Montero

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MONTERO TOUR DATES:

MELBOURNE: Thursday, February 6 @ The Corner supporting Kurt Vile & the Violators. Tickets on sale now from The Corner Box Office. Presented by Mistletone and Triple R.

  • “Montero paints pictures in bright colours… The world created is fantastical, filled with notions of healing and love” – THE MUSIC
  • “Exciting, eccentric songwriting that nods to early Eno and current Ariel Pink” – BEAT
  • “A hazy swarm of emotion; an acknowledgment of the complexity of the simplicity of romance” – THE THOUSANDS
  • “A soft-rock inspired epic in the vein of Ariel Pink or MGMT’s Congratulations. It’s heavy on hazy organs, abounds in the chorus/reverb combo and major chords with the brilliance of the desert sun… This is an album for journeys” – HAPPY
  • “It’s fun to imagine Montero, a lyrical proponent of love and peace and magic and self-belief, as some behind-the-scenes Beefheart; the three-year genesis of The Loving Gaze not due to bouncing between studios and engineers (and beginning work as a musical based on the life of the late Wheel of Fortune starlet Adriana Xenides, from which ‘Adriana’ is on loan), but monomaniacally chasing elusive perfectionism. He already scans close to Brian Wilson in this regard: ‘Clear Sailing’ catches waves and ‘Mumbai’ begins with “Life’s a beach,” only Montero himself is – like Wilson – scared of the water; summoning imagery of shore and ocean so as to tap into their totemic power. ‘Mumbai’ wasn’t written in India – more fertile foreign soil for artistic and/or self-reinvention by barefoot pilgrimage – but during his 40 days in the Calexico desert, the first song for his new project. He summons an imaginary fantasia (“They’ll be dancing already in Mumbai/with a pocket of confetti/and a whole lot of crazy new sounds”) where he’s free to scatter his creative seed. These aren’t songs about Mumbai, but the Mumbai of the mind; not the sea, but the sea inside. Montero is an artist authoring audio daydreams, then bending reality to fit the self-made myth” – MESS + NOISE
  • “This dreamy, harmony-soaked debut sounds like the kind of treasured ’70s LP that has been part of your many hauls from group-house to group-house; the kind of album that would always end up on the record player on those lazy Sunday afternoons when you dragged all the loungeroom furniture out into the backyard for an impromtu BBQ amongst the waist-high weeds, uncut grass and the graveyard of rusting art-school sculptures and wax-covered candelabras. It may well be influenced by The Beach Boys, but you’ll also hear echoes of The Carpenters, Jobriath, The Dragons and possibly a few glam bands, in its sunshiny soft-rock, romance-speckled goodness” – 2SER FEATURE ALBUM
  • “With the radiance and benevolence suggested by the title, Montero’s debut album offers a generous and open-hearted collection of glam rock jams and triumphant, transcendental synth-psych nuggets. The project of multi-disciplinary artist Ben Montero, his band also features the talents of local music luminaries Guy Blackman, Geoffrey O’Connor, Cameron Potts, all united in a shared celebration of emotive pop and power balladry” – 3RRR ALBUM OF THE WEEK

  • “Dreamy Melbourne soft-rock band Montero have enjoyed hype from their debut album The Loving Gaze this year, and we’ve got dibs on the new video ‘Dead Heads Come to Dinner.’ It’s a doozy. The clip is directed by Michael Leonard from the Beg, Scream and Shout collective and it’s a trippy treat. The video is so weird that the plot is up for interpretation but basically these red and blue Homer Simpson-looking creatures find their way out of the water and the sewers to meet these purple gals who are hula hooping and doing some pretty serious interpretative dance routines. Ribbon vomit, jellyfish and scary baby dolls’ heads also feature”Oyster magazine

BC by Montero from Christian J Petersen on Vimeo.

