Pop-Rock Group MONROE’s Front-Man Matt Berman Discusses The Band’s Origin, Favorite Artists, Working With The Killers And Much More!
Posted On 11 Jul 2017
The pop-rock group Monroe recently debuted their first ever music video called “One More Night.” The video follows an unlikely duo spreading joy on a heartfelt trip though the band’s hometown of New York City, ending on a wistful note that echoes the song’s plea to “give me one more night.”
“I wrote this song for myself and anyone that was going through some kind of struggle,” lead singer and saxophonist Matt Berman said of the band’s debut single. “You can really apply this song to whatever you’re going through; and I wanted to give the listener a chance to put themselves in the shoes of the main character because, we’ve all been there before. This song is really special to me because I’ve been through heartbreak, loss, and hopelessness; but no matter how dark a situation may seem, you can make it out alive. I want this song to be an anthem for all that need it.”
Formed by singer/saxophonist Matt Berman, Monroe unites a group of musicians with extensive touring backgrounds, including members who have played with Lauryn Hill and Augustana. Berman himself played saxophone and keys as part of Brandon Flowers’ (The Killers) band on his recent world tour and has worked in the studio with artists on Snoop Dogg and Kanye West’s labels. Monroe recently opened for Ingrid Michaelson and made their live debut at Los Angeles’ Viper Room earlier this year. They will release their debut EP in 2017 – watch this space for more!
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Learn more about Monroe in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Where does this interview find the band today?
We’re in a really exciting place. Finally released the video for “One More Night”, and have a ton of exciting new music on the way. The forthcoming EP took a while to write and emotionally finish, so I’m really excited to get it out to the world.
What are some words you would use to describe 2016 for this band and your music? What were some of the highlights? What has been the most exciting part about this year?
I would say it was definitely a roller coaster in the best way possible. This record and song has so much meaning behind it. I would say it could be described as indie pop/rock but there’s so much more behind it. Countless hours writing and refining each song and making sure there was a reason for every lyric, every note, every texture, and every instrument.
This is a really dense album in the sense of instrumentation, vocals and meaning. I took the entire year of 2016 to record this record to make sure I “left everything out on the table.” I wanted a record I could look back on and say “If I could never play music again, I would have no regrets with what I have done here.” I think the most exciting part of the whole process was finally hearing the final product. Myself and the music has been through so much, I am extremely grateful to have a producer and friend like Jake Owen to help guide me through all of this. It wouldn’t have been the same without him.
Growing up, did you all always want to be musicians? Can you recall the moment you realized that you could really make music together and be a band? Why do you think your name truly represents this group and the music that you create?
I started playing violin at a young age. My parents were extremely supportive of me pursuing music, and I suppose sick of hearing me play the violin badly… ha! So when I was 7 years old, my mom got me an alto saxophone, and ever since then I have dedicated my life to music. I knew I was meant to be a musician. I am constantly thinking of new ideas and new ways to push myself to be better. My friend/guitar player/ producer Jake Owen is a huge reason that this record was even possible. Jake plays with a band called Augustana who I was a fan of since I was in high school. I would go to all the shows when they were in New York. Once night after a show, I was standing outside the venue hoping to meet the band. I met everyone except Jake, and I was a little bummed out; I was so close to meeting the entire band. A week or so later, I was playing a show at Rockwood Music Hall in New York; and who did I spot at the bar?… Jake. So its been history since then, and I couldn’t be more grateful. It was one of those “meant to be” situations.
What did it feel like finally releasing your debut single and video for “One More Night”? What has been the most surprising part about this whole process? How creatively involved were you all with the making of the video?
Well it felt, and still feels amazing. Pursuing a big project like this is never easy and you need an amazing team behind you. After I wrote “One More Night” I knew it needed some sort of visual to go with it. The song and EP is a story onto itself and I wanted to have a video that could add to it. I reached out to my friend Chris Vitiello who I know was an amazing producer and director. Chris had the original idea for the video after I forced him to listen to the song about a thousand times, then we built off that idea and here we are! I think it was surprising to be to see the evolution of the album, and I mean surprising in the best way possible. From the inception of these songs in my head, to playing them acoustic, to re-writing chords, to working with numerous people, this record really took on a life of its own. It’s really exciting to hear it come to life.
What was the inspiration for “One More Night”? It is quite the powerful anthem!
“One More Night” is the song that carried the emotional weight of the album. It is the song that summarizes the record. “One More Night” is so diverse and has so many different meanings to me, and I want to give that to the listener as well. It can apply to anything you’re going through. We all go through so many ups and downs in our lives and I want to give the listener the opportunity to apply this song to anything they’re going through. No matter what the situation is, you can “make it out alive.”
