Chad Alan Interview

26 October, 2009

I sent over a few probing questions to Chad Alan or Chad Monticue as you may know him now. Chad is former Pensive vocalist and Juliana Theory & Vesta Bassist. This was our genuinely interesting exchange.

  • Did you have a musical childhood? How did you get into playing music? What was your inspiration?

I remember having to listen to music at early age just to fall asleep. I spent a lot of time with my grandfather at an early age. I remember he had this silver transistor radio with just AM/FM Options. I would listen to football games with him.

I liked listening to a program called Beatles Brunch on Sunday Mornings. That's what it's called now anyway but it's been on the air for several years. I would wake up to it in the morning.

  • Unless our bio page for you is incorrect, your first band was Pensive, where you played lead guitar and was the vocalist for the band. I'm sure you'll be happy to know I've tracked down a copy of the bands only release 'The Subtlety of Silence' and plan to get it shipped over from the US soon. The line-up is pretty impressive looking back now.

I'm not sure how impressive the line up was either now or looking back on it, ha. Pensive had two releases actually. One on our own and one that was a split with Seasons In The Field.

Dan and Russ played in that band before pursuing Zao as their primary band. I never was much of a guitar player but I've always had good rhythm. I suppose that's why I decided to pick up a bass. Brett handled all of the guitar duties in that band.

  • What sort of music was Pensive? Did you enjoy being a vocalist?

Chad Alan

Well to be honest Pensive did the whole singing/screamo thing when it definitely was pretty much unheard of to do that sort of thing. So I'm not sure what genre you want to call it. I just remember my parents hating it and looking back I can kind of see why.

I think that we just really wanted to do something different and that's what came out. Had we stuck with that kind of vibe and written some better songs we would probably have actually turned some heads eventually.

  • I've read an interview from sometime between 1996 and 1998 at friendslikeyou.tripod.com. It's a very pro-religious Pensive interview from former band-mate Brett, Did Pensive successfully spread the love of Jesus?

I'm not sure if we succeeded or not but we honestly did try back in those days. It was a childhood band of church friends. We certainly didn't know what we were doing back then and I'm not sure if we ever really learned.

Our hearts were in the right place, I really believe that. In the end we were 17 year old kids trying to make sense of topical issues that we really didn't fully understand.

  • How did The Juliana Theory actually form? When did you guys get together collectively as a band?

To me The Theory formed out of desperation. Brett had gone off to play in Zao and I was wanting more than anything to pursue music any way I could. Josh Fiedler was more of an acquaintance to me back then but we got to talking about starting an Indie band. Brett seemed really into the idea too and the two of them were good friends from High School.

We started practicing in Neil (Our Drummers) garage without Brett because he was on the road with Zao. Our first show was at Saint Vincent College and Pensive headlined, ha. I think we played 4 songs at that show because that's all we really had.

  • When did you realise that The Juliana Theory was really starting to take off, at which point did you feel the band achieved success?

The Juliana Theory
image courtesy Justin Gaynor

It was such a slow build for our band that it's really hard to say. The band was so grass routes from the beginning so everything that happened to us seemed to always be a struggle. I guess there were moments on Warped Tour when I looked out and saw us playing in front of about fifteen thousand people on the main stage that I was thinking to myself that things had started going pretty well for us.

I remember Tim Armstrong coming up to our Merch Table wanting to buy a copy of Emotion Is Dead. I remember a couple of us standing there telling him, hey man it's yours… Just go a head and grab one. He pulled out some cash and insisted on buying it. That was pretty cool. It was kind of bizarre.

We went from being this garage band that no one cared about to being courted by several Major labels. I remember Elektra Records getting us Tickets to Radiohead at Madison Square Garden on the shortest of notice. And being in the Epic Offices with A&R reps saying… "Hey Oasis and The Black Crowes are at Radio City tonight if you guys want to go, "If we wanted to go? " Of course we wanted to go. It was strange times indeed.

I remember when Jerry Harrison had come to town to work on pre-production for the Love album. We took him to our favourite bar, Mr. Toads. We're sitting in there and this kid comes up to me and is like... "Hey man, aren't you in the Juliana Theory". Yes, I say. "That's cool man, I saw you guys last month in Pittsburgh." So this kids standing there kind of staring at Jerry and then he says. "Hey man isn't that guy in The Talking Heads." Yes his name is Jerry I say. "That's cool" he says and kind of pauses for a minute looking puzzled as ever. "Why is the guy from the talking heads hanging out with you guys at Mr. Toads?" Well, it was a pretty good question I thought and that kind of stuff still amuses me looking back on it.

  • Take a look at this short video of yourself a little younger from around the time Emotion is Dead came out. youtube.com At one point you reference sound checking, were you guys notorious for taking ages to sound check before show?

