Interview – Hot Mondy

Canadian art-rock country collective, Hot Mondy have unveiled their first single, “Pale Ember”, as well as their breakthrough debut self-titled EP.

Helping to hone Hot Mondy’s exploration of sound for the release was multi-JUNO winning producer Michael Philip Wojewoda (Barenaked Ladies, Rheostatics, Great Big Sea, The Jerry Cans); the band and Wojewoda came together at Toronto’s Revolution Recording in early 2020 to track songs, but that was all they could get done for a while…

The band had just returned to Halifax after initial tracking when the COVID-19 pandemic shut the whole country down for well over a year.

“It was both fun and challenging figuring out how to finish the EP during Covid,” the band recalls, “but it informed many of our choices in a really interesting way.”

The band also called on a variety of top talent to complete the album; in addition to friend and collaborator Loel Campbell of Wintersleep on drums, lap steel player Christine Bougie (Bahamas), singer/songwriter Claire Coupland (vocals), fiddler Kendal Carson (Matt Mays, Alan Doyle), pianist Rob Preuss (Spoons, Honeymoon Suite), and GRAMMY/JUNO Award-nodded violinist/arranger Drew Jurecka (Jeff Healey, Dua Lipa) all added their talents as well.

“Pale Ember” ranges from quiet recollection to an emotional roar as the Halifax-based collective puts their finest talents on display. An exciting mélange of wide-open country, soulful blues, and raw rock ‘n’ roll, the song sets the tone for Hot Mondy — an album they describe as a “genre-bending exploration of country, rock and roots, wrapped in a cinematic universe.”

The video for “Pale Ember” features additional high-profile talents: dancers Kelli Baker (So You Think You Can Dance, High School Musical), and Chris Jarosz (Broadway’s Wicked, LaLa Land, In the Heights) in an alternatingly graceful and powerfully intense exchange, Choreographed by Bonnie Story (High School Musical), the video was directed by Imagine That Films’ Brad Tobler (Stranger Things) — who is also creating a full visual album for all six tracks across the EP.

Check out the video below, and find out more about Hot Mondy via our mini-interview.

First off, care to introduce yourself to our readers?

Howdy! We’re Hot Mondy, five friends from Halifax Nova Scotia that includes Matt Rhind (Lead Vox), Travis Flint (Rhythm guitar and vocals), Troy Arseneault (Lead Guitar), Mat Budreski (Acoustic and Harmony), and Matt Brannon (Bass). We got together a couple of years back to perform some outlaw country music and shifted almost immediately to writing original material. We consider ourselves a bit of a collective and work with a lot of fantastic Canadian musicians (Loel Campbell, Christine Bougie, Drew Jurecka, Rob Preuss to name a few) to achieve the vision we want. As a result, our sound is a bit hard to pin down in conventional terms, we’re definitely a strong mix of rock and country but blended with rhythmic ideas from other genres of music like Dancehall (Naked Stars), EDM (Body of Water), Roadhouse (Desert Moonlight), etc. We try to make music that’s soulful, unpredictable, and cinematic while remaining accessible and relatable. We feel the EP achieved this. 

Tell us about the recording process behind “Pale Ember”?

Pale Ember was written by the band, with lyrics by Matt Brannon. It’s a story of love, loss, and looking back after spending to many years on the road. We recorded it at Revolution Recording in Toronto with our producer Michael Phillip Wojewoda. The song has a 6/8 feel (a bit reminiscent of Red Hill Mining Town), so we wanted to create an arc that brought that into the foreground slowly by using the narrative as a blueprint for the emotional path of the song. The “Pale Ember” is the end of any romance, so the song starts with a flame and builds and builds into a raging inferno until it flames out. 

We brought in our good friend Claire Coupland to do the female vocal lead with Matt, she’s such an amazing singer and it was a great chance for her to tap into her inner rock goddess. Loel Campbell is just the best and plays an amazing drum part in support of this, and Christine bougie does a beautiful job of tugging on the heartstrings with her always emotionally connected lap steel playing. Our lead singer Matt Rhind really shows off his vocal dynamics and Troy Arseneault plays a ripping guitar solo as the song reaches its highest peak. Rob Preuss does a great job of holding it down and adding weight to the track with his piano and B3 playing. 

What was the highlight of 2020?

The highlight of 2020 was undoubtedly recording this EP and getting it finished. The country literally shut down a week after we recorded the bed tracks in Toronto so we were a whisker away from not being where we are right now. Through this process, we became such great friends and have so much fun creating and writing together. We even managed to write and record 13 more tracks for a full-length follow-up out next year. 

What do you hope to accomplish in your career in 2021? 

Well, we’re totally unknown so if by the end of 2021 people are becoming aware of us and getting a sense of what we do I’d consider that a success. It’s strange creating a band during Covid, we’ve released an EP, recorded a second album, and never played a show of our own material. So we’ll be ecstatic to get out and be seen and have people start to listen to our music. 

Is there anyone out there you’d like to collaborate or open/close a concert with in the future? 

Well, depends on who in the band you ask. As the main lyricist, I’d say Jason Isbell, that guy is in my opinion the best songwriter going. But in reality, we’d love to meet and play alongside like-minded people who want to create lasting music that entertains and delights audiences. There are so many great acts right now and we’re eclectic enough we could be an interesting fit for a lot of them. We’re also super easy to get along with!

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