Tel-Aviv native and Austin transplant Doron DB Tamir talked with us about his new project, MONTAZ. The punk power duo released its self-titled debut EP today, and will perform at Hotel Vegas tonight in support of Annabelle Chairlegs.
Where and when was this project recorded, and how did that atmosphere feed into the end product?
We’ve recorded this EP a few months before covid hit. We did it in our old small rehearsal studio that was on the east side, might have been 350 sq/ft, a little stand alone unit that was clearly not built with a lot of thought put into it originally. We’ve been minimally upgrading it through the years in the aspect of space management and gear storage, not a lot was put into sound treatment. We’ve used an old eight track recording machine I purchased almost 20 years ago in Tel-Aviv when I was 14.
I do believe that the fact that it was just the two of us in the room without even an “engineer”, since I’ve been in charge of technically running it and recording it, we were able to just get in the zone. We really wanted to avoid all the regular knick knacks of “proper” recording sessions--working a full day on getting mic placements and “ideal” sounds and having it sound like nothing that is us. We play loud music with a dirty demeanor and sound, I think that if the EP was more polished or closer to a “correct” sound we would totally hit everything besides the nail on the head.
W’ve used a minimal amount of mics and tried to make it sound good and very representational of what the band really sound likes, like two people having fun banging on their instruments doing things their way with complete disregard to anything else.
Are there any overarching themes to this collection?
There is an underlying theme to all the songs on this mini record. I would like to look at it as a little trip between the macro and the micro, between basic survival and expectation of humanity to be better, to coming back to the conclusion that we should’ve known better and not expect anything good from society or even our closest friends sometimes…and all that with a certain tongue-in-cheek approach.
Clearly we don’t want people to get hurt nor the human race to be erased from Earth but we are still happy to see our invented monkey god arrive with the M.O. of doing that. And then we take it to the closer song that is a tune that brings all living forms together in the basic abstract emotions, that every thing alive can feel, fear, fatigue, happiness and, in the end of it all, rests alone.
What inspired you to write these songs?
A few of the song ideas sparked from reading articles about genocides that still go on nowadays, even by mistake like explorers finding “lost tribes” in the amazon and infecting them with “modern” diseases, without even trying to bring them to their demise of course. Combined with things going on in my life, being let down multiple times by the same people and allowing it to happen again and again. I believe there is an aspect of therapy in songwriting.
What track or specific aspect to this collection are you most proud of?
I think that “Bad News” might have ended up sounding the most “complete”, and I’m really happy with “Llems”, we really did not know where that song was going and it sure took its own way. I’m also always happy being able to not have computers at all in any part of the recording/mixing.
What stood out to me about this collection is how the songs drive relentlessly, thanks to the mixes featuring primarily bass and drums without guitar. Was this an intentional decision when forming the band, or is it based on necessity?
Why thank you! That was a very intentional decision. The concept of the band in a nutshell is Maximum Rock N' Roll without electric guitars. I mean, what’s more RnR than an electric guitar? Our answer is--Montaz!
I consider us as an Art-Rock/Noise-Rock band if I have to put it into a record nerd's genre, and as such I think it’s important to question even the paradigm of a rock band so we’ve pulled out the first “go-to” instrument. I find it very entertaining.
Tell me about the instrument you use for those haunting organ tones on “Bad News” and the EP closer, “Llems”. Where did you get it, and how did you approach using it for this project?
The organ we used on “Bad News” was an old Phillips “Phillycorda” that my old friend Christian had laying around in our studio. Riding my bike listening to the bare tracks (drums bass and vocals), I did feel like something additional needs to happen there in some point. I plugged that organ through an old Ampex tube preamp I picked up on a tour I was on and just started playing what I felt was right.
On “Llems” the keyboard sounds are actually a Japanese made melodica I found for $5 at Treasure City which was a thrift store by our former studio. In both those songs I’ve tried to release myself from any “correct” constructs of playing an instrument or approach to music as a whole. We used them as we think they should be used for those specific songs, lots of the notes are out of key and in contrast to the key of the song itself! Sometimes dancing back and forth on those realms sounds best!
The album artwork is simply…awesome. Who created it, and what was the direction, if any?
Thank you again! I made the artwork and came up with it! I was trying to capture the band’s approach in that, it’s somewhat of a demon/cat showing his ass and spreading his cheeks the widest possible with the biggest smile smeared on his face. We play loud and heavy music, but a very important thing for us is that it always has a smile to it. It’s not evil but mischievous.
Are there any collaborators on this project that you’d like to mention?
On “Monkey God” we had the pleasure of having Carla Saul (DJ Winona Grinder) play saxophone with us! I think it really adds to the tune. The tracking was hilarious, as we didn’t really run through the song, she just had me play it to her and while she was playing I gave her cues of “loud part coming” and “go full out” and “it’s monkey dancing time” with my body language. You can hear her laugh at the end of the track. There was no way that we could edit that out, as that is the best sign off to that song I can think of and of course it was not planned.
You have been in several local mainstays over the years (Hollow Trees, The Rotten Mangos, Christian Bland and the Revelators)…what do you look forward to most about playing these songs live?
I’ve been playing music since my young teens, in multiple bands that were very active in Tel Aviv (Achzavoth, HaMeyutarim, The Disposables, Melakhekhey HaPinka). That was always a main driving force in my life, then I moved to the USA and started a band in NY called The Bushwick Hotel.
After getting frustrated and heartbroken in the end of every band, I started getting offers to be a guitar tech and stage manager on the road with The Black Angels and Kurt Vile and the Violators. I put my playing to the back burner since it also stopped giving me the emotional climax I used to get.
Thanks to the Rotten Mangos and Hollow Trees, I got reminded how important playing is for me. Christian Bland and the Revelators added me to their group around that time and that was really fun. All those bands reminded me a lot of my passion for music and I am always very grateful for that!
The debut self-titled EP by MONTAZ is out October 15. Photo by Lindsey Mackin.