local radio, bloggers, and sites like SoundSpot that has contributed to us booking festivals. We are so incredibly thankful to our fans, for supporting us over the years.
I feel this is going to be a year where We Are Monroe grows and expands.
Hopefully, to a point, we can all quit our day jobs lol.
Listen to the raw interview with Pat from We Are Monroe. Please forgive the audio quality I am still looking for a good solution to recording phone interviews. Note that the interview text has been modified from the audio version for smoother reading and has been approved by Pat.