Liverpool has always been affiliated with great music from The Beatles to A Flock Of Seagulls, from Frankie Vaughan to The Zutons. The Mono LPs are another emerging band from the Liverpool music scene, but there's a twist: They are a rock band with a cello, and we don't mean the occasional underscoring of a track, Vicky Mutch's playing is at the heart of their music. When I was first introduced to them, I was pretty excited by their fresh and unique sound which could signal a new chapter in the story of rock.
Like all musical styles, there was an evolution of The Mono LP's sound. At music collage frontman and chief songwriter Ste Reid "bumped" into Vicky and her cello in a cafe and was fascinated with this "giant violin case", he jokes. "My heart's always been in rock 'n' roll, but at the time I saw myself more like Bob Dylan." Ste tells me. "I was writing all these folky tunes and I thought a classical instrument with acoustic guitar would work." They began to busk around town and later bass player Chris Barlow joined and they became an acoustic trio.
Although they worked well together, something was missing, Ste had a desire to "rock out a bit more." The trio needed a bigger sound that incorporated Ste's love of The Beatles and The Kinks and even Led Zeppelin. The final piece in Ste's vision for the band was Dan Beech on drums. "He's the rockiest drummer I know, he hits things a bit harder than he should." Ste says laughing, in that cheeky Liverpudlian way. I have visions of Keith Moon, which, as far as rock is concerned is no bad thing.
Part of the rock tradition is to break boundaries and experiment, which is where the cello comes in. "We wanted to treat Vicky like Jimmy Page... and see how far you could push the cello!" With the band throwing all their influences into the mix from classical, rock, metal, indie, punk and funk that cello is very much at the heart of their music. Vicky's ability to construct a cello part which is lavish, edgy and fit a little too well into a rock song is what makes the band stand apart. "We were working on this song and when Vicky added her cello part, even though it was pretty much what we had been playing already it was elevated to another level and became The Mono LPs sound."
Talking to Ste it's clear that we share a mutual appreciation of The Kinks and Ray Davies' genius, the fine musicianship of classic rock and the powerhouse aggression of The Who. "You can't beat the attitude of rock n roll. It comes back around, styles die off, but rock 'n' roll always mutates and evolves." With modern rock bands like Royal Blood, Black Stone Cherry, Alter Bridge and Rival Sons waving the flag for contemporary rock it's clearer than ever that the genre is here to stay, especially when new bands like The Mono LPs put a spin on the genre. "When you think music has exhausted itself something comes up. We keep churning out new things even if it is a nod and a wink to old things or a mixture of everything there's still so much in the pallet."
With their single Emilia being launched on 4th May, the band have decided to have a masquerade and burlesque theme for their launch - Pretty rock 'n' roll! Burlesque dancer Dorothy Krueger and other acts including multi instrumentalist Paul Straws are all going to make the event a spectacular one. "It's great to see bands live, but gigs are gigs, we wanted more of an event rather than just a single launch." The band hope to bring the launch to London too and there should be an album out in the not too distant future. Until then, rest assured that the future of rock is safe.