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CBNAH Interview with We Are Monroe

CBNAH staff writer Peter Drakopoulos recently got the opportunity to conducted an interview with the Post-Punk Rock band We Are Monroe. To chat about getting radio play on local radio, touring, the music scene in Montreal and more.

CBNAH: First off, can you tell us how it feels to have your music played on local Montreal radio stations like CHOM 97.7?

WAM: It's always good to hear us play on the radio. We appreciate all the help we receive from radio stations and online stations. It's always weird to hear yourself play but at the same time exciting. It helps motivates us to keep working so we can one day, hopefully, get continual airplay. Getting radio play on a station like CHOM 97.7 is huge. They're an institution in Montreal's music landscape, and to have them in our corner feels like we're being given a chance to take a step up the ladder.

CBNAH: For people who are unfamiliar with We Are Monroe can you give us a brief history of the band?

WAM: Well, the band as a whole has just reached the two year mark, not too long ago.  But the band actually started a bit before that. Originally Ben Dupuis(Drummer) & Pete Juteau (bassist) started the band when their previous band (The Furlongs) split up. They meet Jay Lalonde (guitarist) during an auditioning period, where they were looking for a guitarist as well as a vocalist. For a while the band was actually a three piece, under the name the Casavettes. They actually played a few shows where jay was the singer and guitarist. I (Pat Gomes, singer/rhythm guitar) actually met the guys at their first show, as the Casavettes. I was, at the time, in a band called the Crystal Keys, and they had asked us to be their opener for that show. I must of left a good impression (laughs) because a few months later they ask me to audition for them. Things pretty much took off from there.
CBNAH: The band is classified under Post-Punk Rock. But after listening to your music I've noticed some elements of Post-Rock and Art-Rock. Do you feel the band will slowly go on that direction? 

WAM: We don't really write in function of a style of music. We pretty much just write and whatever we find sounds good we keep. We don't really worry about the style. Post-punk rock is more of a reference point of our influences. From the actual Post-punk movement, you have bands like Gang of Four, and obviously Joy Division. And from the Post-punk revival of the 2000's you have bands like The Strokes, Interpol, Bloc Party. Both lists are exhaustive, but both eras share a definitive sound, and a basic aesthetic. There's a free association that we've made because we identify ourselves with bands from both lists. But we're still a relatively young band, trying new things and exploring different styles of writing. We tend to make choices based on our immediate reaction to any given vocal melody, guitar riff, bass line, or drum beat we come up with. So if a certain sound inspires us, we'll usually chase it down regardless of what 'style' it would fall under. We're constantly playing around with our sound, changing it, evolving. Which is was why we decided to record our first, self-titled, EP and why we're heading back to the studio to record a new one. We want to document our evolution as a band so our current fans, and hopefully future ones, can witness the changes we go through and be a part of it, as well.

CBNAH: What's the songwriting process for the band?

WAM: We pretty much write everything together. Whether it's one of us that brings in a new idea or we just jam something out, everyone helps write. Everyone has a say and their own idea as to where a song should go. So, regardless of how a song comes together, we strive to have everyone's voices heard. It's democratic that way. And, while some of our songs have taken weeks to piece together, we're finding that when we're all in a 'moment' together, on any given night, we've been able to tap into something. It's not always easy but it's worked for us so far.  Sometimes, whisky helps (laughs). 

CBNAH: With two EPs under your belt, will your next recording be another EP or a full LP?   

WAM: No, we'll be sticking with EPs, for now at least. Like I (Pat) said before, we're still exploring our sound and at this point EPs just seem like the best option for us. We have a lot of songs written and still more coming, some better then others. We think it's just a better option for us to record the best of the songs, we have, than to record a full album where half the songs are fillers. We also thought it would be interesting to release less music, but more frequently. So, every few months, we'll record 2-3 songs, and release singles. It will allow us to engage with our core fan-base on a very regular basis.

CBNAH: Your live performance is getting a lot of attention for its high energy and raw emotion. Do you guys lose yourselves in your performance?  

WAM: Definitely. Every time we get on stage and start playing we get lost in our own little world. It's hard not to when you love what you're doing. The crowd definitely helps with that, they keep you grounded. The rowdier the crowd the better. There's an certain energy that you can only get from a live show. It's that moment when someone is completely submerged into what they're playing and feels every note down to their core. It's in those moments that you can really grasp a band's vibe. It's what separates a good band from a great band. It's what we strive for the most when we perform. We love rocking out and having the crowd rock out with us. A lack of energy and feeling is enough to ruin a show no matter how good and tight you are as a band.

CBNAH: Any funny or great road stories to tell?

WAM: For some reason, our first show as the four of us together, as We Are Monroe, comes to mind. We were playing a small bar gig in Joliette, only about 45 minutes from Montreal. We had been invited by another band to go out and play. It was a winter gig, so the drive out was cold, and felt longer than it actually was. We blasted The Bravery, and told funny stories. When we got to the bar, we discovered there was no stage. No problem. But, the designated area for bands to play was located right next to the only door in and out of the bar. People were coming in and bumping into Pete (our bass player), and we were getting these drafts of cold air. Thankfully, the bar was crowded, and people were into it. After our set, the staff bought us a few rounds, we met some cool folks, and tried to get Pat (our singer) to make a move on this cute girl at the bar. We had good fun, and we knew we wanted to keep gigging together.

CBNAH: The Music scene in Montreal is a hotbed for a lot of bands and artists from different genres of music. Do you think the city will be the next Seattle?

WAM: It's hard to say. It definitely has the potential to be, but there's still a long way to go. It's a shame really because like you said there are a lot of great bands here in Montreal. Most only make it here once they've established themselves on the outside. There seems to be a lack of interest for local independent bands. There are signs of that changing though. With the coming of bands like Half Moon Run and the Damn Truth, I think, people are starting to pay more and more attention to local artist. 
CBNAH: What does the future holds for the band?

WAM: Hopefully good things. (laughs) Like we mentioned before, we're heading back to the studio to record another EP soon, so that'll definitely will be something to look forward to. Putting the idea of releasing music more frequently into motion. That's our next step. We also have a few shows planned for early next year, which we'll be announcing as soon as possible. Although, in the winter months, we tend to play less gigs. So we're going to use that time mostly to keep writing and record. Over all we're looking to just expand and keep writing music.

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