Thanks to Pedro of the Vianocturna Crew for this MONDO DRAG interview:
Hi! Thanks for your time with Via Nocturna. Who is this entity Mondo Drag? Can you introduce the band to Portuguese rockers?
Hello! We are Mondo Drag from Oakland, California. Currently, the band is comprised of John Gamino (vocals & keyboards), Nolan Girard (guitar & synth), Jake Sheley (guitar), Ventura Garcia (drums), and Andrew O’Neil (bass).
How has been your history so far? Can you tell us a little?
Mondo Drag has been a group for almost 10 years and in that time, we have released a couple LPs, toured all over the USA, moved to California, and have gone through a handful of bassists and drummers. Good to be here!
About your homonymous album, how was the preparation of it?
This album was truly a laborious effort since it involved new roles within the band and new members, but since it was so difficult, it brings us great joy to finally see it released!
During this process you lost your rhythm section. Who are now onboard? Their integration was an easy process?
It was actually and very long and difficult process, that took us a couple of years and moving across the country to Oakland, California to find a new rhythm section. In
2013, we added drummer Ventura Garcia and bassist Andrew O’Neil to the group and
have been playing shows in San Francisco and Oakland since then.
The one we heard was a Bilocation/Kozmik Artifactz release, but there was a previous release, aren’t there? Are there any differences between both?
Yes, we released our first album, New Rituals, in 2010 and there are a number of differences between the two. A large difference comes from the fact that Johnnie Cluney (drums, vocals) and Dennis Hockaday (bass) left the group in 2011. This in turn lead to John moving into the position of vocalist for the band and brought Cory Berry
and Zack Anderson into the mix for the recording process. It’s safe to say that this was
a transformative period for the band.
If I ask you to describe the sound on Mondo Drag, what you would say?
The Mondo Drag sound starts with our choice of vintage gear, analog recording
techniques, and approach to songwriting. Now, if you look at these three things you’ll
be recognize our decisions are heavily influenced by the recordings of the heavy psych
and prog bands of the early 70s. However, that’s not to say we don’t bring a modern
element to the sound. There has been 40 years of music, huge events in human culture, and amazing discoveries on Earth and beyond since the “Golden Age” of psych
and prog. It would be impossible to ignore the fact that all of these things also lend themselves to the development/influence of our sound.
Can we speak a little of the recording process? How do you do to get that incredible retro sound?
A lot of the sound that we produce on our albums comes from our approach to the
recording process. For both of our albums, we’ve recorded all the main tracks with the
full band straight to tape using mostly RCA ribbon microphones and tube pre-amps
from the 1940’s and 50’s. We also mix to tape in the studio, which is almost a
performance in itself since it consists of all hands available fading tracks in and out, panning, and other live tweaking as all the tracks are mixed to tape.
Recently you had the chance to record a Converse Rubber Tracks at Different Fur Studios. What was that? Some new songs are in preparation?
Basically, Converse Rubber Tracks is a promotional effort by the company that offers musicians free studio time. We were very happy to get a day in Different Fur Studios in San Francisco. The studio was founded in the late 60s and has had legendary acts like Herbie Hancock, Neil Young, and Brian Auger record there. The songs we recorded for the session are previously unreleased, but we do play them in our live set. They could see the light of day as a 7” in the near future…
Next projects? Have you something in mind?
We’re currently demoing the material for our third album and it looks like we’ll be
touring in Europe starting this Fall.
Thank you very much, once again. Do you want to leave some message?
Thanks for reading and we hope to perform in Portugal soon!