By Sundown & United
The Black Tie Dynasty was one of those bands that snuck up on the local indie music lovers of Dallas/Fort Worth and much of the South by Southwest music scene. They first got our attention by throwing sounds of past punk pop bands at us such as The Smiths and Joy Division. From their freshman and sophomore projects they pushed winsome indie-pop and starry-eyed feeling in every song from “I Like U” to “Once Around“.
It has been two years since the band called it quits on March 28th at the historical Granada Theater in Dallas. I always believe in the motto never give up on a great idea or band. Black Tie Dynasty has not returned in their former form but have meta-morphed into Mon Julien with Cory Watson (lead singer/guitarist) and Brian McCorquodale (Keys) at the core with Blake McWhorter and McKenzie Smith, making up the rad needed essentials. So far we have only had a chance to hear the live, impromptu, unplugged, iphone recording at The Modern in Fort Worth, which is a pretty impressive deeply intense moment of lyrics and guitar. It’s a departure and evolution into a darker melodic sound they like to call, refined moody pop.
Hometown: Dallas – Fort Worth, Texas
For fans of: The National, Arcade Fire, Richard Ashcroft, Midlake, Bon Iver.
We caught up with Cory Watson in Dallas for a quick conversation, to see how it is all coming together.
SDU: How did it all come together creatively in scrapping BTD and heading into a new transformation of your sound and lyrics with Mon Julien?
CW: Well, after BTD disbanded officially in 2009 we went our separate ways. We reunited for shows in 2010, but by then our schedules were all so hectic that scheduling the shows was nearly impossible. It was frustrating. Everyone was so busy in other bands and we had just grown apart in some respects. During one BTD rehearsal, Brian and I started to work out this new chord structure and it felt inspired. to us We didn’t really get much of a reaction from the rest of the group, so we told each other we’d save it and circle back soon. A few weeks later Brian came over to my apartment to work up some ideas. At the time we considered it a BTD practice. We started in on that earlier riff and wrote the entire song. The creative energy was electric! Then we just decided, hey why don’t we try an entire record on our own. We got excited about the prospect of something so challenging, yet liberating. I mean who cares if the rest of the record sounded nothing like Black Tie?!
That song we wrote became a Mon Julien track called “The Inventor” and it will be on the new record. We had a practice a week for 8 weeks or so and wrote a song or more each week! There’s your record right there.
SDU: Do you feel this band is more a studio band were the creative process can be fully realized or is the excitement of the crowd something that drives you to experience a more balance of performance and art?
CW: Yes, I think Mon Julien is more of a studio project with a more balanced energy. We made a conscious effort to be dynamic and create special moments that we could shape in the studio.
SDU: What I loved about BTD, is how your sound translated so well from studio to on stage. When you’re placing songs together, do you think about how they’re going to translate on stage?
CW: I’m only now starting to wonder how the songs will translate to the stage. We haven’t had that instant gratification of playing these new songs live for an audience yet. I’m confident that we can pull it off, especially with the caliber of musicians who will guest with us on stage for the CD release show. Mckenzie Smith(Midlake) will play drums, Mark Pirro(Tripping Daisy) on bass and Dylan Silvers(Preteen Zenith) on guitar. I mean that lineup is just gonna smoke on stage! I’m getting excited now as I talk about it!
SDU: Were there any ideas that you were hoping to try that you weren’t able to do this time?
CW: Yes, we hoped to finish one final track. It needed some serious work. We might finish it later. Looking back and listening to the record as a whole now, I’m not sure it would fit anyway, so it’s probably for the best. It kinda sounded like Human League. Haha.
SDU: So who were some of the big influences that went into this up and coming LP?
I don’t think we really drew upon many outside influences for this record. I’m sure that subconsciously some ideas may have found there way through. This is a really pure record. We were mainly just influenced by one another and drew upon that chemistry.
Also, Mckenzie(Smith) had a lot to do with it. When we tracked the songs for the first MJ session, we’d never played in the same room with him. We didn’t even know what he was going to play. As we put it to tape. He had many ideas on dynamic and tempos and time changes that we just made happen on the fly. When you hear the performances on this Mon Julien record, in many cases, you are hearing the very first time we’d ever played that song in the same room together. I can’t say enough about his influence. It changed the record dramatically.
SDU: So, how is the Dallas Music scene? What are some of the best places you have performed and likely to return?
CW: Dallas music is the strongest it’s been since the late 90’s. Bands are getting all sorts of national acclaim. St. Vincent was just on the cover of Spin! Midlake, Neon Indian and Burning Hotels are all killing it. You just can’t deny whats happening here right now.
SDU: Where does your inspiration of crafting lyrics to song manifest?
CW: All of my lyrics are about my life. I don’t write about anything I haven’t lived through. I can tell you the time and place.
SDU: Favorite music euphoric experience? We have all had them, playing live somewhere, being in the car when the artist hits that epic line, or being front row to the concert of the year or decade. What is yours?
CW: Good question! I love this.
I saw the UK band Travis perform at Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas in early 00’s. It was soooo loud.
Right place at the right time. Defining, yes most definitely!
SDU: So all the sundowners here can become Mon Julien fans live and in person, what shows do you have lined up and what can they expect?
CW: Saturday, Jan 14
Granada Theater w/ Burning Hotels, Air Review and Menkena
Amazing bill and it’s our debut show AND record release party!!!
You can purchase tickets now at right Here!!!
SDU: Last question, Air Guitar or Karaoke?
CW: To find out, meet me at the merch booth after our show at Granada and ill wink once for Air Guitar and twice for karaoke.