October 31, 2013
Their fourth completed song, "Very Busy People," received national airplay with no promotion and no record label quickly led to The Limos finding themselves face to face with the heads of major record labels before they'd even had really decided if they were a band. To them, The Limos was just a fun little hobby.
In 2009 The Limousines signed a singles deal for "Very Busy People" with Universal Republic Records. The label and the rest of the band's new team were pressuring them to write and record their debut full length album in less than 60 days. With only one song and a whole album's worth to go, Eric and Giovanni knew they couldn't hastily throw together an entire album just for the money. They didn't want to rush it and end up with an album they weren't proud of. "We knew the money would be gone pretty quick, but that shitty album would be there forever. We knew at this point that we could be something really special, but we had to slow things down, it was all just getting way out of hand," says Victorino.
Indeed, The Limousines had the right kind of attention, but decided to tap the brakes and remain independent. They needed some time to sharpen their skills, and frankly, to get to know each other a little bit more before making any life-altering decisions.
After a year spent in their garage-studio, the band put together their first full length album, Get Sharp, and released it in 2010 via Orchard City Books & Noise, the band's own label. One song from the album, "Internet Killed The Video Star" was picked up by over 20 terrestrial radio stations, and the band became favorites of a few DJs at Sirius/XM's Alt Nation channel where their single charted on the station's Top 18 countdown.
The boys gathered friends and family and made a $600 zombie-themed music video for "Internet Killed The Video Star." Within a week of posting, the video reached 100,000 views (now over 1.2 million), and caught the attention of MTV. The video was added to the station with numerous songs from the album placed in MTV's biggest shows: Jersey Shore, Real World, Teen Wolf, and Worst Prom Ever, which ultimately lead to the band's MTV PUSH Artist of the Week feature.
Touring began in (what year) and the band played opened for Weezer in San Francisco and Chicago. The Limos went on to be the direct support for the 2011 Neon Trees tour around the US, followed by another direct support slot to The Sounds bringing them to Europe and The UK.
The band was invited to perform at numerous festivals including: Voodoo, Outside Lands, Spookfest, BFD, DeLuna, The Bamboozle, Folsom Street Fair, Keloha, Treasure Island, Sunset Street Festival, Noisepop, plus an abundance of radio shows for Live105, KRAB, CD101, KNDD, WSUN, KRBZ. The have also given special performance for various events with Coca Cola at the 2012 London Olympics, Square, Google Play, Red Bull, Macy's, NYLON, Hipstamatic, AT&T, and Dreamforce.
"These are the kinds of things that happened to us," says Victorino. "I'd been in bands before where for years we had to fight so hard for every inch of ground, and with The Limousines stuff just dropped in our laps all the time. There's something about what we're doing that connects with people. I think they can tell we're having fun, so they wanna have fun too. This is Gio's first band, and I can't imagine what it must have felt like for him to have everything move so fast."
In early 2011 the band signed with Dangerbird Records. After a brief stint with the label that saw downsizing and the eventual departure of the label's CEO, The Limousines were released from their contract. Independent once more in the fall of 2012, The Limousines launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the recording and release of their next album, Hush.
Limos fans from all over the world stepped up and smashed the band's ambitious goal of $30,000 by raising over $75,000 in 28 days. The band was now free to release and promote the next album on their own terms.
A lot of real life has happened between the release of Get Sharp and the recording of Hush. While writing the new album both members of the band lost an abnormal number of friends and family to freak accidents and rare illnesses, suicides, murders and various tragedies. Just before Christmas of 2011, Victorino was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility having been found by doctors to be "a danger to himself."
As quick, easy and light-hearted as everything had been in the early days of the band, the mood now was the polar opposite.
"I don't think it would have been possible for us to write the same kind of album now," says Giovanni. "We've become such close friends since then. We've traveled the world together, and helped each other through a lot of really hard times." Victorino continues, "The last album was fun, and this one has its fun moments too, but that's pretty much all the two have in common. Where Get Sharp had no songs about love, nothing sexy, hardly any darkness -- Hush is all about love, drugs, loss and sex...mostly sex. This is where the Limousines stop masturbating and start fucking. It's our version of growing up."
