Ste Reid, songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist with The Mono LPs chats with Kevin Cooper about the lady who is Emilia, how the group arrived at their name, being supported by Mick Jones of The Clash, and the launch of their new single Emilia.

Liverpool band The Mono LPs comprise of Ste Reid; vocals, songwriter and guitar, Vicky Mutch; cello and backing vocals, Chris Barlow; bass and Daniel Beech, drums.

They showcase juicy guitar riffs, intricate T-Rex like swooping strings, sexually charged lyrics and an uncompromising energy. The offbeat four-piece have established themselves as a group of major significance on the scene through their impressive work ethic and a dedication to an ever-expanding fan base of ‘Monettes’.

The band go from strength to strength having released their first single Die A Little Death on Cavern Records in October 2012 which was recorded at the Grammy award-winning Parr Street Recording Studios, (frequented by the likes of Coldplay, Pulp and Black Sabbath). They’ve worked with influential producers Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys) and Jon Withnall (Coldplay).

With new material and international festival dates to come in 2015, The Mono LPs are riding high and showing no signs of letting up.

They will launch their new single Emilia at a Masquerade Ball at The Magnet in Liverpool on 3rd May.

Taking time out from the launch preparations to have a chat with Kevin Cooper, this is what he had to say.


Hi Ste how are you?

I’m good thanks Kevin.

How is life treating you?

Life is good at the minute. We are just getting all of the single launch preparations finished so as you can imagine Kevin, it’s very busy (laughter). It is also quite intense with lots of interviews, making a music video, and also trying to get other acts together because we are trying to make the single launch into a Burlesque type of event together with a few magicians too. But having said all of that we would rather be busy than idle.

Are you excited about the forthcoming launch of your single, Emilia?

Yes Kevin I have to say that we are all really excited and we can’t wait for the day to arrive.

Tell me about the video for the single?

We have actually got one of the Burlesque acts on our new video which we filmed the other week. It looks a bit occultist and it has been filmed in a Vincent Price, Hammer Horror sort of style which we really go for as a band (laughter). In the video one of the females sets fire to her head which really works (laughter).

(Laughter) I really do hope that you cleared that with Health and Safety?

Well it’s all recorded now Kevin so it is far too late (laughter).

So where is the launch going to take place?

It is going to take place in The Magnet at 45 Hardman Street here in Liverpool on Sunday 3rd May. Then the single will go live on all web download formats the following day. So we are really trying to make the launch a Bank Holiday extravagancer.

And when will it be out on hard copy, CD and vinyl?

We are hoping that it will be available to buy as a CD on the launch night Kevin. At this moment we are still in discussion regarding vinyl. We have got some lovely artwork for the sleeve which would look good on a 7” vinyl sleeve so we will just have to wait and see what happens.

I have to ask, who is Emilia?

Some of the photographs which we have got for the cover art work are actually of a woman called Emilia and she was the songs semi-inspiration. She is one of the organisers of the Threshold Festival here in Liverpool and she is a typical Swedish blonde bombshell. We wanted to write a song that had a cool name; something like Eleanor Rigby, Valerie, Ruby Tuesday, so we just tried to find a cool name. We all thought that Emilia was such a cool name and it fitted so well with the feeling of the song. We just met Emilia through the music scene in Liverpool and we happened to become musical friends.

If you have got such good artwork then you will just have to put Emilia out on 12” vinyl.

That’s the thing Kevin, we have a stark, grey really cool image of Emilia wearing sunglasses, which I think would be perfect for a vinyl single. So as I have said, we are in discussions to be able to put out a 12” vinyl single.

Is Emilia a double A side?

Yes it is with the other side being Giving It Up. The artwork for that was actually taken of my dad. I was flicking through some old family photo albums and I found a photograph that had been taken of my dad back in the 60’s complete with a quiff and a DA haircut (laughter) in a photo booth. It just looks really cool. So I took a photograph of the photograph and that will be the artwork for Giving It Up.

I do hope that you are paying him (laughter).

(Laughter) I am paying him in love Kevin, that’s what I’m doing.

It really does sound as though it will be a fantastic night.

I think that it really will be as we have got artists, magicians, pole dancers, acrobats and all sorts of things all set in a 1950’s style club with its own amphitheatre. It is a really lovely venue.

Did you ever think about holding the launch at The Cavern?

We actually released our last single at The Cavern and so for this we really did want it to be somewhere different. We have played at The Cavern a few times and it was lovely; it is a great place, and the sound is always good but we just wanted a bit of variety and I really do think that variety is the spice of life Kevin (laughter).

How did you all get together to form The Mono LPs?

