Written by Fatima Hasan
Since the band got together in Spring of 2015, Mungion has rapidly grown due to their ambitious compositions, improvisational abilities, and charismatic live performances. Its four members, Justin Reckamp (guitar/vocals), Joe Re (keys/vocals), Sean Carolan (bass/vocals), and Matt Kellen (drums/vocals) are based in Chicago. Although they draw inspiration from a variety of musical styles, they create a beautiful sound that is entirely their own.
Whimsical songs and goofy stage antics are common during performances, and Mungion’s cheerful presence is an extension of its members personalities. Undoubtedly, their live performances are infectiously lighthearted and deeply sincere. Although they can be silly at times, each member brings a tremendous amount of ingenuity, knowledge, and inventiveness to the group that sets the band apart from the rest. Combined, this raw talent and good nature makes group incredibly lively in the studio and on stage. A set by Mungion is sure to have audience members smiling and wanting more!
Your performance at Domefest kicked off your summer tour. How did it go?
Justin: “It was nothing short of amazing. That place was incredible. We played on Saturday, right before Pigeons [Playing Ping Pong] went on. The audience was super high energy, lots of love, they were hanging on every note. It was truly phenomenal, a blast! It was definitely a great festival to start off the summer.”
Any upcoming performances on your tour that you’re really excited for?
Justin: “I mean, this summer is really busy for us…which is great! We’re making a lot of new stops, playing a lot of new festivals that we’ve never played before. But this week, we’re all just kind of focused on Summer Camp. This will be our third time playing there, and with it being a home town festival, a lot of our family, friends, and fans come out. It’s a great time, and we have a lot of love for that place! So that’s basically what’s on our radar right now, we’ve been doing everything like week by week just because there’s been so much on our plate. We always try to best prepare for what’s coming up.”
Have you ever ventured out into the campgrounds of Summer Camp or seen any other sets while at the festival?
Justin: “We never have as much time as we would like! Usually when we get to a festival, it’s just a couple hours before our set and we basically spend all of that time preparing and working. Hopefully we will get some time to chill out and catch some of our favorite acts, catch up with some friends, kind of just soak it in because you don’t always get the opportunity to do that.”
How did you guys come up with the stage name of Mungion (mung-yin)?
Justin: “oh boy! The no fun answer is that we needed a name. We were scheduled to play a show, we didn’t have a name, we were just spitballing and for whatever reason that’s what we chose and ended up sticking with for better or for worse. *laughs* Most don’t pronounce our name properly, we usually had to correct people, but we’ve since given up. Call us whatever you want!”
So you guys are from Chicago, do you have any favorite places to visit around the area?
Justin: “Well, we’re kind of imposters! Right now, we all live in Chicago. None of us grew up in Chicago, but the city is amazing and there is a great music scene happening right now. Tons of great artists, and there is definitely no shortage to play… there’s venues at just about every corner. It’s great for cultivating the music scene. I really enjoy hitting the beach during the summer, going to shows is always a good time too. I don’t even spend as much time as I wish I could in Chicago because we are always traveling!”
Do you have a favorite post-show snack?
Justin: “We’ll generally just eat a bit during the pre-show! We don’t really eat too much post-show, usually it’s more on the drinking side. There are some great venues that have some really good food. This first tour we just played during the winter of 2017, we stopped in New Orleans and they really do have some good food. The venue provided amazing seafood–some clams and oysters– that was awesome. But we’re easy to please! Usually in our Green Room, we’ll have some hummus or guacamole, a meat and cheese tray, some veggies. Nothing crazy!”
Do you think you’ve had a particular experience involving music that has been very rewarding for you?
Justin: “The band started early 2015, so we’re really just enjoying the ride right now. It seems like every time we get to play, it beats the last time, which in itself is very rewarding. Festival season is really great for us, we get to catch all of the other bands that are in the scene right now. I think it’s really awesome to make those connections happen. Obviously, Summer Camp is always a treat. Peach Festival up in Pennsylvania last year was amazing, that’s the Allman Brother’s festival. We played Hulaween in Florida too. We also just finished recording and putting out our live record last week. It features a live compilation of music from our first tour. It has definitely been a long time coming! We don’t get many opportunities to put up our live shows just because we aren’t traveling with an engineer right now. We did the best we could and released our record, and we are really happy with the results. Lots more to come! We just completed tracking for our second full-length record, that’ll be out in September. I think it’s coming along great so I’m very excited!”
How did you guys decide what songs to feature on the album since it’s based on live compositions?
Justin: “We kind of sat down and sifted through a bunch of shows. We definitely wanted to showcase more of the improvisational side of our music, the content that is out right now maybe doesn’t do that as well as this particular project. We basically threw everything into a folder and cherry-picked from there, but the improvisational side was a huge factor when selecting the tracks.”
What was the best advice you have ever received and did you listen to it?
Justin: “Best advice: if you’re thinkin’, you’re stinkin’. *laughs* While on stage, we’ve tried to get to the point where we are prepared enough through rehearsing to kind of let the music just play itself. I know that sounds really hippy-dippy, but you know, if you’re on stage thinking about all the stuff that’s going on in the music, it’s really hard to just enjoy it. When we play live, it requires a lot of communication in between the band members. You really have to open up your ears and just kind of let the music flow. You’ve got to be there to react when somebody throws out a line. So, if you’re thinking on stage, you’re probably stinking on stage! At least that works for us! *laughs*
So, you really want to get your music to the point where it flows naturally.
Justin: “Exactly. The audience is a huge factor in it too. If they are ready to go to some new places with us, that helps the journey progress immensely. It’s amazing.”
What are some of the ways that you guys may communicate while on stage?
Justin: “We used to have some cues and stuff like that but we always end up abandoning them. It’s like we’re trying to get out of the way, if we’re worried about catching or missing cues, it just adds another component of complexity and worry. We may throw out a couple little cues, maybe when we want to flow into another song or improvisational section. But lately we haven’t been doing too much of that, which is working well for now!”
Anything else you’d like to say to your fans?
Justin: “In closing, I’d like to encourage everyone to come out to a show and check out our new live record! Link with us on social media like Facebook, Instagram, all that good stuff. It’s a busy summer, so hopefully we will be coming through a city near you! Specifically for Illinois, we’re playing at SideOuts in Island Lake on June 9th. That’s going to be a really fun show that’s close to our home turf! We’re doing Live on Lincoln in July too, and we’ll also be joined by some other really great performances. Come see us in Chicago, come see us anywhere else!”
Mungion at Summer Camp Music Festival:
Date: Sunday, May 27, 2018
Time: 10pm – 11pm
Location: Campfire Stage
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