After making waves on Valentine’s Day with their hit video for “Kiss Like a Woman,” the Nashville-based rock outfit MONA is back with another anthem: “Thought Provoked.” The high-energy, chorus-driven track is the last single to be released in anticipation of the forthcoming LP, Soldier On (June 22 via Bright Antenna Records.)
The titles of both the album and the song are “very literal,” frontman Nick Brown told Billboard. “There’s no figurative thing there.” He explained that the track aims at expressing the feeling of “someone coming to an ‘Aha’ moment,” and then realizing that this feeling may not be universal. According to Brown, the lyrics don’t refer to any specific people, either: “It could be a couple, it could be friends, it could be two equal groups, it could be religious, it could be racial, it could be sexual.”
Relatability is something MONA has strived for since day one, and they’ve accomplished this by always sticking to what Brown calls “the three Fs: faith, fucking or fighting.” “Thought Provoked” is no different, homing in on the basic human experience of controversy — albeit, with a lot of embellishment, thanks to Brown’s raucous vocal flair. He admitted that he’s “always been hypersensitive to emotions” and that “it’s very hard for [him] to lean away from the epic.”
Raised in the Pentecostal faith, Brown has always been “moved by art” and “moved by sound.” This is one of the reasons he’s so drawn to music with “a little substance behind it which … might not get you a seat at the cool table.” This is why MONA sticks to what they know when writing. “People every day are getting married, having babies, being born and dying,” said Brown. “So, I think classic songs are always gonna be fine for classic humans.”
This is not to say that they aren’t willing to step out of their comfort zone, though. Before recording Soldier On, the band relocated to Nashville (a decision Brown said was inspired by the fact that he “was broke and I couldn’t afford to move to New York or LA”) where they completely “reinvented their recording process” in a home studio, created out of a three-door garage that was on Brown’s property when he purchased a house. Not only does this album mark the first time they recorded in this studio, but they also began working with a different label and a different manager.
It’s unsurprising that, after a seven-year hiatus, “everything is a hundred percent different,” but Brown is unbothered by all of these changes. He commented that the process of creating an album can be so long — some of the songs having been written as many as four years ago — that “by the time other people hear it, you’re already a different person.” Since their debut in 2010 — which led to a whirlwind of critical acclaim, exposure and worldwide touring — MONA has “been through it as a band,” the members having seen firsthand how “life takes a toll on a band.”
Their desire to adjust and move forward manifested itself into Soldier On, an album that quite simply encourages one to “keep going.” With this album, MONA is ready to continue their journey as a band, with “Thought Provoked” being “one little moment of getting you to that next page.” Listen to the full track below.