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It’s been nearly eight years since the last Mondo Drag album came out. In that time, the Bay Area psych-prog band toured the US and Europe, performed at major festivals and—once again—reformed their rhythm section. But in the context of the band’s nearly two-decade existence, this period may have been the most fraught. Vocalist and keyboardist John Gamiño lost friends and family members. Meanwhile, humanity suffered the throes of a global pandemic.
“It was a dark chapter,” he recalls. “I was going through a lot of stuff personally—there’s been a lot of death, loss of family members, and grief. Plus, the band was inactive. It felt like time was slipping away from me. I felt like I was wasting my opportunities. I felt like I wasn’t participating in my story as much as I could have.”
This feeling of time slipping away is the prevailing theme on Mondo Drag’s new album, Through the Hourglass. “For me, Through the Hourglass really encompasses the quarantine / pandemic years,” Gamiño says. “But in a way that includes a couple of years before that for us, because the band was stagnant during that time. Living with that was really impactful on our daily lives. So, the album is reflective. It’s looking at time—past, present, future.”
Luckily, Mondo Drag emerged from this dour period reborn. Freshly energized by bassist Conor Riley (formerly of San Diego psych squad Astra, currently of Birth), who joined in 2018, and drummer Jimmy Perez, who joined in 2022, Gamiño and guitarists Jake Sheley and Nolan Girard have triumphed over the seemingly inexorable pull of time’s passage.
The result is a dazzling and often plaintive rumination on the hours, days, and years—not to mention experiences—that comprise a lifetime. Through The Hourglass was tracked at El Studio in San Francisco, with an additional ten days of recording at the band’s rehearsal space, which doubles as a hybrid analog-digital recording studio. The album was engineered and mixed by Phil Becker, drummer of space-punk mainstays Pins Of Light. “We’re still here,” Gamiño says. “We’ve been in the studio working on our craft and honing our skills. Now we’re re-emerging for the next stage of our life cycle.”