Juan Montoya is a compulsive creator. The former Torche guitarist and Miami ex-pat's new band, MonstrO, is as busy as a group could hope to be. They spent most of last year touring with notable artists like Danzig and Clutch, and currently are working on a follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut album. While tending to the success of one band would be enough for most, Montoya simply isn't the sort to rest upon his laurels and patiently await the next tour, nor is he content with a single channel of musical expression.
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When Montoya isn't on the road with MonstrO, he can be found playing with Stallone, his musical mistress and a rarity amongst side-projects in its quality. Stallone eschews the generally undercooked vibe many a secondary group gives off, and its sludgy-come-shoegaze sound is immediately familiar to fans of Montoya's prior groups -- though Stallone's music almost entirely instrumental.
New Times: How's it going?
Juan Montoya: Doing pretty good, man! My eyes are a little bit beat because I've been doing artwork as a full-time job now. It's great; I get to work from home and it's not too much stress, the only thing is my eyes are taking a beating.
It's awesome that you're able to make that work!
Yeah! I did the Torche Meanderthal cover along with Aaron Turner, and since that sold pretty decently, a lot of people found out that I could actually draw. Now it's full on, and since I posted a picture of a cat, like, everybody wants me to draw their cats and animals.
It's great that you get to spend all of your time playing guitar or making art.
Yeah! It really is great, man! Hopefully it'll pay off in the long run. I want to do something that makes other people happy and it's great not to have to sit in an office waiting for the next order.
Tell us a bit about Stallone.
It's similar to stuff I was doing back in the day with my old Miami bands, and we're doing a lot of instrumental stuff. It's what I've always dug! Last time we spoke, I mentioned movie soundtracks and everything like that, I've always been into horror movies and sci-fi movies, so this actually relates to that. Eventually, I want to get it into movies. I've always been into bands like Trans-Am and Don Caballero and Naked City, a lot of instrumental and avant-garde stuff. So, I had a little bit of down time, and I wanted to start something like this. I met a couple of guys locally and they turned out to be super cool and talented and we practiced like crazy. The music is dynamic, some of it's beautiful, but some of it's incredibly spastic.
Stallone has been playing some cool shows in Atlanta, like that Red Fang gig, right?
Yeah! That turned out to be awesome! It was for Liberty Tattoo's 10th Anniversary. They flew Red Fang from Portland just for the event, and everyone at the shop really digs Stallone, so we were invited to play. It was a great opportunity and we really slayed it that night. I think we're playing with Red Fang again in November.
Can you tell us about the other band Stallone is bringing down for the weekend shows?
Manray is my favorite band in Georgia at the moment. It's made up of three brothers that look alike and they just have this chemistry that only family has. They're kind of like Drive Like Jehu, and their musicianship is massive. They're kind of like our brother band in Atlanta right now, and I would love for everyone in South Florida to see them, I think they're just going to send everybody back to the drawing board.
What are you looking forward to most about the trip home?
My family. My brother just had a little boy and the whole family is very excited, and I'm going to meet my nephew for the first time. It's also my brother's birthday and of course I'm excited to see all of my friends from when I grew up down there. That and the Cuban food!
Do you have a chosen spot for Cuban food in Miami?
I did, but supposedly it's not as good as it was when I lived there. It's called La Culebrinas and it translates to "baby snakes." So, I'm looking forward to food, the beach, and my family.
What's the scoop on the Stallone release?
We did it in like, a marathon session, a la Nirvana Bleach. We recorded the whole record within three and a half days, and we just railroaded it out! It came out amazing, we kind of just went for it, from the engineer, Craig Carlson, to everybody in the band, we just went full on with it. We were all on the same frequency and a really good record came out of it -- and I'm not just saying it's good because I'm in the band -- but, it's just an awesome recording.
As a former charge of Hydra Head Records, do you have anything to say about the label going under?
You know, I was working retail and selling instruments, and as soon as the economy went bad, it became a big life decision to spend $100. People just worried about every step they make and things are really tight at the moment, which is a shame.
I feel that Mark (Thompson) should've kept better books or something, because I remember asking for updates and he would be really bad with it, so maybe that kind of cost them? They had a cool thing going and sometimes having good taste and being cutting edge in music doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be a good business person.
Aside from playing Churchill's, Stallone is performing as part of the monthly Splatter-Rama event at Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale this weekend, right?
Yeah! Years ago, when I was in Torche, I found out that they would let us have a show there, and I booked the Jacuzzi Boys when they first started out, before they were all popular and whatnot, and we played the inside of the theater. I'm a big horror movie fan, so this is a really cool show to be a part of! Also, we're going to video tape the shows, so it's going to be really cool to have our friends on film.
For a DVD?
Yeah, if we play good!
Stallone performs with Manray and the Deadly Blank at Splatter-Rama, Night of the Living Dead and Dead Alive at 7 p.m. on September 30 at Cinema Paradiso.