  • “This gloriously psychedelic video is the world premiere for “BC,” a new song by Australian musician/comic artist/animator/ renaissance man Ben Montero, and the first single from his upcoming debut album The Loving Gaze, which is out on September 20 via Mistletone. The song is an ode to the power of music — as Montero says, “Romantic pop songs can be your life coach. Healing and trusting music. Don’t be afraid to use all your power and magic and don’t let the cynicism of others get into your bloodstream.” The video, meanwhile, is the work of Christian J Peterson of Seattle-based studio I Want You, and is just as gloriously warm and colorful as the song itself”FLAVORWIRE

Mistletone is honoured to release the debut album by Montero, The Loving Gaze, out now on vinyl and digital release only via Inertia, and available on mail order.

Since the release of The Loving Gaze (album bio below), Montero won Album of the Week on 3RRR, 2SER and SYN-FM, a feature On Rotation review on Mess + Noise, and glowing praise abounding from appreciators near & far. Montero counts Ariel Pink, Sonny Smith (Sonny & the Sunsets) and Kurt Vile as fans, and will support Kurt Vile on his forthcoming Australian tour. Other marquee moments for Montero so far include supports for Yeasayer and Models, and knockout performances at the sold-out Opening Night of Melbourne Music Week and Goodgod’s 5th birthday celebrations in Sydney.

FROM CYNICISM TO BELIEF. From the negative to the positive. From weakness to strength. From black and white to full colour. Montero’s debut album The Loving Gaze holds out a hand to you, the listener; inviting you on a journey that’s both expansive and inward, ever inward.

The masterwork of habitual Melbourne dreamer, iconoclast, enthusiast, songwriter, comic book writer, visual artist, animator and frontman extraordinaire Ben Montero, The Loving Gaze is a willing escapade from the everyday.  This timeless album is an embracing of “bigger day” daydreams and sonic ambition, with a grasp on 1970s auteur rock classicism that’s rarely seen. Yet this is not a retro album; it’s entirely of this moment. Warm and cyclical. Kaleidescopic, rich and strong, yet still containing the roughness of instinct.

The inspirations Montero drew upon include late 1970s Beach Boys and Dennis Wilson, The Carpenters, Burt Bacharach, Eric Carmen, The Association, California sunshine pop, power ballads, 1980s TV theme song melodies, obscure psychedelic pop discoveries and the Brill Building songwriters who started looking inwardly for inspiration. Ben also credits contemporary kindred spirits such as Destroyer, Ariel Pink and John Maus, not as musical influences, but as role models for “letting the colours out”; growing into your inspirations and true loves, and realising your powers, without regard for outside opinions.

Montero’s own musical metamorphosis — from a self-doubting 20-something, whose gifts were perfectly manifest in the imperfect vehicles of his early bands (Treetops, Holiday Maker, The Brutals, The TM Band), into the strength and surety that entering your 30s brings, the ability to convey and express your inspirations with authority and conviction — is gloriously apparent in the synthesis of day glo melody, musical depth and imagination on this stunning album.

But lest you think this epicness emerged fully formed, it came after many years hidden away in bedrooms with an acoustic guitar and a Tascam, filling up garbage bags with tape after tape. Ever uncomfortable in repressive band circles and writing for other people and not truly for himself, Ben hid behind a fringe, a bass guitar and cynicism. These songs were written when Ben got through a difficult time by visiting a local church drop in centre, where they allowed him to play piano for people having recovery meetings. With no-one else around, Ben played with melodies and chords and began to write songs purely for himself, letting go of the idea that being in band was the only reason to make music.

With the newfound confidence to be a leader, not a follower, came a band with the smarts and sensitivity to realise Montero’s visions. The luxury of beautiful vocals to be heard on this album (and in Montero’s celebratory live performances) come from years of harmony singing between Montero and longtime collaborator Gerald Wells, who also plays synths. With Chapter Music founder and solo balladeer Guy Blackman on piano, Cameron Potts (Ninety Nine, Baseball) on the drumkit, local producer Robert “Bobby Brave” Bravington (Early Woman) on bass and Geoffrey O’Connor (Geoffrey O’Connor, Crayon Fields) on guitar, Montero is a powerful, sensual supergroup. So don’t be shy. Raise up your eyes and accept The Loving Gaze.

onrotation

Mess + Noise Feature Review:

Soft-rock shaman Ben Montero leads his eponymous band into audio daydreams and self-made myth on this ambitious debut, writes ANTHONY CAREW.

