Great Lakes Myth Society eager for a summer vacation
Timothy Monger is looking forward to a little down time this summer.
Monger, one of the members of The Great Lakes Myth Society, a band with roots firmly planted in Livingston County, says the group will be taking a much-needed break following their upcoming show on June 14 at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. The band plans to concentrate on developing songs for a third album.
“This will be our only show until the fall,” said singer, guitarist and accordion player Monger, who grew up in Brighton, as did four of the band’s five members. “It is kind of a biggish deal that we are taking the summer off.”
The past 10 years have been filled with constant rehearsals, tours and appearances for the folk/rock band that has been compared to indie-favorites The Decemberists and The Shins. Monger said he hopes to be putting the finishing touches on the third record by the end of this year, with a possible spring 2010 release, although nothing is set in stone.
“We started last fall,” he said of the recording for the new disc for Ann Arbor-based Quack Media. “We tend to take a while. We don’t work quickly. Good things take time. We work hard on our recordings. ”
Writing songs that reflect life in Michigan with subjects like crossing the Mackinac Bridge, Isabella County in winter and campfires, the band has earned fans with positive reviews from the Village Voice and Time Out Chicago.
“I really think they are one of the best groups in the state right now,” said Mark Deming, a freelance writer based in Eaton Rapids. “They are able to write about these sorts of things without seeming cloying. They are aiming to tap into how you felt and what the moment was like rather than trying to put it in the glow of nostalgia. That’s one of the things I really like about their work.”
The Great Lakes Myth Society includes Monger (a 1995 BHS grad); his older brother, James (1991) vocals, guitar and mandolin; Gregory McIntosh (1996) vocals, guitar and banjo; Scott McClintock (1989) bass and vocals and Fido Kennington of Flint drums and vocals.
“We all had high school bands,” Monger said. “I formed my first band in sixth grade at Maltby Middle School. We have all been playing forever. I have been playing since I was nine.”
British rock bands XTC, Queen, The Clash and Electric Light Orchestra are among Monger’s many musical influences.
“We never really intentionally set out to write songs that talk about the region,” Monger said. “We would mention a street corner that we knew or a place where we used to go to field parties. There are things that keep popping up references to southeast Michigan that we reflect in our current band name.”
With years of experience playing the club circuit in Southeast Michigan, the band has amassed a following of fans who appreciate their musical skills and sense of fun.
“They are terrific musicians and at the same time, they are not musicians who seem to be obsessed with the idea that they have to demonstrate their technical skill at all moments,” Deming said. “They are a band that seems to be more about serving the song. I think you definitely hear that on the records. I think performing live they seem to realize that that one of the things that is most important is giving the performance good energy and emotional commitment. They are not a band that is unusually flashy, at the same time, they are terrific musicians. They show a real passion for their work.”
Monger said he was thrilled see fans chiming in with the lyrics at a show in April.
“At our last show at the Blind Pig they were singing along with our songs, which is a new thing for us,” he said. “I never thought we would be one of those bands, but that certainly is gratifying.”
All of the members currently work full-time jobs outside the band.
“We have toured the country, but for a five-piece band in this day and age you have to have a lot of good backing to be touring all the time and actually making money at it,” Monger said. “Until that big licensing job comes in we’ll keep working our other jobs. We stress about it daily, but we make enough money to be able to buy the equipment we need. We are making the albums we need. We might try and tour more in the fall as our jobs let us.”
While the band members don’t always spend a lot of time together, Monger says they keep up with e-mails to each other. They have an easy friendship with one another that is reflected in their songs and performances.
“It definitely has been a friend-oriented family-type band,” he said. “We are people that are very good friends and have known each other a long time. The band has really been a constant in our lives for a very long time and I hope it will be for a very long time after this.”