You’re based in Canberra, what is the music scene like there?
The music scene in Canberra seems to be strong at the moment, there are a bunch of bands doing really cool things. Unfortunately we have seen the closure of few venues in the city which puts a gap in the fence of bands being able to play in a space of around 3-400 capacity. In saying that, there are still punters wanting to get out on a weekend to catch a local gig at the spaces we have available.
You’ll be releasing your debut record ‘Swamp Creek” on June 29, I hear the album is self-produced, why did you decide to produce the album yourselves and how was the experience?
We have always strived to be a DIY band, making our own music, music videos, photos and graphics. Doing this creates a place for us to be as creative as we like with no pressure of having to be running on someone else’s time. Our guitarist “Sam Koster” has the ability to produce for us at a level higher then we have achieved going into a first class recording studio. It was really a no brainer to keep everything in-house to not only save money but allow us to spend more time making the record that we wanted to make together, in the spaces that we chose to do them. The experience was absolutely amazing, we embarked on a few mini “Airbnb” tours and we would take all of our gear and venture into the forests and beaches of Victoria all the way to the railway in Bundanoon. I think the time spent at these places was one we will never forget as a band. We learnt a lot about each other and about recording an album during this time. I think it made us so much stronger as a band in the process.
Where and when did you record?
The recording took place over around 1.5 years from demo stages to the completion and mixdown stage. It took place in a range of different houses and living rooms across Australia. The demos being created in our homes in Canberra and once we felt ready to finish the demos we booked a mini Airbnb tour. After spending some time in a studio space we hired in Sydney to get the best drum recordings we could we were ready to dive into the record head on. We first pitched up in Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road. We got ourselves a tree house like cabin in the middle of a dense forest and began to create what would be the first Young Monks record. The place had a very swampy feel to it surrounded by waterfalls and close by a beach. From here we moved all of our gear to the Kangaroo Valley and set up in an Artist house in Bundanoon. Right on a rail way, it created a alien like feel to the record and this is where we were able to get most of the tracking done for the record. We also set up studio in a Cave House in Yarrangobilly in NSW. This place offered us a cave to explore and some of the recordings on the record were in fact recorded inside the cave.
What equipment and programs did you use?
We use a range of equipment, most of the gear we have accumulated over the years of recording. We keep it pretty simple most of the time to be honest, we set up probably 2 or 3 mics and use them for mostly everything. We have a basic interface that we use and we run into a DAW called Logic. We can’t give away all our secrets in production but this is our basic portable recording set up.
Previous to this album, what is your experience with producing and recording?
We have always been producing our own music, mainly we would write and record demos and then take the best demos and try to reproduce them better. So we have always been involved with recording from a young age. We have never put a large body of work like a full length out ourselves though, so this was a challenge for us. We tend to try and challenge ourselves as much as we can though as it betters our skills and knowledge around the process.
What influenced the songwriting and sound of Swamp Creek?
The music sort of speaks for itself, most of the songs were influenced by a setting we were in or a place we had visited. Ranging from Warburton in Victoria to Yarrangobilly in NSW to Berrydale just near Jindabyne. The places we situated ourselves were always very beautiful in nature and swampy in the vibes. I think for us anyway setting is very important to how a song will feel, we tend to think nature provides the best scene for songwriting.
How did Young Monks start as a band?
It was a project of Sam, Stevie and Matt’s. We had been playing together for quite a few years prior to YOMO, we had been in previous bands together, Sam and Stevie have known each other since they were 6 years old and met Santos around the age of 13. We matured up after school and kept making music together and decided that we should take our songs and form a new band together which we would name Young Monks. We put a couple of our early recordings onto our Unearthed page and from there we started to generate some interest.
You have an Australian tour coming up in July, what can we expect from these shows?
We always try to bring the most energy we can to our shows, we want people to leave the venue thinking they had a great time and tell their friends about it. Apart from an energetic show, you can expect to hear us playing out songs from Swamp Creek as well as some old bangers.
How do you prepare for each show?
We set up rehearsals in our living room and we practice 4 times a week for 4 hours each night. Before a bigger show we’ll take our rehearsals to a venue so we can practice in full production which is helpful for our sound tech and for us to feel out the songs in a proper live environment. Before the show we just make sure everyone has what they need and that the vibes are strong. Group huddles are a must.
What do you find most challenging and rewarding about playing live and touring?
It’s insane how much work goes into a show behind the scenes, from us spending 16 hours a week preparing our set to the lighting rig to the sound tech. The challenge is taking everything we have rehearsed and planned to the venue and making it all work each time flawlessly. It’s completely rewarding seeing people turn up and have a good time, sing our songs out loud. It makes all the time spent on it worth it in the end.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2018 going into 2019?
We have a tour coming up in July and a couple of shows booked up north for October. I think we will try and ride out the rest of the year playing shows and trying to get some festival slots in the early summer. Then most likely early next year we will head back into writing mode and start working on some new material. We are just sort of riding the vibe at this point, we have not locked in any plans for next year.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
We are all listening to a bunch of different stuff. Lots of jazz influenced music, Demarco, Sufjan, Nujabes, Ocean Alley, Gang of Youths, Slow Turismo, Connan Mockasin, Alt J, Foals, RHCP. Pretty much everything!
Favourite food and place to hangout?
We all love a good Laksa at the Asian Noodle House, Zambreros and Indian are high on the Hit List, but we love hanging out in our studio den and on stage or at the local pub. We get a lot of shit chat happening at the pub where we talk all things MONK.
Young Monks self-produced debut album Swamp Creek is out independently on June 29 via Bad Bad Records/UNIFIED Music Group. Pre-order it here.
YOUNG MONKS – SWAMP CREEK AUSTRALIA TOUR
Tickets on sale now from youngmonks.net
Friday 13 July – Bloodhound Bar, Brisbane
Sunday 15 July – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Friday 20 July – Workers Club, Melbourne
Saturday 21 July – Brighton Up, Sydney
Sunday 22 July – Rad Bar, Wollongong
Wednesday 25 July – Roundhouse Beergarden, Randwick
Friday 27 July – The Park House, Mona Vale
Saturday 28 July – Waterfront Hotel, Moruya