Montrell are Alex, Jonny, Michael and Sam, a four-piece whose introspective indie rock and emphasis on exclusive and intimate concerts have seen them earn a loyal fanbase, not just in London where they reside, but also throughout Germany and the Netherlands, where they tour next week. Their recent headline slot in partnership with industry juggernaut Sofar Sounds at Citadel signalled them as ones to watch on the London music scene. I caught a couple of moments with frontman Jonny, before they embarked on their European tour, to find out more.
Words by Hannah Crosbie
Hannah) You’ve had an incredible year so far with Montrell, what have been the highlights?
Montrell) Thanks, it’s nice to hear it – it has been a good year for us. I reckon the highlights have been touring the songs for the first time ever in Europe earlier this year in May. Then being chosen by Citadel Festival to play a headline slot in one of their tents, that was a really affirming milestone for us as a band.
What was your favourite gig of the year?
There have been a few really good ones but I’d have to go for the second show of the tour in May in Hamburg. It wasn’t the biggest venue, it was out in the suburbs of Germany, but it was completely packed out. We got two standing ovations and the applause was like a tide, it was amazing. The venue looked after us so well too.
It’s funny you mention a gig like that, because this year you’ve been playing a lot more intimate gigs in smaller venues, which still manage to garner a lot of attention. Why do you think intimate gigs are now more popular than ever?
Hamburg was a perfect example of that kind of thing. I think the intimate ones are more popular than ever because the artist can communicate and get through to the audience in a completely different way. It’s almost like being able to show the crowd the songs as they were first written: when you strip away all the bar noise and glitz of a fancy venue, you just get the songs – an artist’s dream, really.
You’re about to embark on another tour of Europe, making stops in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and finally the south of England. In a political climate that can only be described as challenging, do you think it’s important to make that face-to-face connection through music?
Yes definitely, we love connecting face to face with anyone on Earth through performing. I don’t like what has happened here in the UK at all, and playing music around Europe is a peaceful way of making a statement about it, I suppose. I think Europe has always held importance for me personally too: my mum sent me to French classes when I was six, my girlfriend is from Düsseldorf, the guys in the band have spent a fair amount of time over there too. With regards to the current political situation, it’s very interesting timing that we’re playing in late October...
What do you love most about Germany?
The openness from the crowd and desire to purely engage with the music, also this unflinching, consistent hospitality and kindness. I’ll never forget one of our hosts this year in Berlin, he poured us out glasses of champagne after our show and simply said: “There is a cultural vacuum here but people like you are filling it.” That kind of set the tone of the whole tour for us.
Which three tracks of yours would you suggest to someone who may have never listened to Montrell before to give them a taste of what you're about?
I’d say: ‘Aqua’ because it’s chilled; ‘Morning’ for its honesty; and ‘Aeroplane’ because it’s quite nihilistic. Two of those songs aren’t released yet, but they’re the direction we want to go in.
Speaking of new releases, what are you most excited about in the future for Montrell?
We’re really elated to put out our second effort, ‘EP 2’, at the end of November this year. There’s an intriguing music video for one of the songs crafted by this amazing Italian illustrator called Luca. Then I think we want to see how far we can take the band in the next few years...
Catch Montrell in Kent on the last weekend of October:
26 October: Smugglers Live, Sandwich
|27 October: Smugglers Cove, Deal
Or, if you’re in Europe over the next week, you can find them playing here:
Sat 19th October: Proeflokaal Nevel, Nijmegen
Sun 20th October: Scruffys, Karlsruhe
Mon 21st October: TBA Venue, Leipzig
Tue 22nd October: Fotostudio Gezett, Berlin
Wed 23rd October: The Student Hotel, Dresden
Thu 24th October: The Beanery, Amberg
Fri 25th October: Waard van Kekerdom