Guest contributor, Kat Collins has written an in depth feature on the talented independent band, Monks of Mellonwah.
The house is silent. It’s 11 pm on a Tuesday, and everyone else has gone to bed. My fingers are crossed as I click on the link my editor has sent me, hoping to be pleasantly surprised. I press play and am immediately wrapped up and taken to a planet where the sea crashes like a snare drum and the skies thunder with poetry. I am more than pleasantly surprised.
AC/DC. Nick Cave. Tame Impala. What do these groups have in common? They hail from the land down under, but their masterful music lacks any trace of didgeridoos. Australia is a goldmine of musical proliferation, churning out groups that bring the music world to its feet- and it’s newest export, Monks of Mellonwah, is no different.
In 2009, friends Vikran Kaushik, Joe and John de la Hoyde, Will Maher and Joshua Baissari, met and formed a band at the place where some of the best ideas are conceived: boarding school (a la The Strokes). The King’s School of Parramatta, to be exact, is where The Monks of Mellonwah congregated, and soon began composing and performing all over Sydney. Only a year later, The Monks released their first EP, “Stars Are Out” and quickly attracted attention, being featured on numerous radio stations throughout Australia. Another year passed, and they released their first music video for “Swamp Groove,” which received first place in the music video category at Harold Short’s short film festival, as well as airplay on ABC1. Their second EP, “Neurogenesis” was released in May of 2012, recorded with the help of music tech experts Jeff Bova and Howie Weinberg. It featured original member Will Maher on vocals, as previous singer Kaushik was temporarily overseas. Following this release, the band set off on their first official tour, covering Australian and United States soil. All the while, The Monks were able to enjoy being featured on international airwaves, as well as television programs; “Neverending Spirit” was used in an episode of MTV’s 2012 series “The Real World: St Thomas.” The group returned to the U.S. again in 2012, this time with Kaushik back at the mic. The tour included three nominations, a performance, and victory at the 23rd Los Angeles music awards; The Monks went home with the title of “Best International Rock Artist” in hand. 2013 saw the fruition of their first official album, “Turn The People,” released in three EP’s throughout 2013, and scheduled for a full release this year. 2013 also welcomed a new crucial development in their career: they signed to A&R Worldwide, sharing the table with acts including Adele, Frank Turner, and Keane.
Influenced by the likes of Zeppelin, Incubus, and Hendrix, their sound is one that is comfortingly familiar while still maintaining a mystifying sense of novelty. They seamlessly mesh these influences to create a remarkable product: commanding guitar solos and powerful drums ensure that their presence is not easily forgotten, and Kaushik’s vocals are independently discernable. Lyrics reminiscent of RHCP, backing vocals that rival Muse, and solos that sound as if they’re straight out of the seventies contribute to the theme of revamped classics. Their sound is not merely an amalgamation of their tastes, but an equal four-part collaboration, with each Monk contributing his own background of musical disposition. Four years’ worth of music has showcased the range of possibilities for variety within the group, from the gentle introduction with “Stars Are Out,” until their amp settings shift and an edgier, rougher sound shines through with the gradual installments of “Turn The People,” which they call “their strongest music statement to date.”
Their sound is timeless while innovative, intimidating yet inspiring. Such musical capabilities are backed with the knowledge of and experience with those that came before them, and have managed to keep their feet on the ground despite their rapid success. In an interview with Paul Cashmere of Noise 11, Josh (clad in a suddenly stylish backwards propeller hat) and John, maintain an admirable humbleness about them while speaking earnestly about their experiences recording, performing in Singapore, and inspirations. Their honesty on camera mirrors the authenticity of the band’s in action; they truly are just a few talented friends who share a love for music.