Monark released their self-titled album in the beginning of June. The album comes after the release of the first single from the album, Broken, earlier this year. Monark, the album, was written and produced by band members Eugene Coetzer and Ewald Janse van Rensburg and recorded at Ewald’s studio in Potchefstroom. The album sees the band venturing into a new direction with regards to their sound and production. They have always written music which they themselves would like to listen to whilst moving with new trends in the market and challenging themselves to explore new sounds; they explored a range of styles for this album to appeal to an even broader audience. The result – an album with more intricate layerings which is a little darker, more broken down and less saturated which still features frontman Eugene’s distinctive vocals paired with MONARK’s signature hooks and catchy melodies fans have come to love. The band drew inspiration for the album from the conflicts of interest between any two human beings and the extreme irony which flows from that: Love/hate, joy/pain, the self/the other – the fine balance between the passion that drives any relationship and the colder choices behind the long term stability. With more intricate and complex songs with regards to the core melody, the band has decided to self-title their latest offering: “We went with a self-titled album because we wanted to make an impact and remove any distracting clutter around who we are and what we are doing. We wanted to make the point that ‘This is Monark!’ – clean, simple and to the point with no labyrinth of of layered meanings to lessen the impact of the music.” We had a chat with the guys, check it out: Thanks for taking the time to chat to us. How are you feeling about the new album coming out? We’re really excited. Three years have gone by really quickly for us since the last album, but it’s definitely time for something new. And we can’t wait to play the new songs live. It’s going to be a whole new show. Awesome! What can people expect from the brand new Monark album? Pop has moved on since we released Negatives and we have made an effort to stay in touch with what’s happening on the charts now. So the new album is a little more raw. There’s more space, it’s more groove oriented and there are a number of styles and influences: urban, west African, a sneaky bit if Reggae, and hip hop, all flavouring what is essentially pop songs. But the same Monark melodies and hooks are still there. What has been your biggest influence in recording the new album? We’ve drawn from a range of styles and influences. We’ve moved with the times to try and stay current while still keeping the pop hooks and melodies at the core. There’s definitely a fresh spin on our music and that’s come from embracing what’s cutting edge in pop right now. So, biggest influence is what’s going on in the pop scene – the charts – right now. Did the recording process change with the new album, as opposed to your previous album? We’ve focussed on a sparser sound, the songs are more groove based, as I’ve said, and we have drawn from a variety of genres, but the essence of Monark is still there. The songs still start with a melodic hook from. For us, the core song must always be the focus and the production mustn’t detract from that. The ‘packaging’ of each song has just evolved from the Negatives album. Sounds amazing. How do you define “success” as an artist in South Africa? Just being able to make the songs you want to write, and having others appreciate it is great. I don’t think it’s necessarily about having songs chart or playing to packed crowds. If the band or artist starts achieving the goals it set for it set for itself, that’s success. It’s going to be different for each artist. Great answer. What song is your absolute favorite to perform at an event? Hush always gets the crowd going, and the energy that comes from that it amazing. But, I have a sneaky feeling one of the new songs is going to become a new favourite. We can’t wait for it… Any upcoming shows you would like people to know about? We’re playing at the Willowbridge Barnyard in Cape Town on 16 June, Rivonia Barnyard on 4 August and the Rockwood Theatre in Pretoria on 12 July. We’ll be playing the new songs there, which we can’t wait to do. Also please just follow us on Facebook – Monarkband – to see where you can catch us. Last question, how can people get hold of you? Just search Monarkband on all social media platforms – we’ll be there. And we’re always keen to hear from the people out there. Photos by Daniel Craig.