The major chords are now minor chords. The white keys now go mostly unstroked and neglected while the black keys became a new foundation. Overly excited yelps and childish sing-song melodies have been toned down and refined. The highs are delicate, ethereal falsettos instead of full throated cheers. The mood is decidedly more mature, and the themes are universal.
Somehow, with all its drastic differences, the new sound of The Limousines is still unmistakably them.
"You begin to wonder, are we the townspeople or are we the monster?" says Nick Brown, the band's front man and producer. The pastor's son named the group after his grandmother, Mona Brown, who was a worship leader in the same denomination as Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley. MONA is a four-piece band that carries a rock and roll attitude based in spiritual roots whether they are playing to 9 people in a dive bar or 90,000 at a festival. Brown, along with fellow Dayton, OH native Vince Gard and Kentucky boys Zach Lindsey and Jordan Young come swinging once again with Torches & Pitchforks, a sophomore album that demands attention.
The band has not done too shabby over the last couple of years. Inking a deal with Universal Music Groups Mercury/Island Def Jam Records and then releasing its self-titled, critically acclaimed debut album proved to be just the beginning for the four Midwest boys. Mona earned them a spot on the BBC's prestigious "Sounds of 2011" and saw them named MTV Awards' "Brand New Honors for 2011." MONA climbed into the Top 40 in the UK and leapt into the Top 20 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart after its US release in February 2012. The band also went on to TV appearances on Late Night... with Jools Holland, The Tonight Show and Conan, not to mention two years straight of international tours which has helped them fully develop their, "leave it all on the stage" attitude. While headlining plenty of shows along the way they were also invited on the road with the likes of Robert Plant, Arcade Fire, Noel Gallagher and Kings of Leon and at this point MONA shows no signs of slowing down.
"We want our music to be heard by more and more people, but our responsibility is to be truthful to ourselves," says Nick. "We try to have a song for every human emotion, which I still call the 'Three F's... Faith, fucking and fighting.'"
Torches & Pitchforks wrestles with the idea of 'who is really good and who's really evil?' and lives up to the imagery of frightened villagers chasing after the town monster. The songs depict a dualistic world and walk a thin line challenging the listener to find solace only in the music itself and not rely on old familiar ways or the new modern life.
Recorded and produced by Nick in his Nashville home and mixed by Mark Needham (The Killers, Sly and the Family Stone, Chris Isaak), MONA prove they are not afraid to take artistic risks, even if the pressure is on for commercial success.
Blending scorched earth rockers like the lead single "Goons (Baby, I Need It All)," the gauntlet-dropping, Led Zeppelin inspired "Cross the Line" and self-declared "summer drunk song," "Wasted," are the yin to the yang of emotional back and forth relationship songs "Freeway" and "Like You Do." MONA touch even more emotions with the rockabilly chugging of "Darlin," the "take you to church" gospel title track "Torches & Pitchforks, a tribute to all blue collar workers with "Late Night" and the epic, Beatles-esque, six-minute closer "Love Divine," with Brown channeling John Lennon's primal scream. If that wasn't enough, "Truth," "Me Under" and "L.L.L." in addition to head space changing interludes take the listener on a 48 minute journey to contemplate all things human.
Once again with the dualism Brown says "our band motto is, 'Dead Serious, Just Kidding.'" "Rock and roll can change the world, but we're also just two pieces of Ohio white trash and two Kentucky rednecks making noise. We don't have any expectations as to what the album will sell or how critics will view it, but as artists we are really proud of it and I think our fans will be too. I want MONA to be a band that matters. If people do latch on to us, I don't want them to think they are wasting their time. We want to touch all emotions and be a part of the soundtrack to their lives." .....and encourage everyone to have a little fun along the way."