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Mono Band
Solo project of Noel Hogan, ex-The Cranberries

About Mono Band

Noel Hogan's Mono Band came about by accident. The project's origins lie in the discussions The Cranberries began as they planned a new album. "I had an idea to take the songs in a different direction," Noel recalls. "For a long while I'd been listening to people like Beck and Moby and wondering how to incorporate the electronic side of things into my own writing. We'd done the guitar-drums line-up on five albums and it was time to introduce something else."

The first step came when Noel cut two tracks with programmer Matt Vaughan (Alabama 3/XTC). "They sounded very different from anything The Cranberries had done before and I was really excited about the potential direction in which the band could go", he says.

In the end The Cranberries decided to put the next album on hold. After more than dozen years of relentless touring and promotion which had seen them clock up album sales in excess of 40 million and play to hundreds of thousands of fans around the globe, the band decided it was time for a break. But Noel, who co-wrote such instantly recognizable hits as 'Dreams' and 'Linger' for the group, had new songs that simply wouldn't wait around. "I continued down the road I'd started with Matt and the Mono Band album is the result. It wasn't really planned as a solo album at all. But the break allowed me to work full-time on it and everything happened in a very organic way."

Programming was a new world to Noel, but the tracks he had cut with Matt Vaughan had excited his imagination. "Being a guitar player, computers had always scared me", he admits, "But the great thing about Matt was that he wasn't just 'techy'. He was musical with it as well. He didn't dazzle you with science. He taught me how to use the programmes and the next logical step was to buy a computer and build a studio at home. I couldn't have done the record without Matt and he was very generous and he taught me what to do. But it took making the record to a different level when I could do it on my own."

Noel is the first to admit it was a steep learning curve and that he initially found working alone daunting. "I'd grown very comfortable working with the band and initially I found being solo nerve-wracking. There was nowhere to hide and nobody there to reassure me when the doubts crept in," he confesses. "But at the same time it was exciting, too. There was something very liberating about being in my own little studio rather than a formal band environment."

As he developed a new way of working a new sound emerged too. "Of course on one level there's a similarity with what I've done before because they're still my songs. But it feels like there's a freshness to them. There are things I probably would have done before if I'd been on my own rather than with the band."

Several of the songs were written in conventional style on guitar. But Noel also began to write drum and rhythm tracks, building up songs in the studio. "That was a completely new way of working for me and I embraced it. I was experimenting in a way that opened up all kinds of new possibilities," he says.

After he had developed half a dozen tracks, he began to look around for singers. "I'm not a singer at all and I decided rather than just feature one voice as in the Cranberries, I'd use different voices."

Those whose voices impressed him would be sent a song or two to try out. "It wasn't so much a recruitment process as me randomly coming across singers I liked and asking them to come on board," Noel explains. "They're more collaborators than featured vocalists because although I did all the music, the rest was down to them. It was really interesting to see what people would come up with."

After all those years working with The Cranberries, it's hardly surprising that Noel's writing seems particularly to suit the female voice. Among those heard on the Mono Band album are the Swedish singer Alexandra Hamnede, who graces three tracks, with Kate Havnevik and Angie Hart also appearing. But there are male voices too, including Richard Walters guesting on three tracks and French singer Nicolas Leroux and Fin Chambers from Irish band Woodstar appearing on one track each.

Although most of the album was produced by Noel, he handed over the vocal production to Stephen Street who had worked with Noel and The Cranberries on several of their albums over the years.

On the instrumental ‘Brighter Sky’ Noel enlisted the help of Marius De’Vries for remix duties. Marius is most known for his work with Massive Attack, U2 and Bjork as well as his soundtracks for movies such as 'Moulin Rouge' and 'Golden Eye'.

The Mono Band's debut album was released in early 2005.

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