Winkler is an indie rock five piece made up of Justin Schaefers on guitar and vocals, Christian Schmidt on drums, Maddy Simpson on vocals, Ava Connaughton on bass, and Alex Massey on guitar. Bearing the name of the Happy Days “Fonzie” actor Henry Winkler, the band came together in 2018 to bring some groove back into Boston’s DIY venues. Wrapping up a 10 day tour in California, Winkler is set to release their latest single “Mona” on March 25th before hitting the road again in April for their east coast leg.
“Mona” is an easy and breezy track, almost building off the sound of the band’s 2020 track “Twin Snakes”. The single rides the wave of 70s influences currently resurfacing across several areas of media and pop culture, the tune sounding as bright as the colors illustrated in the cover art. Although titled “Mona”, the importance of who this “Mona” is becomes irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. What matters is that every listener can envision their own “Mona”–as the band puts it, “‘Mona’ really is a song for the sake of love and love alone; mindless and thrilling. There’s really not that much more to it, and we feel that there doesn’t have to be”.
The song opens with a preset drumbeat from a children’s keyboard before abruptly shifting gears to glittery riffs and a swaying melody. “Mona” doesn’t require grandiose builds and textures to get its point across–the slip n’ slide guitars and lovely harmonies capture the butterflies in your stomach well on their own. In the end, complex musicality isn’t needed to capture the warm embrace the track evokes.
Winkler has graciously answered a few more questions regarding the single and where they’re headed next, keep reading for the Q & A.
“Mona” is out on March 25th. For those around Boston, catch their release show at The Tourist Trap on March 26th.
The cover of “Mona” is very 70s, with bright colors and a disco girl. What are some of your 70s influences?
The cover art was made by our good friend Ali Fernandes, who patiently worked with us until we wound up with the final design. In terms of 70s influences, the main ones right now are probably Harry Nilsson, Marc Bolan, Jonathan Richman, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young. This most recent Spotify business has been a personal tragedy to the Winkler household to say the least.
The single contains dreamy, Beach Boys-esque guitar with a shoegaze twist and building drums during the bridge. How’d you go about fusing these elements? Was it similar or different to your usual songwriting process?
Mona started out as just a little demo that our singer Justin recorded during that first wave of lock down. We couldn’t meet up or play as a band so to make do he wrote the tune over a preset drumbeat on a toy First Act keyboard in his room. This same drumbeat can be heard kicking off the final version. When we started recording this tune, we aimed to create a conversation between the instruments throughout while still keeping the directness of the original idea. Since we recorded this all at home we had the freedom to experiment with different sounds to see how they worked out. Lots of little guitar and piano parts holding hands throughout this one!
Although you mention over Soundcloud that it doesn’t matter who Mona is, what do you hope listeners resonate with in terms of the song’s lyrical themes?
We hope that the listener has a face in mind while listening to the song. Mona really is a song for the sake of love and love alone; mindless and thrilling. There’s really not that much more to it, and we feel that there doesn’t have to be.
How does “Mona” represent the direction the band is headed in, and how does it stand apart from your previous tracks?
With this song we had a very specific goal in mind. We don’t feel as though this is really a new direction but rather one of the many little cul-de-sacs that we will wind up in as a band. Mona stands out from our previous songs in terms of its writing and production, but still holds the same dedication to fully realizing the potential behind its initial spark. We in Winkler really think that each song deserves to be treated as an individual expression. We are in the final leg of recording our first EP and we think that you may be in for a few pleasant surprises!