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20 Questions With MONTE

The N.Y.C. punk upstart talks hot sauce, wrestling rockers, dirty vampires & more.

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Some bands make music from the heart. Others craft songs directly from the soul. New York pop-punk power-trio MONTE launch their crunchy little nuggets “straight from the groin,” according to their bio. Well, that fits with the cheeky title of their latest single T.D.T.T.M., which stands for Too Depressed To Touch Myself. To which I can only reply: WTF, OMG, LOL, and of course, TMI, dude. Way TMI. To explain the rest of what the Brooklyn LGBTQ+ outfit have to say for themselves on their cracking new EP This Is MONTE, namesake singer-songwriter, guitarist and founder Caitlin Montclare took a deep dive into my dumb questions. If that doesn’t bum her out all over again, nothing will. Still, I hope she keeps it to herself, y’know? TTYL.

 


 

Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base and any other details you’d care to share — height / weight / identifying marks / astrology sign / your choice.
I’m Caitlin Montclare aka Monte aka Cait the Great! Guitarist and singer and songwriter for the New York power trio MONTE. Born and Raised in a suburb outside of New York City Aries: Sun, Leo: Moon, Scorpio: Rising

What is your musical origin story?
I grew up surrounded by music. My dad played bass in a rock band called the Savage Generation in 1967 who were pretty popular in the tri-state area and were signed to Paramount Records. He bought me my first guitar and drum kit when I was seven. My mom played piano and had an unbelievably eclectic music taste and would later teach me how to sing harmonies. She had everything from records by The Grateful Dead, and Mothers Of Invention to Broadway musicals like the Rodgers and Hammerstein classics. I would sit on her bed and watch Pop-Up Video on VH1. And come home from school and watch TRL on MTV or play Tony Hawk Proskater on Nintendo. That soundtrack was instrumental to my songwriting foundation. It was an amazing time to absorb great music. I gravitated towards the guitar and started getting into heavier music like Tool and Nirvana, which led to heavy metal. I would sit and teach myself Iron Maiden solos and Judas Priest riffs. About the same time I started to play music with likeminded people. There was this teen club in the town I group up that would host punk and metal shows. I met a lot of people that I ended up befriending and playing with which broadened my musical tastes even further. There was definitely a reggae / ska-punk phase in there.

What’s your latest project?
MONTE is the latest project. I left a band that I had been playing lead guitar and backup vocals for and decided to start my own thing with new music that I had written or didn’t get the chance to flesh out. I didn’t have a solid band put together when I released the first EP Bad Sick Love which in hindsight was probably a mistake, but desperately wanted to start playing live again and needed some material. I worked with some friends that I went to college with at The New School. One of them was a bassist named Amanda Ruzza who played bass with me for the first year of the band in 2018. She introduced me to our drummer Ismael Baiz, who is the other leg to this tripod of a band. I met our current bassist Meghan Rose through a friend and admired her stage presence and musicality. It’s pretty amazing that we all fit so well together.

What truly sets you apart from other artists?
Our music is very much us and no one else! We each have a very distinct sound that we bring to the table. I love hard rock and metal riffs, with hardcore and punk rock energy, high-gain guitar tones with beefy bass. Ismael was in some pretty awesome punk bands in Venezuela before coming over to the U.S. to play Latin jazz fusion and drum tech for some of the biggest names in music, and he brings a certain flavor to our rhythm section that really makes us have what he calls “The MONTE Pocket.” Meghan has a classical piano background and writes musical theater pieces, but draws inspiration from Kim Gordon and Kim Deal. So it’s musical and grungy. Our melodies are tough but danceable and our lyrics are catchy, but we also talk about things that most people are ashamed or scared to talk about like sexuality and mental health. And in doing that our music creates a space of solidarity and community for people who can relate, and also people who want to listen to some awesome guitar powered rock music.

How will my life improve by listening to your music?
You’ll finally have a hard rock and punk band that sounds different from the others. A band that is refreshingly honest and unabashedly true to themselves.

What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen?
I was in a different band at the time and we were opening for a band called Eat The Turnbuckle at a Murphy’s Law show. We didn’t know that they were a WWE Wrestling band. They started playing some hardcore and all of a sudden began beating the hell out of each other and slamming themselves through tables. At the end of their set, they were covered in so much blood, I couldn’t see their eyes. It was pretty brutal, I’m glad we played before them. Super nice guys though — 10 out of 10.

