Features

Studio Diary: Montero

Soft-rock heroes Montero hit London’s Tileyard Studios this March to record Performer, their full-length follow-up to 2013’s The Loving Gaze. Bandleader (and illustrator to the stars) BENNY MONTERO*, instrumentalist **JAY WATSON** (Tame Impala/Pond/Gum) and engineer **RICARDO DAMIAN** report back from ten days of recording. Photos by *LUCY JACK.

Day 1


Benny: Arrive in London from hiking in Spain and head to Tileyard Studio, which is very fancy. The studio belongs to a famous producer/DJ/musician who has awards all over the walls. ?You sure he won’t come back any minute?? We keep asking Ricky the engineer. Ricky is amazing. Such a gun. I ask if he’s Scottish but he’s Italian.

Jay: Ricky is 21, but probably the best music tech-recording guy I’ve ever met. When I tell him he doesn’t seem very Italian for an Italian guy he is super stoked. He’s very proud of his neutral accent.

Ricky: Primo giorno di registrazioni, non ho avuto alcuna informazione riguardo al progetto quindi non so cosa aspettarmi: sfida interessante. Incontro Jay e Benny, e subito capisco che sono due tra le persone pi? brillanti e geniali con cui abbia avuto il piacere di lavorare in vita mia. Posso dire con certezza che fin dal primo momento abbiamo stabilito una certa sintonia, requisito fondamentale per le sorti di un buon disco.

Day 2

Benny: We do some recording. I feel like the security are going to come and drag me away any minute. I make a mess with my drawing stuff all over the floor while finishing a poster for Ed Sheeran’s manager.

Jay: This place is my paradise, it’s got almost every bit of gear I’ve ever wanted to play with, but have never seen before. Including an original rack Eventide Harmonizer, a magical Eno-endorsed effect, lots of rare and weird Italian synths, and a tape machine from Sun Studios!

Ricky: Le canzoni sono magiche, adoro tutto quello che stiamo facendo. Cerchiamo di usare tutti gli strumenti a disposizione per sperimentare e ottenere suoni diversi. Gi? dai primi giorni per? si capisce gi? quali saranno i nostri trademark: Synth strings, mellotron e 12 strings ?80s guitars.

Day 3


Benny: Recording. I forgot to book a hotel and don’t want to sleep on a couch so I have to pay lots of money for a gross room. English breakfast is depressing in the basement.

Jay: I quickly learn by Day 3 that recording with Benny means that when I say ?Oh no! This sounds like the Supertramp bass player made a solo cod-reggae album? or ?Gross, this sounds like Alice In Chains covering Bread?, instead of it being scrapped, it’s encouraged. This is his bread and butter.

Ricky: Jay – incredibile, fa quali tutto alla prima take e non sbaglia quasi mai. Mi piace molto il fatto che mi includa spesso nelle scelte di produzione e mi consulti ad ogni bivio: mi fa sentire importante e da la possibilit? di essere parte integrante della Montero Band.


Day 4

Benny: Recording again today all day. I stay in a hotel and the room is all stripes and looks like an insane asylum for clowns. There’s a rave happening right outside my window that goes until 10am the next day. I can even touch the passing train from my bed.

Jay: I think we recorded something that sounded like insane asylum for clowns the next day.

Ricky: Caff?, ogni giorno bevo sempre pi? caff?.



Day 5

Benny: I fall over twice today. I’m still wearing hiking boots from trying to hike and they have small hooks on the side which is very dangerous. The first fall is in busy kings cross and and the second is at the studio caf? in front of well dressed people with clean clothes. I haven’t had a chance to do any laundry!

Jay: We are by far the grottiest people in the complex. I deduce from looking at everyone else around from the other studios, and all the sports cars outside, that making actual hits makes you actual money (not the fantasy world of fantasy hits Benny and I are currently residing in). Everyone is super nice though, and we ask Milly from the cafe to come in a play some string parts for us.

Ricky: Se non sbaglio oggi abbiamo registrato due pezzi con la Linn Drum, siamo tornati indietro di 35 anni in un batter d’occhio. Suoni magnifici.


Day 6

Benny: Recording. I make a mess with my drawing stuff all over the floor finishing up a poster for a different pop star. For some reason they are being awarded with one of my paintings instead of a plaque for selling six million albums or something.

Jay: One of the things that made this recording such fun for me, was that Benny would lay down his keyboard parts, and then we’d go ballistic with instrumentation. Normally in other bands I’m in there’s constant diplomacy when it comes to putting instruments on. We’re both big fans of maximalism.

Ricky: La creativit? in queste giornate – la regina sovrana, oltre alla birra e al cibo di merda, ovviamente. Non ci imponiamo limiti, ma semplicemente ci lasciamo prendere da quello che succede e andiamo avanti. Benny – lo ‘Yesman’ pi? incorrompibile del mondo.


Day 7


Benny: I think we’ve used every instrument in the place. At the studio caf? there’s a nervous looking kid surrounded by confident A&R types and they’re having lunch and they all make jokes and the kid is quiet and guarded. He has great hair.

Jay: I think the Talkbox made its debut that day. The concept for the whole thing was coming together by this point as well.

Ricky: Jay ama Brian May, quasi quanto me. Il Talkbox – il suo nuovo migliore amico, ci ha passato molte ore assieme oggi, e i risultati sono ottimi. Per qualche decina di secondi gli ho pregato di farmi provare ?Living On A Prayer? dei Bon Jovi.




Day 8

Benny: Milli from the caf? comes in and records some strings. She sounds like someone from a Hugh Grant movie.

Jay: We discuss whether we should hide an outtake we found of her saying ?cunt? in the song (in aforementioned impeccable accent). Wisely avoided.

Ricky: Sono molto soddisfatto delle registrazioni di Violino. Se non si fa attenzione alla posizione dei microfoni a volte pu? essere impossibile ottenere un buon suono. Mi sento come un bambino con un nuovo giocattolo quando dopo aver registrato qualcosa lo riascolto fino alla nausea: credo sia parte integrante di questo lavoro dopotutto. Milly – una violinista impeccabile. ‘Cunt’ – ovviamente rimasto parte integrante del brano, l’ho nascosto per bene prima dell’apice del pezzo.



Day 9

Benny: Recording some vocals and Alistair McKay from Dick Diver drops by for some beers which is nice.

Jay: What a lovely chap Al is! We drink Red Stripes together and talk about Brian Ferry while Benny records his singing.

Ricky: Facciamo le voci oggi, – un processo molto delicato quindi devo stare attento che Benny non si stanchi troppo altrimenti la performance – rovinata. Portiamo a casa due pezzi e domani ne restano 8 da fare. Che sfida.



Day 10

Benny: London gives me Ballard vibes and riding the tube is like what I imagine a Radiohead song to sound like. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity I can’t even believe it’s real. The best recording experience I’ve been a part of for sure. I’m going to Athens now!

Jay: Definitely one of my favourite recording experiences to date I think. I feel lucky to be involved in a Montero record. It should be a cracker!

Ricky: Abbiamo finito. mi mancher? tantissimo quest’esperienza. – stata sicuramente una delle pi? belle e divertenti della mia vita, ho imparato un sacco di cose da questi ragazzi, spero di rivederli presto. A breve mixer? il disco e poi sentiamo cosa salta fuori. Sono sicuro sar? una bomba!

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####Performer is set to be released sometime in 2015.