"There's no re-creating a live performance whether you're playing for four people or 4,000; it's just irreplaceable but I'll be honest with you, there's the whole process of it too; getting your stuff ready, getting there, the whole thing. There are parts of it that you probably didn't even realize or at least think or say that you'd ever miss; like setting up your gear to play a gig or a sound check but you do; you know?"
So says songwriter/performer and recording artist 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 out in advance of their forthcoming EP.
"The song is called "Spirit of Youth;" he said with tempered enthusiasm. "We recorded six songs in mid-February 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 twelve 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."
"Officially it (The single) came out on July 10; we recorded it right before all of this stuff went down. This was a full band recording; we went to a place called GD Ponderosa 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 in Montrey's case; art can be somewhat prophetic.
"In a way, to relate to that point," he began to explain, "When I wrote these songs; at the time I was conversing back and forth with the engineer about the mixes; I realized that I hadn't given a title to the actual album yet. So, I said, alright, 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."
"Spirit of Youth;" why the title? Montrey explains, albeit briefly, as to how inspirations come at various points in life and aren't necessarily confined to one's younger years.
"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. 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."
"Ha, we'll see I guess," he said with hesitation about the future. "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."
To discover more about Mike or The Mike Montrey Band; please visit www.mikemontreyband.com .
That's it for this week! Please continue to support live and original music and until next week....ROCK ON!