Sacri Monti interview with Brenden Dellar, Dylan Donovan, Anthony Meier, and Evan Wenskay
Anyone for a heavy helping of blues dowsed balls-to-the-walls psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll freak-outs? Good, I am too! I present to you Sacri Monti, one of the most sincere and down-right twisted 70’s garage-psych outfits I’ve heard in longer than I can remember. I wandered across their SoundCloud page and was immediately immersed in the face melting dual-lead lines, fuzzy waves of distortion and fits of spasmodic feedback crashing in on itself like the tidal wave of some enormous tsunami, the waves breaking into fingered tendrils of uncontrollable destruction, hammering and pounding against your unsuspecting ears leaving a smoldering mess where you’re tympanic membrane used to be, boring a searing white hot hole directly into the cortex of your brain so as to more effectively deliver the nuclear strike of hallucinogenic euphoria and spiritual amphetamines that feel like they’re burning your veins from the inside out from the moment you click “Play” on the mind bending psychedelic psychosis that is Sacri Monti. Seriously, this is some heavy shit folks. Use with discretion and don’t operate heavy machinery or attempt to drive while partaking, the results may be disastrous. As Sacri Monti preps for the release of their demo cassette via Underthegun Records, I decided it was time to track these dudes down and talk some shop. If these are their demos I needed to find out when they were going to be dropping what they considered a coherent full-length album, because the stuff that I had heard online was simply jaw-dropping. I got the details I was looking for and boy, oh boy, do I have some sweet news to share with all you lucky readers so read on and be enlightened! Listen while you read: https://soundcloud.com/sacri-monti
Who’s in Sacri Monti and what do you all play? Have you all made any changes to the lineup since you started or is this the original lineup?
Brenden Dellar – Guitar/vocals
Dylan Donovan – Guitar
Anthony Meier – Bass
Evan Wenskay – Organ/Synth
Thomas DiBenedetto – Drums
Evan: Sacri Monti is Brenden Dellar-guitar Dylan Donavan-guitar Anthony Meier-bass Thomas DiBenedetto-drums and Evan Wenskay-organ and synth. Sacri Monti was a nameless jamming band in the earliest stages of writing when they asked me to join, in December of 2012.
Anthony: Original lineup.
Playing musical connect the dots is fun and all but let’s face it, there’s nothing that beats cheating, ha-ha! Are any of you in any other bands or projects at this point? Have you released any music with anyone in the past? If you have can you tell us a little bit about that?
Anthony: Anthony plays bass in Radio Moscow, Evan plays bass in Sigil of Dragon, and Thomas plays guitar in Monarch.
Brenden: Yeah, a few of us are playing in some other bands right now. Evan plays bass in a really killer doom band called Angry Dragon, Thomas plays guitar in a really sweet five piece with three guitars that harmonize beautifully, and then Anthony plays in radio Moscow. We’re all fucking around doing stuff with other people musically though, which is easy here in San Diego because there are so many rad musicians to collaborate with and jam, or whatever ya wanna do. We all have been playing in bands and jamming together for a while, but it wasn’t Sacri Monti until about a year ago.
Evan: We’ve all been playing in bands since high school and stuff, and some of us have played with each other previously, but for me I’ve been also playing bass in my psych doom band called Angry Dragon for the past four years. We haven’t released anything for, it’s a project that’s been my baby and we just play for fun.
Dylan: Nothin’ too fun for me right now, just as much jamming around as possible and other than that, a good amount of acoustic noodling.
Where did you grow up? What was the local music scene like there? Did you see a lot of shows when you were growing up? Do you feel like the scene there played an important role in shaping your musical tastes or the way that you play at this point?
Anthony: I grew up in North County San Diego in Encinitas. There were a few cool bands when I was in high school around town throughout the years. There aren’t a whole lot of all-ages venues with good music around San Diego. I somehow managed to go to a lot of shows between San Diego and LA before turning twenty-one. After that, I started going to even more shows. Two bands that are from San Diego that I saw a lot after turning twenty-one were Earthless and Red Octopus. Both bands definitely had an influence on me after the first time I saw them and after that, I tried not to miss any of their shows when they were playing around town.
Brenden: I grew up in Leucadia, California about thirty minutes north of San Diego. But the music scene was pretty awesome I’d say, just a lot of really talented players. I was really lucky to have a lot of older musicians to look up to around town, all with different styles and things to offer. There seemed to always be a show to go to at this place in La Jolla on the UCSD campus called The Che Café. That place is, was, and forever will be, one of my favorite places to see shows. I think the music I saw there when I was in middle school through high school absolutely shaped my tastes and it set the standard for what I wanted to hear in music and the type of attitude I liked to see put fourth.
Dylan: I grew up in and around Austin, Texas. There’s definitely a great music scene, as I’m sure most know. I was always hearing old blues and rad stuff everywhere I went; definitely played a big part on shaping my tastes and myself in general.
Evan: Grew up in Encinitas California. The local music scene there is kinda hard to describe, for the most part there weren’t any good bands that we liked, and if anything the scene played the role of shaping what not to sound like. Reggae bands, indie musicians, acoustic folk hipsters, and a bunch of rich kids with laptops making dubstep bullshit. I got an early head-start on going to a lot of good shows because I got a fake ID when I was eighteen. The bands that I was into, when I had the chance to see them, blew my mind. But what influenced me the most was how accessible it all is. You see people just do it, and that’s what makes it happen. That’s been the biggest influence San Diego music scene has had on me.
What was your house like when you were growing up? Was there a lot of music? Were either your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely involved or interested in music when you were growing up?
Anthony: I grew up listening to a lot of music. My Mom played piano when she was younger and still knows how to play. My cousin Michael was a musician and into metal and hard rock and got really into black metal and played in bands throughout the nineties.
Brenden: Actually, nobody in my family really plays much at all, or is really involved with music. I think what really got into my brain was my mom cleaning the house to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, or their friends coming over for barbecues and sitting around the fire pit playing guitars and singing songs. I guess I just thought that was the coolest thing ever. We used to live next door to this party house where a bunch of skate rats and musicians lived and my parents would have them watch me sometimes and they where always jamming and putting on records, I remember. So, I guess I was just really lucky to be placed in a spot like that at a time where my brain was still making all of its core developments and whatnot.
