Given the band’s unconventional nature of making music, its limited output, and the fact that none of its members currently live in Milwaukee, we’ll give you a pass if the name Tracing Mona doesn’t ring a bell. However, the project’s progenitor is a band people—specifically, people who have a good memory in regard to Milwaukee’s punk rock past—might recall. Yes, three members of the “long distance recording collaboration” played together in a mid-’90s outfit called Shaft.
Last year (more than 20 years after last sharing the stage as Shaft), some of the band members reconnected—at least in the virtual sense—and decided to start making music again. The reunion of sorts started when singer Nate Winegarden sent some songs he and his wife, Michelle, had been working on to former Shaft counterpart Ian Patterson, who was soon asked to contribute some guitar solos and bass lines to the material. Ex-Shaft percussionist Jon Phillip later came aboard on drums and, just like that, Tracing Mona was born.
Tracing Mona’s forthcoming full-length, Happy In The Saddest Way, will be released May 8. As good as the nine-song effort is, the way the album was written and recorded is even more impressive. The Winegardens recorded their parts in their West Bend home. Phillip laid down his beats in studios in Nashville, where he now lives. Patterson added his flourishes from his home studio set-up in Fernandina Beach, Florida and also mixed/mastered the record.
The final product is an energetic and altogether enjoyable pack of power pop compositions that were made in three different states by musicians who haven’t played music together in the same room in more than two decades. Before Happy In The Saddest Way is released next week, listen to the unconventional project’s new single, “Fixing Myself Up For You,” below.