By Jan Mercker/Loudoun Now
Here’s the thing about teen bands: it can be hard to maintain momentum when high school comes to a close. But the guys from Loudoun-based Hungry On Monday are determined to keep things rolling—even if life takes them in different directions for a while.
And with a brand new EP of original songs and a growing regional fan base, success on a bigger scale looks entirely possible.
The quartet known for catchy alt-rock/pop tunes headlines the latest in a series of monthly Final Friday concerts at the Leesburg Junction event venue Feb. 24.
Three of the four western Loudoun rockers are alumni of the well-known Immortals band—a revolving group of top students at Lovettsville’s Loudoun Music Instruction. Guitarist and Woodgrove High School grad Aidan Bruecken, bassist and Woodgrove senior Michael Preston and drummer Nathan Dahlman, a junior at Loudoun Valley High School, connected during their Immortals days but were missing a lead singer. That’s where Noah Poncin, a Loudoun Valley classmate of Dahlman’s—known for his personable style and vocal chops—came in.
The band got its start in 2015 but has been ramping things up since last fall, with a focus on writing and recording original material.
“We realized that all of us love music so much that we want to do it for a living,” Bruecken said. “You can’t do that with covers. You’ve got to have your own stuff.”
Hungry On Monday’s new five-song self-titled EP recorded at the up-and-coming M80 recording studio in Purcellville was released in October and reflects the band members’ eclectic influences from R&B to jam bands. Poncin and Bruecken do most of the songwriting, with input from bandmates as the tunes are fleshed out.
One of band members’ goals in releasing the EP was to have a solid collection of original material to send to venues for booking. For now, the group’s focus is on local gigs while its younger members finish high school (the band played its second show at Vienna’s famed Jammin’ Java last month). But the long-term plan is to hit the road in a major way.
“After we get out of high school and things settle, as long as we’re having fun and it’s about the music, even if we’re not living extravagantly, we want to just keep doing it,” Preston said.
A fan favorite from the new recording is the bluesy “Bystander,” an ode to risk taking and following one’s dreams that fits in well with band members’ outlook on their future—which may or may not include post-secondary education.
“Bystander” is also the subject of the band’s first music video, shot by Tyler Scheerschmidt, another former Immortals member and currently a film major at Virginia Commonwealth University. The video is slated to be released on YouTube later this month.
Hungry On Monday’s Feb. 24 show marks a return to downtown’s Leesburg Junction events space run by a local nonprofit. The venue, located at 215 Depot Court just off Harrison Street near the W&OD Trail, offers event rentals with profits going to charities and is also intended to be a community meetings space with a visual and performing arts component. Organizers are also planning a coffee shop in the space.
“It’s really about connecting people and supporting and encouraging the arts,” said Drew Clyde, pastor of Leesburg’s Headway Church and founder of the Leesburg Junction nonprofit.
In the case of Final Friday concerts, Clyde said, organizers are not only looking to provide exposure to up-and-coming bands but also to return as much of ticket sales as possible to the bands to help them cover future projects.
“For some of the opening bands, it’s the first time they’ve ever been paid for a show,” Clyde said.
Hungry On Monday has packed the house at past Final Friday events, Clyde said. And while the future may be fluid for the band for the next few years as Bruecken heads off to Nashville’s Blackbird Academy audio engineering school, Preston starts at George Mason University, and Poncin and Dahlman finishes high school, the members are certain that things will eventually coalesce.
And in high-achieving western Loudoun where SAT scores, Advanced Placement classes and college admissions are often paramount, these bright young men have made it clear that art is a priority.
“College is definitely something that people think they should do. It’s something I think people should do,” Bruecken said. “But at the same time, we don’t think it’s something you necessarily have to do to be successful. … And I think with this band, we can pursue our passions and still be happy.”
Hungry On Monday headlines Leesburg Junction’s Final Friday concert Friday, Feb. 24, at 7:30 p.m. at 215 Depot Court in Leesburg. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for students. For more information on Hungry On Monday, go to facebook.com/hungryonmonday. Find out more about the Leesburg Juction at leesburgjunction.com.