Once upon a time, in a far away place called Cranston, Rhode Island there was a band called Monty’s Fan Club. This band traveled far and wide with the Warped Tour in 2003 and 2004 and won contest after online contest. The band continued to tour and sold 4,000 copies of the Monty’s Fan Club EP with no label support or distribution. They started to make a name for themselves, but due to reasons beyond their control, this name had to be changed. The band settled simply on “Monty”, picked up the pieces and moved on to yet another Warped Tour in 2005 and further recognition from the press. Their ska-influenced peppy punk turned more heads with the 2005 release of The Red Shift. These heads happen to have included some folks at Stolen Transmission, an Island Def Jam subsidiary. The imprint label struck a deal with Monty and they began recording Wall of People which is due to be released August 1, 2006.
Despite this good luck, disaster strikes once again and the band is forced to go through yet another name change. Donning a new moniker, Monty Are I played this year’s Bamboozle Festival at Giants’ Stadium. Andrew Borstein (keyboard, synthesizer, trombone), Mike Matarese (bass) and Ryan Muir (vocals, trumpet) or “Team Beta” took some time away from the blazing New Jersey sun to answer some questions:
You recently had to change your name once again. You are no longer Monty, so why ‘Monty Are I’?
AB – We had a million names and a million ideas, and at the end, we felt more comfortable and more of a connection with Monty, and the easiest way to keep it was to just add a little something to it. Monty Are I is saying, Monty is us, and Are I (RI) is just a little subtle shout out to our home town. So it’s kind of like keeping our name as much as we can keep it, while still changing it enough. We had a couple of different variations on Monty a couple of them didn’t pass, a couple we weren’t into, so it’s just a conglomeration of a bunch of names and this one came down to being the most suitable for us.
EW – So, why not Monty Cranston?
AB- (Laughs) It doesn’t have the same ring to it. One of the names we came up with was Cranston, just Cranston, and it’s just kind of weird.
RM – We spent like 3 1/2 weeks going through like 150 names a day, and this was our best option.
You still have some Monty merch, when will the new stuff be out?
RM- We’re playing this show, and we have one show next weekend, then we’ll have new merch for our tour.
Where is next weekend’s show?
RM – At a high school in Rhode Island. We’re doing one off before we start our tour the 24th of this month (May). We’re touring with Jack’s Mannequin and then Warped Tour and then with Rx Bandits, who are one of my favorite bands.
MM -We played with them before for our first real club tour.
You’ve played Warped Tour like mad, in 2004 at Gillette Stadium…
That was a really pretty big crowd for the Ernie Ball Stage. On our website we have a live video for that show, all clips from that day. That was probably my favorite show of all time, it’s definitely in the top three. We definitely didn’t expect that kind of a response playing there and it was awesome.
Your new album comes out August 1st, how is your sound now different from back in 2004?
RM – The Red Shift, our album that came out a year ago, we’ve taken 6 songs from that and remixed them, and we added five more and the five more are just like a year’s progressing from The Red Shift. It’s just like us just finishing The Red Shift and being like, ‘we want to write more music’. Now we’ve finally gotten the chance to do it and we had a bunch of songs, and picked the five we wanted to stay on it.
MM – It’s all new mixes. Matt Squire who did Receiving End of Sirens and Panic! at the Disco, we did five songs with him and then he remixed the rest of the album.
So, you’re keeping up the ska?
The Red Shift wasn’t that ska, but we have horns in every one of our songs, wether it’s a small part or big part, that’s what we play. Andrew plays keyboard and I play guitar now so it’s like we’re trying to just do everything.
Your EP sold really well for having no label or distribution, how did you do it?
Warped Tour was the biggest part. Every morning we were out, selling CDs with headphones and we’d do it for ten hours a day.
And you’re being helped by your street team as well?
RM – Yeah, we have about street team of about 1,500. They’re the core of what we do, Andrew runs the street team.
Andrew, you’re doing a fine job.
