Plugged In: Hey Monday
Written by Chrissy Mauck
Plugged In will be an ongoing feature on Fender.com, highlighting Fender artists who we strongly recommend you “plug in” and give a listen. Hey Monday, a female-fronted pop rock sensation out of West Palm, Fla., is first up.
Singer Cassadee Pope has two tattoos: a smiley face on her hand and a songbird with a music staff coming out of its mouth. The 19-year old is quite the songbird herself, with a serious set of pipes that her voice coach recognized immediately when the 4-year old Pope took her first lesson. Along the way, she’s played around on an acoustic guitar and recently picked up the electric guitar, which she now plays live on “Should’ve Tried Harder.” Her favorite movie is Dumb and Dumber, she never eats the part of the sandwich she holds, she loves fashion—vests are her signature piece— and trying to put on makeup like she sees on fashion show models although she says she usually ends up “looking like I’m dead.”
Lead guitarist Mike Gentile’s favorite pastime as a youngster was baseball, but he took to the guitar after a visit to New York when his older cousin, upon request, rocked “Dammit” by Blink-182. The 21-year old says “yo” a lot, thinks he smiles too much, likes for everyone to have a good time, and absolutely has no filter between what he thinks and what he says. “There is no on-deck circle,” he explains. “Usually it comes straight from my brain to the batter’s box. Sometimes that makes people laugh, and sometimes that pisses people off and offends them.”
|Rhythm Guitarist Alex Lipshaw, drummer Elliot James, singer
Cassadee Pope, lead guitarist Mike Gentile, and bassist Jersey Moriarty.
Photo by Lucia Holm
Rhythm Guitarist Alex Lipshaw’s first love was hockey, then skateboarding, and eventually guitar — a hobby his grandmother, a famous opera singer would surely endorse. The 19-year old thinks he suffers from motion sickness, always has to have the window seat, and frequently twitters about his food sampling experiments. Raw horse served up in Japan is his most exotic tasting experience to date. He’s currently trying to break the habit of breaking wind in public. “If I’m with people I’m comfortable with, I’ll let it go, even if I’m at a really nice restaurant. I know I need to grow up and change that.”
Drummer Elliot James is actually from the U.K., but he quickly lost his accent when his family relocated to Florida. Back in London, his hopes and dreams were set on being a saxophone player, but his skills didn’t measure up and his teacher forced him to select a new instrument; he chose the drums. His claim to fame? He’s never taken a pill in his 19 years. James often entertains his band mates by performing Shakespearean monologues or musical numbers from his bunk on the tour bus, and boasts that no one can best him in a T-Rex race. “I put my hours in and figured out how to properly, successfully walk from your toe to your heel without damaging your ankle. Everybody who finds out about this, come and challenge me because I’m ready. I’m undefeated.”
Bassist Michael Moriarty now goes by Jersey so as to avoid it from “being completely obnoxiously annoying to have to figure out which Mike anybody was talking to at any given time.” Every time the 23-year old returns home to Jersey, his mom complains that his pants have gotten smaller and his hair has gotten bigger. “She thinks I’m losing weight, but I think I’m just wearing tighter pants. As for my hair, I’ve heard it referred to as a dead crow on my head.” He adores ranch dressing and/or powder on everything he eats, which is usually chicken nuggets or fish sticks. He’s currently obsessed with viewing the DVD collection of the 1990′s hit show Twin Peaks. Oh, and as for the rumor that he once worked at Columbia’s mailroom, that’s an urban myth!
Most kids graduate high school, go off to college, pick a major, maybe a minor and spend anywhere from four to six years trying to figure out what they actually want to do after they earn their degree.
The members of Hey Monday skipped all of that angst, and immediately set out to pursue their musical dreams.
Lead singer Cassadee Pope and lead guitarist Mike Gentile, who also form the songwriting tandem for Hey Monday, first met up at a basketball game in West Palm, Fla.
“My little brother was playing Cassadee’s school and I was hanging out at the game with her older sister,” recalls Gentile. “She introduced me to Cassadee, who I remember was in her St. Ann’s cheerleading uniform. We kept in touch from them on and eventually started playing together.”
Right around Pope’s high school graduation in May 2008, she and Gentile parted ways with their band Blake, and that may have been their complete surmise had it not been for Pope’s cheerful outlook.
“One thing about Cassadee, no matter what the situation it, she’s going to make the best of it,” says Gentile. “At the time, we were playing with kids we really didn’t get along with, and working with people we really didn’t like, but this is what we wanted to do and she said we needed to stick with it.”
Adds Pope, “We knew we still wanted to keep playing so we started thinking of people we wanted to be in a band with. I felt like it was really our chance to put together a band that we were really excited about and a chance to play with our friends.”
So Pope and Gentile recruited two of their fellow West Palm friends, drummer Elliot James and rhythm guitarist Alex Lipshaw, and then came across Jersey native and bassist Michael Moriarty, who had played a few shows before at Ray’s, a popular West Palm music venue.
“The five of us collectively are the craziest, wildest, strangest, funniest, caring people you’ll ever meet,” Gentile says. “When the five of us are together, something crazy is always happening. We’re just five best friends living out our dreams.“
So what to call this band of misfits?
The bunch turned the no small matter over to their fans with a “my name is…” online contest. Hilary from San Francisco chose the winning moniker.
“We liked it because it’s very contradicting,” says Pope. “Most people don’t really say they’re happy about a Monday, they view it like it’s the first day of the rest of their week, but Monday can also just be a new beginning.”
And what a whirlwind beginning it’s been for this crew.
