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Artist Interview: Psych Rockers ‘Mondo Drag’

5 Apr, 2010 Musicians

From deep in the cosmos of Iowa comes Mondo Drag, orbiting the planet’s garage, psych, space, sludge and stoner rock. With a wall of sound all their own, an arsenal of guitars, and a head full of clouds, the psych rock quintet channels sounds from the past. One listen to their myspace and you can pick up the influences of Sabbath, Vanilla Fudge, Blue Cheer and countless other successful acts from the late 60s/early 70s. Sometimes the past sounds refreshingly new.

Their last album New Rituals off Alive Records has become one of my favorite new listens. The album is characterized by spacey song intros, powerful grooves and soaring vocals from lead singer Nolan Girard. Girard is backed up by Jake Sheley (guitar), Johnnie Cluney (drums and vocals), John Gamino (keyboards and sax), and Dennis Hockaday (bass).

The other week I gave them a shout out prior to SXSW, and now I had a chance to grab a few minutes with them.

1. For as long as i remember, i’ve always listened to psych rock acts like Blue Cheer and Vanilla Fudge. When I first heard your music, as familiar as it sounded, it sounded refreshingly new (in comparison to today’s music). For those not in the know, how would you best describe your sound?

Mondo Drag:  We’re into tons of music. lets start with: space rock, ’70s kraut[rock] scene, proto-metal, beatnik freakbeat, acid folk, free jazz, psych pop, flamenco, analog electronic, world music, Japanese psych, early punk, shoegaze — it’s a vast range. We’re into music that’s interesting and progressive.

2. Gotta ask, how did you come up with the band name?

Mondo Drag:  Mondo Drag can be whatever you want it to be. a day at the beach, a bad day at work, a large puff of grass. you know?

3. I got ya. So how pumped are you guys for SXSW. Is this your first major festival, and how many shows are you doing? (editor’s note: this interview was conducted before Mondo Drag melted faces at SXSW)

Mondo Drag: Yeah, were stoaked to go down. mondo drag has not played texas yet. our tour publicist carl from action pr really came through for us, he hooked it up pretty nice. we had a pretty heavy winter back home so we were all ready to get out of there. this is our first festival. we have five shows right now, but we are wide open for house parties, gun shows, etc. we will be down there the whole time. give us a call. 563 449 2660.

4. Your latest album New Rituals is great. In my opinion it should be heard by all. And like all bands, you guys want to get your music heard and ideally make a few bucks. So what’s your thoughts on file sharing? Good to get your music out or bad cause you’re missing out on money?

Mondo Drag:  well anytime someone hears your band its good, but anytime you loose money thats bad. the most important thing is for as many people to hear our record as possible without loosing our asses. file sharing is cool, its just like making a mixtape for someone. everybody steals music. im confident that people that like the record will buy it anyhow, i think in the end it all works out.

5. Looks like you guys have a huge stretch of touring ahead of you. So take us backstage at a typical Mondo Drag show:

Jake and Johnnie are ________, while Dennis is ________, all while John_______ and Nolan ________.

Mondo Drag:  Well we do need the proper party favors to get pumped, tea, tea, beer, snacks, a little conversation. We’re all very exciting people!

jake and johnnie are smoking grass and drinking beers while dennis is drinking coffee and rolling a cagarette, all while jon and nolan shine their boots and drink more beers.

6. Do you need to be on drugs to create space rock, or are you guys vice free?

Mondo Drag:  We’re all hooked on a feeling, we’re high on believing.

7. …That you’re in love with me? Any bands today you’d love to share a bill with? Perhaps some bands we’ve never heard of.

Mondo Drag:  We are actually playing with a few of our current favorites in the next few weeks. black keys, entrance band, dosh, sleepy sun. we would love to play a show with graveyard, comets on fire, acid motheres temple, and neil young.

8. Will we ever see you tour out east? Whats with all the middle america/down south touring. Come to NYC will ya.

Mondo Drag:  Yes, we actually did come to nyc in the fall of 2008 with our friends plastic crimewave sound. we played at the knitting factory. where were you?
9. When its all said and done, what will the band’s epitaph read?

Mondo Drag:  Here lies mondo drag, what a bunch of pricks!



Band Site


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