Hailing from Novia Scotia, Mauno combines relaxed tones and soothing, harmonious vocals with melodies that’ll keep you on your toes on their latest album Tuning. The sophomore record, which follows up 2016’s Rough Master, threads 14 tracks together in one succinct package; each track existing in its own pocket, but working best when listened through in order. Following Tuning‘s October release date, Mauno are gearing up to hit the road this Spring, stopping by Chicago to play Schubas en route to SXSW. In advance of tonight’s show, we chatted with Nick Everett of the band to talk tour, SXSW, the process behind their record and more. Tune in below to our chat with Mauno!
Starting off, how did you all meet and decide to form Mauno?
Eliza and I met in the spring of 2014 and quickly started play music together, she on cello and me on guitar. We both nerded out about our love of The Books, but then the music we started playing asked to be taken in anther direction entirely, no matter what we wanted it to be. We expanded the sound when we brought in a drummer, Eliza moved to bass, and then we did a much needed lineup change to be where we’re at now with Adam and Scott on guitar and drums. They’re good guys who’ve been playing together for almost decades with an s.
Can you talk a little bit about the process behind your album Tuning? What was the writing and recording process like for the band?
We just try to make the noises. We try not to think about what it sounds like, so much as what the sounds are and what they need to be, to be more themselves. We don’t come at it from a musicological perspective, so the usual references don’t jive. The balance is a lot more pop-oriented than Rough Master, much more carefully crafted (we recorded the whole thing twice), and a lot more cohesive. Rough Master was about conflict and the clash of opposing ideas, and this one is much more about talking through the problems that arise in any creative project and then working together to make a whole. I think it sounds a lot more mature, but then I’ve listened to it about 10 thousand fucking times so I don’t know anything about it anymore.
Who and what are some musical and non-musical influences that inspire your writing? What about influences on your stage presence?
Definitely the work of R. Murray Schafer changed my life (Nick) and relationship to sound over the past couple of years. I read Soundscapes and moving through the world has never quite been the same since. The title is a reference to the subtitle of that book (The Tuning of the World). The background of the record is full of soundscapes, pieces from around Halifax, from around the house we recorded in there, and a couple Eliza recorded in Heidelberg and Berlin while she was living there last summer. They are little pieces of the places we lived in that have had an enormous effect on our sonic understanding and our sonic relationship to our environments. The collage of soundscapes on the record encapsulates this theme, as well as displacement– ideas of associating home with aural landscapes and the cyclical return to them. There’s a whole second soundscape record buried in there somewhere.
Other than that, the world of Christopher Small, especially Musicking has been really influential in the way we’ve talked about playing together and our relationship with the other people in the room while we’re playing. To not think of music as a thing in itself, as not actually existing, but rather a series of dance steps– an action performed in a room-has been really liberating.
As for stage presence, we just try to listen and look like a group of people listening.
What do you hope that an audience takes away from your live show?
Which cities on your upcoming tour are you looking forward to playing in and visiting the most?
I have no idea! We’ve never traveled or played in the states, so we have no expectations. Excited to be in Chicago! We’ve driven by it a few times on our way to western Canada. American cities hold a huge place in our imaginations for sure.
What are three things you have to have with you on tour?
Instant coffee, free wifi, extra strings.
You guys will also be down at SXSW next month…what are some of your best music festival survival tips?
Oh my god, skip whatever you think you need to go to and go to bed instead. Take care of yourself — you’ve only got one.
Are there any other bands you’re hoping to catch a show from while you’re down at SXSW?
Yes definitely! Look Vibrant and Girl Ray and Fenster are good pals who rule.
What else is on the horizon for Mauno in 2018?
Making a new record and more horizons.