We talk with LA psychedelic fusionists Monde UFO about their upcoming album “Vandalized statue to be replaced with Shrine, Jazz and Football
So to start off, where are you from, where are you at?
Kris is from Honolulu, Hawaii. Our Drummer Kern is from I think Laguna Niguel here in California, and I was born in Hartford, Connecticut and grew up a little north of there in this town called Enfield. We all live in Los Angeles currently.
You’ve recently released the single “Visions of Fatima”, from your upcoming album “Vandalized statue to be replaced with Shrine” , the single is a breath taking psychedelic wonder with your now trademark Latin influenced percussion, what about a statue being vandalized in DC inspired you to name the album and single for it and what’s the new shrine like?
Well the statue was at the catholic school i went to as a kid. I remember this happening and people being really distraught over it. Also it was the mid 90’s and at the height of the American Satanic Panic so people were hella freaked out about Marilyn Manson.
When I started writting this record I was kinda bored writing about Aliens so I made these semi-vague songs about the illuminati or like shadow government in a weakly attempted “shift”. Then I sat down and started to think about what I was really trying to get at with these songs. Like who is really in this Illuminati I was writing about. I sort of ended up at the catholic church (though there are plenty other reptilian like groups on this earth). With the realization of church being the illuminati, I thought-wait I grew up catholic. This is my cultural background! So what does this make me? I started thinking back to not only the oddity of Suburban Catholicism, but also what is good and evil? The Irony of growing up thinking there are truly evil people lurking in the woods of my town and then realizing that it was just bored metalheads. Meanwhile, I was fully immersed in this evil institution. One of the priests at the school of the vandalized statue was eventually arrested for child molestation. SO the energy around the school was pretty fucking weird haha. But yeah i guess the statue on the album cover is the new shrine haha. I’m pretty sure the old one got thrown into the nearby pond.
I’ve seen you guys labeled as “Bedroom Pop” and “Neo-Psychedelia” but I’m not sure either of those accurately tell us about your music, it sounds like you’re pulling from 70s Space Jazz, Bossa Nova and maybe Post Punk, what did you grow up listening to, and what are your main influences?
Yeah people label us a lot of weird things i don’t really understand. But what you said is pretty accurate. When I was young I was super into punk. I was more into bands that stretched beyond one type of sound. When I was say 12-13 I was really into Velvet Underground, the Clash and Sonic Youth. Punk bands that open the doors for things like Jazz, Dub, or various avante garde music.I also played in a DIY Punk scene in the northeast that has a big influence on how we go about the band. Dischord records is always a lurking thing in my life, from Void and Grey Matter to Rites of Spring and beyond. For Monde UFO its People like, Khan Jamal, Sun RA, Lee Perry, Keith Hudson. Lounge Lizards/John Lurie, Makoto Kawashima mixed with the ethical dose of Fugazi.
I’m really curious about your songwriting process, where do you guys start when you want to put something together?
The writing process is kinda hectic. The songs can sometimes be sort of improvisational collages of ideas I want to incorporate. It always comes out vastly different from what I was imagining. I hate tracking and get a little sadistic with leaving fucked up takes in haha. I mean there are a lot of songs written on guitar but once it goes into the studio shit gets a bit twisted around.
Lyrically it feels like there’s often a literal almost spoken word element to it which given the “psychedelic” nature of your music is unique. Which vocalists and lyricists have influenced you?
I think why there is a lot of Brazilian influence in the band, is the usage of simple melodies over complex harmony. Bossa Nova/Samba is the first music I ever sang over that I didn’t cringe at and kept my attention. Songs like One Note Samba and Girl From Ipanema. I am a shit singer so it felt good to be able to try and sing something pretty for once. People like Antonio Carlos Jobim, Astrud Gilberto, Joao Giberto. All made it seem possible to sing and (attempt) to play deeply rich music. Of course a bit of Lou Reed, and Gabor Szabo as well.
As surfers did you never consider throwing out your Yusef Lateef records, getting a twangy, spring reverbed guitar and leaning into the Cali Surf Rock sound?
hahaha god no. We don’t even use guitars live any more. I did see Yusef at a bank once.
I love Kris’s artwork (Imagination as Resistance is my fav) and I wanted to ask if you view print, painting and music as part of the same continuum of your work or if they feel completely separate? Does a song ever influence your prints and does a print ever influence a song?
(Kris Chau) Making Music for me is very different from my visual art practice, so they don’t leak into each other. But I do come into music with my art practice foundation. Which is mostly “is this fun? and does it come from an honest place?” Monde UFO is Brian’s Brainchild and my first time playing music. It’s really opened me up to experiencing life from a different angle. With that being said, I can say music has made me better at “hanging out” which brings a lighter heart into my studio. For that I am grateful.
I read that Ray is a fan of AC Milan and European football culture, so as Brits we think it’s only right to extend an invitation to come and watch West Ham some time, are you game for a bit of hooliganism?
Sempre Milan!! Dude.. I would love to. My brother lives in South London so we support Crystal Palace and go as much as possible. But I did go to a game at the Den this past December and that was quite the experience… I play in this band Bondo and my bandmate Niko is a Big West Ham fan. I went to London Stadium last year to get him some West Ham gear. Didn’t see the match but it was cool walking around. Would love to go with you!
I’ve got 2 hours in LA, where am I eating?
Playita Mariscos (Day Time) Taco Zone (Night time
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