Monark On Their New Album

Monark’s New Album:

Monark made waves with their inaugural album and they’re now set to release another. Their new self-titled album is being launched on 4 August at the Barnyard in Rivonia. I spoke with their drummer Graeme Wuth about all things Potch, ambition and, of course, ancient Greek.

Richard Chemaly (RC): Yes boys, let’s get the obvious out of the way…English lyrics out of Potch? Apart from proving the stereotype wrong, how annoying is the stubborn outsider association between Potch and Afrikaans? More importantly, what’s the most subtle way you’ve been approached with that question?

Graeme Wuth (GW): Mostly people are surprised that we’re mostly from Potch, and they’re cool with it when they find out. We do get asked when we are going to record an Afrikaans album – don’t hold your breath for that.

I can’t think of a subtle approach to that question off the top of my head, but I’m sure it’s something like: “You know, the Afrikaans market is really good.

RC: Congrats on the new album. The previous release got you a bunch of SAMA nominations and great ranks on stations around the country. What’s the ambition with the new album?

GW: We spend a lot of time thinking about the business side of Monark and our goals, but we don’t have specific requirements like this album has to win us a SAMA. Our hope is that we can build on the success of the first album, which in itself is no small feat.

We struck it lucky with the first album. We also put in a lot of effort on trying to place ourselves alongside what’s happening on the charts worldwide in terms of production quality and songwriting. Again, lofty ambitions, but hopefully we get there every now and then. 

RC: You got a whole lotta South African big hitting singers to cover your song #Broken in April. Tressor, Majozi Kahn etc…How did you go about this and was there a contingency plan in place if nobody took up the call to arms? It takes balls of steel to do that…well done.

GW: *laughs* Thanks. We’re really lucky in that we have worked with all those guys in one way or another before, and we all get along. So, we just asked them if they would mind doing something fun and singling along to the track – and put their own spin on it. It was amazing seeing their responses. And maybe your ‘balls of steel’ reference should be directed at Majozi. He put them right out there.

RC: Speaking of balls of steel, we understand that Eugene has a PhD in ancient history. Has this translated into your music at all? Like will you ever write a song distinguishing the 6 different types of love?

GW: You’d be surprised what gets us into heated debates while on tour.  We can’t even get to grips with love in its broadest sense if you listen to our lyrics. But, on a more serious note, I guess studying (and in Eugene’s case, getting a PhD) is going to influence how you write and approach topics. In that way, it’s inevitable that it will find its way into our songwriting.

RC: You’ve all got a couple of years on you yet the band only really came to the fore 4 years ago…what did you all do before the band and what hope does this give old okes like me who still dream about starting a band?

GW: *laughs*, are you really getting old? We’ll Eugene clearly spent some time at varsity, studying, and we all have things that we’re interested in and pursue on the side.

Yes, Monark only really got going four years ago, but we aren’t new to music. Ewald and I were in a band (Soul Proxy) like 10 years ago. From there Ewald went into recording and production and has been doing that ever since. I worked as a session musician and toured with orchestras in theatre productions as well. And even though it wasn’t officially Monark, we all played together for quite a few years before Smiling was release, and Monark was officially launched.

And if old okes want to start a band, I say go for it.

RC: When it comes to records for the new album, which is more important? Getting more views than previous albums, selling more songs or getting higher rankings on the charts?…or finally winning that SAMA?

GW: All of the above – did I mention we are ambitious? Interestingly, with the way the industry works these days, they go hand in hand a lot of the time. A certain number of streams or views literally translate into album sales, because few people actually buy CDs now. And then, the number of streams often determines where you are placed on the charts. So, again, all of the above I guess. And a little pat on the back in the form of a SAMA wouldn’t hurt.

Photo Credit: Daniel Craig Johnson

Album Launch
Date: Friday, 4 August 2017
Venue: Rivonia Barnyard, Johannesburg
Time: 8PM
Entrance: R150