Matarese’s end of the dialogue went as follows: “What kind of music are we? We’re awesome … We have lots of stuff going on, keyboards and horns, but we’re not ska … No, no screaming. But epic singing.”
And there you have them, the members of Monty Are I in a collective nutshell. They’re cocky (but in a good way), totally unserious (but with the skilled musicianship to make it work) and 100 percent epic. But not epic in the way a Radiohead album is really, but epic in the way, say, a DragonForce album is – if the members of DragonForce were video game geeks with emo inclinations.
If this doesn’t give you any indication of what Monty Are I sound like, you’re not alone. The members themselves draw on such a vast and varied pool of influences between them that even they struggle to pin themselves down.
More than that, the Rhode Island pop punk fivesome – rounded out by singer Steve Aiello, keyboardist Andrew Borstein, drummer Justin Muir and his twin brother and guitarist Ryan – face the challenge of not getting too ambitious with their songwriting. Listening to the band’s debut album, Wall of People, it’s clear the staples of the band’s sound are dynamic storytelling going big aurally, and they know all too well that they have their work cut out for them in writing its follow up.
“For our instrumentation and what we like to do, it’s tough to write something that’s not too ridiculous that people will think it’s pompous, but at the same time we try to write stuff that makes us laugh,” says Matarese.
“It’s tough when you have so many instruments, things can get drowned out. I don’t want to overplay because I’d take away from something else. We want to try and write within what we can do and keep it organic while still keeping the over-the-top,” he adds with a laugh.
Echoing these sentiments as well, Ryan Muir says, “Our last album was a collection of a couple years, and it was kind of scattered. I’m proud of it, but this next record is going to be focused and huge. We have so many good ideas and things we’ve been waiting to do, it’s going to be a good process. We’re going to write this album in about three months, which, compared to the three years we had for the last album seems kind of short, but we’re focused.”
Having all grown a great deal since playing music together, Matarese is confident his band is up to the challenge of writing their sophomore album. “I’ve learned how to play my part,” he says. “When we first started, it was a competition to be heard and now we play together. I think we’ve all learned that we’re a part of a whole.”
In addition to understanding the importance of cohesiveness, Matarese knows there is more than instrumental tightness.
“Knowing how to play is only half the battle. It’s constantly believing in what you’re doing and trying to sell that belief to someone else,” he says.
“The extra mile comes when you show those kids that you love this music and you love what you’re doing. When you’re selling more than just music, you’re selling a whole package. A lot of kids want more than just music, and a lot of bands play great music but it kind of ends there,” he adds.
“I want to rock their faces off, definitely. But I want people to think it’s more than just rocking; that it’s actually fun, that they could listen to us whenever and it will make them feel better. I want to convey our enthusiasm that we have for playing music and transfer it to people,” a wide-grinning Matarese says, “through their ears and into their soul.”
For more information, visit www.montyarei.com.