Dylan: There was always a lot of music around, my mom and grandparent listened to pretty much anything and everything from Patsy Cline to Fugazi. No close relatives were players for the most part; my pop’s side of the family ripped I’m pretty sure but I don’t know ‘em. My great grandfather played lap steel with Willie Nelson when he was first getting started though, which I always thought was pretty rad.
Evan: I had a pretty fucking standard California childhood. My dad’s been a saxophone player for his whole life but that didn’t influence me too much. Yes, music was very prevalent my whole life, but nothing too significant or that has anything to do with how I play now.
What do you consider to be your first real exposure to music?
Anthony: I used to watch MTV a lot when I was a little kid, back when they played only music videos in the nineties. But I would say that my first real exposure to music that had an impact on me was when I went to see Dinosaur Jr around 2003 or something in San Diego. I remember being blown away by how loud they were. I got too high for my own good and remember it being a really cool show. That was the first real rock show that I saw, other than random cover bands.
Brenden: I’ll never forget the first time I saw a live band. The neighbor folks that I talked about in the previous question where having a party and my parents wanted to go so they put me to bed, I think I was like four or five. It was really loud, so I went to the backyard, climbed my little tree house thing and saw the party with the band playing, and it was the most awesome thing I had ever seen up until that point ha-ha.
Dylan: Uhhhhh, fresh out the womb on my first car ride home, Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band; it’s a family thing, my moms first tunes too.
Evan: That’s a crazy question. I’d have to say going to church during my childhood and listening to the choir and the massive pipe organ every Sunday, it was like, a spiritual experience.
If you were to pick a moment that changed everything for you, a moment of music that opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities of music and changed the way you perceived it, what would it be?
Brenden: Earthess live at Che Café in 2005… Up until that, it was Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, and The Ramones, etcetera. But then I saw how insane and crazy you can get with playing, how colorful your expressions can be and how fierce and loud you can be without saying anything if you don’t want to. That for sure changed the route I wanted to take and determined to me what was important in music. That’s when I started digging way deeper into other crazy bands.
Dylan: Fuuuuck, I’ve always been blown away by music since I started playing guitar. I’d say as a young teenager though, and just hearing all these different rad things that have been going on all over the world for forty or fifty years, Flower Travellin Band, Amon Düül II, and early P-funk just to name a few. In person, I’d have to say being about fourteen or so and watching Isaiah Mitchell rip everyone a new one with Earthless, or his old band Juan Peso. Sheer power bay-bay!
Evan: KOYANNISQATSI. That movie changed my life when I was thirteen years old, and when I sat down and tried to learn how to play Philip Glass, something really hit home with me and still does to this day. He’s a minimalist composer and the simple repeating arpeggios he wrote, I now hear as more of a constructed waveform, and that’s really changed the way I listen. Also, it’s very fucking hard to say that without sounding like a pretentious music kook.
When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music? What brought that decision about for you?
Anthony: When I first started playing music I knew that eventually I wanted to write and perform my own, as my musical chops started developing more. I love listening to other people’s music, but always knew that I wanted to make my own, play in bands, and give back to other listeners, creating new music that has never been heard. A lot more of that will come as time goes on.
Brenden: I had these friends in elementary school that where twin brothers and they had guitars and took lessons and I thought that was pretty rad, so I hung out with them and learned Beatles’ songs and wrote a few songs, all of course in a sketchy fourth grade way, and played at lunch ‘n stuff at school ha-ha-ha.
Dylan: Uhhh, I’d say I never really did. I just always enjoyed playing for the sake of playing, I love it!
Evan: Whenever I picked up a guitar or a bass or a piano or anything, I would try to play a song but I’d just end up writing something on the spot; it’s much easier to write and to play whatever feels good and simple. So, I know how to play more little personal jams than I know how to play actual songs I’ve learned. You don’t really realize you’ve been writing a song until after the fact, until you look back on what you’ve done and decide to do it again. So, I never decided to start writing music because there was no decision, I was never playing and not writing in the first place, you know what I mean?
What was your first instrument? When and how did you get that?
Anthony: The first instrument I ever played was the piano. My grandma has a grand piano and I would always mess with it every time I went to her house. I wish I would have taken piano a lot more seriously in the past. The first instrument I took seriously was guitar. My little brother got one before I did and I would play it a lot more than him, until I got my own. Then along came bass and drums. I just wanted to be fluid with all three instruments.
Brenden: My first instrument was probably a tambourine or something from Mexico, I don’t know ha-ha… I got a guitar for Christmas when I was seven and it was the happiest day ever! It was a cheap Fender acoustic, but since it said Fender on it, I thought it was the best guitar in the world, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!
Dylan: A little Yamaha acoustic when I turned ten or eleven, I believe. My mom bought it for my birthday and I fucking hated it at first, ha-ha! I’ve always been the kinda person who expects to pick something up and rip right away. About a year later, I got into it when I got a little chord book and started dicking around on my own.
Evan: I would steal my sister’s acoustic guitar and attempt to pluck it like a bass, until I asked my parents to buy me a bass guitar for Christmas when I was like thirteen. So, I got this funny looking Ibanez bass kit that I rocked for years! \m/
When and how did you all originally meet?
Anthony: We all live in Encinitas and met each other throughout the years. I’m a few years older than all the rest of them and went to the same school. Brenden and Thomas played in a band called Green House and I started jamming with them around 2009, or something. Then, we all eventually became good friends with each other and would jam all the time whenever we had somewhere to play. We have a lot of other friends who partook in that too; fun times.
Brenden: Most of us went to school together. I met Dylan in middle school when he was pretty new in town, fresh from Texas. I met Thomas through a mutual friend in like sixth grade or something; we went skating one time ha-hah… Then I saw him at a guitar center and we where both gunna buy the same guitar and I snagged it first. Years later, we became really close friends, started jamming all the time and started a band called The Green House where he played bass. We actually played a pretty good amount of shows as that band. I met Evan in high school at a Motorhead concert, I always saw him around school and it seemed like we should be friends but we had never met until then. I met Anthony through mutual friends and talking about guitar and the band Television… Then, we all started jamming together all the time in either Thomas, Anthony, or our friend Sean’s garages. We called it Y@R! and there are sooooooooo many recordings from that era, some really great, some not so great, and others just kinda funny.
