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About CMON CMON
‘The Crack and The Light’ – Debut album 2023
By Lisa Verrico – CMON CMON didn’t intend to make an album, never mind release it. They had no plans to play live, let alone tour far from home. How both happened is still a shock to the Belgian trio, who formed for fun in 2019, became staples of college radio in the States last year and will see their glorious debut album, The Crack and The Light, released worldwide in Summer 2023.
On board for CMON CMON’s first EP and yet-to-be titled debut album are legendary Their fairytale story has a twist, however. Now all in their 40s, singer, guitarist and main songwriter Jorrit Hermans, bassist Steven Omblets and drummer Michel Becx formed their first band as college students two decades ago. When it didn’t take off, they went their separate ways into sensible jobs – Jorrit in advertising, Steven as a sociology lecturer and Michel as an estate agent.
Their reunion under a new name – CMON CMON is a call-to-arms to pursue your dreams and be daring – began as merely a means to meet up again. Jorrit had written some new songs and asked the others if they wanted to work on them. Straight away, the chemistry between them was back.
“It was even more fun than when we were young – smoother, quicker,” says Steven. “There were no egos involved. With no pressure on our expectations. it was all about the songs.”.
CMON CMON’s adventure took flight when they decided to release an EP. They sent demos to one of their favorite producers, the Grammy Award-nominated, platinum-selling Alex Newport (Death Cab For Cutie, Bloc Party), expecting to hear nothing back. In fact, Alex adored them and was immediately on board.
They enlisted legendary, London-based music manager Stephen Budd (Tony Visconti, Gang Of Four, Heaven 17) the same way. One listen to CMON CMON’s addictive, dreamy, storytelling rock and the industry veteran was hooked and offering advice.
A three-track EP self-released last year exceeded all expectations. Critics adored it – ‘CMON CMON make a heavenly racket that conjures up a lock-in with REM, the Lemonheads and Teenage Fanclub’ wrote The Sunday Times. In America, the songs caught on at college radio, making the charts in 21 states with next to no promotion.
A dumbstruck CMON CMON agreed to play a handful of gigs in Belgium and abroad. The reaction convinced them that they were a real band despite all still having their day jobs and lots of labels came calling. Earlier this year, they signed a worldwide deal with Renaissance Records US in Phoenix, Arizona.
With an album already recorded between Trypoul Studios in the Netherlands and Newport’s Future Shock Studio in L.A., all they needed was to name it.
“The Crack and The Light reflects the nature of the songs, all of which are true stories,” says Jorrit. “They’re quite dark and twisted with lots going wrong, but what connects them is hope. That’s the crack and the light.”
Joyous, jangly lead single The Summers We Missed, with its lush harmonies and nod to early Lemonheads, will be familiar to fans, having featured on last year’s EP. It captures both the laid-back spirit of CMON CMON and their tales of life experience as opposed to first love.
“I don’t write about love or break-ups – there are too many of those songs already,” says Jorrit. “I’m an observer. I write about real life, whether it’s my own or other people’s. “The Summers We Missed is a story I couldn’t have written aged 20. It’s set in Summer 1995, at a real party with a real pool and a real girl called Julie. “It’s a tale of two teenagers who were very close but never romantically involved. In the second verse, the narrative jumps 20 years ahead when they meet again and reminisce about what might have been. “For me, the song is packed with personal memories and melancholy. That Summer is over and it won’t come back, like the protagonists’ youth. But it’s okay because life moves on and both still have their fantasy.”
Grown up narratives doused in heavenly, three-part harmonies and set to sumptuous, melodic rock are the calling card of a band who cite everyone from Husker Du, Tom Petty. R.E.M. and the Travelling Wilburys to ABBA and Big Star as influences.
The raucous My Heroes refers to both idols who ultimately let you down and falling short yourself. Way Down is a deceptively breezy tale of people who refuse to change when their lives are going wrong. The groovy, bluesy Black Holes is about a cascade of consequences.
“Black Holes in particular has so many parts it should be played by a six-piece,” says Jorrit. “The arrangement mirrors the meaning. You make one decision and it spirals. It takes you in a certain direction and other opportunities pass you by. Did you make the right choice?” “The arrangements and the harmonies on every song are quite complex because we didn’t expect to play them live. I’m glad we wrote them that way, but it means we need more musicians on stage.”
Sundays is about the day of the week that Jorrit most hates – ‘A day of mourning for me personally,’ as he puts it. Nothing On The Radio was inspired by watching people arguing in cars, when he was young or simply spying in traffic jams. “It’s two people arguing because they’re breaking up,” he explains. “One wants to leave everything behind, start a new life in another place. I’ve sat in cars all my life with people arguing. It’s the little things you notice that tell the bigger picture. I like to take those details and amplify them.”
Can You Take It is CMON CMON’s attempt to write in the style of Big Star and addresses the need for freedom amid the responsibilities of adulthood. I Don’t Know is the album’s saddest song, about someone who has lost all hope and needs to be jolted back.
The Crack and The Light closes with the gorgeous New Orleans, a song about a summer night storm which haunts Jorrit from his childhood. He woke up confused to hear both an argument and thunder. Close his eyes and he goes back to the fear and devastation he felt.
“The song builds and layers into its own thunderstorm, then it shuts down.,” says Jorrit. “It leaves you wondering what happens next. Live, it’s our grand finale and it’s a perfect ending for the album.
“What will happen next? We have no idea. We didn’t expect to be here, but we’re happy that we took a chance and it led us to the dream we thought we had given up for good.””