Volume 97, Issue 3
Thursday, June 5, 2003

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Moneen's really happy with who they are right now

By Brian Wong
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
SEEING DOUBLE: Moneen get ready to release their second LP on two music-lovin' indie labels.

When asked to compare Moneen's new album with their debut LP, frontman Kenny Bridges cheers, "This one's better!"

Following an acclaimed debut on Winnipeg's Smallman Records, the Brampton, Ont. band – consisting of Bridges, guitarist Chris Hughes, bassist Erik Hughes and drummer Peter Krpan – became one of several Canadian groups that, in recent months, were granted international deals. The label was none other than Vagrant Records, currently one of America's biggest indies and home to bands like Dashboard Confessional and the Get Up Kids.

"At first we were frightened and said to each other, 'Oh, it's a big label – we're just a tiny band,' " says Bridges. "But as soon as we met them, they completely reminded us of when we met Smallman for the first time; [both are] just so passionate about the music."

And consequently, the music is just as passionate. Released in Canada by Smallman next Tuesday, the songs on Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now? rely on an interplay between heady atmospherics, hard-driving energy and Bridges's melodic and explosive singing style.

"I actually had fun doing my vocals," discloses Bridges, who describes his studio experience as sometimes nightmarish. "I don't know what it is – usually I step in the booth, a mic gets in front me and then I just freeze up. It gets to a boiling point where I'm about to explode and I'm like 'Oh god, I'm the worst singer ever!' "

Limited studio time resulted in a heightened sense of pressure, since the band headed to California to record the album with a Vagrant-associated team consisting of producer Trever Keith of Face to Face and Get Up Kids engineer Chad Blinman. This company might lead to Moneen's inclusion in the much-argued "emo" genre, but Bridges doesn't hold negative feelings towards such a label.

"I don't think emo is as evil as some people do," he explains, although he doesn't think Moneen's music fits into his understanding of emo. "We fit into the category of bands that don't even want to try to categorize ourselves – not because we hate [categorization], but just because it's too hard now."

Labels also continue to be difficult when your inspiration is drawn from so many sources, especially the unlikely ones. You'd think that indie rockers like Bridges, who currently loves the latest Cursive record, draw from only other similar bands, right? Right?

"I have been liking some of that Justin Timberlake," he admits. "I don't know what it is! I usually want to say that I hate it all, but I can't – I actually enjoy listening to it. Probably the song that caught me was that 'Cry Me a River' song, just cause there's so many good vocals and harmonies."

Bridges also divulges his enjoyment of a certain prankster band: "I was listening to Gordon and kept rewinding to parts of the songs, listening to harmonies over and over and was like, 'These guys are geniuses!' And you know, if I'm at a punk rock show and I tell a kid that I've been listening to Barenaked Ladies, they'll friggin' sucker-punch me right there! So I kind of keep that stuff on the down-low."

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