Dylan: I’ve known Brenden since middle school, he was killing it even back then and we started hanging out through mutual friends and trips to the local music shop, Moonlight Music over the next couple of years. Evan, Brenden and I went to the same high school and had the same friend group pretty much. Anthony went to our high school as well, but was three or four years older, so I didn’t get to know him until the end of my school career. I met thomas through mutual friends as well, clicked right away, I love that dude! I guess you could say us longhairs stuck together and ended up with a rad scene and large group of friends as a result.
Evan: We all went to high school together. We met from just partying and skating together, and eventually jamming together. Then, the music thing just kind started happening more and more over time. Nothing was forced, or official, or taken professionally, it just kinda all naturally fell into place.
What led to the formation of Sacri Monti and when would that have been?
Anthony: Eventually, we were jamming so much that we decided it was time to get serious and form a band because we knew that we were fully capable of it and all were comfortable playing with each other. The first Sacri Monti show was in December 2012. We rehearsed a few times without Evan, and he sat in on the show with a Monotribe. Then, we all started rehearsing together and started playing a lot of shows in 2013.
Brenden: It just made sense. Like I said, we were constantly jamming all the time, so we figured we might as well make it a legitimate thing.
Dylan: I’m pretty sure Brenden was in-between projects and getting bored, he asked me if I wanted to do some double guitar Wishbone Ash, Allman Brothers stuff. We had all already been jamming together for a few years before, so it made good sense. I believe it was about two years ago, October or November of 2012? I could be wrong though, ha-ha.
Evan: In 2012. The band COLOR was ruling San Diego at that time. COLOR was Brenden on guitar and our two best mates from the band Monarch, Dominic Denholm on bass and Andrew Ware played drums. COLOR broke up sometime later that year, and the rehearsal space they were renting was going under. So, in the last days of that jam space, totally for fun, The Captainpurplepentaflowergram Band was formed. Brenden was on guitar, Dominic Denholm bass, Thomas drums and I was playing organ and synth for the first time. We played two shows and wrote two songs, one of the songs being an undeveloped version of “Sittin’ Around In A Restless Dream”. That ended and wasn’t really a big deal since we weren’t taking it fully seriously. So what happened next is, Anthony Thomas and Brenden found a jam space for rent in Cardiff California, and I guess they came up with the idea to start a band. At the end of 2012, they got a show at this barn party as the BTDD Band, Brenden Thomas Dukie Dylan Band, and asked me to join. So I sat on the ground with two synths and a delay pedal playing alongside their songs I had never heard before, in front of a good sized party audience, for about fifty minutes. That was my first band practice with Sacri Monti, ha-ha.
I know that Sacri Monti roughly translated means Sacred Mountains, which I think is an extremely fitting name for the sound you all produce, and I like the fact that the beauty of the name is slightly obfuscated by the fact that it’s in another language and you have to think about it a little bit; much like your music. What does the name mean or refer to in the context of the band name? Who came up with and how did you go about choosing it?
Evan: Okay, so we had our first real show booked at The Saloon with Harsh Toke and we didn’t have a name, and hadn’t gotten anywhere near agreeing on one yet. It was like, fucking two days before the show and I get Facebook notification from Anthony suggesting me to like the band page Sacri Monti. That was that, end of story, doesn’t get any deeper than that.
Anthony: I came up with the name. Deciding on a band name is not an easy thing. We went through a lot of names, and would look them up only to find out that there was already a band in some part of the world with that name. So, eventually I ended up coming up with Sacred Mountains, but decided to look up the Latin translation which was Sacri Monti. I liked how it sounded and the fact that it was an obscure name. So three months after our first show, we decided to go with it the day before our next show.
Dylan: Uhhh, honestly we were stumped with a name for a pretty long time and Anthony got fed up and just started typing whatever came to his head into language translators, ha-ha. Not too exciting of a story, but I like the name and think it’s pretty suiting.
Brenden: Ha-ha-ha-ha, we had a show coming up but no name and Sacri Monti was one of the names we had considered and hated the least. So, we went with it with plans to change it before the next show, but we couldn’t come up with anything and then it became established that we were Sacri Monti and by then it was too late to change it. There’s no real underlying spiritual meaning or anything, it’s just a name.
Is there any kind of shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shared or lives by?
Brenden: Keep it real.
Dylan: We like loud tunes!
Where’s Sacri Monti located at these days? How would you describe the local music scene there?
Anthony: We’re located in North County, San Diego. At the moment, all of us live in different parts of it but all hang out in Encinitas where we grew up. We rehearse in Cardiff, which is three minutes from Encinitas. Our rehearsal room is connected to a barbershop and we share it with a few bands. San Diego has a lot of different music scenes. There are some really good bands out here. I wish there were better music venues though.
Brenden: There are a shit load of awesome bands, not being specific to North County but all of San Diego – JOY, Harsh Toke, Artifact, Loom, Astra, Earthless, Radio Moscow, Arctic, Red Octopus, Monarch; lots of great bands and lots of great players.
Dylan: Pretty much all around the North County San Diego area, Brenden just moved into downtown San Diego a couple of months ago, though. The scene in North County’s pretty burnt, there’s just aren’t many venues or anything, but downtown is bustling. Nevertheless there are countless rad bands and musicians that have come from the area, or are still around. It honestly blows me away, we’re quite fortunate!
Evan: It’s kinda weird talking about the music scene here because there isn’t much besides the psych rock scene, which is almost one hundred percent involved with the local skate scene, and that goes both ways good and bad. But for the most part its rad, it’s better than nothing so I’m stoked. It’s just that North County doesn’t have any real venues, so that sucks.
Are you very involved in the local scene? Do you help to book and or attend a lot of shows?
Evan: I’d say we all are. We all go to our friend’s shows and try to not miss any of the big deal ones, even if we’ve got to drive all the way down south to San Diego, or head north to catch a show in Los Angeles. We don’t book as many shows as I wish we could, or have the power to as much as we should, but maybe that’ll change sometime.
Brenden: I try and attend as many shows as I can. I think everyone kinda helps with making them actually happen. It’s a really close community of musicians and artists.
