Groove-pop Rockers Mungbean Hit the Ground Running

Words by Jason Myers (Memorandum Media)

It’s no secret that midwestern DIY musicians know how to hustle. Even in the age of COVID, we’ve seen up-and-coming bands from the region release albums, perform via internet live streams, and push creativity to new heights. Take Columbus post-pop act Mungbean, for example. Merely weeks away from the release of their new LP, I Love You Say It Back, Mungbean is determined to keep the positive vibes rolling and the dancefloor moving.

MusicMarauders recently got to sit down with the band to chat about the new album and what it’s like to be a musician during a global pandemic…

MM: Hey guys, thanks a ton for taking the time to do this interview! Let's start off with a few introductory questions. Can you give us some background info on how the band was formed?

Emma: Sean and I started Mungbean in the summer of 2016. We were both in other bands at the time that were a bit more serious, so Mungbean was really meant just to be an experiment. We recorded and wrote the first two songs in his attic and released them a few months later. The response we got from friends, family and the community was so positive and encouraging that we decided to pursue it and to try performing live. Over the many years and performances, we needed more people on stage to help the songs come to life. We were lucky to have so many talented musician friends around us that we would just ask people to play shows with us for fun, and many of them ended up as permanent figures in the band.

MM: And your name, Mungbean... how did you all come up with it? Is there any inside story or meaning behind it?

Emma: Before we’d even released our first two singles, a close friend asked us to play a fundraiser / house show. She called us one morning asking what we wanted to go by, because she was at the screen printer and she needed to put a name on the poster. We must’ve been eating something with mungbeans in it… and we weren’t taking it too seriously so we told her “Mungbean Dream.” Only later did we find out that she didn’t like how long it was because it didn’t look good on the poster, so she shortened it to just “Mungbean.” It’s stuck ever since.

MM: You guys meld a lot of different genres and sounds together. How would you describe your music? What are some main influences that you would attribute to your sound?

Emma: Our sound has progressed a lot over the years and with the addition of new band members. It was like Sean and I had laid the bones of our sound, so when Colin, Ian, Max and Al came along they brought the guts, the muscle and flesh to it! Kinda gross, but you know what I’m getting at. And because we all have different influences, our sound naturally blends a lot of styles. There is a lot of music we agree on though, so I’d have to say our main influences would be artists like Radiohead, Erykah Badu, Grimes, & Pavement.

MM: Let's chat about the new album. Where was it recorded? Was there a specific sound or direction you tried to take this album in?

Sean: With this album, we really wanted to focus on what we sound like as a collective; as a full band. Up to this point, people have looked at us as just a synth-pop duo. But when the five of us officially came together, we leaned into the idea of being totally collaborative. Ian really likes Jazz and electronic music, Colin and Sean like weird guitar rock music, and Emma has an ear for interesting melodies. We all respect each other’s musical tastes, and I think that allows us to continually be inspired to push our musical boundaries.

We recorded everything at home in our personal practice space and studio, with the exception of the drums. The drums are huge on this album, so we spent a day recording those at a friend's place who has a really nice drum setup. Turns out we're all kind of control freaks, so it was important to have total creative freedom to do whatever we wanted with the record. Nothing was off limits in the recording process, so we think the result is a record that takes the listener to all sorts of places in our genre repertoire.

MM: What can we expect from Mungbean after the new album drops? Any plans for the immediate future?

Sean: Releasing this album has been such a huge goal for us for a long time, and now that it’s here and we’re in the midst of a global pandemic, a national identity crisis and political shit show, we’re really just taking it all one step at a time. We want to get back to playing shows, but we also want to be safe and advocate for the safety of our community. We definitely see more virtual and socially distanced shows in our future, but we’re also trying to figure out different ways we can engage with our local scene and with fans safely and via the internet and social media. Strange times call for stranger measures, so I guess you can expect us to just get weirder.

MM: What are you guys listening to right now? Are there any other DIY midwestern bands that have caught your eye lately?

Emma: There are so so so many amazing Midwestern bands that are KILLING it right now. Campbell, The Katy, Keeps, Hidden Places, Snarls, Van Dale, Wasp Factory, DANA… the list could go on.

MM: If you guys could send out a message that would reach everyone in the world right now, what would it say?

Ian: Eat the rich.

Sean & Colin: Guillotine your landlord.

Emma: Vote.

I Love You Say It Back is available now for pre-order HERE. You can check out the video for “cool,” the first single from the disk, HERE!


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