The inexplicable persistence of religion across the post-Enlightenment centuries is couched in the same Hollywood logic that promises us a Spider-Man reboot per decade: people love a genesis myth. Rock ’n’ roll, like any religion, boasts bountiful origin stories: vice-soaked tales in which the macho heroes of the stage earned their superpowers in garages, gutters, and dive bars.

Self-actualising meta-conceptualist that he is, Melburnian soft-rock shaman Ben Montero comes to the party prepared. In the ‘Artist’s Statement’ that accompanies the release of Montero’s first full-length, The Loving Gaze, he details a “complete mental/psychological meltdown” whilst in California, which lead to wandering (barefoot?) through Mexican deserts and along the El Camino del Norte, a pilgrim seeking penance for the unforgivable sin of having been in Treetops.

Upon returning to Melbourne, Montero was no longer just another mop-topped sunshine-pop fop in a local scene in which every second dude seems to be named Ben, but now the Nordic-sounding Bjenny, a Viking warrior (in “brand new foreign uniform”) in pursuit of some soft-rock Valhalla, ‘Clear Sailing’ his longship towards those endless horizons where 10cc and Christopher Cross once piloted their yachts. There’s probably some Dave Grohl-esque, tried-and-true rock ’n’ roll folktale that Montero’s bassist-to-frontman switch could be compared to, but this wasn’t a lateral move, stepping over one spot on stage. Instead it was a reawakening, a way of liberating the songwriter from the prism of the rock band, the artist dreaming of turning himself into a “human power chord.”

In rebellion to Melbourne’s pub-rockist orthodoxy, Montero may have been playing the iconoclast, but the trail he set out on came pre-blazed; this path seeming, these days, as well-trodden as that to Santiago de Compostela. As much as it’s the smooooth operators of AM radio yore that serve as Montero’s patron saints, he’s really legging it after new-millennial spirit-guides Bobby Conn and Ariel Pink: willingly confusing notions of good and bad taste, and using the currency of decay to stage a conversation on pop-cultural time travel. Putting his own name in the band name, and then recruiting a shit-hot backing band to aid his vision quest.

And, so, aeons after all the psychological-meltdown/spiritual-rebirth stuff, and three years after first rolling tape, The Loving Gaze finally arrives with Montero meaning both Man and Band; the leader of this eponymous project and the six men who commune under its name. The presence of Chapter Music bossman Guy Blackman, Crayon Fields frontman and passive-aggressive solo performer Geoffrey O’Connor, and Animal-esque drummer Cameron Potts (of Sandro, Ninetynine, Baseball, Cuba is Japan, etc.) has even found Montero dubbed a ‘supergroup’. But – as students of rock mythology will attest – the notion is misplaced: Montero isn’t a collectivist proposition of shared celebrity, but pure cult-of-personality; a leader and his followers.

“Sing your loudest harmony/Visualise the sky with me,” Montero wails on ‘Taste the Carbonation (Monkey Outta Me)’, commanding his ranks with the language of the Dear Leader, be it of well-drilled combo or New Age-y be-in. The fact that the tune was written to “test the abilities and muscle of the band” makes it all the more apt.

It’s fun to imagine Montero, a lyrical proponent of love and peace and magic and self-belief, as some behind-the-scenes Beefheart; the three-year genesis of The Loving Gaze not due to bouncing between studios and engineers (and beginning work as a musical based on the life of the late Wheel of Fortune starlet Adriana Xenides, from which ‘Adriana’ is on loan), but monomaniacally chasing elusive perfectionism.

He already scans close to Brian Wilson in this regard: ‘Clear Sailing’ catches waves and ‘Mumbai’ begins with “Life’s a beach,” only Montero himself is – like Wilson – scared of the water; summoning imagery of shore and ocean so as to tap into their totemic power. ‘Mumbai’ wasn’t written in India – more fertile foreign soil for artistic and/or self-reinvention by barefoot pilgrimage – but during his 40 days in the Calexico desert, the first song for his new project. He summons an imaginary fantasia (“They’ll be dancing already in Mumbai/with a pocket of confetti/and a whole lot of crazy new sounds”) where he’s free to scatter his creative seed.

