Manc band Monday Night Special on their new album and how they’re staying creative during covid
‘This is definitely a challenging year to think about starting a band, but as moist as it sounds, carpe diem!’
This week we caught up with band members, Oscar, Edoardo, Jake and Alex of Monday Night Special, an up-and-coming Manchester student band, on their latest album, “Panic in the Attic” how they feel Covid has impacted the music industry in Manchester and what advice they have for staying creative in such challenging times.
What was the inspiration behind specific songs/ lyrics in Panic in the Attic?
Oscar: “‘Manic Pixie Dream’ was a song I wrote based on the character archetype of guy chasing girl, which is often seen in movies. As a film student, it’s something I’ve found quite amusing for sometime and the song is very much me taking the piss out of the misogyny of the whole thing.
“‘Not My Girl’ and ‘Lovesick’ definitely capture similar themes. The songs have a grit and edge to them and lyrically play with the idea of an infatuation with someone despite seeing them as dangerous or maybe not good for you. I was definitely trying to capture the idea of enjoying the chase, despite the fact you know ultimately you’re going to get your heart broken or messed around. I think even though the girls described in the stories may come across as bad people the protagonist is no better since, if anything, the bad signs seem to increase his desires- but that’s just my interpretation.
“I don’t mind giving people pointers to what I think the lyrics mean but I think giving away too much takes away the beauty of it since one of the best things about music for me is that you can interpret it anyway you want.”
How does the album differ from your previous albums?
Ed: “Rather than there being a single theme throughout the EP, it’s more of a collection of some of our favourite previously unreleased songs. As for the inspiration for each individual song, they vary greatly. Being an instrumental, ‘Surf And Rescue’ doesn’t convey anything through lyrics, but it’s meant as a tribute to the late Dick Dale, also known as the King of Surf Rock. He was most famous for his song ‘Misirlou’ that featured in Pulp Fiction. Surf Rock and Dick Dale being big influences for me, I tried to channel his energy into the song with twangy, wild west sounding riffs. ‘Electric’ is our take on those fun 60s pop songs you might have heard from the early Beatles, the Beach Boys or the Kinks.
“Overall, I’d say the production is quite minimal on this EP. That’s for a couple of reasons. Firstly, time and money were limiting factors. Booking time in the studio is expensive and it was quite ambitious of us to record five songs over two and a half days. Second, we didn’t want the production to be over the top. Since these are essentially quite simple and energetic songs we wanted the finished recordings to sound as close as possible to how we sound live and we think we’ve achieved that.”
What impact have you felt Covid has had on the music industry in Manchester, specifically up and coming bands like yours/ student bands?
Oscar: “It has definitely seen a heavy impact. Besides the obvious fact that student bands can’t play live to promote or make a name for themselves, it has also taken away the social aspect to the scene, as one of the most rewarding experiences was getting to know and play with other bands by organising shows together.
“Most of the other student groups we know are adapting the best they can and there has definitely been a shift from gigs to most groups now spending their time together recording and consolidating material, but I think that can only take them so far. Ultimately, live shows and interacting with people is how bands make their reputation and the reason people want to play music in the first place so we can only hope that it will be possible to do that again soon.”
How do you see the future of music in Manchester, specifically that of student and up and coming bands like yours being impacted in the long run by COVID?
Oscar: “I am confident that bands and venues will find a way to adapt in the long run since this is definitely looking like a long term issue. We obviously have the power of the Internet to livestream and still interact with fans and some venues do now have the capability to host socially distant shows.
“However I think we are definitely concerned this is going to damage the community. It was hard enough to get students to come to our shows prior to this epidemic, let alone get them to tune into a shoddy Internet broadcast or to come to a show where they are sitting down or can’t even have a mosh.
“Additionally, the student music scene is extremely reliant on the smaller local venues to host them and most of these don’t have the space or financial security to host shows with social distancing.”
Have you thought of perhaps hosting live sessions over Zoom to help promote your new album given the current circumstances preventing you doing concerts in person?
Oscar: “This is definitely something we have considered. We did try a couple of Instagram live streams over lock down. However, it is never going to be the same experience as being there in person and it proved difficult to get people to tune in. Something we may try is finding a way to improve camera and sound quality and maybe experiment with the surroundings we play in to keep it interesting or exciting.”
Do you have any words of encouragement for freshers who have just come to Manchester and who are interested in starting a band? Is there anything which has helped you stay positive or any ways in which you have been able to stay creative during these times?
Ed: “It’s going to be a weird year for all of us, especially if you’re new to Manchester and uni life in general. The best advice I can offer, as moist as it sounds, is carpe diem. Being in third year now, it really feels as if the days and years have been flying by so really make the most of them!
“Manchester is always so alive and vibrant that if you’re bored here, it’s your own fault! Even with ‘Rona, there are still plenty of things to do round the city. And if any of the readers are into punk or ska, tell them to hit me up for a jam!”
Oscar: “This is definitely a challenging year to be starting a band. My best advice would be to work with the circumstances. Obviously it is hard to meet new people right now but there are plenty of great groups on Facebook.
“I would encourage anyone interested in pursuing music here to join ‘Manchester Live Music Scene’ as that is a great place to find like-minded people- I am actually going to be singing with a group this week who I found on there.
“Additionally Jake and I are both on the music team at FuseFM student radio where we will be doing everything we can to help and promote students producing music. Anyone is free to get in contact with us and we can see what we can do for you.”
Featured image credited to: Sam Seccombe