Featured Artist: Monster Atlantic
Monster Atlantic had one goal: to produce a full-length, original album. This week, that goal officially becomes reality with the launch of “Sunken City Radio”. Blue Ridge Rocks sat down with Lance Smith, the band’s lead singer, to gain some insight into the new album which is a distillation of the best of nineties alternative rock, with an indie twist.
“Learning from your mistakes is cool,” Smith told Blue Ridge Rocks. “I thought I knew how to make an album. Learning that I didn’t was a great experience. It taught me that we had to keep developing and working to improve.” And keep developing they did. Sunken City Radio started in 2013 with one song, “All is Forgiven,” and the project grew from countless songwriting sessions and rehearsals.
Smith was adamant about the importance of recording everything. In addition to practices, Smith and lead guitarist Matt Stump, recorded regular writing sessions. To streamline the creative process, they would then edit those sessions down to the essentials and send them to the rest of the band to include Tad Dickens on drums and vocals, and bassist Jason Davis, for feedback.
When asked about influences, Smith first credited his older brother. “Growing up, my older brother was my hero and I wanted to listen to everything he was listening to.” Radiohead, Violent Femmes, Soul Asylum, and Nirvana are a few of the bands Smith ticked off. It comes as no surprise that he attributes his greatest influence to R.E.M. Smith’s voice shares a similar tone with Michael Stipe, which is really driven home in “American Ghost” on the new CD.
Along with working on the album, Monster Atlantic has been keeping a full schedule performing live. They’ve opened for some notable acts including Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and Carbon Leaf. “We started playing at the beginning of 2015 and haven’t slowed down since.”
Near the end of the interview, we spent some time discussing the dynamics of working with other musicians to create a full-length album, while handling all the other responsibilities that comes along with operating a band. “Treat your band like family,” Smith stated openly. “All people have their quirks. People get their feelings hurt. You’ve got to understand that, and realize that things will blow over. Always communicate. Learn to work together.”
Smith is an artist who knows what he wants, and knows the value of pushing himself to improve. From his interest in collaborating with other artists, to the way his vocals drive forward from the speakers, this is a man who is definitely, as he stated, “not waiting for things to happen.” He and Monster Atlantic are making things happen. This foursome has come together to produce an album filled with songs that bring a familiarity of melodic rock ballads with cool guitar riffs, yet are completely brand new. It’s reminiscent without being nostalgic. Their hard work and commitment to push forward is evident throughout the album.
This summer, Monster Atlantic is excited to be making its first appearance at FloydFest. In the meantime, you can catch them this Friday at the Harvester Performance Center with Low Low Chariot and Welcome to Hoonah. Then, Saturday is the official CD release party for Sunken City Radio at Martin’s Downtown, where they will be sharing the stage with their good friends, The Floorboards.
Hear a few songs from “Sunken City Radio” on our Playlist page. Then, starting Saturday, you can find the full album on Spotify and iTunes.
Sunken City Radio album artist Billy Chase