These aren’t songs about Mumbai, but the Mumbai of the mind; not the sea, but the sea inside. Montero is an artist authoring audio daydreams, then bending reality to fit the self-made myth.
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ARTIST STATEMENT BY BEN MONTERO.

The title The Loving Gaze came to me in a taxi in Los Angeles. I decided that’s what my first album will be called, and didn’t stop to think of what it meant. I was travelling alone across America and into Mexico on an ancient yellow school bus. I’d always felt like I’d been running on two cylinders, when I should have been running on as many as I had.

The metamorphosis came, like it traditionally does, through complete mental/psychological disintegration.  A meltdown while touring California with a previous band (where Mumbai was composed, on the road) that broke up the idea of doing things the way they’d been done before.

The transformative powers of travelling; a need for peace, a prayer for clarity. Walking the El Camino Del Norte, six weeks through the mountains from France and across northern Spain. Free of other egos and just supercharging my own.

The Loving Gaze: The look of love, Strength, warmth of the sun,
Nothing can break the comfort of that zoned out stare,
The unfocused stare that brings perfect clarity.

It’s what I do when I draw and don’t have to think about anything, just let the true subconscious come to the fore.

The Loving Gaze is about freedom, beauty and confidence.

The Loving Gaze is the gaze of oneself at oneself … gazing inside yourself and feeling at one.

Montero
Montero pic by Leah Robertson

THE LOVING GAZE: LYRICS & LINER NOTES.

1. Adriana
The most recently written song, taken from the Xenides musical project still under construction. It’s about Baby John Burgess trying to express to Adriana that she should stay alive because people love her. It’s also about finding a romantic equal.

How could she be?
So beautiful and so complete to me
So ethereal and so unique to me
I could watch her comb her hair for hours
Doing her eyes, her prayer to higher powers
She melts me down

I could carry her into the wind
Using my faith
My arms, using my wings
She melts me down

I’ll take good care of you
I’ll take good care of you
You’ll never be alone at all
You’ll never be alone at all

2. BC
Romantic pop songs can be your life coach.  Healing and trusting music.  Don’t be afraid to use all your power and magic and don’t let the cynicism of others get into your bloodstream.

My subterfuge
Your cloudy rouge
Our landing in a well-worn trap
No fleur de luge
Here comes the huge
Feather blowing thunderclap
A dull mirage from your corsage
I’m eager to leave the room
That’s one way of honouring the moon

3 is for leaving
4 for believing
And one is forgiving
And one is for living without
One for holding
One for sharing that is why
We give it everything we’ve got
We give it everything we’ve got

No small refuse no vinyl clues
No terror in a warm collapse
The fading hews the morning blues
The leather and nether strap
Dramatic sigh we both know why
I’m eager to leave the room
That’s one way of honouring the moon

3 is for leaving 4 for believing
And one is forgiving
And one is for living without
One for holding and
One for sharing that is why
We give it everything we got
We give it everything we got
We’ve got
We’ve got

3. Dead Heads Come To Dinner
Don’t buy into myths about creativity and self destruction. But at the same time it’s going to happen so just hold on tight and it’ll be alright.  This genre is Ice Pop.

I was looking for a little bit more
I was thinking about a boy next door
and how we never made it back together
Carving you into my totem pole
Waking up in your breakfast bowl
I was only 21 and counting

But no one’s a winner
When the deadheads come to dinner
The appeal was always way too strong for me

I was in a melting mode
Had an urge to feel the heart explode
I was on a higher plane of purging
Shaking my fingers down
It was all I could to touch the ground
I could feel the magic power surging

But no one’s a winner
When the deadheads come to dinner
The appeal was always way too strong for me

Pulling up a chair
I notice you’re not there
I become aware
I become aware

Lady boy is back I heard he’s running like a marathon
Get your dead head into your deadheads

4. Mumbai
Wanting to be in a beautiful place where everyone is loving and always celebrating. I don’t like the beach that much and I don’t enjoy the pressure of having to go swimming, so it’s about a place where you can do whatever you want. Also that the ocean isn’t that scary, as there’s an ocean inside of you.