AB – I can’t take much credit though, I’m just helping the kids. They’re motivated and I just give them something to do. They all really want to help out. I’d like to thank them.
You’ve won tons of contests…
RM – We are online gods, our street team doesn’t loose online contests. We’re an online juggernaut and I’m pretty sure we can win an Academy Award if it was online voting. [The street team is] all about helping us out, we were unsigned up until a couple of months ago, and they knew that what they were doing, we were doing the same stuff. We weren’t getting things handed to us, they felt that and they helped out. Like the Ernie Ball contest, or the Takeover contest and we just won a contest in Rhode Island for something or other.
Now, the Takeover contest was a ‘Sign My Band’ contest. Why aren’t you currently on Takeover records?
AB – Takeover Records had the contest as a promotional tool, and all these bands submitted a CD and the label picked ten bands to run this contest. Then, those ten bands would compete for the chance to win an offer for a deal from Takeover plus lots of other prizes. It was really good promotion for their label, and these bands. It got all these kids involved in voting [all promoted by] Takeover, and what they told us was that it was a great opportunity for promotion for ourselves and to help them out. There’s no strings attached and if you want to do it, feel free. We ended up joining, no big deal, whatever happens happens, then it started gaining momentum and at that point, we want to win. We weren’t sitting there voting a million times for ourselves, our street team is really behind it.
M – At that point we didn’t have any label attention, and we were psyched about it, nothing was going on at all.
AB – We were totally open to the possibility of Takeover and it just ended up happening that because of all the exposure we got through Takeover, we got interest that we never would have gotten without it.
RM – They’re great people, and we took into account that they had offers for us, other people had offers for us and at that point, we were [concerned with] what’s going to be best for us in the future and what’s going to be best in the long run. They were really cool about it, they are really awesome people who do great things it just wasn’t the time for us and them.
Stolen Transmission won you guys over?
RM – They are awesome people, they are the best label, hands down.
How do you feel about having your album as their first release?
RM – I think that’s one of the best thing about it, I really want to help make a label like that, I think they’re really awesome.
AB – There’s a lot of labels right now, once you sign to that label you get an automatic fan base. Here, we have a chance to build something from the ground.
MM – No one knows us, no one knows the label. There are other great bands on the label and great people who work there. They’re all here today, they were all at our tent like five minutes ago.
RM- It’s kind of our philosophy, we just like to really work at something and for us to start at the bottom with the label too where it’s just starting to really take a whole direction with us.
The contest you recently won in Rhode Island, names you as a ‘No Longer Local Band’. How was making that transition from a local band, with your hometown fans, to touring with The Warped Tour and playing in front of all these different crowds, and then going home again and playing local shows?
RM – People in RI, we’re still they’re local band. Our Rhode Island shows still have our local support. We’re friends with every single band from Rhode Island so we’re not that detached from our scene, more so than before, but we’re still in it and we still know what’s going on and I think we’re received well by them.
MM – We’ve had a long history with everyone back home it feels like we know almost everyone in Rhode Island, so at this point, it’s just like seeing old friends.
Any final thoughts of plugs to add?
RM – Yeah, we have a record coming out on August 1st, go buy that sh*t.
AB – It’s called Wall of People and it’s out on Stolen Transmission.
RM – And be friends with us on MySpace. It’s http://myspace.com/montyarei.
Monty Are I performed later in the day on the Hot Topic stage to a crowd of eager fans. Although they seem to have shied away from the ska-heavy set Monty’s Fan Club was known for, their current set seemed to get just as much of a reaction as they did two years prior. Singer Steve, Ryan (vocals, trumpet) and Mike (bass) are pros at engaging the crowd and showing the audience a fun time. Monty Are I really put on a show and give it their all while playing. To get a glimpse of this first rate show first hand, Monty Are I’s relentless touring continues this summer. Dates are scheduled with Jack’s Mannequin and Cute Is What We Aim For before they head out for yet another Warped Tour this summer.