Rain City Ambience

Seattle-based Northwest music source established in 2005
  • Moneta

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    Welcome back, you guys! Let’s be honest, how long have you really been back together?
    Mike: Are we going to be honest? Should we tell the truth?
    Ben: I know the answer!
    Jerry: What is the answer?
    Mike: Can I say?
    Jerry: Yeah you can say.
    Mike: When we were practicing for the last show, the last Moneta show ever…Let me preface this by saying we understand how confusing this whole thing can be. It really was not our intention. When we were practicing for it, it was the Heroes lineup back in the same room and it felt so good and magical. I know that sounds cheesy.
    Magical?
    Mike: No, it felt the way that music is supposed to feel in your heart. It felt so perfect and good. We played the final show and a couple months after that, we broached the topic with each other. I guess, like, “do you guys want to start jamming again maybe? Just to see if there’s anything there?”
    Leo: The thing that people don’t realize is that we technically broke up in January 2011, but we didn’t play our farewell show until April. We went three whole months without even looking at each other or talking before we, like Mike said, got the Heroes lineup back in that jam room. We wanted to have everyone that had been in the history of the band play that night. The whole thing is that we never really wanted the band to end. It was just, at the time, there was a culmination of stuff going on in everyone’s personal lives that took center stage and we all had really heavy things we had to deal with. We never really wanted it to end, but it was kind of out of our hands. After that farewell show, Mike posts this thing on Facebook that says, “This is the band I was born to be in.” And I’m like, “Ah shit.” Because I obviously felt the same way, but yeah, we kind of brought up the topic and thought about it lightly. It wasn’t until a couple months later that we got together, started talking, and trying to get all of our views and agendas on the same page before we ever even played a note of music with each other. We wanted to make sure we were all going in the same direction and had the same goals. That was one of the problems with some of the previous lineups. Everyone was on a different page.

    Now Ben, how did you come to be in the band?
    Ben: Mike came to me when they were broaching the subject, as he was talking about. I know Mike was basically really interested in making music again and he wanted to get people together to jam and make music. He had put up a couple of his own songs online and he asked me if I wanted to play with them, which I said, “Of course, I’d love to do bass on whatever you want to do.” We tentatively set that up and then he calls me up a little while after that and says, “So I’ve been talking to the others guys, y’know Jerry and Leo, and we think we might want to start playing music again. Would you still want to be part of that?” I’m just like, “Uh, yeah!” That was way before they had even said that it was Moneta. It was kind of just like everyone was going to jam again and he asked me my opinion on that, he was like, “What would you think if we re-formed Moneta and you were part of it?” I said, “That would be amazing to be part of.” I was definitely excited for that. That’s how I came to be. I showed up to practice the first time and Jerry goes, “Welcome to Moneta.” And that’s that.
    Leo: It didn’t hurt that he had learned every song we had for his audition, either.

    You guys recorded a full-length, filmed a music video, did a full band photoshoot, all in complete secrecy. Has it been killing you guys to not tell anyone?
    Everyone: Yes!
    Ben: It was really hard, especially for me since I hadn’t been doing anything.
    Mike: You couldn’t even tell people you were in the band!
    Ben: It was really heard for me because I hadn’t been in Moneta before so people would be like, “So what are you up to these days?” And I had to pretty much go, “Really exciting stuff coming up soon. Pay attention, remember this conversation six months from now because we’re going to have a great laugh about this.”
    Jerry: We had to coordinate our tweets.
    You couldn’t post pictures.
    Jerry: No, “Hey on my way to practice!” Or any of that shit. We couldn’t post anything. I actually think it was for the best.
    Mike: It was fun. The pay off was really cool.
    Leo: It was really worth it.
    Mike: We all got together in the same house on the night we dropped it and we were just all so pumped. We’re getting texts and calls and stuff like that.
    Mike: It was funny. A couple of our mutual friends were like, “Dude you son-of-a-bitch!” kind of texts.
    Ben: “How the hell could you not tell me?!”
    Leo: I came up with the date of December 30th strategically because I knew that high school and college kids were off from school for winter break, so it’s like, all these people had been staring at their families for four days around Christmas and were sick of looking at them. Y’know, tired of being in the house and going crazy, so what a better time to capture such a wide group of people that are our audience.
    Ben: That was one of the first things we kind of talked about at the first or second practice when we got back together, “Why don’t we wait to tell people when we have everything done, if we can last that long?” Because it’s like, ‘OK Moneta’s back! Pay attention in six months when we have music.’ Instead it was, ‘OK we have everything ready for you right now.’
    Mike: Yeah that had been an idea between Leo and I, of basically trying to get all the merch, all the videos, all the–basically, we had never done a full-length together as a band and I think everyone that has been a part of it has really regretted that. I feel like we’ve always wanted to do a full-length but have gotten so excited about the songs we’re doing that we end up doing EPs. To be able to do that and then we were like, “Why don’t we take it a step further and do something else we’ve never done like see if we can keep it a secret for a long time and drop everything at the same time.”
    Leo: It was crazy that we pulled it off. There were so many things to get done. Not one but two videos, recording the album, the photoshoot, booking the CD release show, there’s all this stuff. All in a span of like 4 months. 4 months seems like a long time but to do all of those things, it’s actually amazing we pulled it off. I’m pretty proud of the fact that we did it.
    And that more people didn’t find out.
    Ben: There were a couple that had an inkling, like, “Oh, this totally makes sense now! You’ve been talking to all of the guys in Moneta, why didn’t I see this coming?”
    Chris H: I got texts from people saying, “I knew you guys weren’t done!”
    [laughs]
    Chris H: I was like, “What do you mean?” “I can tell.”

