“There’s no re-creating a live performance whether you’re playing for four people or 4,000. It’s just irreplaceable.”
So says Mike Montrey of the Mike Montrey Band as he discussed his feelings on the pandemic, being shut down, what the band has been up to and the release of a new single, “Spirit of Youth,” which is out in advance of their forthcoming EP.
“We recorded six songs in mid-February,” Montrey said, “and the long-term plan at the time was to record and put out a six-song EP and follow that up with another six-song EP and put it out maybe next year. Rather than put all 12 songs on an album. These days, everything is kind of shrinking as far as people’s attention spans go (laughs), but we recorded six songs and we intend on releasing the entire EP which is entitled In the Middle of Hope in the fall. We’re going to put some other singles out in the meantime but this is the first one out.”
“Spirit of Youth” came out on July 10. “We recorded it right before all of this stuff went down,” Montrey said. “This was a full band recording. We went to a place called GD PonderRosa Studios in North Jersey, way up in Sussex County. A guy by the name of Tom Askin recorded us and he also plays in a band called The Samples whom I used to tour around the country with for several years. So, we’ve known each other and he’s a pretty good engineer, too.”
Sometimes an artist will write a song or put together an album and it may take years before their work is relatable to current events or world climates. And sometimes, art can be somewhat prophetic.
“When I wrote these songs … at the time I was conversing back and forth with the engineer about the mixes,” said Montrey. “I realized that I hadn’t given a title to the actual album yet. So I said, ‘All right, I’ve got to call it something for the time being’ so that I could keep track of things, and as I was looking through the lyrics of the songs I noticed that they all have this vibe of that sentiment which was, ‘ in the middle of hope.’ Then two weeks later, this shit happens and it struck me as strange in a way. I would hope not, that in some way, my own thinking caused that (laughs). It was weird but I almost felt a connection to that even though I wrote these songs before it even happened and came up with the title before it happened.”
How about the title of “Spirit of Youth”?
“I think, lyrically, it speaks to kind of what it says: how you feel when you are young, to some extent. But that could be gauged at any time in your life, really. It’s not necessarily about age, but just having those inspirations with you, you know? A lot of the inferences can be determined by the listener to their own choosing, but that’s the gist of it.
“There’s a pretty cool video on YouTube for the single which was shot by our keyboardist Phil Silverberg (see below). The video is cool in that it was partially shot pre-pandemic at the studio we were at, where we were doing some shoots in a field with me playing guitar. But the rest of it was shot in quarantine mode with individual shots of band members. I think he did a good job of it and it’s worth you watching.”
With the recent release of the single, and the album due out in several months or less, what have they been doing to promote their latest effort? And what are their plans going forward?
“In the Middle of Hope kind of speaks to that pretty directly, any way you look at it, but during this lockdown and such, we’ve done a bunch of livestreams for various sites, and of our own as well. It’s been mainly myself and Jen Augustine, who is the singer in the band. We haven’t done any full band stuff because we all live in different places and we haven’t been able to get together, but we have done a lot of those and some with some pretty good success, so that’s pretty cool.”
About the future, he says, “Ha, we’ll see, I guess. I kind of feel like, I’m kind of happy that we were able to get these songs recorded and share them now, especially since we can’t really play. So, it’s kind of a good way to still connect with people who still want to listen to music, and hopefully by the time that it gets a true green light … we’ve had offers and done a couple of smaller scale outside private events, but I don’t anticipate there being any legitimate music venue-type gigs until next year at least.
“That’s weird, you know? I look forward to it, but for the time being we’ll still make music, still create, still connect with people. There’s that aspect of it and I’m going to try and take advantage of that as much as I can.”
For more information, visit mikemontreyband.com.
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