Life’s a beach
I never leave
Don’t like swimming
Lungs won’t breathe
Breathe deeper than the ocean

Life is cruel
You’ve gotta commit
You’ve gotta stay focused
You’ve gotta think quick
Keep fit
When you are at the ocean

But in Mumbai
They’ll be dancing already in Mumbai
with a pocket of confetti and whole lotta crazy new sounds
coming over the airwaves

Life’s a pit
Keep circling it
You’ve gotta stay heavy
You’ve gotta think quick
Keep fit
When you are at the ocean

But in Mumbai
They’ll be dancing already in Mumbai
With a pocket of confetti
And a whole lot of crazy new sounds
Coming over the airwaves

Calm Blue Ocean

5. Opening Night
Evoking the anticipation and the feeling of a new romance musically, but really about struggling and staying true to your vision and that whatever you want will come sooner or later.

I’m without a clue
I’m anxious to meet you
So I arrive with orchids
I’m all for moving forward
I’ll be your honored guest
At home in your tiny chest
Captured in the weaving
Arrive in your believing

That’s why we ride
Back and forth
Until we get it right
Names are taken eyes are big and bright
Doesn’t have to be tonight

Comb away a lock
Turned death grey from the shock
A love like Hiroshima, legs like ballerina
Banish all control
Let’s vanish down the hole
I arrive with organs, violas, and contortions

That’s why we ride
Back and forth until we get it right
Names are taken eyes are big and bright
Doesn’t have to be tonight

No it don’t gotta be tonight
No it don’t gotta be tonight
No it don’t gotta be tonight
No it don’t gotta be tonight
It doesn’t have to be tonight

6. Momia Juanita
A healing semi-instrumental with Days of our Lives style piano chord changes and gentle prayer harmonies. The name Juanita came from an admired Melbourne musician named Janita. Written at a church drop in centre.

Hey Hey
Juanita Juanita Juanita
I need a little
Hey Hey

7. Clear Sailing / Alpha World City
The first song recorded for Montero, and almost the signature song for this album. Based on the 70s idea of sailing as freedom that was used by many bands at the time. The rhythm is a sailing- on-the-ocean rhythm. Realising new ways to live and work and create, by staying away from the negative energies of unsatisfied people.  “Guantanamera, things are getting better now we’re travelling.”

Now that we’re clear travelling
That’ll be all that’ll be me unravelling
my brand new human power chord
and all I have to do is keep awake

Now that it’s clear sailing
that’ll be you looking for me
Unveiling my brand new foreign uniform
and all I had to do was keep awake
and away from the action

I’m catching the action here at home
I’m building a curtain of my own
I’m finding for certain here at home

Whether it’s here or in hiding
Some disappear some never need inviting
and many have an urgent friend to call
but all I have to do is catch a wave
and await the reaction

I’m catching the action here at home
I’m counting contractions on my own
I’m building the tension here at home

Guantanamera things are getting better
Now we’re travelling
catching all the action at home

8. Passions
A slightly darker undercurrent, a lustful detour to more neurotic aspects.  Obsession and schadenfreude.

Nobody does it to you quite like baby does
Joined at the hip she puts on her lipstick and you shave off all your fuzz
Destined to repeat our history
That’s how we’re been keeping the mystery

It’s no wonder that he left you it’s no wonder at all
Random cruelty ambiguity no way to win a war
Destined to repeat our history
That’s how we’ve been keeping the mystery

She would get all the luck
It would happen every time
I’d go out for a duck come back with no closure
no peace of mind
till I pull the shade
and you pull the blind

It’s too late for baby
It’s too early for work

Peculiar passions

9. Taste the Carbonation
Soft rock surrealism.  A four part journey through the surface aesthetics of soft rock/soft metal and funk. A recently written song just to test the abilities and muscle of the band and the voice.

