To preface this article, I am going to remove all journalistic objectivity. In 2009, when we graduated high school, my friend Nate and I broke up our shitty metalcore band. Around the same time, a couple friends a year below us were starting a new project, and they asked Nate if he wanted to join in on bass. He decided to look into it, and I tagged along to sit in on the session. Time went on, blah, blah, blah, and that project turned into the crushing powerhouse that was Mon Frère. Again, voluntarily voiding my integrity as a writer for one piece, that band is my favorite band to ever come out of this city. I love my friends, and it’s easy to like your friends’ bands; but when Nate, Miles, and Brandon played together, it was truly special. After a few years playing and putting out killer records, they disbanded in 2012 to embark on other artistic endeavors. It happens. But tomorrow night, after the right people doing the right things, and the right pieces falling into the right places, Mon Frère will play again to open for Planes Mistaken For Stars at Neighborhood Theatre. I got up with the band after their first practice in three years, and not surprisingly, their chemistry is still as present as ever. This was our conversation.
What’s been up, guys?
Miles Knox: Brandon moved to New York for a period of time. Nate was in Boston. I was in Charlotte for the most part. And yeah, we just haven’t been playing.
Brandon Naples: Well dude you’ve been playing. I kind of put a stop to music for a while to focus on art. I moved to New York to go to Parsons, finished school there. Did some freelance illustration. But I just moved down to Charleston, so we figured that if two-thirds of us were this near each other, we should try something out again. So there’s that. Nate’s been killing it in Boston.
Nate Jones: I’ve been trying to kill it. I’ve got a few different things happening in Boston, but in a week I’m moving to New York for grad school, so I just missed Brandon unfortunately. I haven’t really had a chance to play too much music in Boston unfortunately, but I have been writing some guitar stuff here and there. Haven’t really found the right people to play with on a regular basis. But hopefully New York is a little better to me.
Why is this reunion show happening now?
NJ: It’s kind of funny. We didn’t really designate the date for this event, but it’s actually kind of significant. About five years ago, almost to the day, we put out our first record. So it could be an anniversary of that. It could also be the three year anniversary of our last show, it’s just four days after the date of the show Friday.
MK: It was pretty sudden. But as soon as it became a real idea, we all immediately were on board. There was always a kind of dream to come back to this band. So we’re really stoked that we get to play with one of our old favorite bands.
BN: I was telling Miles earlier today, about how when we were in high school together, we were like in gym class or something, and we kind of just started bonding over music really quickly, and Planes Mistaken For Stars was one of the first bands he told me to check out after we met. And they’re awesome obviously. But that’s one of the things our friendship was built on. This show is going to be really sentimental honestly for things like that.
You guys just wrapped up your first full band practice to prep for Friday. How did it go?
MK: Surprisingly well. It’s almost like muscle memory. Me and Nate met up over the last couple of days just to make sure were in sync before Brandon got into town. And then we got up today and it’s really like we never really stopped playing.
BN: It’s weird. We wrote these songs at a really fun point in our lives, and I don’t know, we dedicated a lot of time writing and playing these songs, but they really meant a lot to me and to all of us, and I guess I just held on to these parts in the back of my mind, and it really is like muscle memory, something that I could pull out of my head at any time if I’m playing with these guys.
NJ: I actually stopped playing bass for a period of time. I played in another band with Miles and some other friends for like a month when I moved back to Charlotte for a little bit for a job. That was probably two years ago. But once I moved back to Boston, I just stopped playing bass and tried to switch mainly to guitar. But I was telling Brandon today, something like really felt right about coming back and playing bass again. Maybe it’s just my bass n particular, like that very specific instrument, or maybe it’s just playing with Miles and Brandon. It just felt so good, and it was feeling that I couldn’t match playing guitar by myself. And just to echo what Brandon was saying, our last show didn’t really feel right for this band, it didn’t really feel like a last show at all.
MK: That was never really meant to be the end of Mon Frère.
BN: Yeah we kind of always felt like we would play again.
MK: We don’t know what’s going to happen after Friday, but I would imagine that whatever it is would be something like this.
BN: I feel like were all pretty creative people, and we all love playing this style of music. Like I feel like if we ever had a longer period of time to get together we could probably just start writing new stuff or something.
MK: We all definitely have an arsenal of heavy music up our sleeves, so at any point in time we probably could piece together a proper Mon Frère record.
BN: This is fucking fun. Even if it doesn’t happen for another three years, it’s fun to just come back and hang out with these guys. We were younger when we wrote all this music, and we were trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives, and we went our separate ways, but we’re here right now and it’s awesome.
MK: And today we’ve proved to ourselves that we can do it.
Even though two of you don’t live in North Carolina currently, do you have any thoughts on the state of the scene here?
BN: Speaking from my experience in New York, I think that it’s cool that North Carolina gives people the ability to make a space where you can play music. The DIY places in New York where there are house shows and stuff get snuffed out really quickly. And the scene there is based a lot on electronic music or just like bands that all had like one sound. But here there are really awesome supportive venues and a lot of variety. It’s a good vibe.
MK: All music in North Carolina is kind of interconnected. There are so many great bands in Charlotte and they’re all so different. Everything that comes from here is pretty eclectic.
BN: People want to be different here too.
NJ: Living in Boston, I’ve found it hard to kind of break into that music scene. Growing up down here, we grew into this scene together, so it’s hard knowing what door to knock on in a new place, but here I feel like all those doors are wide open. You don’t have to necessarily play a particular kind of music. You’re going to find something for yourself here.
MK: I’ve seen a lot of people start here with one thing but constantly evolve creatively. Every band from over the years sounds completely different than the last, even if it’s the same members. Like a band like Girl Pants coming from the Oddczar guys, but along the way they started a band like Old Soles. That’s cool. And it’s easy to collaborate with people here because there’s always some sort of common ground in the scene here. We’re all addicted to playing music here.
BN: I’m getting married soon. That’s exciting.
NJ: Today me and Brandon were going over all the cool significant changes in the political climate that have occurred since we last saw each other like healthcare, gay marriage, drones, Obama getting re-elected. The two of us have not seen each other since even before all that.
BN: Miles and I have seen each other, but Nate and I were never in Charlotte at the same time. This is a three year reunion for just the two of us so that’s cool by itself. It was like “what’s up, it’s been a while, lets go play music together.”
NJ: We didn’t even really chill, we just walked right in here and set up.
BN: Also, since we disbanded, we’ve gotten a lot of Facebook likes from people in France liking “their brother”.
NJ: Tell you what Mike Rice, we are fucking huge in France.