Anthony: Yeah, we’re pretty involved. A few years ago before all the other guys turned twenty one, I was the one who was going to a lot of the good shows that were happening and all the others had to miss out a lot because they had no IDs. Now we’re all old enough and we go see good shows when we can. We’ve played a lot of shows with other good bands that we like and are friends with. There’s a really good music scene within San Diego County right now. More bands are still being formed.
Dylan: I definitely try to make it out to as many shows as possible, like I said we have a world class scene going on right now and it’s amazing to be surrounded by it. There are so many great acts like JOY, Artifact, Psicomagia, Red Octopus, Loom, just to name a few, I could talk about ‘em all for days!
Are you involved in recording or releasing any local music? If you are, can you talk about that a little bit for us?
Brenden: Not really no.
Evan: I’m not. We have a jam space not a studio. Keeping my fingers crossed that that’ll change soon one day.
Dylan: I wish! No recording set up for me, I’m broke! Definitely love being around all of the ripping going on though.
Anthony: Not at the moment. Once we can get some money together for studio gear and more recording equipment that will for sure happen down the line. One of my goals is to have my own music studio one day; slowly but surely.
Do you feel like the local scene’s played an important role in shaping the way that Sacri Monti sounds and in the formation or history of the band in general, or do feel like you all could be doing what you’re doing and sound like you do despite your location or scene?
Dylan: To an extent I definitely do, the whole San Diego psych scene definitely has its own sound and vibe. I dunno what causes it. No one’s biting anyone, but we all have the same tastes for the most part, and everyone feeds off of each other too, it’s a beautiful thing.
Anthony: I feel like our musical taste is what inspired the sound we have. We all listen to a lot of late 60’s and 70’s hard rock, psychedelic, blues, krautrock, and progressive rock. Also, the amount of jamming we used to do before starting the band has really played a part in our sound.
Brenden: I’m very inspired by the local bands around here. I think we would still be doing something similar if it weren’t for them, but it would also be quite different I’d say.
Evan: Our friends in the scene, they influence us for sure, but I wouldn’t give credit to the scene for really influencing us. I will say our location has a lot to do with the outcome of our sound, though. It’s kind of a self-conscious thing, but people naturally write music that’s similar to their surroundings and their environment. I’m not gonna try and describe it, but I will say Sacri Monti would definitely sound different if our minds were inspired in some other town.
Whenever I do these Psychedelic Baby interviews I inevitably have to describe the way that a band sounds to people that may never have even heard of the band in question before. I feel a pretty hefty responsibility to make the descriptions not only interesting and exciting, but factual and accurate. That last bits the part I seem to have a problem with. Whenever I describe the way a band sounds I feel like I’m interjecting far too much of my own perceptions and interpretations of the sounds, all filtered through the music that I’ve heard and my own perceptions of that music. Rather than adding to my obvious neurosis, especially given that we have such an open forum like this, how would you describe Sacri Monti’s sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before?
Anthony: I’d say our sound is a mix of early 70’s underground hard rock, with psychedelic and krautrock elements. Our live shows are usually always pretty different even if we play the same songs.
Brenden: A big wall of textures. Five piece psychedelic rock n roll, loud, heavy, I dunno. That’s the listener’s job… Like it or don’t.
Dylan: Uhhhh, loud! We just like good ol’ psych and rock n’ roll!
Evan: Yeah man, I agree, ha-ha, it’s not easy at all. We’re a five piece psychedelic hard rock band. That’s all I can really say. Listen to it or don’t listen to it.
We’ve talked a lot about the way the band sounds and how you all came to be but I’m curious to see who you’d cite as your major musical influences? You all have a pretty eclectic and interesting sound that combines a lot of different elements. Who would you cite as major influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?
Anthony: There are so many bands from the late 60’s and early 70’s that we love and have influenced us. One band that we all grew up listening to is Earthless. They’re one of the best live power trios playing right now in my opinion and they are all from San Diego. I’ve seen them play twelve times. Isaiah, the guitarist, worked at our local music store for a decade or so until he moved up North. Mario and Mike used to own the best record store in San Diego called Thirsty Moon, which sadly closed down. We’ve all bought so many great records from there in the past. Some bands off the top of my head from the 70’s that have influenced our sound would be early Amon Duul II, Wishbone Ash, Hawkwind, Flower Travellin Band, and Can.
Brenden: Ohhh man, there are sooo many but AMON DUUL, Wishbone Ash, Hawkwind, ZZ Top, Uriah Heep, Flower Travellin Band, and Atomic Rooster are just a few that come right away to me, but there are so many more.
Dylan: On the band as a whole… I dunno, we all definitely like the same things for the most part. I’d say Hawkwind, Wishbone Ash, Pentagram, fuck even kinda newer stuff like Drunk Horse. We’ve definitely all been listening to pretty similar stuff over the last five or six years.
Evan: I can’t really speak for everyone, but together all five of us were influenced by Such Hawks Such Hounds, and the BBC Krautrock documentary changed a lot for us too. There are so many other bands that’ve also played a part in all of it, but if I had to pick one, it’s definitely Hawkwind; in more way than I can describe.
What’s the songwriting process with Sacri Monti like? Is there someone who comes into practice with a riff or more finished idea for a song to work out and compose with the rest of the band, or is it more of a situation where you all just jam together at practice and work out ideas together until you have a song on your hands?
Dylan: A little of both. Brenden is a great writer and comes in with a bunch of ideas for the most part. We kinda jam on ‘em and slowly put stuff together, piece-by-piece.
Evan: If there’s any five pieces out there that say it’s easy to get all five members to write and agree on riffs, they’re full of shit. It’s really hard, and the process is difficult and uncertain. Communication is fucked. Getting four people to just shut up and listen to one person talk isn’t as easy as you would think; especially when the whole band is getting stoned and drinking beers the entire time. All I can say is, it’s a fucking miracle we’ve actually written the amount of songs we have, and I wouldn’t trade it for a god damn thing in the world.
Anthony: So far, out of the songs we’ve written, they have all been ideas, structures, and riffs that were brought into band practices and then worked out as a whole. The songs evolve a lot too, especially when we play live shows.
