The band’s sound touches upon space pop and psychedelia
Driving through the American midwest, Monomyth crank up the stereo volume to better hear Devo pumping through the speakers. Fitting, since the classic alt band hails from Ohio, where Monomyth are gearing up to perform as part of their ongoing North American tour.
“They’re pretty excited that we’re Canadian,” said vocalist, guitarist and bassist Josh Salter, of the group’s American fans. “It’s like a novelty. Most think we’re from Vancouver since we’re on Mint Records.”
Part of the ever evolving Halifax music scene, the guys from Monomyth–comprised equally of Seamus Dalton on vocals, guitar and bass, Graeme Stewart also on vocals, bass, guitar and piano, and Matt Peters on drums–lend their instrumental and vocal talents to fellow east coast bands like Quivers, Nap Eyes and Dog Day.
Having previously released several singles and cassette tapes including the album King, Does This Not Please You? the Halifax quartet continue to touch on monarchical themes in their album titles with the release of their debut LP, Saturnalia Regalia!, through the previously mentioned independent West coast record label.
In pagan tradition, Saturnalia was a high holiday where slaves would essentially be free from their regular duties and from their masters. Social norms were turned upside down, blurring the lines of make believe and reality – for a little while at least. In the early stages of Christianity, the holiday would eventually be replaced by the likes of Christmas. In Latin, ‘regalia’ refers to royal garb or symbols of power.
“[Saturnalia] was kind of like the equivalent of Mardi Gras or something, with the king of the fools,” said Salter.
“Mostly I just really liked the sound of it when I was trying to find a name,” he added. “I wanted it to sound like a celebration, but maybe also with some dark undertones. It also went with the cover we came up with.”
Keeping in tune with this festive nature, the album artwork features a sun cake emblazoned with Zodiac symbols, with a vase of yellow and orange carnations in the background. Though their sound has been described as space pop or psychedelia, Monomyth have a hard time situating themselves under any specific genre.
“Usually I just say rock’n’roll because it cuts the conversation short,” joked Salter. Turning to his bandmates for their input, Salter replies, laughing, with “[Dalton] says the sound is good?”
Consisting of eight tracks, some bright and bubbly and others darker and moodier, Saturnalia Regalia! carries with it an underlying dreamy lucidity. “I think we went a little more straight pop on this record…but there’s a lot of different sounds.” Though Monomyth wouldn’t consider themselves experimental, Salter adds that “[the album] definitely has elements of noise and strange loops.”
The record itself was mastered in New York, but Dalton and Salter did the mixing themselves. “The sound is pretty consistent I guess; we wanted it to sound like it all fit together really well so we dubbed almost all the vocals just to keep it consistent.”
“When we were recording, we pretty much knew exactly what we were going to put on.” Looking ahead, Monomyth are already looking into creating new material. “We definitely have a lot of songs between us,” said Salter. “We just want to start pumping out some new stuff, or at least get the ball rolling.”
When asked if there was any particular song that the band never tires of playing, Salter promptly laughed and said “No. God no,” before Dalton cheerily chimed in the background, “We don’t get tired of playing the new ones!”
Stopping in Montreal later in September, Monomyth will be performing multiple shows as part of the annual POP Montreal International Music Festival, with Scott Grundy taking the reigns on drums. “While we’re down there, we’re going to try and record a few new songs too.”
“We’re also in town for the entire week, so we’ll get to take it all in a little more,” said Salter.
“I’m excited, I think it’ll be fun,” adding coyly, “we’re a great band…come see us play!”
You can catch Monomyth on Sept. 18 at l’Escogriffe sharing the bill with Nap Eyes, The Yips, Boyhood, Strange Attractor, and Hag Face. For more details check out popmontreal.com.