San Diego-based trio almost monday (Cole Clisby, Luke Fabry, Dawson Daugherty) were supposed to have a busy summer playing live shows and festivals in the lead-up to their EP release this fall. Then, the pandemic struck. Of course there are worse places to be holed up than in Southern California, but the band still had to face many of the challenges plaguing musicians and creatives during this tough time. For example, they had to begin implementing live streamed performances in order to stay connected to their audience, which took some getting used to. Fortunately, it seems the guys (who are close friends) have just about mastered the art of work-life balance (although they don’t consider what they do, which they love, to be “work”); it seems like any obstacles thrown their way have been and will continue to be surmounted in pursuit of mega-bops. At least that’s the impression I got from Daugherty last week when we spoke over the phone about all of it (and more), which you can internet-eavesdrop on below:
So where have you all been riding out the pandemic? I assume San Diego, but are you together?
Yeah, we’re all from San Diego, so we’re just here hanging out. It’s a decent place to be; we’ve been able to surf and do all that stuff to keep ourselves sane. (It hasn’t been as bad as it probably should’ve been.)
And you were supposed to have a pretty busy summer in terms of festivals and stuff, right?
Yeah, it makes me sad. I feel like 2020 felt like such a big year for everybody, like, “This is the year!”, and it felt like that for us, too; things felt like they were coming together, we had music coming out, we had tours booked, we were going to have a really exciting summer, and then Covid hit.
So what’ve you done with all this unexpected downtime? And also tell me a bit about how the EP that’s due out in the fall factors into that timeline; were you already done with it before the pandemic hit, or was that being finished during all of this?
For us, and I guess our writing process, we wrote a lot of music last year. We wanted to write as much as possible to have as many songs as possible for this EP, so we stacked a lot of music, especially because this year was supposed to be very tour-heavy. We’ve been writing even more music, but I feel like the biggest thing that’s been happening has been doing live streams. It’s been funny to see how everybody’s adjusting to the new normal, because there are so many artists and musicians who rely on tour, but it’s been so interesting to see all these live shows that are now over Zoom. We made a space in Cole’s garage, though; it’s fully set up, so we just go live there.
Yeah, I’ve spoken to a couple of people who’ve talked about how they feel really strange doing live streams, but then there are other people who’ve taken to it like ducks to water. How do you feel? Of course nothing replaces live music, but is it difficult when you can’t read the energy of the “room” without reading the comments or whatever?
Oh my gosh, you have no idea. It’s so weird to figure out; you’ll be on a Zoom thing, and usually you just finish a song and people will be cheering and clapping for you if you’re not bad, but with the live stream, it’s obviously just silence. It’s so strange. And it’s like you said, you’re looking at the comments…it’s very weird, to say the least. But I feel like I’ve adjusted a little bit to it, and you kind of get a little bit more used to the awkward pauses after you finish a song, like just seeing people’s hands clapping on screen but not hearing it. Like you said, nothing beats playing live.
Yeah, it’s so bizarre; I’m not a musician or a performer, but just these day-to-day on-screen interactions, and all these new ways of living that I’m gradually getting used to…I’m just like, “How am I going to be on the other side of this?”
I know, right?
I wonder how that will affect people playing to a live, IRL audience after they’ve not done it for a while. Of course there’s always the one guy yelling for a song request or whatever, but for the most part, people are silent with their thoughts, whereas now you’ve got this live feedback about the performance.
Yeah, it was funny; my mom is such a kook, but she’s so sweet. She’ll tune into the live streams, and we’d finished a bigger live stream one time, and she called me up to be like, “You need to not look down at the comments! Just get into the song and pretend the comments aren’t there!” First off, you don’t even know if people are hearing everything properly, you don’t know if something’s going wrong (because we’ve had shows where the sound’s not even coming out), so if you totally zone out, you’re just like, “What if something’s wrong?” There are a lot of check marks in your head that you’re going through. I guess what I’m saying is, when you’re playing live, you’re just doing it. You’re just experiencing that moment, and it’s super raw and right there, whereas with the live streams you’re thinking of a million different things. But I thought that was good advice from my mom; I try not to look at the comments as they’re coming in.
That’s good advice in general. Just never look at the comments.
Yeah, I feel like I can take that with me in many different ways. [Laughs]
Now, tell me about how the three of you work together, and what sorts of boundaries you have, if any. I imagine it can get tricky to work with friends, although you all seem like chilled out people, so maybe it’s a non-issue.