Wow it's a wonder the band ever let me talk at all. I don't think that we ever took any more time to sound check than any other band that might be headlining a show in our scene may have.

I think in the early days we were one of the first bands in our scene to use In-Ear Monitors. That kind of thing is pretty much standard for most bands these days and has been for quite some time. So in those days we probably asked for brief sound checks to make sure they were functioning along with the samples we ran at the time.

We just wanted to always sound as good as possible if kids were going to pay to come out to see us. It's funny because we've only done 4 Vesta Shows and we haven't sound checked at any of them for better or worse, ha.

  • You contributed to many songs lyrically in The Juliana Theory, is there a particular lyric that you wrote that you hold dear to your heart, one that really stands out in your mind?

Chad Alan
image courtesy Andy Schwegler

That's a really great question. I really didn't contribute as many lyrics to the The Theory as you may think. I certainly have contributed to some though looking back it's hard to say which ones. I always really liked helping Brett Edit Lyrics or offering my input to what he had written. And I always often liked when he'd asked because it always let you experience the song a little more intimately if you were let in on what it was about.

I don't consider myself a huge lyrical person but I think that the delivery of the vocal with the lyric is what makes something profound. Not just the lyric by its self. I'm sure Bob Dylan would disagree, ha. I think that Chris Martin does that pretty well if we're talking about lyrics in pop music/rock setting. He can sing something that is lyrically simple but it has a profound effect with the way it's sung. So to answer your question let's go with…

"Tell your mom you need a day off, so we can play out in the rain. We'll catch a ride to the mall; go down to the arcade, because that's where all the cool kids hang."

There's something honest, fun and nostalgic about those lyrics and they actually sum up my childhood in some weird nostalgic way.

  • I read something on the AP chat you did with Fiedler back in February that happened back in the TJT days in Philly when about a brawl broke after something to do with an autograph signing, Kosker flying over the bar, sound familiar? What was that story?

That show at the Trocadero was when we were on tour with Something Corporate. Those guys were great and some of the best guys we'd ever toured with. That show had become known to the band as The Saint Valentines Day Massacre since the fight happened on V Day, ha. Basically we had finished playing our set that night and we had a meet and greet scheduled up stairs after the show. So the band and our manager were heading out of the Venue into the hall of the Trocadero to head upstairs for the meet and greet. There was a bartender that seemed to have a major problem with us going up there and he started to get a bit mouthy with us saying we weren't aloud to go up. We had shown him the flyers we had in our hands that we were indeed allowed upstairs for the event. One thing led to another and I remember him yelling at Brett. I'm not really sure at this point what he had said to Brett and I'm sure it doesn't really matter. So I basically ran over to the bar, got behind the bar and got in the guys face.

I simply asked him "Why don't you say that again I didn't hear you." Really dramatic right, ha. When you're on the road with people they become your family, it's just that simple. Brett and I were always close and even closer given the circumstances of our situation. If this guy thought I was going to let him scream at us and get away with it, well it just wasn't going to happen, ha. So then I remember the guy backing down and all seemed fine. Just at that moment a few bouncers walked into the venue and the guy turned to them and said the words "He Hit Me."

Which of course didn't, and that was pretty much that. There were several Trocadero meathead bouncers kicking me in the head from on top of the bar while another held me. I remember Josh Kosker running and flying over the bar to tackle one of the guys. It was actually quite entertaining.

That kind of stuff is just bound to happen when you're on the road and sometimes you've just got to stir things up a little to keep things interesting. Needless to say, we were never invited back there again. The TLA became our new home when we played in Philly and that club and the people that ran it were always awesome to us. It's actually one of my favourite venues to play in the states.

  • The Juliana Theory toured the UK twice, once in 2002 and then again for the final tour in 2006, what are your memories of touring the UK, any road stories? Was it a good experience?

It was memorable to be honest. So many memories. I remember stopping as we were travelling and waking up in the early morning and looking out the window of the bus to the greenest grass I've ever seen. I jumped up and in my head I just knew we had to be at Stonehenge, ha. And of course we were! I was so excited; I had always wanted to go when I was a kid.

So we all get outside the bus and get ready to check it out. Our tour manager then informs us that we only had Euros on us and to get inside we actually needed pounds. Very strange, but it's true or at least it was a few years back.

So we did get to see it but from a distance at the fence. There were so many beautiful sites to see.

  • How about the European tour, there are some awesome photos on MySpace, was it memorable the last few shows as a group?

Chad Alan
image courtesy Gordy Greenawalt

The food in Italy was fantastic, we played on a boat when we stayed in Paris and that's the night our Steelers beat the Broncos to go to the Super Bowl, ha.