Brenden: Really, it’s different every time. Sometimes someone has a riff we all work on, sometimes we take something from a jam, sometimes it’s both… I don’t think any of us really know how it “works” yet.
What’s recording like for Sacri Monti? I mean as a musician myself I know that most of us can certainly appreciate the end result of all the work and hard time, there’s not a lot that beats holding an album in your hands and knowing that it’s yours. Getting to that point though, getting everything recorded and sounding like you want it to, especially as a band can be a real pain to say the very least. How is it recording for Sacri Monti?
Brenden: Well we haven’t done too much of that, but when we recorded our demo with our good friend Brian Ellis we basically went about it casually and kinda took our time, and partied, and did takes when we felt the time was right. It was very interesting.
Evan: Wow yeah, that’s a whole other miracle. We’ve been privileged enough to be able to record at our good friend Brian Ellis’s studio. He plays in Astra and a bunch of other stuff, and has been partying and jamming with us for a while now. He knows what sounds good and what we’re going for so that helped out a lot. But not to sound ridiculous and to be quite honest, the recording process so far has just been a frenzy of blowing lines and heavy drinking, with very minimal amounts of constructive over dubbing and communication. We don’t want it to feel like work, we’d all just rather make a good time out of it but I’m stoked to start recording again, I’m very confident it’s gonna work out.
Dylan: We’ve only recorded our little demo so far, and that was pretty much us going to Brian Ellis’s studio getting hammered and charging! Maybe a few nights after going over there and hearing mixes and giving input or doing overdubs, but we’re still toddlers in terms of recording. The goal is to get a full-length album put out by the end of this year (2014) which we’ll definitely be a little more meticulous about.
Anthony: We’ve only been into the studio once, which was for the demo we did in May 2013. We did a few live takes of each song and chose the best ones. We’re looking forward to getting back into the studio.
What about recording? Do you all take a more DIY approach to recording music where you prefer to handle things on your own time and turf? Or do you all head into the studio to record and let someone else handle the recording so you can concentrate on playing and performing the music?
Evan: I think you could say we take a DIY approach, but that’s only because we haven’t had the opportunity, or been in the situation, where we can fully realize what we want to make happen yet.
Anthony: I’d say more of a DIY approach. I’ll record some of our jams and practices on a handheld Tascam that I have, which is what anything that you’ve heard by us other than the demo was recorded with. But the demo was recorded in the studio by our friend Brian Ellis, and our album will also be done in a studio not by us. Most likely, we will partake in the mixing process.
Dylan: A little of both. Brian Ellis is a legend and truly knows what he’s doing, so it was rad to have his input and knowledge, and have him take care of all the setup; mic placement, etcetera. I think as long as we’re working with a like minded dude recording us the whole process is a little easier, but I could definitely nerd out on that stuff for days and take a more DIY approach.
Is there a lot of preparation that goes into a recording session for Sacri Monti where you all spend a lot of time working out the compositions and arrangements, getting them to sound just the way that you want it to? Or do you all get a pretty good idea of what you want something to sound like and then give it some room to change and evolve during the recording process a little bit?
Anthony: Lately it’s been hard for all of us to get together and play and we haven’t been playing any shows. But last year we rehearsed and jammed a lot and did about twenty to twenty five shows or something in San Diego and two in Long Beach. Songs naturally evolve when we play them live and we always try to mix it up when we can. We’ll see what happens during the next recording process…
Brenden: We just practice until it’s tight enough and then make sure we all feel loose, confident and inspired before getting our tracks down.
Dylan: We just wanna have the songs tight and play ‘em live a bunch, pretty much try and make it sound like it would at a show. Studio wizardry is rad, but there’s nothing worse than seeing a band and having it not even come close to how their recordings sound.
Evan: I wish we went into recording with a more composed and constructed idea ahead of time, but everything gets figured out through practice. How we play each song is an unspoken agreement that we don’t ever have to explain to each other. When things come up that are put into question, they tend to remain the same or we replicate what’s already happened naturally in jamming. It’s been working out so far like that.
You guys have an upcoming tape on Under The Gun Records which was unfortunately pushed back until sometime later this year, but from what I understand all the material is recorded and ready to go? Is there a working title for the cassette? Can you talk a little bit about the recording of the material for your first release? Who recorded that material? When and where was that at? What kind of equipment was used? Is there a projected release date for the cassette at this point?
Anthony: The demo was recorded in May 2013 which is almost a year ago. We recorded it with Brian Ellis at his private studio in Escondido, California. It was all recorded live, digitally with a few guitar overdubs. I don’t know when the tapes will be available to be honest, maybe by the time this interview is out.
Brenden: We recorded it in Escondido, California with our friend and the guitarist from ASTRA, Brian Ellis. We just did it totally digital, which I know may be a bit sacrilegious to some of you, on a program called Reaper which you can get some pretty authentic sounds out of if you know what you’re doing. As for the tape, we just need to give them the art for it, which I feel awful about… Hopefully we will have it out before this interview goes out ha-ha-ha!
Dylan: I think it might just be called Demo, ha-ha! I’m not entirely certain though. It was recorded by Brian Ellis from Astra, Reflection, and a bunch of other rad projects, the dude is a musical genius and one of my favorite people around. We just hammered it out in his studio in Escondido. We all used our own equipment for the most part. I couldn’t tell ya too much about the recording equipment, I’m a bozo about that stuff still. The cassette should be out any time now though. I’m pretty certain they’ve been made and are ready to go.
Evan: It got pushed back because we don’t have any art, or a logo or nothing. That’s really the only reason why. We’ll get it figured out soon enough. The tape is our demo that we recorded over at Brian Elllis’s studio. We’ve been passing out burnt CD’s of that same material for a while, but those tapes are gonna be the actually official product of it. No release date yet, but Everett Reid who runs Underthegun is a rad dude. I really trust working with him.
When I was chatting with you all, you mentioned that you were also getting ready to start work on your first full-length album before too long. Have you all started the recording process for that yet at all? What can our readers expect from the upcoming album? Did you all try anything radically different when it comes to the songwriting of the material for the album as opposed to the Under The Gun tape? Do you all have any deals worked out with someone to release the album or are you going to burn that bridge once you’ve got everything done and recorded?
