As the year winds down to a close, we’re sure you’re inundated by the regular events of Listmas where every music publication under the sun tells you what they think is the best art of the year. That’s definitely important, and ours is coming soon — but we also wanted to check in with artists we love that have had big years to get their take on the strange year of 2021.
One of our favorite new discoveries of the past year has been the gentlemen of almost monday. The San Diego-based indie-pop trio has made serious waves over the past two years with the release of their EPs don’t say you’re ordinary and til the end of time, and in 2021 they were finally able to bring their upbeat, dancey sound to festival lineups across the country. With a big year of touring behind them, we chatted them up to talk about their favorite albums of 2021 and the awkwardness of stage banter:
When I think of almost monday in 2021, I think about the EP’s release and you all finally debuting your live show on a national scale. Do you have any specific memories that stick out as we round up the year?
Dawson (Daugherty, vocals): I feel like all of the festivals were standouts for us, because it was so long since we’d played live that it was just a thrill to be back on stage again. I think Lollapalooza for us was the most memorable — that was crazy. That was the first festival and show back for us, and seeing the crowd just really go wild was insane. We love Chicago a lot and that was just a killer way to get back into things. We also did some hometown sold-out shows in San Diego and hit The Troubadour for the first time; those felt really special too because it was, like, our own set. But everything was great — Firefly, where we met you, was fun too because of the Treehouse stage and the production of everything was really rad.
Luke (Fabry, bass): I think it was Lolla for me — there was this moment where right before we went on that we were just like, “cool, this is us coming back now” that felt like a kickstart to the rest of the year.
I forgot about the Treehouse Stage! The way that they lit up the forest was insane.
Dawson: Yeah, that was one of the prettiest festivals ever. I’ve never seen anything else like that.
Now that we’re on the other side of til the end of time, how do you feel like that release’s reception compared to don’t say you’re ordinary?
Dawson: I think there’s a really weird thing that happens when you put something out in the world, because you’ve been sitting on it for so long and you’re just ready for it to happen. For me, releasing music is just like throwing my hands up and accepting whatever comes next, in a way, just because you really have no control of anything after that point. You don’t know the impact it has until you show up to the Treehouse and see people singing those songs and knowing the words and dancing along. I know we feel really good about it — we’re very intentional about releasing tracks that we fully believe in, so we’re confident on the front end about it. It’s really incredible to receive, like, DMs and stuff talking about how meaningful our music is to people, but seeing people respond in a live setting is the moment where we can literally see what this music means to people.
Cole (Clisby, guitar): Seeing live responses is the most real way to see how people like the music, and I’ll never get over how cool that feels.
It felt like this year you hit a certain number of milestones as a band even though you’ve released music for a few years. Were there any growing pains or lessons that you learned over the course of 2021?
Dawson: That’s a great question — I think remembering how it feels to be on stage was the biggest realization for me. It wasn’t necessarily a growing pain but more of a reminder of how much I love it. I know for me, stage banter is always a funny thing to think about where I’m just awkward. I remember we played Summerfest in Milwaukee, and we’re pretty big basketball fans, so naturally we wanted to shout out the Bucks because they’d just won the championship; I think I said something like “Congrats to the Bucks, the world champions” or something like that, and nobody responded, and it was super awkward (laughs). So I guess my growing pain would be figuring out to say beyond “How are you guys doing out there?”
Yeah, like that bullshit of “This is the best show on tour!” (laughs)
Dawson: Absolutely not (laughs). It’s not really a growing pain, it’s just something to learn as we go along. You want to connect with people on an intimate level, but sometimes there’s just a ton of people. Sometimes the best thing you can do is act like you’re talking to just one person.
What records caught your attention this year?
Cole: One of my favorites this year was Slow Pulp’s Moveys. I got to catch them on this past tour when they came through LA and it was really cool.
Luke: I’ve dove into old-school Pixies lately — I find that I listened to old stuff more because I could really make up my mind on how I felt about it versus a new album that everyone’s saying “this is the best ever”. I also listened to a ton of playlists to just absorb as much as I could.
Dawson: I’m really just enamored with what Tyler, the Creator does. I thought Call Me If You Get Lost with the music and the visuals was absolutely beautiful, and I think he’s just always informing culture of what’s the coolest at that point in time. I think that’s something we care about as a band [the visual component], so it’s rad to see someone else care like we do.
What’s on the horizon for the new year?
Dawson: Hopefully we can hit the road again! We’re excited to maybe get back to some festivals once they announce lineups, and we’re sitting on a lot of new music right now. I think we’re just now finishing up mixing on these new songs, so we’re super stoked about that. We’re always writing, so something’s bound to happen soon.
Last question — thoughts on Squid Game. Go.
Dawson: (laughs) I think we all watched it in one plane ride on tour – wasn’t it, guys?
Cole: Nah, it was a 15-hour travel day from Ohio, so we downloaded it all and just queued it up.
Wait, so you watched it all in one go?
Luke: I think most of us did (laughs). It was a lot. I’d wake up on the drive after we were done just having, like, fever dreams about the show. Watching it all back-to-back put it in my DNA for a week. It’s cool to have some Korean media make waves over here, because so much of today’s TV is America-focused.
Cole: I really liked it, although it was probably one of the most intense things ever (laughs).