I also remember drinking a decent amount of Absinthe and wondering why I wasn't hallucinating? It wasn't till later that I realized I was mucking it up and not doing it right. That stuff has a strange aftertaste.

Munich was fantastic and although it was a different tour and time The 100 Club in London will always be one of the bands favourite shows of all time. Actually, the second time we played London was great too. However, as a band at that time we were all a bit down on ourselves.

The band it seemed was coming to and end and I think we all were just so worn out that we may have not enjoyed ourselves as much as we could have and should have. Of all of my personal travels I remember Australia being the most enjoyable and beautiful places we ever had a chance to see.

Sadly our last show In Germany was well attended but not one of our best unfortunately.

  • When you meet someone new and they find out that you have played in several bands is there one song that you would direct them to listen to? What's your favourite song that you've ever contributed to? Is there just one?

I would direct them to Into the Dark if I had to play someone just one TJT song. Musically it's a great example of the bands melodic sound and vocally Brett always sounded great on that one. People that have never listened to TJT before I usually direct to the Deadbeat album first. I think it was our best record and the closest we had come to getting it right.

  • You played with Derek White from Takeover UK's band Derek White and the Monophobics in 2008, how did that come about? What was it like making that record?

Playing with Derek was really fun. That guys a great musician and he's becoming quite the engineer as well. Jon Gunnel who actually recorded the Vesta record played in that band as well. I had met Jon through friends and he asked me to play with them and it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun to be a part of music that was a lot more routed in Rock and Roll and 60's R&B.

We covered All kind of 60's and 70's music and I think it made me a better player. I only played on a couple of the songs on the album though. Derek had already had most of the songs recorded previously to me joining the band. So, I can't really say too much about what it was like making that album because I really was only there to play that stuff live.

  • Vesta played their first live show on April 25, 2009 in Bowling Green, Ohio. What was that like, how did that show go?

To be honest I think we were all a bit nervous. I think overall it was a good show, well attended and we played pretty well. I had a lot more fun at the last two in Pittsburgh. The more comfortable we get with the songs the more fun the shows get.

  • The Vesta album finally came out on October 6th, personally I love it, I think there's some really good music on there, it sounds like your vocal on a few of the songs, am I right in thinking that you sing the acoustic version of 'Hang Around'?

You are right to think that. That was a song that I had after I got back from the European Tour that we just talked about. My friend Nick had this 4 track player in his garage and we just put it down really raw. He plays slide guitar and sings a little back up on it as well. It's cool to hear the two different versions of that song back to back.

When I write something it's rare that I write on acoustic guitar. Often times I write a song entirely on Bass Guitar which I think will sometimes drive Fiedler nuts. I prefer to write songs on bass. We usually demo everything early on that way. It's Bass, vocals and drums that Justin and I send to Josh and then kosker. It's kind of like a little musical workshop, its fun.

  • What's next for Vesta? Are you planning any shows, tours, music videos?

I have no idea what's next for Vesta at all. We just simply want to write, record and play live when we can. We have no touring plans at the moment. However we will travel to play shows here and there if schedules allow us to. It's just something to keep our sanity and it's a lot of fun playing together with old friends.

  • Do you think Josh Fiedler looks like a young Al Pacino?

I think that Fiedler does Resemble Young Al Pacino. However, if you've ever seen the movie No country For Old men, I'd be hard pressed to believe that it's not Josh Fiedler playing Anton in that movie and killing all those people. Anton just looks like an older version of Josh.

  • Whatever happened to your coffee table book idea 'Sit Down Graffiti'? I though it sounded like a cool idea.

I think it was a great idea and I'm flattered that you remembered that, ha. I think that I seriously have a brain full of useless ideas like that but it's often hard for me to get it out of my brain and make it happen. It's not that I'm lazy it's just my follow through sucks.

  • Goodfellas or Godfather?

It's impossible for me to give you a one word answer on this. I'll say The Sopranos just to make things interesting. I love both films for different reasons.

Scorsese gives us rawer and harder looks at that lifestyle and the story is told with such wit and humour. Coppola's vision of the mafia in America as portrayed in The Godfather was one of the most mainstream artistic films maybe ever in my opinion.

I think The Sopranos did both so well so I'm going with that.

  • As I type this I actually have two episodes of The Sopranos left to watch on DVD, it's one of the best shows I've ever seen.

  • Tooth and Nail or Epic?

I would have to say Tooth and Nail. Epic never was much help to us. I think that Tooth and Nail is a good label and they seem to actually seem to market their bands quite well. You live and you learn.

  • Budweiser or Guinness?

I don't drink either of these. I usually prefer Whiskey & Ginger Ale. So for kicks let's just say Iron City and be done with it.

If you haven't yet heard Chad's new band Vesta head on over to the Official Vesta MySpace page and have a listen.

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