October 30th was the official release date for Stallone's "American Baby", an album we were pleased and excited to review a month previously to the release on September 28th. The excitement came first from learning MonstrO's laser beam axe wielder Juan Montoya was pulling double duty and again taking on the lead guitar role for his 'side job', the new band Stallone. It turns out all members of Stallone have other gigs as musicians in addition to this one. The thing about Stallone is they play sans vocals, something a significant number of Stoner/Doom/Sludge/Psych bands are wont to do. Those instrumental bands all tend to lay down music that is deeply compelling, a sheer joy to experience, and Stallone's debut is no exception. They play hugely and intensely and brilliantly, laying out a multitude of razor tinged riffs that generate a deep and sludgy fuzz, stitched together with a bright laser tapestry of quality sound that propels you along on wings of distortion and intensity.
Heavy planet breathlessly caught up to ultra busy and uber gifted Juan Montoya and C.J. Ridings for a few questions about the affairs of this newly formed rock force:
HP: "American Baby" was just released this past week on October 30th. Do you have any indication what type of interest or reception this album will generate?
Juan: This album has plenty of high energy and creativeness for everyone. It is oozing with riffs. It just depends on how we can get it into people's hands.
HP: Stallone are an instrumental band, no one sings. Who were/are your main instrumental influences, especially those from the Stoner/Doom world?
Juan: The older Black Sabbath instrumentals were unique and very odd and were a big influence. I would say years of listening to Aphex Twin, Trans Am, and John Zorn's Naked City would have been my biggest influences.
HP: Because Stallone are an instrumental band do you feel the songs have to be more interesting, or contain more meat, so to speak, than more traditional songs like those from Juan's other band, MonstrO?
Juan: Good question. As long as there is memorable melody guiding the song, that's what people are going to be moved by. For example, the bell intro to Rush's "YYZ".
HP: Who handles song writing duties for Stallone? How collaborative is the process?
Juan: We all come in with ideas and throw them into the stew. But it's great when we all get the ball rolling together. We've been lucky to finish some of our best songs in three runs.
HP: Is the primary method for spreading the word about "American Baby" through touring and live shows?
Juan: Hell yeah! Our show is a must see. Even though we play at high speeds the 'rock show' is there. No standing around looking at our fretboards. We are going to jump on your table, take a swig of your beer, take a quick toke, all while shredding our jams. Haha!
HP: How much do the stoner/doom blog sites such as Heavy Planet and Soda Shop help in getting the word out to the true rock lovers that will enjoy this music?
Juan: The word gets out there, but the bands have to do the leg work. Try to release live vids. People have to get a whiff of your live energy.
HP: Does anyone other than Juan have a second playing gig?
Juan: All three of my band bros from Stallone are in a band named Big Jesus. They are currently looking for a singer/guitarist. Evan is playing drums on tour with Royal Thunder, who are supporting a new record out on Relapse Records.
HP: Juan, how would you describe the experiences and differences of playing in two bands simultaneously?
Juan: So far it's been working out without too much headache. When MonstO takes breaks from touring I go back to the practice room and keep the creative juices flowing. I barely sleep. I'm at a time in my life where it's Ride or Die, as a good friend put it. I'm involved in both band's artwork, as well as writing, and collaborating on many projects. The only thing that suffers is my home life. It's difficult to be a good boyfriend when your heart is into the arts.
HP: What is Stallone's touring future? Any plans to hit the road in the near future? Have you been touring at all, or just playing locally in Atlanta and surrounding areas?
Juan: With Stallone we are looking for a booking agent. I want to take the group to Europe, the U.K., and Japan. My mates have to see the wonders of the world as it inspires the soul, leading to great music in the long run.
HP: CJ has a side gig as a music recorder. He did the mixing for the song "Beyond" on "American Baby". Are there other tracks on the album you mixed?
CJ: Yeah, I actually mixed the whole album. I sat in my room and got all the tracks to a place I thought was close and then we all sat together as a band and did some final tweeks.
HP: How is the recording gig going? Are bands beginning to recognize your work and send music your way?
CJ: I'm starting to get a heavier flow of recording work, little by little. It's all word of mouth, so like a new band, it takes time to get out there. I cut my teeth in my first bands in the Atlanta hardcore/punk scene, so that's who I record a lot, because it's who I know, but I've been getting a few projects from Alabama bands and even as far out as Pittsburgh. I imagine I'll always be working with mostly heavy bands, but I'm starting to get my share of other genres as well, which I love.
So, there you have it folks, a brief glimpse into the glamorous life of the hard working members of Stallone, who quite obviously put in a ton of effort into what they do, and love every bit of the process. "American Baby" is their debut and will rock your face off, but hopefully it'll grow back in time for any subsequent releases from these new and exciting purveyors of Stoner/Doom riffage.
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