The Quad-City band Mondo Drag has landed a record contract with Alive Records and will spend the next two months on tour promoting its new album “New Rituals” — including a week performing at the internationally recognized South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.
But even though they won’t be working at conventional jobs until April, the band’s members have not reached the point in their careers where they can make music their day job.
“Any artist’s main goal is to be able to make a living on their own terms, but I think getting on a good label is definitely more important,” said Johnnie Cluney, who provides the drums and vocals for Mondo Drag. “I think it’s scary for all of us. We all have wives here, but they understand. They know the deal that bands have to get out there and do it. We’re not going to live in our van or anything, but we’ll tour as much as we can.”
Since releasing its first album, “Holy Spirit,” in 2008, the band has added vocals to its eight- and nine- minute tracks. It also has developed more of a pop edge to the psychedelic, ‘60s folk-influenced music on “Holy Spirit.”
“The backbone is still the same as far as it being psychedelic, but the music has changed. We have a lot more vocals now. It just seems to be getting tighter,” Cluney said. “We’re not afraid to incorporate pop now as far as trying to ride a hook, trying to ride a catchy chord, those are the things that we’ve introduced.”
The album was recorded on analog locally at Future Appletree with Pat Stolley as the producer. While Mondo Drag sought out Stolley for his ear and reputation, not his vintage gear and preference for recording on tape, Cluney is very pleased with the warm sound on “New Rituals,” which is available on vinyl in addition to CD and digital download.
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The result is a record that is being heard as far away as France and Holland.
“It is surreal, it’s cool, it feels good,” Cluney said. “I was confident when we started playing. I feel like when Jake (Sheley) and Nolan (Girard) and I started the band, we knew it was time to take something seriously. I know we all felt like we had something special when we started jamming together. I’ve always felt really good about this band.”