How do you think “One More Night” prepares listeners for the rest of your EP which you will be releasing next month?
I believe that “One More Night” is definitely the “cliff-notes” version of the EP. The themes expressed in that song are elaborated on in detail in the other songs on the record. “One More Night” is definitely the flagship song.
Can you elaborate on your involvement with the Hungerford School? Why is this particular school so special to this band?
This is extremely important to me and the band as a whole, and it reaches far beyond one school. I have a special place in my heart for children with disabilities. In many cases, children with autism and any kind of learning disability are not given the same opportunities as a “mainstream” functioning child; and that is heartbreaking and unacceptable to me. Many children do not get the opportunity to continue their education past high school, and getting a job is just as hard. I put my complete support behind The Hungerford School because they are giving children with disabilities a voice and a chance to continue their education and get jobs.
The teachers there are so caring and understanding of the children. They take them to numerous places that they can work and give them the chance to try out different jobs to see what they like to do. The school is providing them with opportunities that not many other places can do for them. When talking to the teachers, you can feel the passion they have for the children to succeed not just in the classroom, but also in life. Providing opportunities for children with disabilities is extremely important to me and will be a very important platform for Monroe. We will be taking every opportunity to support places that give these kids a chance to succeed.
Matt, I’d love to know what it was joining The Killers’ Brandon Flowers on his recent world tour? What did you learn from that experience? What was the coolest part about it all?
This was a life changing opportunity for me. Not many people can say they did a world tour with Brandon Flowers, and I’m grateful for every moment of it. We rolled up to each city with three tour buses and two huge trucks; so it was quite a nice set up for Brandon’s tour. This was the first time I was on a world tour with a major artist. I got the call to play saxophone from my friend and amazing drummer Darren Beckett. I gotta say, it was pretty amazing to get to meet and hang with Brandon. For such a successful guy, he is also one of the nicest guys around. So caring of his band and the crew, I couldn’t have asked for a better band to tour with at the time.
It was amazing to be on stage with everyone, but I think a lot of the fun was definitely had when we were off the stage too. Living life, playing music on the road is one of the most exciting experiences I think a musician could ever have. I got to learn from the band and Brandon. Standing on his right side every night, I learned so much from him. I learned how to lead a band, and how to be a front man. I think that may be one of the many coolest opportunities.
Do you have plans to play out a lot this summer? What are some of your upcoming tour dates that you are excited about?
Yes! We just started rolling out some shows. Next one is July 15th at the Bowery Electric in NYC; but we will be announcing more shortly. You can stay updated on our website monroemusic.net
You have each performed with so many incredible artists so I am curious to know what’s been the most rewarding and fun touring experience so far?
Hands down, touring with Brandon was the most rewarding tour experience. I wrote some of my record while on tour with him. I got to learn about myself as a person and as a musician. I can go on and on. That being said, I have learned so much from every artist I have gotten to work with and I am so grateful for each opportunity.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Who would you all to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration for this band?
I feel like my taste in music is very diverse. Contemporary artists; I personally love The Counting Crows, Augustana, Bon Iver, Hozier, The Killers, Chance the Rapper, anyone who really puts a lot behind their lyrics. Artists that set the foundation for music; John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Jackie McClean, Thelonious Monk, people that shaped music and pushed it to evolve.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
At the end of the day, I want you to decide that for yourself. I want the listener to take these songs and use them however you need to; whatever you’re going through, weather it is positive or not. I wrote this album to get a lot off my chest, and tell you what I was going through. Use it how you will. I will say, no matter what happens, always know you can make it out and never forget who you are in the process. This album is just as much a story of personal transformation as much as it is an account of experiences.
What advice would you give to a band just getting started? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day?
Above all else, always be true to yourself. Not everyone is going to love your music or what your putting out there, but as long as you’re giving it your all and putting out a genuine product; you will have no regrets. Do it for the love. Do it because you can’t imagine your life without it. Being a musician is not a task to be taken lightly. I remember when I was first starting, I would be practicing 6-8 hours a day, alone in a soundproof room. I still practice constantly, looking to improve. It is one of the most rewarding experiences in the world. You’re constantly learning and getting better and better. Strive for greatness and do not settle.
There’s always going to be someone out there that can do what you can do; so YOU are the reason you’re going to stand out. Work harder, and work smarter. Be humble and grateful for every opportunity and experience. With all that being said, if the dream is in your heart; go for it. I promise you will not regret it.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I’m really excited to get this EP out there. They say an album is a snapshot of your life at the time you record it. I’m really excited to show everyone that picture, and continue to put out music and let everyone into my world. This is my vision, but I couldn’t have done it without the support of these great musicians, my family, and friends. I’m excited for the world to finally hear Monroe.