Interview with James Clarke of Monte Luna

By Mick Michaels

COSMICK VIEW: Hello, James! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it's greatly appreciated.
Monte Luna: Thank you for having us! Much love to you.
CV: Monte Luna describes its music style as "acid soaked sludge." Do you feel such a characterization on the songwriting is a way to offer an alternative twist on an already unique artistic interpretation of music?
James Clarke: During the early years of the band when it was just Phil and I. We really started as more of a heavy jam band. We like putting time in our live performance for a bit of creativity. We draw from a lot of musical styles so we felt that the more conventional categories felt too limiting. We’ve played with Stoner Metal bands, Black Metal bands, Death Metal, Punk Rock, Rock and Roll, Doom, Sludge, Psych Rock bands…and we've even shared the stage with Noise and Indie Rock bands. People are people and so are we. At the end of the day we don't care what category we fall under, we just enjoy meeting great people and we love writing music! Short story long, if you like acid and heavy music you will definitely enjoy Monte Luna. 
CV: How would you compare Monte Luna's music to the more mainstream music of the Austin scene? Does it stand out as an oddity and if so, does such an oddity give the band a riveting edge over what would be considered the norm?
JC: Well, I would say there is no other band that sounds like us here. We've been very thankfully received and we always have a great time at local shows! We’ve played all over town and had a great time doing so! Everyone has been really friendly and supportive. You gotta think, this town has some really amazing music. Bands like Destroyer of Light, Communion, Haunter, American Sharks are phenomenal bands from the Austin and San Antonio…our home away from home), Metal scene. We have some of the best musicians in the world here of all genres. I think in Austin, being a weird band will help you in the end. As long as it’s not like pretentious or you are an asshole to people. Most of music is people skills! Kiss babies, play benefit shows for the Satanic temple… Support the homies, always and forever. 
CV: Define for us what "levels of sonic bliss" means to the band and how it relates to the music. Is it solely an artistic interpretation and experience, meaning something that is only felt by those who created it...or can the listener also share in such an experience and garnish the same feelings?
JC: Sonic bliss is something that everyone can feel, it’s how the music, how the people in the room and how everything is connected. Music is such a beautiful feeling and we work to create that emotion. Something that speaks beyond what language can. Sonic bliss is something you feel deep within you. That is where our music comes from. 
CV: How does "dungoneering" play a role in the band's songwriting style and philosophy?
JC: Well, we play Dungeons and Dragons. That one is more so into the writing…the first album is based off of a D&D campaign I have been working on for years…a lot of world building more so. Music can be a platform for a lot of things, but I tend to find peace and escapism in music. I want to create music that takes you somewhere for a bit so you can get out of what’s going on around you for a bit…good or bad. Music is a cure-all. 

CV: With the COVID pandemic largely shutting down a band's abilities to tour and physically connect with their audience, do you see a new model of band/fan interaction emerging that will not involve live performances except in a virtual manner? JC: Oh totally, I had an ex-girlfriend tell me about some of this stuff well before this…to start getting some sort of an online virtual presence. She is very smart regarding that. I really take a lot of her advice to heart. We shot a beautiful live stream for Cvlt Nation a few weeks ago for our first big bit of content. We have a follow up behind the scenes video for Cvlt Nation we are doing as well. On July 31st we had a stream with our local home, The Lost Well to raise money for them! Donations can be sent via Venmo: @thelostwell.

In the coming weeks we are going to push a Patreon out as a beta. That would give people a chance to hang out with us, catch some footage of band practice, watch Danny draw and maybe even play video games or D&D with us! Wouldn't that be rad!? 
CV: Are live, in person performances even relative now, especially given that the whole world has continued to exist without them for the last four months...and possibly, for the foreseeable future? JC: Nothing will ever replace a live show…it doesn't matter how long the world will wait. Hell, the UK is heading back into indoor shows soon! Beautiful! Don't ever give up hope! 
CV: What do you feel bands can do to stay relevant, especially in an environment where playing out live is not an option? What has Monte Luna done to remain in the game? 
JC: We released the recording of our live stream which debuts three of our brand new songs as demo form. We will be going back into the studio in November to lay down our third Full length album. We are also getting some beautiful glow in the dark enamel pins, condoms…you know you gotta get it in during COVID yall, t shirt and even Monte Luna plushies! Fun for all ages! YE HAW! 
CV: The COVID pandemic has rocked all of us and not in a good way; socially, economically, politically and emotionally. What do you see as the biggest effect the pandemic will have, not only on the music industry, but the world as a whole long term? The biggest effect? 
JC: I think this is a great time for inner reflection. I hope through all this separation and hate the government is putting on its people, that we become stronger and more unified to stand against tyranny. I hope people take healthy and safe habits from this…that people think more of each other than themselves . I hope we learn to love just a little bit more. 

CV: What do you feel has been the band's biggest accomplishment during the pandemic lockdown? 

JC: Not getting COVID! We have a lot of bar and music family in our lives. We are all still alive! That’s something right? Shooting that live stream was amazing, it came out so beautiful! Our director, Marcos of Dirt City Studios, worked with Inter Arma and Primitive Man before this, so we knew we had the right person. It came out great! Watch it! 
CV: What’s next for Monte Luna?  What can fans expect to see coming from the band in a post pandemic world? 
JC: Mad Max Monte Luna van shows coming to an apocalypse town near you! No, no, most likely just normal back to business sonic bliss and hugging old friends who we've missed dearly! We will be playing live shows till we fall over dead and making up for lost time on the road.
CV: Thank you again James for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. It was a pleasure. I wish you all the best and continued success.
JC: Party on Garth
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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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