Anthony: We’re hoping to record the album within the next few months and when that’s over I’m not exactly sure how long it will take for it to come out. We might do a few different versions of old songs from the demo, we’re also going to do a longer one that we’ve played live a few times but haven’t recorded, and a few more if we can fit them. Tee Pee records’ going to release our album when it’s ready.
Brenden: We’re going to re-record what we did on the demo, plus a few more tunes. It’s just been hard to find time because our bass player’s been touring a lot and doing things with Radio Moscow, but it’ll happen soon and we’re really stoked about it, and feel very privileged that our first full-length will be out on Tee Pee Records which is, and has been, one of our favorite labels.
Dylan: Haven’t started the recording process yet. I think we might redo a few tracks from the demo and make ‘em tighter and better for the full-length though. Same songwriting process and everything though, plug in and go! I dunno if I should speak yet, I don’t know how official it is, but I’m pretty sure we have something in the works with Tee Pee Records for the upcoming release. If all goes as planned, I’ll be very, very ecstatic. Tee Pee’s one of my favorite labels around today!
Evan: So, somehow Dave Sweetapple over at Tee Pee Records got a hold of our demo CD and talked to the guys at Tee Pee, and so now they’re down for us. Sweetapple came to visit earlier this year and that was rad to hang out with him. We’re all stoked to work with him and Tee Pee. Nothing too official, but what he said was if we can finish writing and recording an album by fall of this year, Tee Pee will put it out in winter of 2014, and then debut it in Europe in early 2015, with plans of taking us to Roadburn next year. The process is kinda on hold for a while because Anthony will be in Europe on and off from April to July. I’m honestly in no rush and we have no plans to be in one either. However long it takes to make exactly what we want, is exactly how long we’re gonna take.
Does Sacri Monti have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a song on a compilation or something that I might have missed?
Evan: I wish. We got nothing to hide, ha-ha.
Dylan: We’re nothin’ but little toddlers so far! Random live show recordings here and there from a little Tascam single track recorder, but like I said we’re young as a band. I can only hope stuff will start pumping out real fast after this little hiatus is over, though.
Anthony: There’re just a few improvised live pieces from shows and our rehearsal space. More of that will slowly be put out over time.
Brenden: Mario From Earthless hit us up and I guess he’s putting together a San Diego psych rock comp with some amazing bands on it… Very, very honored to be part of that, although, I have no idea about the release date on it.
Other than the Under The Gun tape and upcoming album, are there any other releases in the works or on the horizon from Sacri Monti?
Dylan: I sure hope so! Write, write, play, play, record, record!!!
Evan: Not that I know of.
Anthony: So far, just the release of our full-length album towards the end of the year. Mario from Earthless has been talking about releasing a compilation album in the future that he wants us to be apart of. Hopefully that happens. It would be cool to do a live album. Once more songs start coming together, hopefully we wont wait too long to record our second album.
Brenden: Just the full-length and the compilation.
Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your stuff at?
Evan: Nowhere! Sorry, wish we could help.
Brenden: Soon enough at Underthegun Records’ website or at a show!
Dylan: When it’s finally released, the Underthegun website should have ‘em. He has a website right? Ha-ha!
Anthony: At this moment in time, nowhere. The demo tape that Underthegun Records is releasing will be available in some weeks, for now you can listen to it on SoundCloud.
With the completely insane international shipping rate increases that have taken place over the past few years I try and provide our readers with as many possible options for picking up import releases as I can. Where’s the best place for our international and overseas readers to score copies of your stuff?
Evan: We got nothing yet and we’re sorry about it. Soon! Don’t worry!
Dylan: Underthegun website! Ha-ha, but yeah, as of now your best bet is probably just listening to stuff on SoundCloud that we put up once in a blue moon. Nothing beats a physical copy, but I don’t think anyone can complain about free tunes!
Anthony: Right now, the best thing to do would be to email the band. Towards the end of the year Tee Pee Records will be putting out our album and it will be easier to access.
Are there any major plans or goals that Sacri Monti is looking to accomplish in 2014?
Dylan: Get this album done and tour!!! I just wanna travel and have a ball playin’ music with my best friends!
Evan: We played about twenty shows last year, so were not really focusing on playing any this year. We’re just trying to write, taking some time away from gigging to just figure out a good amount of tunes that can fit on a record. That’s my favorite part. It’s been an up and down process, but if we can accomplish it by the time 2014 is over, I’ll be happy.
Anthony: To finish recording the album and start playing live shows again. Hopefully, a west coast tour too, ‘cause we’ve played in San Diego too much. We’re hoping to make it to Europe in 2015.
Do you remember what the first song that Sacri Monti ever played live was? Where and when would that have been at?
Anthony: Well, at our first live show we started it off with an improvised jam that was a lot of fun and turned out pretty sweet. But the first actual song we played was the first song on the demo, which was also the first real song we wrote. That was in December 2012 at a big party in a big empty barn on our friend’s property in the woods. That party became an ongoing thing and has happened three times since with other bands that we’re friends with from San Diego, it’s called Into The Woods. Next one is July 2014…
Brenden: “Sittin Around In A Restless Dream” at the saloon in Encinitas.
Dylan: Probably “Sittin Around In a Restless Dream” at this shitty bar the Saloon in Encinitas. Or no, I think it was our buddy’s barn in Carlsbad. He puts on little party shows every now and then that are always a great time!
Evan: At the very first Into The Woods concert which happens on our good friend Mike Wuthrich’s barn property, (@Heavyperspectivepsych) and it was sometime around December of 2012. Anyways, when the Brenden Thomas Dukie Dylan Band band was playing, halfway through the set they started off a song with only guitar, just this fucking powerful guitar riff that sounded so genuine, it really blew my mind at the time. Once the whole band started playing, I just very naturally locked into these swells on my synthesizer, it all fit together and made sense. So, at that moment was the first time the five of us were all playing together, all locked into the same idea. I feel very lucky to play with Sacri Monti. It’s been an amazing opportunity.
Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road touring? Do you all enjoy being out on the road? What’s it like on tour for Sacri Monti?
Evan: Sacri Monti has yet to tour, but most of us have been out on the road before. I can’t wait to find out what it’s like to take Sacri Monti out across the country, and hopefully the world.
