Upon leaving the Midwest for Nashville, MONA quickly captured the attention of audiences and critics with driving, post-indie rock delivered with a rebellious energy. Looking back, singer and songwriter Nick Brown describes the band’s vibe with a string of adjectives and nouns: fist pumping, white t-shirts, Marlon Brando, James Dean, sex and God. It all led to a major-label overtures and eventually a deal with Island Def Jam.
As Brown tells it, he and his bandmates were more than happy to embrace the narrative as they were swept along through green rooms, VIP tents, label offices, television studios and the world’s largest festivals. But in the end, major-label life wasn’t the right fit for a band that had approached songwriting, recording and live performance in their own way from day one.
“As much fun as it all was most of the time, we wanted to be more than a trend,” says Brown. “We’re in this to connect with other humans.”
For Brown and his bandmates, it had always been about connection. The son of a Pentecostal preacher, Brown snuck in rock riffs and built up swagger between Sunday services, well aware of the faith tradition he shared with greats like Johnny Cash, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. In fact, he named the band after this grandmother Mona, a nod to heritage and a bygone era.
“I came from a background of seeing music matter to people,” he says. “I learned early that where people came together for music, there was power.”
Mona got a taste of that power when their self-titled debut was nominated for the BBC Sound of 2011 award and won MTV’s Brand New for 2011. They found themselves playing Later With Jools Holland, Conan and Leno, as well as being named to NME’s Best New Bands. Supporting gigs for Noel Gallagher, Kings Of Leon and other large acts followed, as did appearances at some of the world’s biggest festivals, including Glastonbury, Reading/Leeds, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Splendour in the Grass and more.
They built on that momentum with a second album, "Torches & Pitchforks", which showcased the band’s seemingly endless reserve of creative energy, and brought focus to their signature sound. The sophomore effort again earned praise from fans and critics worldwide.
Today, on the eve of their third album, the Nashville rockers find themselves brimming with energy and confidence. They’re also now a five-piece, with Zach Lindsay on bass, his brother Alex on guitar, Jordan Young on guitar, and Justin Wilson on drums. They’ve seen a lot in just a few years and have emerged with a renewed sense of purpose and a fresh and vibrant set of newly penned songs that may well be the best of their career. Brown and his bandmates joke about creating a new genre: romantic ambient grunge alt.
With a new label, a new team and an extraordinary new batch of songs, Brown says he’s more proud than ever of the band and the work they are doing. "We have always been a tight knit group, but the vibe is the best’s it’s been and we are looking forward to bringing these songs to the public. Very few things matter in this world, and we think music is one of them."