New Soul

Monophonics tap into San Francisco sound

Born in the rich musical climate of the Bay Area, Monophonics draw from the region’s diverse tastes and mix elements of funk and psychedelic rock into a fiery neo-soul. A popular sight at North Bay venues and events like last month’s BottleRock Napa Valley, Monophonics bring their sound to SOMO Village Event Center in Rohnert Park and open for Seattle-based soul man Allen Stone on June 30.

“A lot of us grew up around R&B, soul, blues, gospel, music basically rooted in church music,” says lead singer and keyboardist Kelly Finnigan. “We are all music lovers, but there’s something about the rawness and emotion in soul music that we appreciate, and we want to carry that on.”

The band formed out of college by guitarist Ian McDonald, and now consists of bassist Myles O’Mahony, drummer Austin Bohlman and trumpeter Ryan Scott. Monophonics were largely instrumental before Finnigan began jamming with them in 2010.

“There was never a moment where we sat down and made it official,” says Finnigan. “It was kind of an unspoken agreement between all of us that this felt right.”

“We knew to take it to the next level,” McDonald adds, “we’d need songs that people could sing along to and get stuck in their head. At first it was just a couple songs, but we kept it going and it worked out in a great way.”

Since Finnigan joined, Monophonics have been on a roll, recording and releasing two well-received albums. Twenty twelve’s

In Your Brain delivers memorable tunes with funky, danceable soul rock and hints of psychedelia. Their next album, 2015’s Sound of Sinning, went from toe-dipping in a psychedelic sound to a full-blown swan dive that recalled ’60s rockers like the Zombies or Jefferson Airplane, while remaining firmly rooted in soul. Recorded at the band’s Transistor Sound Studios in San Rafael and produced by Finnigan and McDonald, Sound of Sinning sees the band at their most focused.

“We wanted the album to be focused on the art of songwriting, the art of pop arrangements,” Finnigan says. “And I’m not talking about today’s pop; I’m talking about what evolved into popular music songwriting. We wanted to bring those influences out.”

With a third album in the works and a constant touring schedule, Monophonics are happy to be in the upcoming show with Allen Stone. “He’s a great artist doing great things,” says McDonald. “It’s going to be a great time.”

Sonoma County Library