Picture two diamond heads colliding
Imagine me bursting out of the flames
I’ll be the cavalry arriving
To break the chains
Driving through the ice and rain to arrive
Wrapped in yak and naugahyde

Let a wave wash over me
Sing your loudest harmony
Visualise the sky in me

I could try to be good
You could knock on my wood
but you’ll never make a fool out of me
You’ll never make a monkey outta me

Picture a powder keg exploding
Imagine me bursting out of the flames
I will survive the night eroding into charred remains
Exploding into burning flames
Well I ride
Wrapped in yak and Naugahyde

And I’ll be crying like a newborn baby
Rhyming like a Chinese lady
Thinking like an only child
And every night another high class lady
Rubs you on the back and says baby
Can we have a Roman child?

I could try to be good you could knock on my wood
But you’ll never make a fool out of me
You’ll never make a monkey outta me

Tough guy from Stuttgart
From this altitude
I get a lot of strange vibrations
but you don’t know the combination
you can really taste the carbonation
really taste the carbon

Chorus

Guess who’s going home alone
Guess who’s going home to get the doctor

10. Glam Campbell
A  wave to the non believers and those who are jealous.  A fiesta is thrown when you are proven right.

Just another kid in a candy shop more like a jewelry store
Working every day of the week until you can’t get your bearings on your
Bearings no more

Well I’m not trying to put down the rest of the gang
But they’d have a hard time taking the yin with the yang

Well they huff and they puff and they blow
But they can’t get inside of my door
Don’t you know I was built to survive?
I’m the only queen bee in the hive

Hear them moan
Just another fish in the tank going blank
Another astronaut
Staring straight out into space
Forgetting everything I was taught

Well I’m not trying to put down the rest of the gang
But they’d have a hard time taking the yin with yang

Well they huff and they puff and they blow
But they can’t get inside of my door
Don’t you know I was built to survive?
I’m the only queen bee in the hive

Hear them moan
Hear them cry
Hear them groan
Hear them sigh
Hit ‘em high
Hit ‘em low
Hit em out of the ballpark
and into the cold

It was the start of summer for you and I

All songs written by Ben Montero.

Xenides video by Christian J Petersen

Rainman: video by Ben Montero

BC: Filmed live by Noisey at St Michael’s Uniting Church for Mistletone’s 5th birthday celebrations
Melbourne Music Week, 2011.

PRAISE FOR RAINMAN / MUMBAI:

  • “It’s little wonder this is one of the year’s best debuts” - INPRESS
  • “Montero have set a new Australian benchmark for slow, anthemic ballads that simply float across the grooves of the 7” that they’re pressed onTHE THOUSANDS
  • “Montero is a smooth sailing slow-wave group from Melbourne who like to rock, softly. Described as lounging somewhere between Ariel Pink and 10CC, Montero walks a soft-rock/romantic-prog path that few dare follow. With high-pitched male harmonies and new-age synths, they construct vibrational treatises for the cosmic and sensitive 21st century man” – VICE (watch the Noisey documentary)
  • “Back in the heady 2000s there existed a psych-pop band in Melbourne called Treetops… Treetops are long gone but main songwriter/peace-slinger Benny Montero still writes a mean tune (if lovely, soft and nature-laden is your idea of mean” – THE BRAG
  • “So… ten years ago I was playing a show. The support band was a bunch of cute kids. They blew my mind. Some of kind perfect, sweet, Byrdsian jangled out of its mind, rush of joy. And love. You know what? That’s it! They felt like they had so much love in them and when they played you felt it. They were called Treetops. They almost made it big. But didn’t. Ben Montero was a member. He’s kept popping up as the years go by. Everything he does is amazing. But his new project, MONTERO, goes beyond amazing to some super spiritual world of completed unbridled musical heaven. A place where melody is king. And pop is king. And feeling good is king. And being cynical is not gonna fly. This man is unsung. Please give him a moment of your time, I swear it will turn into many hours of happiness.” – BEN MICHAEL, RHYTHMS MAGAZINE