    In a grander sense, what is next for Moneta?
    Mike: We want to try and concentrate on really bringing the scene back together. Jerry directed me to this Pearl Jam documentary about how together the Seattle music scene was back when it was Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden and all of those people, just how everyone just helped each other out. I remember when I first started going to shows, when I was 16, when people would stay for every band and they didn’t feel like there was a big competition between all of the bands. I think that’s what we’re trying–to do what we can to make it feel like a family again. A scene of musicians that really like each other, care and want to do nothing but make each other better.
    Leo: In the current state of the music industry, and I know I’ve said this before, it’s an exciting time because all of the business models that have been tried and proven aren’t really working anymore. This was the first year, 2011, that digital sales surpassed physical sales so it’s like, all bets are off. Who knows what we can do, with the power of the internet. We just want to get this record out so people can hear it. A lot of people have said really nice things about us recently and they’ve only heard one or two songs. We’re really excited for everyone to get all of the songs and hear the thing overall.
    Mike: To add to that, myself personally as a songwriter, I like to write songs that I would like to listen to. That being said, I am so pumped about this record because I love every single song on it. I’m not saying, “Oh it’s amazing; it’s so good, you’re going to love it!” I love it and I just want to share that with as many people as we possibly can.
    Ben: I know that if I wasn’t in this band I would totally buy this record and listen to it all the time. No but, one thing I want to say is like Mike was saying, I think everybody in the band–including Chris B because he’s not here– we’ve all been in other bands in the scene and we’ve been in bands when it felt like it was more of a community, like Mike was talking about, and we’ve experienced how awesome it is when everyone supports each other and isn’t competing. We definitely want to be part of that kind of music scene.

    What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed between the band before and band now?
    Jerry: It’s a lot easier to communicate now that we don’t have a lot of personal shit in the way.
    Mike: We’re a lot more honest with each other. It’s weird because I think we’re more patient with each other but we’re also more willing to talk to each other about what’s bothering us.
    Jerry: It’s a lot easier to write now for all of those reasons. We gel off each other much easier than we ever used to.
    Ben: I’ve definitely noticed as a newbie to the band that it’s awesome that there is a lot of communication and stuff doesn’t build up. In bands it can be easy at times for somebody to be frustrated about something and not feel like they can talk about it, so they keep it to themselves and it builds up, causing big riffs down the line. It’s been pretty awesome that everyone can communicate what they want and everybody gets on the same page.
    Leo: It’s been really nice for me, being the “older guy” in the band because before, when I’d get frustrated about something, they’d just say I was being salty. It was hard at times because I’ve kind of been there, done that. Now that we’ve all kind of been there, done that, I can sit back and be like, “See, I told you so!”
    [laughs]

    Are you guys going to be touring?
    Ben: We would love to tour, if it made sense to us to do and if it was beneficial.
    Jerry: I think we’ll probably do some regional stuff, some short things down the coast.
    Mini tours like before?
    Jerry: Yeah. For something national, something bigger, it’s going to have to make sense monetarily and keep people employed.
    Mike: We have jobs and lives. Don’t mistake me, we want to get this music out to as many people as we possibly can. In this day and age of technology, we realize that you don’t necessarily have to sleep on people’s couches for 60 days in a row to get your music out there.
    Jerry: We can reach just as many people with a smartly engineered Twitter campaign. We don’t tour regularly, but we have fans all over the world because of social media. Touring, if we’re going to do it we’re going to do it right.
    Ben: And we want to make sure we’re not screwing ourselves over in the future to be able to do it. We want to continue doing what we love and not have to quit our jobs and end up being broke.
    Leo: There’s a quote I heard recently that I really liked. It was somebody who has been in the music industry for a long time told me that all the major record labels are well aware of what is going on in every major metropolitan market, where the buzz is, and what bands are causing a buzz. It’s like, you don’t need to get out there and kill yourself and each other for $50 a night in a van and trailer to get their attention. Even in the 90s, bands like Soundgarden and Nirvana didn’t tour outside of regionally until they had record label dollars supporting them.
    Mike: I’d say our plan is to work our friggin’ butts off and we’re going to go where it makes sense for us to go. We’re going to try and move as many people with our music as we possibly can where ever we go.

    Katie Adams

    About

    Katie is a writer and photographer for Rain City Ambience.

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