Well, me and Vicky (Mutch) met in music college when I used to think of myself as a Bob Dylan type of acoustic troubadour because I was on my own and was constantly writing tunes and stuff. One day Vicky came into college with a cello in a box and I didn’t know what it was. I just saw this unusual shaped instrument which back then I had never seen before. It intrigued me and so I started writing parts for the cello in my music. Suddenly I saw myself as a big classical composer (laughter). Vicky looked at my musical notation and told me two things, firstly she informed me that I had written it all wrong; I had put quavers in all the wrong places (laughter). And then secondly she told me that what I had written sounded like the Batman theme.

I kept telling her that it would work but she wasn’t convinced. Surprisingly though, when we played it together it really did work and I think that was the birth of The Mono LPs sound; simply by getting the cello to play things in a non-classical sense. Vicky is a Grade 8 classical musician; a top end musician. She can play anything in terms of a classical sense but then when we tried to crank that up to a rock ‘n’ roll cello, she wanted to really push herself to see what she could do. There are different scales in rock ‘n’ roll music to those in classical music and so it was just a case of developing that whole rock ‘n’ roll cello thing.

After that, bass player Chris (Barlow) joined and we went around playing acoustic gigs as a three piece which was good but I had always wanted to be in a traditional four piece band. We had used a few drummers in the past and it felt more energetic and powerful having a drummer involved. So after holding a Spinal Tap style of audition for drummers (laughter) we got Dan (Beech) to join us and that is where the band is at this moment in time Kevin. It all started to move from there really. Our songs are getting heavier but the cello is still prominent.

Having listened to Emilia now for a few days I have to say that the cello really does work.

Yes it does and that’s the thing that Vicky is always saying; in other music the cello is mainly used as a pad or a frill in a song whereas both Vicky and I wanted to use the cello in the same manner that Jimmy Page would play the guitar. So we have written some really complicated riffs for Vicky which you wouldn’t normally have. We have borrowed a few things from classical music and twisted them a little and have put them into our songs. We are still experimenting with the cello, and every time that we write a new song the first thing that we ask is what can we do to develop this rock-cello sound.

I have to ask you, where did the name The Mono LPs come from?

I was over at Vicky’s house just after we had formed the first half of the band and we were trying to work out just what to call ourselves. Vicky’s dad was a DJ in Liverpool during the 70’s and so he has got hundreds of vinyl albums. We were flicking through his collection looking for inspiration and at the top of every vinyl album it says either a stereophonic recording or a mono LP. On all of the older albums it kept saying mono LP and then we came across the With The Beatles album and that too had mono LP and we both thought that seemed relevant to us. So that is where the name of the band came from and it has just stuck and everyone seems to love it. We love the cello and we love the name, and it has improved my singing (laughter).

How was it working with producer Danny Woodward?

For this single we have worked with some great producers but the guy who has produced the double A side is Danny Woodward from the Whitewood Recording Studios. He is a young, new producer who has kind of got the sound which we were looking for so he worked on Emilia for us. We actually met him a few years ago when he did the sound for us at a gig and from that day we have always wanted to work with each other but the stars have never aligned until now. We feel that we are in safe hands with Danny.

And just how did you arrive at The Mono LPs sound?

There are a number of ways in which you can create a sound. You can chase a sound and follow a band that is popular at that moment in time or you can stick to a style. I think that we fall somewhere in the middle. We love doing what we are doing; for example, cellos might not be popular in a band but we have a cellist in our band. That is our style, and we have stuck with it as that is who we want to be. Having said that I do believe that you get influenced by everything that you hear, and what sounds are all around you. Things will permeate your sub-conscious without you knowing. Royal Blood are very popular at the moment and we are really into them. They are a very riffy type band which then takes you back to Led Zeppelin. Both bands are big fans of Led Zeppelin and so I think that we would finally end up sounding like Royal Blood simply because it goes all the way back to Led Zeppelin.

I don’t think that it is healthy to chase what is popular because you will always be behind the curve and not actually get anywhere. So I believe that you should always do what you love; that way you will be ahead of the curve and not always chasing it.

And how would you describe The Mono LPs sound?

One journalist described us as Baroque Rock and I think that sums it up perfectly because we have a baroque classical side and a rock ‘n’ roll side (laughter). Or as we like to put it Kevin, rock ‘n’ roll with a cello (laughter).

I think that we in the UK should stop pigeon holing bands and simply accept them for who they are.

I totally agree with you Kevin. Whenever we sign up to play festivals our manager gets a little bit stressed because they always ask him the same question and that is what is our genre? It’s so difficult because we could say Indie but we are heavier than Indie. We could say rock but we have the cello and we are not quite as rocky as some of the metal bands so it is difficult to say what you are without thinking. We do drop through the cracks a little when it comes to genres.

Perhaps you should start your own genre, great music.

There you go Kevin, perhaps we should do that (laughter).