[Laughs] We always talk about it; I feel like I’m married to two other dudes, and you have to figure it out as you’re going. It’s just like a relationship. There’s the friendship side to our band (I’ve been best friends with Luke since like, kindergarten, and we were roommates in college our first year), and there are disagreements, but I feel like we do a good job of keeping our friendship and our working relationship separate. And I think that’s a really necessary thing to do, because if everything gets blurred together too much, you kind of forget to laugh and hang out and do something where you’re not talking about the band or talking about writing or talking about what’s happening. It’s like, “Alright, let’s just go surf, not talk about anything we’re doing, and fully zone out on what’s happening.” We try to prioritize our friendship as well as our working relationship, and I don’t think we have it “down”, because with any relationship you sort of have to refine it and come back, but I think we have something good going in terms of how to respect each other. Another thing that’s underrated is knowing your role; I think if you know you’re role and you’re confident in the role you’re playing, and the things you’re really good at and the strengths you have, that really helps with the flow as well.
Speaking of the flow, how (if at all) do you feel being from Southern California has informed your sound? Like, obviously there are a lot of Scandinavian people who are stereotyped as making dark, depressing music because the winters are so long and dark, so is it kind of opposite to that?
That’s an interesting question that people ask us pretty often, and it’s so much easier to talk about it over the phone rather than trying to write out what it is. I think it somehow has something to do with what we do, which I know is so vague, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that we don’t get there and go, “How is where we grew up and the culture there affecting our music?” It’s not intentional at all. I don’t ever think about it, like, “We’re from San Diego so we should have this beachy thing.” That’s never been something we’ve thought about, but I wonder if it’s instinctual. I think maybe in the early days when we weren’t even the almost monday band yet, and we were just playing for fun, we would just sort of play surf rock music since that’s what everybody else did. But I don’t know, it’s certainly not intentional, but I’m always curious to know if people hear it when we don’t.
Absolutely. And on a larger geographical scale, have you gained a following in any unexpected places? Any countries you were surprised by or had maybe never even heard of?
Well, it’s really funny; we’ve randomly been getting so much traction in South Korea, and it was right as the quarantine started. As a small band that’s growing and trying to get out there more, I think it’s such a cool thing…obviously quarantine sucks, but it’s like, “Wow, people in South Korea are really liking us!” We have some fans in Brazil as well, which is so cool. I feel like it’s the craziest thing in the world to know that what you’ve created in your room on this side of the planet resonates with people somewhere else. It’s just mental. It blows my mind all the time.
It’s good that you’ve got South American fans; they’re like, the most borderline-fanatically loyal in the world, in my opinion. Like, Brazil and Argentina specifically have the best fans, I feel.
We have some fan pages on Instagram, and it’s @almostmondaybr, and I’ve never seen a fan page so dedicated to anything! Any comment we have, any story about one of the band members…it’s like, this is a full-time job you guys are doing! It blows my mind. It’s the coolest thing ever. It’s awesome.
That’s amazing! Alright, I won’t keep you too much longer, but I wanted to ask you before we go about what you hope for the rest of this year, or whether there’s a tangible, achievable goal within your control you’d like to see manifest before 2021. (Obviously the music industry is riddled with uncertainty right now.)
I will say, if there’s any good from this year, or anything that me as a person has taken away (or us as a band have taken away) is that with the Black Lives Matter movement and all of the craziness that’s been happening in the world, I feel like it’s been such a great time as a band for us to respond, and just for everybody to pause and go, “Wow, we have this massive problem in our country and in the world.” I feel like for me and our band, we’ve taken a second to go, “Wow, this is really serious.” It’s been cool, because the takeaway for us is that we’ve been able to educate ourselves more, and help support an organization called Equal Justice Initiative; I’m so in awe of the great work they do. They’re amazing. And I feel like for as much hurt and craziness that’s been going on the world, it’s been a great time for us to respond and educate ourselves and become more aware of the problems that are happening. The cool thing about music is that it unifies people, and it’s something that can bring people together. I hope that when music comes back it can help unify people in all the cool ways it does. I think everybody’s paying more attention to the things that are happening. Not to make it all about heavy stuff, but I feel like this year has been a blessing for me to re-imagine the world I’m in, and see it differently.
Featured photo by Eitan Miskevich