The New Monarchs' new electro-indie album "will knock the wind out of you"

Categories: CD Release
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Brenda Peters
Electronic duo the New Monarchs have carefully crafted a collection of songs that suggest renewal of a genre that is often cannibalistic in its music. On the new album, Stay Awake, Sean Hogan and Taylor Nelson do not bother with little else than creating a flood of gentle, nimble sounds that are sparse and full all at once.

Ahead of Saturday's release show for the album, Gimme Noise caught up with the to talk AP History, and capturing the energy of someone motorcycling and lifting weights at the same time. Intense stuff! 

Gimme Noise: Does the name the New Monarchs have anything to do with maturation in life -- as in a monarch butterfly?

Sean: The name came from a chapter heading in an AP European History class I took in high school. At the time, I thought it sounded cool, but never gave much thought to what it would/could actually stand for. Taylor and I started writing together not too long after that, but it wasn't until a few years later when I had brought up using the New Monarchs as the name for our group. I recall trying to justify the name by saying that the kings and queens that were considered "New Monarchs" unified and made prosperous their respective nations and that we in turn would do that in our music genre. Looking back on it now, I might have been full of shit and really just liked how it sounded, but that was almost ten years ago and everyone would agree that the 18-year-old version of themselves was probably pretty stupid. Though the name may not reflect it, Taylor and I really have matured into the sound that we were so set out to create back when we started with the release of Stay Awake.

What's the story behind the name Stay Awake? Did a lot of caffeine go into the making of the album?

Sean: Stay Awake was taken from lyrics of the song "A Room In a House," on the album. This particular track encapsulated what I was going through at the time that Taylor and I started focusing on content for the album. The song, and the album, deals with trying to move on from things that happened in the past, being haunted by the memories, and feeling incapable of letting go. Stay Awake, to me, isn't so much caffeine fueled as it is thought fueled. Those times when you cannot sleep because your brain is over thinking every little detail about a particular situation. It's something that happens to everyone, some people handle it well, others not so much, but relatable either way.

The New Monarchs started off as a four-piece and pared down to a two-piece band. How did the sound change in the process? Is it easier to communicate with less people, or more difficult having to wear more hats?

Sean: The communication piece of it never really changed from a four piece to a two piece. Taylor and I were always the main songwriters, which may have been why we eventually scaled it down. At the time, which was around 2005-2006, we had gone through a handful of lineup changes. When it got to the point where our drummer decided to pursue other opportunities, Taylor and I knew it was time for a change. We had already been writing electronic-based songs, so it was a natural progression to continue down that path and scale down to a two duo. In retrospect, this was huge because it set the path for where we are now. Who knows what things would be like if we had stayed a traditional four piece band?

You both are very active in the local music scene. How has that contributed to The New Monarchs' sound?

Sean: We definitely have a lot going on now. Taylor is also in the group Wiping out Thousands, which has been a huge success for him and Alaine Dickman. I've been working on a collaborative project called Hey There Handsome that Adam Tucker will be producing as well as a new group with Logan Baker (formerly of Satellite Voices).

As far as how the scene contributes to our music, getting out and seeing local acts gives me the exposure to styles and sounds that I may not have heard if I had just stayed at home. For me, this really gets the creative juices flowing. Seeing a live show always flips a switch in me, where I just want to play guitar for hours the next day. I know for Taylor and I it's been a great way for us, not just to hear new music, but to meet the musicians as well.

Taylor: I respect what other acts are doing around town, but I've never really found influence from others in the local music scene. It's too diverse. There's so much going on that you can lose focus and create something a little too dynamic. I'd rather sit in a room with electronics in front of me and create what I'm feeling rather than try to recreate something I heard elsewhere.

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Bryan Ische

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