Anthony: Lately, I’ve been touring a lot with Radio Moscow but Sacri Monti hasn’t toured yet as a band.
Dylan: Not yet, but that’s the goal! We wanna melt yer faces!
Brenden: We haven’t toured at all yet, but this year that is all changing.
What, if anything, do you all have planned as far as touring goes for 2014?
Dylan: Nothing so far. Once we have the album completely written we definitely wanna at least go up the coast for a little bit, test ‘em out and tighten ‘em up before recording.
Brenden: The main goal is Europe, but we’ll be doing west coast tours as well.
Anthony: We’ve been talking about maybe doing a west coast tour with our friends from Harsh Toke but nothing’s been lined up yet.
Evan: We’re thinking maybe a short little west coast tour with either Harsh Toke or our good buddies Monarch. But it would be pointless if we went without any merch to sell, so once we take care of that you can expect a little tour.
Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you all have had a chance to play with so far?
Brenden: Ohhh mannnnn… Earthless, JOY, Harsh Toke, Artifact, we’ve been very fortunate.
Dylan: Earthless! There’s a bunch though, the San Diego scene is thriving, like I said before. Artifact is fucking killing it, I don’t think they’ve even released anything, but those dudes always blow me away. Harsh Toke as well, I can’t thank them enough! They hooked us up with a lot of shows. Psicomagia is beyond nuts, Brian Ellis’s group Astra; I think we’ve played with them? Ha-ha. There’re too many to list. Glitter Wizard and Buffalo Tooth (Interview here) too! Fuck, I know I’m missing a bunch.
Anthony: We got to play two shows with Earthless, which was something that we all wanted to do someday. We’ve played shows with good bands from San Diego that our friends are involved with, some of them being Harsh Toke, Psicomagia, JOY, Brian Ellis Group, and Red Octopus.
Evan: Earthless was a pretty fucking big deal. That one still trips me out. The Psicomagia and Corima show meant a lot to me because those two bands are on another level; totally changed the way I think about shit.
Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?
Dylan: Uhh sometimes a few of us will ingest some psychedelic substances and that always makes for a crazy show. Can seem like a nightmare or the most fun time ever, but it always makes things interesting!
Anthony: There have been times where it is so loud and the venue is so small with nothing really mic’d up, that it becomes very hard to hear each other and tell when the guitars are out of tune, and then we listen back to live recordings and pretty much just have to laugh about it. One time we all ate mushrooms and somehow ended up in a circle for a long time while playing a show. I remember Dylan and Brenden’s backs were facing the crowd for a very long time. It was a really small stage too; a good time, but strange.
Evan: I’m gonna go with the one time we were we were headlining this show at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach California with Harsh Toke. After fucking one song, Brenden’s guitar amp breaks, and when harsh toke quickly plugged him into their gear, that didn’t work either, and so he just said fuck it and walked off and grabbed a beer. We’re starting off this song and I guess I wasn’t paying attention, but I look into crowd and Brenden’s front and center with a tall can in his hands, looking at me like, “I don’t fuckin’ know dude”. And I look back, and we’re just staring at each other like, what the fuck do we do?!? We just went for it, and totally blew it. Total train wreck. The whole crowd slowly just walked out, just a classic worst nightmare show. We all laughed it off afterwards, it was no big deal. But holy crap, it got ugly up there.
In your dreams, who are you on tour with?
Dylan: Any of our good buddies in the San Diego scene! They’re all so talented!
Evan: Tame Impala. They’re the best band out right now. But hopefully, we can link up a tour with Danava. I could die happy after that.
Brenden: Harsh toke, because that will actually happen and those are some awesome dudes.
Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects of the band like flyers, posters, shirts, logos and other artwork? Is there any kind of message or meaning that you’re trying to impart with your artwork? Do you have anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to those kinds of things? If so, who is that and how did you originally get hooked up with them?
Dylan: Not too much, stuff just kinda happens. We have a good amount of friends and rippers who end up drawing stuff up and it just gets used, I always love ‘em!
Anthony: Lately, we’ve been procrastinating. We know so many talented artists and either need to get them to do it for us, or do it ourselves. We really need to get our shit together on that end.
Brenden: Yeah, I think we give too much thought to that. I only say that because I think that’s why we don’t have anything, ha-ha-ha.
Evan: We’re friends with so many rad artists that we’d love to use their art and all, but we haven’t yet. No one has drawn anything that we’ve used and we’re still waiting for that to happen, but I’m not worried about it whatsoever.
With all of the methods that are available to musicians today for releasing their material, I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the various methods that they do. Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music? What about when you’re listening to and or purchasing music? If you do have a preference can you talk a little bit about why?
Evan: I support any way possible of listening to Sacri Monti as long as we have something to do with it. Pay to listen to it, or don’t, bump it on vinyl or stream us online, I don’t care. I know its cliché, but all I care about is preventing some jackass from ripping us off. I support the people we work with, and we’ll get our stuff out there eventually.
Dylan: Vinyl baybay! Nothin’ better than killin’ time with a spinning record in front of you and all of the art and everything right at your fingertips!
Brenden: I will always love vinyl, although as far as releasing stuff goes I’d like to utilize all mediums so that our music can be heard everywhere.
Anthony: We want to release the album when it’s done on vinyl, CD, and digitally. Under The Gun approached us about releasing the demo just on tape and we were down. When I buy music it’s mostly on vinyl, sometimes CDs. I like everything that comes with the LP and it sounds better with the right kind of sound system. I like finding new old music on the internet too. Nowadays, YouTube surprisingly has a whole lot of obscure gems.
Do you have a music collection at all? If you do, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Brenden: Yeah, all of us are really into collecting records and have been collecting for some time now. I don’t really know what to say about it, though. I guess we all have about seventy five percent the same taste in things, but there’s the other twenty five percent that’s our own.
Evan: I mean, yeah, I got records and stuff but there’s nothing too special about that.
Dylan: Not the biggest. Like I said I’m broke, minimum wage doesn’t feed me too well, let alone let me indulge in as much music purchasing as I’d like. ‘Prolly have a hundred and fifty records or so, ranging from kraut rock to Nina Simon. I just love music! I’m never really going for a certain vibe, I just pick up what sounds appealing.
