The following post was also published on The Huffington Post here.
Everything about Major and The Monbacks is doubled. The eight-piece psychedelic rock band has double the number of players most bands have. That means double the sound. And there’s even a set of twins providing double the talent. Think Chicago meets the Grateful Dead meets The Band. And new album paired with a critically acclaimed producer should result in at least double the new fans.
“At the base of it, our music is just a mixture of 1960s and ’70s rock and with a little retro psychedelic and a little soul thrown in and all blended together,” explains Cole Friedman. “It’s got pop sensibility and vocal harmonies of the early ’60s mixed in with high energy R&B. One of the cool things about the band — it’s why we’re on the road all the time — we put it all out there on stage. It’s cool to put on a show full energy and see the crowd react.”
The Norfolk, Virginia-based band is composed of Cole Friedman on bass guitar; his twin, Neal Friedman on keyboard, organ, guitar and vocals ; Michael Adkins on organ, guitar and vocals; Harry Slater on keyboard, guitar and vocals; Tyler West on percussion; Bryan Adkins on drums; and a slew of touring horn guys.
The band has been gaining a strong following in Southwest Virginia over the past few years thanks in part to multiple gigs at festivals including FloydFest and Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival. The Monbacks new sophomore full-length album recorded earlier this month with internationally acclaimed producer and and Spacebomb Records founder Matthew E. White poises the band to gain notice far beyond its home state borders. The band is announcing its full U.S. tour in support of the album on Monday here.
On the new album, the Monbacks pair their raucous, horn-drenched rock and roll and songwriting with White’s signature use of psychedelic and orchestral landscapes.
With White’s guidance and production expertise, the Monbacks are looking to define their own brand of psychedelic retro-pop inspired rock, according to Cole Friedman.
“The best aspects of each shake hands somewhere in the middle,” Slater adds.
Major & The Monbacks, opened by The Southern Belles of Richmond, will play in a 9 p.m. show on Friday, April 22, at the Rives Theatre in uptown Martinsville for a Rooster Walk Preview weekend special. “We’ve crossed paths with The Southern Belles many times over the years and,” Cole Friedman said.
Tickets cost $15 in advance and $18 at the door, and season passes will be accepted.
Friday’s audience can expect to hear “a lot of new material from the album,” Neil Friedman told The Martinsville Bulletin. The playlist will be “mostly new tunes, a few old standards from the Monback catalog.”
The new album follows up the Monbacks’ independently produced debut album that was released in May 2015.
Comprised of a core group of high school and college friends who came together make music about seven years ago, the Monbacks have taken its high-energy live show on the road for the past two years, touring continuously up and down the East Coast and extensively throughout the Southeast as an touring ensemble that includes a two, sometimes three, piece horn section. This live aesthetic was an essential part of what the band tried to capture on their debut album, recording primarily live onto analog tape at Welcome to 1979 in Nashville, Tennessee.
On the new record, the band has shifted its focus to creating a more cohesive studio record that takes full advantage of White’s production style and experience, Cole Friedman says.
The band recorded the album at Montrose Recording Studio in Richmond, Virginia. White’s Big Inner was called “one of the great albums of modern Americana” by Uncut Magazine and he was named eMusic’s Breakthrough Artist of 2012, Paste Magazine’s Best New Act of 2012, and Consequence of Sound Rookie of the Year before being signed to Domino Records and re-releasing the album worldwide in 2013.
The Monbacks have a five-month tour of the United States planned to begin in late April with other festival performances at Firefly Music Festival (Dover, Delaware), LAVA Fest (Suffolk, Virginia), and Tuck Fest (Charlotte, North Carolina), among many more.
Cole Friedman says the Rooster Walk festival organizers took the band under its wing several years ago after seeing the Monbacks perform in Richmond.
“Rooster Walk was the first real festival that took a chance on us and Martinsville has been very good to us over the years,” he adds, noting numerous performances at The Rives as well as headlining the festival’s summer series last August. “Southwest Virginia has been a hotbed for us. People are always looking for new bands and it’s cool that they like us.”