Who would you say has musically influenced you along the way?

Well it is very interesting regarding influences as a band because if you were to ask each band member you would probably think that we were all in different bands (laughter). Vicky, as well as being heavily into classical music, her big love is Stevie Wonder, together with those big soulful funky tunes of the 70’s. But she also likes ELO and The Beatles. As for me, I have got a kind of a weird taste in music (laughter) because I virtually like everything. I like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Arctic Monkeys, Royal Blood, Sam Cooke, Tom Jones, The Mamas And Papas, and then I go back to the really old music with the likes of The Mills Brothers and Bing Crosby. I could say that Peter Green was another influence and to be honest, I could go on all day (laughter).

Drummer Dan is a bit mad (laughter) and I couldn’t even begin to tell you just what he is in to (laughter). However, I do know that he likes Led Zeppelin and The Foo Fighters.   Whenever we see him he plays you something new every time and it is the most bizarre music that you will ever hear in your life (laughter). Obviously with him being a drummer anything that he likes is very drum heavy. Any music that he likes always has a lot of drums in it so it is basically metal and rock; stuff like that. Now Chris grew up listening to The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and he has got that funky bass thing going on but he also likes really bad pop music too (Laughter). It is all so very odd.

So as you can see Kevin, we all have conflicting tastes (laughter) but I think that is what makes the band sound interesting because we can’t agree on who we like. When we put it all together we drop in on all of these different influences in music and if it doesn’t offend another band member, then it has made it into the recording and suddenly we have this new sound.

If everything goes well with the launch, when will we see a full blow UK tour?

After the launch we are hitting the festivals here in the UK and then we are going over to Norway so we will have to wait and see. After we get back from Norway I will be in discussions with our manager regarding a UK tour hopefully before the end of the year.

Are you writing songs for an album or is it already written?

In terms of an album we have already got over an albums worth of songs and material that we gig, together with a number of songs that we never gig, which are, I suppose, works in progress. I would say realistically that we have got two albums worth of material. We are just trying to work out the best time to release an album. We will test the water with the release of the single and then if it feels like it is the right time then we will just need to get back into the studio. We have already got half of it recorded and demoed. As soon as the single hits, if it feels that the time is right, we will smash it in the studio.

Who were you listening to whilst growing up?

Well I have to say that I have what you would call a Beatles heritage Kevin (laughter). Basically for the first couple of years of my musical life I was just solidly into The Beatles. Then I moved onto the rest of the bands involved with the 60’s scene, The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, The Small Faces and after that I just got into the Liverpool music scene and went to see all of the bands who were playing in the city.

What was the first record that you bought?

That’s easy Kevin, it was The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, closely followed by All Saints (laughter).

Who did you first see playing live in concert?

That would be Deep Purple Kevin followed by Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers and Paul McCartney. I was very lucky to see Deep Purple as Ritchie Blackmore was still playing with them at that time and it was also before Jon Lord sadly passed away. So I was lucky to see them when they still had that Hammond organ, Marshall amp sound. It was great. The day after I saw them they cancelled the rest of the tour because Ian Gillan had a throat infection so all in all I was very lucky to see them Kevin. Also around that time I went to see Peter Green. I would love to be able to play as good as Peter can but I know that I will never reach that standard. As you can probably tell, I am into the older bands (laughter).

Just how did The Mono LPs come to be supported by Mick Jones (The Clash)?

That’s an interesting one Kevin. We were headlining a show called Death Disco at The Notting Hill Arts Club in London which had been organised by Alan McGee, the former manager of Oasis and owner of Creation Records. Out of nowhere Mick Jones turns up with his acoustic guitar and he just stepped up onto the stage before us and did a set (laughter). All that I could do was stand there watching, I was totally gobsmacked by it all Kevin. So basically, yes Mick Jones did support us.

And has Alan McGee given you his seal of approval?

He has and we have played a few of his nights since actually. We have headlined the one in Liverpool for him and a couple more of his shows in London. I can honestly say that he is a fan of ours (laughter).

Any embarrassing moments that you can tell us about?

Funnily enough Kevin it happened on the same night. I was trying to work my way to Mick Jones when one of the bands that were performing asked if anyone had a bass guitar that they could borrow as they has snapped a string on theirs. I thought that would be the ideal moment for me to get chatting to Mick. I walked past him to get my bass to give to the guy and Mick said well-done son.   As I bent over to pick up the bass I accidently head-butted a speaker (laughter). All that I can remember is hearing a big cockney laugh behind me and when I turned around Mick had gone. So I never did get to meet him properly (laughter).

On that note Ste let me just say thank you for taking the time to speak to me. It’s been great.

It’s been a real pleasure Kevin. Thank you very much. Bye for now.


Catch the video for Emilia here