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Here, Comrade Aleks talks to Texan duo Monte Luna about their - to date - pretty self-willed release schedule, and their new deal with respected label Argonauta Records moving forwards...

Interview with Monte Luna.
"Monte Luna from Austin, Texas paved their own way: James Cl (guitars, bass, vocals) and Philip Hook (drums) formed it in 2015, recorded demo 'Monte Luna' and EP 'The Hound' in 2016 and after the consequently stronger and also self-released self-titled full-length album they found Argonauta Records. The label is known for its fair attitude and good taste towards Doom and Stoner Metal, so naturally both sides signed a contract and Monte Luna's second album 'Drowners' Wives' should appear on Argonauta in October 2019. The guys have prepared a catchy and charismatic blend of Doom, Stoner and psychedelic stuff, so trust me one more time - it's worth listening to. You'll probably have an inkling of why through this interview with James".

Monte Luna: Phil Hook and James Cl.

Hi James! Monte Luna was born four years ago, and over this quite short period you were able to record one EP and two full-length albums: that's a good score. Were you so motivated from the start?

We have always been very driven. Phil and I have a very good capacity for making music naturally, the result is being able to write a lot of music, most of it we don't end up using, some of it, like what you can see online, does.

Which factors formed Monte Luna's sound? What connected you both when you were working on the first songs?

Bands like The Melvins, Shrine Builder, Eyehategod, Neurosis, Big Business, The Beatles and Black Sabbath helped us grow, what connected us was just jamming and having fun as a two piece. Phil and I have a very good fluidity in music and it is hard to find people that can read your mind when you are just trying to spew out a cacophony of emotion.

EP 'The Hound' has very impressive old school artwork, the songs are pretty good too. Did this recording help you to draw attention to the band?

Not really, overall what helped was our first full length. That got us on Argonauta Records. We love The Hound, always remember where you came from. One day we wish to remaster and revisit those tracks as we don't feel it represents who we are to the best of our ability. But I am also under the belief that letting things go is totally okay, so if it happens? Cool, if it doesn't that's cool too.

How often did you play during this period? And what's the highlight of your live activity today?

During The Hound we played about once a month, with that era highlight being our show with The Obsessed. Today we have so many highlights its hard to pinpoint. We've played with and made so many good friends, but last week we played 529 in Atlanta Georgia with Order of the Owl (ex Zoroaster), Serial Hawk and Savagist. Amazing time and great people all around. We played a few dates with the Serial Hawk boys and had so much fun! We are also playing 3 weeks in Europe in October starting on the 25th so that's the crown right there!

Monte Luna - '6000 Year March' (Lyric video, 2017):

Oh! Really?! Good to hear it! How was this tour organized? Will you have the new album and some merch on tour?

The Tour was put together by Lenyir Booking, the new album and merch will be fresh for tour and we are excited to showcase some new shirts and songs!

What is your schedule? Will you also play some big festivals?

We just missed all the fests, but we will be playing plenty of fun shows!

I've seen you played a proper tour in July/August, is it an effective practice to tour alone for a band like Monte Luna? Did you tour in strict "van - venue - soundcheck - gig - sleep - van" regime?

I'd say the July/August was more of a run. Our extensive tour was 2018 in May taking us all over the east coast. We did a strict tour schedule for the most part, but some places you gotta party. Weekend shows will always be a bit more loose but we do practice pretty solid work ethics during the week. I think to tour alone, yes it is much more effective. You make a living wage and don't have to worry about anyone else, now is it as fun? That is debatable.

Europe 2019.

Did you tour in Mexico? Is this direction a perspective for your music?

We haven't, but we would love to have that chance if the market is there!

Your debut self-titled album was self-released initially, but you took care and the mastering was done by Chris Fielding at Skyhammer Studio. Did you feel that he's someone who's able to catch Monte Luna's spirit precisely?

Yes, I believe Chris has a good ear for what we are doing, Conan has inspired us tonally in a way and I love how their albums sound. Chris has been excellent to work with, he also mastered our upcoming release on October 4th, Drowners' Wives.

The debut album was re-released by Argonauta Records on vinyl in 2018. Did it make things easier towards promotion?

Yes, having your album on vinyl really pushed us forward as musicians. Lot more publicity and what not. I think what helped the most has been just going out and touring and playing shows, nothing beats that. When people see us, they know what we are about and they fall in love. I feel like our live performance is always going to be more powerful and our best promotional tool

The band has a sheer southern psychedelic image, but at the same time I was surprised to find a song based on the Witcher game in 'Drowners' Wives'. Are all of your new songs connected with fantasy literature?

Yes, even the first album is very Dungeons And Dragons based, the whole story was written about a D And D homebrew I had been working on. I think psychedelic music and fantasy go well together. We try to write things outside or reality, maybe it will be interpreted as a very real visceral piece of art but nothing is too serious in life. The entire new album is based loosely on the Witcher Series. It is just something that is dark and beautiful, it is a masterful piece of art that is so tied to Dungeons And Dragons yet has its own seriousness and humor.

Monte Luna - 'The Water Hag' (2019):

Did you try to get in touch with Andrzej Sapkowski and send him some of Monte Luna's tunes?

I have not even thought of that! Great idea. It would truly be an honor to show him our work.

Do you feel that the Doom metal sound fits these fantasy themes that well? This approach reminds me of the band Book Of Wyrm band…have you crossed with them?

Not yet, but we would love to play some shows with them, I'm sure they came through Texas before.

'Scenes From A Marriage' - I'm intrigued with this song's title. What is this song about?

The song is multifaceted, it's mainly about a quest line in the Witcher 3 expansion Blood And Wine of the same name. I really don't want to spoil the quest so I'd say play the game, but there is a bit of real world emotion to it. Life and love and loss.

New album artwork.

There are sludgy influences in 'Drowners' Wives': the vocal harmonies in 'The Water Hag' are really distinctive and original, and there's a Hammond organ. What was your vision for this new material when you were entering the studio? Did you already have a whole picture in your mind?

We wanted to do a '70s rock and roll album but with a nice layer of Monte Luna on there. It is nothing like the last album and no other album we write will be like this, we love the idea of always doing new stuff and never trying to pin hole our selves into one style. So many people want the same thing from their favorite bands. We just don't care, we are who we are and we will do what we want. If you listen, great! If you don't, well that's okay, we aren't for everyone and we do this because we love it.

Do you feel you've managed to find right balance between these elements?

I believe so yes, we tried to do a bit more but still keep it realistic as we are only a two piece.

Thank you James, I wish you all the best on your tour. Let Monte Luna find more fans and friends on the way.

I would say live your dreams and work hard. I never thought I'd be doing this in my life but you never know, and if you work hard and love what you do you will succeed, but it doesn't get easier. It only gets harder.

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Visit the Monte Luna bandpage.

Interviewed on 2019-10-16 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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