Even before confirming Moriarty as their bassist, Hey Monday signed with Columbia, and then drew interest from Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, who had come across their demo. The crew soon hit the studio with producers Sam Hollander and Dave Katz (The Academy Is, Gym Class Heroes) to record their debut album Hold on Tight, the first joint venture between Columbia and Decaydance.
“It was definitely crazy because we got to work with Sam and Dave, and they’ve done some of our favorite albums,” Pope recalls. “It was pretty intimidating, but at the same time, they make you feel so at home after five minutes because they are pretty insane and really energetic. It was a really smooth process, and awesome just to be in a legit studio.”
In anticipation of the October release, the band began touring with The Cab, A Rocket To The Moon, and This Providence in September 2008. As their debut album peaked at number 11 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers chart in October, Hey Monday was busy showcasing their “proudly punk” sound on the Bill and Trav’s Bogus Journey Tour with The Academy Is, We the Kings and Carolina Liar.
Then early in 2009, Fall Out Boy invited Hey Monday along for their tour in the UK, Europe, Japan, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand. The group then served as the opening act for the “Believers Never Die Part Deux Tour” in April and May, also featuring Metro Station, All Time Low, Cobra Starship and Fall Out Boy as headliners.
“Even before anything happened with Decaydance, Fall Out Boy was collectively one of our favorite bands,” Gentile reveals. “To be able to tour with them, and all of these bands that we were already big fans of has been such a pleasure. We’ve learned so much from them – about touring, the business, and just the importance of staying grounded.”
Hey Monday put all of that knowledge in action as they embarked on their first US headlining tour, “Let’s Make A Mess,” this past June.
“We get to play longer sets and that’s always fun, we get to talk more onstage, and it just feels like our show,” Pope says. “It’s just a really awesome feeling. We’ve been touring pretty much non-stop since September and although we miss people at home, we’re all ready to do this for the rest of our lives.”
|Photo by Lucia Holm|
The band took only a few weeks off after their “Let’s Make a Mess Tour” before returning to the road in August for the ”Hot Topic Acoustic Tour” with Stereo Skyline. On the heels of the acoustic shows, Hey Monday will headline their first UK tour, starting in late September.
So although “Let’s Make a Mess” resonates well with this vivacious band of young adults, the reality is, they’re doing anything but in their musical pursuits.
“If I could sum it up, especially in the shortest way possible, I would have to describe everything as glorious,” says Gentile. “It’s hard to think that we are so young, and already fulfilling our dreams. We are doing exactly what we want to do with our lives at this point. Nobody gets this opportunity that we’ve somehow come across so it’s pretty crazy to think that it is somehow happening for us.”
Before it became the title of their debut album, Hold on Tight was actually the main chorus of Hey Monday’s single “Run, Don’t Walk.”
“We changed it because we wanted a more urgent sounding lyric there but it’s just a good description of what we’ve been doing,” explains Pope. “We’ve been going fast paced and our lifestyle now is all craziness, and we’re holding on for dear life through this whole experience. So, Hold on Tight seemed like a pretty good album title for us.”
The album features eleven tracks; Gentile typically provided the melody while Pope writes the lyrics, save for two collaborations. William Beckett from The Academy Is co-wrote “Homecoming,” while Butch Walker co-wrote How You Love Me. Pope also wrote the last two tracks on the album, “Should’ve Tried Harder” and “6 Months” entirely on her own.
“There are heartbroken songs, being in love songs, a song about someone who parties too much,” says Pope. “I just wanted to tell a story, to make it like a movie where you can really get to know someone. I wanted people to really get to know me through the lyrics.”
But sometimes the lyrics have been a bit misinterpreted, particularly the song “Homecoming.”
“People think it’s coming back from college and seeing family and stuff, and it’s not completely off, but it’s not exactly what the song is about,” says Pope. “It’s really about having someone at home and you left and you are coming back and you are not sure if they are still committed or if they’ve moved on. It’s about being on uneasy ground with that person and not really trusting them.”
Although the music video for “Homecoming,” has since helped clear the matter up, Pope actually prefers that people interpret it as they see fit.
“I think it’s cool. I want everyone to be able to relate in their own way.”
Many Hey Monday fans have compared the band to Paramore, and while both are fronted by female singers—who look somewhat alike and have piercing vocals—Pope believes the comparisons end there.
“Those comparisons are pretty sweet, and we can’t complain,” Pope explains, “but if you really listen, our band and Paramore are not very alike. We know that our sounds are not the same. We’re more pop and happy. When we play live, you can just tell that we are having a blast, and we really try to get the crowd as pumped as possible.”
In fact, one of Pope’s favorite moments from their summer headlining tour occurred when she asked the sold-out audience in Chicago to sing the first verse of “Candles.”
“That was the first time I had done that, and it was really loud and incredible,” says Pope, who has repeated the invite ever since.
Fans who’ve attended this summer’s “Let’s Make a Mess Tour” were privy to hearing the fast and upbeat album in its entirety, by a vocalist who can deliver.
“It’s hard to describe Cassadee’s voice because I’m so used to it, but she’s impressive,” sums up Gentile. “A lot of times you’ll go to see a band and their singer can’t pull off what you hear on the album. Obviously I’m onstage with her, but whenever I watch a video back from a show, I’m like damn, we have a singer who can actually sing our stuff live like she can on the album.”
So if you haven’t yet heard her, Run, Don’t Walk… because this West Palm bunch is on the fast track to fame.
To learn more about Hey Monday, or to check out their fall tour dates, click here.