5 min
2 Feb
2018

Montero

It was only recently I discovered the music and art of Benny Montero. While attending a Mac Demarco show in Amsterdam I walked over to the merch section looking for some goodies, only to find my new favorite shirt. A Montero shirt, the band was opening up for Mac. I always come in too late for concerts (it stresses me out to be on time), so I, unfortunately, did not experience the full show. I bought the shirt with Montero’s drawing on it and also bought a small print of one of his works. At home, me and my girlfriend started googling the shit out of Montero’s drawings and started listening to his music, quite rapidly falling in love with it. He seems to handle the exact themes or situations that keep me busy. Like eating pizza in bed. The infective power of nostalgia would be my best way of describing it, but it is definitely more than that. The second album just came out and it’s a lovely piece filled with colorful dreamy landscapes, exciting melodies and awesome arrangements. Plus, there will be a show this coming weekend in Amsterdam, only the more reason for having some words with the enviable creative mind that is Ben – or B. or Benny or even Bjenny – Montero.

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I never really know where to start the questioning, so I tend to go back to the beginning. Could you describe – as brief as you wish – how music was involved in your childhood, maybe you can name a song that reminds you of that time?

I can’t imagine there’s many people who had a childhood without music. It’s everywhere when you’re a kid! The first song I remember really connecting with was from kindergarten when they taught us that song You Are My Sunshine. Such a trippy song! That’s my measure for psychedelic music still. I remember the little sculpture I was making at the time too. A bunch of shapes glues together with glitter on top. Basically the same thing I’m still doing.

You do the artwork for your band and do a lot of drawing beside that aswell. Some people might know your art even better than your music. A lot of your drawings are comics, are you a comic buff? Or did it just happen to be the best format of expression?

No, I’m not a comic buff at all. I don’t really read any except for maybe some Robert Crumb and The Far Side panels. I prefer old children’s books.  I don’t even read them I just like to sit and remember them. The feeling they gave me. Now it’s just fallen into place accidentally as a form of expression that works well and gives me a limited poetic framework to work in. The comics I do are just for my own personal therapy and enjoyment so I guess yeah just own personal expression.

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Speaking for myself, I really like your art because I can often relate to the themes. For example, the eating in bed, staying in bed all day, sleeping all weekend and the sort of nostalgia to our early years’ cozy home-set atmospheres, to name a few. They make you laugh about things that can otherwise make you sad. That being said, do you consider these drawings to be therapeutical?

Oh yeah very much so. That’s the only reason I’ve been doing them. For myself. I can get nostalgic to a level of sickness and these do help a lot. As for the in bed and eating in bed that’s often how I’ve been in the past few years and people say that’s a sign of depression but I’m not a doctor so I don’t know. I just like images that make me happy and put the sadness into something visual and friendly and tangible that I can understand and then share.

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Back to your music. Could you mention some musicians that inspired you in making your music?

I’m a lifelong Beach Boys obsessive. Their albums Friends, Smiley Smile, Holland, 20/20, Sunflower. Anything melodic and colorful and round and big. I also love The Association, The Carpenters, John Maus, Ariel Pink, Harpers Bizarre, Fleetwood Mac, The Bee Gees (particularly early 70′s), Richard Harris, The Tokens album Intercourse, the Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons album Genuine Imitation Life Gazette, The Avalanches, The Byrds, Jimmy Webb, Harry Nillson, Flaming Lips, Brian Eno, Bowie.

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When people describe someone’s music they often tend to pick two bands, for example…”Wow, Montero really sounds like a crossover between solo Lennon and post Roxy Eno, with a touch of Steely Dan”. I think these are just people trying to be cool so I would like to ask you: how would you describe your music?

Haha! It’s so hard to try and not be cool. The eternal struggle! It’s so hard giving up trying to be cool but we all do it and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’d describe my music as the romantic sensitive side of rock played with a tender masculine touch.

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Imagine you’d want to play frisbee on a nice summer’s day, only to find out you don’t own a frisbee. What record would you suggest using as a frisbee instead? And Why?

I’d be too lazy to play frisbee. Unless someone was dragging me up.  I guess any record that wasn’t one of my ultimate favorites. But then again, it could be fun to play frisbee with your most prized expensive piece of vinyl! Add some drama to the game! I wouldn’t want to put down any record.

A spaceship is descending above your house, a friendly stranger gets out and approaches you to ask whether he may take one record (could be any record) from your collection back into space, to play it for an extraterrestrial population. What record would you hand the stranger?

Blossom Dearie – Blossom Dearie Sings (1973) or The Creator Has a Master Plan – Pharoah Sanders or Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons - Genuinne Imitation Life or Richard Harris – A Tramp Shining or The Beach Boys – Friends or John Maus – We Must Become The Pitiless Sensors of Ourselves or Funkadelic – One Narion Under A Groove

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