“It’s like a classic rock and roll cliché,” Mona frontman Nick Brown says with a laugh. “My father was a pastor and I was raised in the Assembly of God, the same church as Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash. There’s some mystic magic that’s involved with any kind of religion that believes in emotion and art the way they do. Singing and dancing isn’t entertainment for them. They’re responding to something they believe is much bigger than themselves.”
Brown may have outgrown the church, but that ultimate belief in the power of music to bind and transform is at the heart of everything Mona does. The band’s arresting new album, ‘Soldier On,’ is their first in three years, and it’s an explosive, expansive showcase for their unique blend of emotional depth, punk rock swagger, and anthemic grandeur. Pushing beyond previous boundaries and fully embracing their studio environment like never before, it’s an exhilarating collection that’s both intimately personal and wildly liberating, the kind of music that’s equally at home in headphones and arenas. The album reflects not only the Nashville rockers’ artistic growth over these past few years, but also the immense personal changes they’ve undergone through their time in the spotlight.
“We put out two albums on a major label and toured the world for four years straight,” Brown says of Mona’s whirlwind breakout. “We learned what we wanted to be as a band and what we didn’t want to be, what we liked about the music industry and what we despised about it. The landscape was changing so fast around us that we decided we wanted to take our time with this album and make something that we truly believed in and loved. Sometimes that’s a process, like learning to walk all over again.”
Named after Brown’s grandmother, Mona first emerged in 2010 with a series of infectious singles that had The Guardian swooning for their “pounding drums, ringing guitars, [and] propulsive bass lines.” They landed a high profile major label deal, and after a showstopping performance on Later... With Jools Holland, the group was shortlisted on the BBC’s Sound of 2011 poll, named one of NME’s Best New Bands, and took home MTV’s Brand New award for emerging artist of the year. They delivered on the buzz and then some with their self-titled debut album, a fierce and ambitious collection that cracked the Top 40 in the UK and earned them performances on The Tonight Show and Conan in the States along with sold-out headline shows and support bills with the likes of Robert Plant, Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon, and Noel Gallagher. The New York Times hailed Brown’s “ beautiful, thrusting snarl,” and the band soon found themselves playing massive festivals around the world, from Glastonbury and Leeds in the UK to Summer Sonic in Japan to Splendour in the Grass in Australia. In 2013, Mona followed it up with their sophomore album, ‘Torches & Pitchforks,’ which was praised by Rolling Stone for its “high-energy garage-rock” and found the band keeping up their breakneck pace of touring.