Q&A with Nashville-based band Mona on Big To-Do performance

Zach Lindsey, bass guitarist and backup vocalist for Mona, plays with the band during their set at the second annual Big To Do music festival, Saturday at Edge Hill Farms in Oakland. Matt Lunsford/HERALD

Andrew Critchelow

Nashville-based band Mona took a break from working on a follow-up to its second record “Torches & Pitchforks” to perform at the Big To-Do Festival Saturday.

The Big To-Do , located at Edgehill Farm in Bowling Green, lasted from Sept. 17 to 20.

Mona consists of lead singer Nick Brown, bassist Zach Lindsey, guitarist Pierce Alexander Lindsey, guitarist Jordan Young and drummer Justin Wilson. The band has played major festivals, including Glastonbury and Coachella, and has toured with big names such as Kings of Leon and Noel Gallagher.

After its Big To-Do performance, Mona made time to chat about a variety of subjects, including bourbon, Pentecostalism and grandmothers.

Q: So you guys are putting out a new record soon?

Nick: We’re trying to. We recorded 12 songs, and we’re working on another six. We have new management, so any time you change ships like that, it’s a different trajectory. It’s a different tone and a different emotional type of thing. We really like the guy we’re with now. We wanted to get out of the situations we were in with the label and with our last management, so we really took our time. We had some member changes and some member additions, and I think everyone across the board feels like it’s better than what we were doing.

Q: So who were some of your influences on this new record?

Nick: I’m really influenced by Zach Lindsey and Jordan Young.

Jordan: Yep, those guys are great.

Nick: Those guys are real big heroes of mine. And there’s a lot of Willett Bourbon. I’m really influenced by Willett Bourbon.

Jordan: Honestly, when we write stuff, it’s not like we sit down and say “alright, what are you listening to?” It just kind of happens. It just comes out of us, and I try not to listen to anything really ever.

Alex: I actually hate music a lot. It’s like my least favorite thing.

Nick: I think my overall role is to just have a birds-eye approach to things and to hear an idea. A lot of times these guys are so good at guitar that when they’re playing, they’re not hearing something that’s sticking to them. It’s just an exercise or something they’ve just gone through.

Jordan: Just noodling. Making spaghetti.

Nick: Yeah, Jordan has riffs that he’s been playing for years and with some of them it’s like, “never play that again.” Others are like, “what the fuck is that?” We thrive off of that.

Q: So your approach to songwriting is based on a lot of jamming?

Nick: I grew up Pentecostal, and we didn’t do worship songs; it was what they called “spontaneous prophetic worship,” which basically meant jam. All spiritual bullshit aside, it’s about feeling music. That’s why we’re still a band. There’s a lot of people who couldn’t get signed to a major label deal, travel the world and go through what we’ve gone through and still be going if they didn’t believe in what they were doing.

Q: Mona is named after Nick’s grandmother. How much does your family and your upbringing influence your songwriting and music?

Nick: Some of the guys that have been in the band, like Jordan and Zach, know my family and my dad. We were all raised actually pretty similar when it came to family. Everyone loves their family. It’s not really about much more than that to us at the end of it. We care about each other when we hang out we talk about everything. It’s not just getting drunk and jamming. We live in each other’s lives. When there’s bad things that happen, it happens to all of us, and when there’s good things that happen, it happens to all of us. That was something that I think I learned from my family, but I think everyone learned from their families. We were fortunate in that way.

So really we try to write songs that are honest and make you feel something. Sometimes you need to feel fun, and sometimes you need to feel really fucking angry. Sometimes you need to feel sad or loved, or whatever. It’s not really a genre so much as it is just honest. I feel like there’s a lot of people that try to be cool.

Jordan: And they’re not really playing their instruments!

Alex: Neither am I though.

Nick: No one is really that cool. So I think we all know that about each other. Like when we’re in a room together we’re just friends and that’s it. There’s not a lot of posturing.