What living or dead artists would you like to collaborate with?
Would love to collaborate with The Lunachicks and NOFX. I always admired Fat Mike’s Lyrics and NOFX’s song structure. Their melodies and rhythmic syncopation, the anticipated beats, breaks and stops really inspire us. And The Lunachicks’ melodies are great. They are silly and out there and we are definitely inspired by their whimsy and bad-assery.

What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
Definitely ’90s techno and pop. Some La Bouche, Culture Beat. That’s definitely a good-night-out vibe. I can also get down to some country, which nobody really expects. I love Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash.

What words do you hope people use when they describe you?
Crazy, Sexy, Cool… Just kidding. I just want to be someone that people think, “Aw yeah, She’s super cool and down to earth. How interesting for how crazy she is on stage.” I’ve also heard “You look so tall on stage” which I really love since I’m only 5’2”.

What useful (or useless) skills do you have outside of music?
I’m a chef. I work in a restaurant a few days a week, I do private catering and I have a hot sauce company, Bad Girl Hot Sauce! I snowboard and skateboard and love sports and the outdoors. I also love to draw and paint. I edit and direct all of our music videos. And design most of our merch, posters, and album art except for this newly released EP, the artwork was done by the amazing Daniella Batsheva.

Who can you do an impression of?
I think my Cher is pretty good. My Britney Spears is also a crowd favorite. I think I can do a decent John Travolta, but sometimes I end up sounding like I’m hacking up a hairball.

Tell us a joke.
Can it be dirty? I’ll give you two options:
Clean
What did Jay-Z call his wife before getting married? Feyonce.
Why did the musician become a pirate? So they could hit the high Cs.

Dirty
A vampire walks into a bar. He orders a shot of blood. The next day he walks into the bar and orders another shot of blood. On the third day, he walks into the bar, sits next to a lady and orders a cup of hot water. Bartender asks “What’s with the hot water?” Vampire reaches down to the woman next to him, pulls out her tampon, and says, “I’m making tea.”

What do you collect?
I collect so many things. I have quite a few guitars, but since I am endorsed by Sully Guitars, I really only play those. I do have a geode and fossil/skull collection. Everything was either gifted or found in different parts of the country. I have a record collection and I guess a band T-shirt collection. I have entirely too many T-shirts — it might be less of a collection and more of a borderline hoarding issue.

If money was no object, where would you live?
Probably an epic space in New York with a backyard, or beachside somewhere in California.

What would you like to be reincarnated as?
That’s tough. Maybe a dolphin? They’re another intelligent species, and I love the ocean.

What are your pet peeves?
I have a few. I don’t like being sticky. Like from food or a bartop. But I love wings and sticky food, so that can be kind of annoying. I don’t like when almost every sound guy thinks that just because my bassist and I are women (who do live sound by the way) don’t know what we’re doing and try to “mansplain” our gear to us.

What’s your greatest regret?
I regret not having the confidence in my voice to have started my own project sooner and with people that I get along with and work well with. But I suppose that takes time to figure out. And it takes time to figure out your sound and how to lead a project.

Who should play you in the movie of your life?
Probably Millie Bobby Brown. I feel like she has that moodiness that I definitely give off sometimes. I feel like she would be a great rocker chick.

What’s always in your refrigerator?
Hot Sauce. All kinds of varieties. Usually a salsa roja, sriracha and a mango habanero.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I wish that sometimes I could be more extroverted. Our music is very energetic and the lyrics are bold and in your face and our stage performance is wild and exciting, but when I’m off the stage I feel like I just want to hang at home with my dog Stewart and chill. so sometimes I wish I was more of a socialite. That’s going to be 2023’s New Year’s resolution.

What was your favourite class in school and why?
Probably art and english. I liked writing a lot. I wrote and read a lot of poetry between high school and college which I guess led to songwriting. Most of my time in class was spent doodling, which I guess also paid off too.

Watch some of Monte’s video above, check out their EP This Is Monte below, and keep up with them at their website, Instagram and Facebook.