By Keith Sharp
While other bands sat on their thumbs waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto’s MONOWHALES couldn’t have been more industrious. Releasing their debut album `Daytona Bleach’ just as the pandemic took effect, group members Sally Shaar (lead vocals), Zach Zanardo (guitars/bass) and Jordan Circosta (percussion) also channelled their pandemic experiences into a recently released second album, `Tunnel Vision,’ toured nationally with Vancouver’s Mother Mother and during that tour, discovered they had won the 2022 Juno Award as Canada’s Breakthrough Artist/Group.
“Touring with Mother Mother during the pandemic was the most wonderful experience. We were doing the biggest tours of our lives, and we thought things couldn’t get any better, and then we won a Juno award!” Enthused Shaar over the phone from her Toronto residence as she and he band mates prepared for their first national headline tour, 17 dates which kicks off in Winnipeg’s The Park Theatre on Wednesday, September 21st. “The momentum has just kept building; we couldn’t stop it if we tried. Then all of these festival dates lined up (Festival d’ete, Rock The Hub, Hillside, Osheaga), and now we have a new album and our first headline tour.”
Any new band starting out could benefit by following MONOWHALES’ blueprint. Launched initially as Ginger Ale & The Monowhales in 2017, from day one, the trio decided to be self-sufficient. They manage themselves. They each own their recording set-ups, operate their own record label and split management duties three ways, releasing a debut EP, `Control Freak’ in 2018.
Their 2019 breakout single, “RWLYD” (Really Want To Let You Down), made history as MONOWHALES became the only independent, self-managed band to chart at #2 on the Mediabase Canada Alternative Rock Chart. The attention earned the band the Jim Beam Award as Top Alternative Band at the annual Canadian Music Week Awards.
“We are not saying our blueprint works for everyone, but It certainly works for us,” Shaar explained. “At this point, we are lucky to have a small, wonderful team; we are fully self-sufficient, our own label is distributed by Warner Canada, but there is no way Warner is running it. It’s all down to us. We’ve always had our own departments within the band; Zach is in charge of that, I’m in charge of this, and Jordan also has responsibilities.“