Every Monday we will be bringing you an unsigned singer or band as part of our Independent Music Monday feature. This week, we caught up with Montauk Hotel find out more about them...
Who is in the band, how did you meet, where are you from and how did you come up with the band name?
Montauk Hotel are a Dublin based band. The band is made up of Claudia Verdecchia (vocals), Shell Dooley (guitar), Aoife Hester (bass) and Karima Dillon El-Toukhy (drums).
Aoife: Myself and Shell played in a band together a few years back. We met up again some time later to form another band. We found Claudia through a friend on Facebook and Karima plays in another band with me and agreed to come in to try out for the drums. The rest is history!
Shell: After our first band finished, me and Aoife eventually met up to jam and write songs… But it was just the two of us jamming with guitar and bass for months. Though we wrote the bones of our first single Black Dress during this time! We went on the hunt for a singer and when we found Claudia it just fit so perfectly. Karima had taken a few drum lessons a few years back and we asked her to play with us... And we wouldn’t let her leave!
Claudia: When we were coming up with a band name, we were trying to think of what our music would look like if it was out there somewhere… A name that would evoke an image of some sort in people’s minds. We had spent some time in Bray together and we had a real fascination for places like the old houses on the beach and the old hotel there. That linked in with one of the band’s favourite films ‘Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind’ where some of the scenes took place in a beach house in Montauk. The story of the film is full of recurring elements like memory, affection and time. These would all be themes that come up in our songs.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
Aoife: I think a mixture of 80s and 90s jangly indie pop. We often get compared to The Smiths, The Cure and The Pretenders and these would all be good influences of ours!
Shell: The Smiths were a massive early influence on us but as we have written more songs our influences list keeps growing! We all have such broad tastes in music and genres that have influenced our individual styles of playing and writing so we have brought all of these influences together! My own personal influences would be guitarists who have a strong sense of melody evident in their playing and a strong sense of tone and use of effects, such as Johnny Marr, George Harrison, Graham Coxon, The Edge and Jeff Buckley.
How would you describe your sound?
Shell: We have called our sound "shimmer pop". I think the main thing when we started was that we wanted to write simple songs with clever use of melody and effects. My pedal board has been put together specifically for the Montauk Hotel sound! We want plenty of shimmer backing up Claudia’s melodies so to help create this I have two reverb pedals, a chorus (which is always on!), tremolo, delay and a flange (just in case!). Aoife’s bass lines really carry a lot of the songs filling the role of rhythm guitar as well as bass. I think Karima is our secret weapon though – her beats are so well planned out and she always knows what will suit each section of the song.
Claudia: We have a very simple set up with just one guitar, bass drums and vocals, but it's very characteristic and quite recognisable even though we're quite a new band. I would describe the overall sound as jangly, shimmery, with plenty of chorus and reverbs. We like simple things made well!
What is your latest single called and what was the influence behind it?
Shell: Our latest single 'Sense of Place' was released in mid-August. We launched it with a headline show in Whelan's, supported by our friends Beauty Sleep and Exiles.
Claudia: Our latest single deals with the interaction and relationship between people and the space they populate, live in, walk in and how these two elements affect and influence each other. It is a reflection on the migration to urban spaces and how urban spaces are constructed around us with a specific plan and aim. It is a simple anthropologic observation. Ultimately, the song is also about feelings like alienation versus belonging to a place, and the value certain places have for each one of us.
What’s your local music scene like?
Claudia: The music scene in Dublin is buzzing, so much good music and different genres are written and performed by new bands and we love meeting, interacting and bonding with other bands in a supportive way.
Karima: We have done so many gigs in loads of venues around Dublin city and there is always a fantastic crowd. There are so many great bands in Ireland at the moment that the live scene is a great way to meet people and find new music too!
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
Karima: We haven't stopped gigging this Summer which has been amazing. We have met so many bands and played some fantastic shows. We will be spending a lot more time writing over the next few months but will be still keeping up our live presence. We will be performing more shows outside of Dublin. Our writing will be focused on getting an album together for the new year.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
Shell: It would be great to collaborate with some of our friends who are making great music, such as Beauty Sleep or Tanjier. And also, if Johnny Marr, Robert Smith or Bryan Ferry wanted to work with us... We may just be able to find time to do so!
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
Karima: My snare stand broke mid song at a gig a few weeks back! I had to hold it up with my knees until the song was over. The girls were well able to vamp until I got it sorted!
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about your band?
Claudia: We are down to earth, dedicated and really passionate about what we do. We have a lot of fun even just practising and doing stuff together out of the practise/gig times.
Shell: Friendship is definitely a strong element in this band. It what makes us work so well together. We all have quite different personalities that compliment each other well. We all bring something to the band. Passion for songwriting and performing is at the core of this band!
Aoife: What I love about this band is that we split every single decision between us. It's all very equal and fair. There will always be ups and downs and disagreements but I think that our close friendship means that there is a level of respect for each other above anything else which means nothing gets out of control.