Anthony: I have a collection of songs on my computer, a bunch of CDs, and a lot of records. I counted not too long ago and it was around 400 LPs.
I grew up around a pretty massive collection of music and I was encouraged to dig in and enjoy it! I remember going up to these massive shelves of music and pick something out, stick it in the player, kick back with a set of headphones, read the liner notes, stare at the cover artwork and let the experience transport me away. There was just always something about having a physical object to hold in my hands made for a more complete listening experience, at least for me. Do you have any such connection with physically released music?
Brenden: Oh yes. There ain’t nothing better than doin’ what you just said man.
Dylan: Fuck yes! I do that with everything I purchase!
Anthony: Yes pretty much the same connection as you just mentioned, except I didn’t grow up around a massive music collection. I started my LP collection from scratch and continue to buy records when I can afford them.
Evan: I completely agree. It’s such a real experience that doesn’t happen to enough people these days. When it does, it’s really something special, but that doesn’t mean that the sacred elements of music are bound by physically released music. A listening experience can be equally as deep and emotional in any way you experience it. A physical record doesn’t guarantee a personal connection, music can inspire at any given time in any given way. That’s what’s so damn cool about it, is you don’t get to choose what inspires you and you don’t get to pick what music you wanna like. Music is more powerful than that, you have no choice.
As much as I love my music collection, I love my digital music collection as well. Being able to take my music on the go with my in a big way has really changed the way that I listen to music and in turn has affected my musical tastes as well. I can carry so much music with me these days that it boggles the mind, but that’s not even the tip of iceberg! When you combine digital music with the internet that’s when you get something really revolutionary. Together they’ve exposed people to an entire universe of music that they otherwise would never have had access to, not to mention it’s almost eradicated locational boundaries overnight as well. Nothing is ever black and white though, and with the good comes the bad. While people may be getting more and more exposure, illegal downloading is running rampant and with all of the people out there that have been given an equal voice it’s harder and harder to get noticed in the chocked digital scene out there right now. As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music?
Brenden: I’m pretty fine with people downloading music, I’m not gonna make any money doing this anyway. I’m just honored if someone gives a fuck and wants to spend their time listening to it… I’m more bummed about the record stores going under than the artists. The artist should know what he or she signed up for. A little money from it is cool but the real joy is having someone appreciate your work.
Anthony: Digital music, such as YouTube, helped me discover a lot of bands. I’ve found out about bands through music blogs too. If I really like what I’m hearing, I will buy my own hard copy of whatever it is if I can find it. If it’s a CD, I’ll upload it to my iTunes. I hear there’s a way to digitally transfer vinyl but I haven’t tried it yet. I should probably do that before something bad happens to my record collection.
Evan: It’s fucking amazing. It’s a miracle the amount music you can discover from around the world just with YouTube and shit. It would be a slap in the face to the brilliant minds who made this technology possible to say digital music sharing is wrong. I support it one hundred percent. To have people from around the world listen to my music means more to me than making money off it. If you wanna make money and be rich then get a good job, don’t start a band. You’re an idiot if you think it works that way. And if you don’t see it that way, then you’re Lars from Metallica, straight up.
Dylan: I get it! Who wouldn’t wanna be able to have a discography at your ears disposal, just with the click of the button? However, I definitely don’t respect it too much. Most people are ‘prolly guilty of it and you can stumble onto some great shit just delving around the internet, but if you like something, buy it eventually! Nothin’ beats the real deal in your hands.
I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can but there’s just not enough time in the day to keep up with one percent of the amazing stuff that’s going on out there right now. Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of before that I should be listening to?
Anthony: Psicomagia, Astra, Earthless, JOY, Harsh Toke, Brian Ellis Group, Red Octopus, Artifact, Monarch, Shaking Pyramid, Loom, Sigil of Dragon, and Radio Moscow. New Moscow album just came out.
Brenden: I think I listed them all earlier.
Dylan: All of it! I’m seriously on an Artifact kick right now, last time I saw those dudes I was blown away. They just get better and better!
Evan: Listen to: Monarch, JOY, Psicomagia, Sigil Of Dragon, ASTRA, Radio Moscow, Kraut Diaper, Buffalo Tooth (Interview here), Artifact, Loom, Red Octopus, COLOR, The Lumps, Shacking Pyramid, and seriously Corima.
What about nationally and internationally?
Anthony: Some bands that standout off the top of my head that I’ve seen live and played with while on tour with Radio Moscow would be Prisma Circus from Barcelona, Heat from Berlin, Narcosatanicos from Denmark, Mudwalk from Sweden, and Aqua Nebula Oscillator from France.
Dylan: Too many to list! I’m sure you know about ‘em but Aqua Nebula Oscilator from Tee Pee really tripped me out when I saw ‘em. I didn’t think people were still capable of krauting out to that extent.
Evan: Pond, Tame Impala, Danava, Wishboneashhhh… I don’t know man
Thanks so much for taking the time to make it this far, I know that my interviews aren’t short and they can’t be super easy to fill out, having to remember all this crazy stuff that may have happened a loooong time ago. It was awesome finding out so much about Sacri Monti though and I hope it was at least slightly cool looking back on everything that you’ve accomplish as a band. Before I close the books on this one though I always like to open up the floor for a moment though, is there anything that I may have possibly missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk to me or my readers about?
Brenden: I just appreciate you givin’ a shit about what we have to say I guess, and hope to have the record out and be on the road soon!
Dylan: I think you got it all! Thank you for your interest in us Roman it means a lot! Till next time!
Evan: Thanks man! This took me like eight hours to get done, really dug deep into places my mind hasn’t been in a while, so thank you for the opportunity. I just wanna know how can we help you get your stuff out there? Tell us how to promote you the best we can. It’s Psychedelic Baby is rad and more people need to check out your stuff! But besides that, that’s it. Thanks a lot.
Last words: Fuck ********Records.
(2014) Sacri Monti – Demo Tape – Cassette Tape – Under The Gun Records (Limited to ? copies)
(2014) Sacri Monti – TBA – digital, CD, 12” – Tee Pee Records (Release date TBA)
– Roman Rathert
© Jt Rhoades