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Belmont: Pop Punk Reflections From Chicagoland

Belmont: Pop Punk Reflections From Chicagoland

Belmont: Pop Punk Reflections From Chicagoland

Belmont is a pop punk collective from the wilds of Chicago ready to break into the stratosphere of success – especially if their recent EP Reflections on Pure Noise Records is indicative of even greater glories ahead.  Clearly presenting a band writing the next dynamic chapter of their career, Reflections is sure to captivate all types of music fans who like their tunes jammed packed with super infectious melodies and memorable lyrics.  Highwire Daze recently interviewed three members of the Belmont brigade to discuss Reflections, Chicagoland, the brothers Kerekes, donuts, and a whole lot more…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Belmont, and how long the band has been together.
Sam:  Good to chat with you! I’m Sam, I play guitar and you’ve got Brian and Taz here too (drummer and singer respectively). The band started when we were all in high school, back in 2014. Taz and Brian basically started the band through friends of friends, played a couple gigs in the Chicago area which is how I came on board. I joined later that year and we hit the ground running. I don’t think it was a very serious thing for any of us until after we’d graduated high school in 2016, which was also when we released our EP Between You and Me and added our bassist Alex into the band. Our final member was our other guitarist Jason, who we actually found because he recorded our album in 2017! It’s been a unique road and we’ve got an eclectic group of guys but it works well.

Where is the band based out of and what is the local music scene like there?
Brian:  We are based in the Chicagoland area, and we were actually fortunate enough to have such a vibrant and lively scene growing up. We dove into it when we were all first starting high school. A lot of midwest bands in general all pour into Chicago like a sort of hot spot. This makes the community very alive and filled with people actively playing, listening to each other, and coming to each others shows. Over some time it all acts as a huge group of friends. Everyone, in our experience, is taken in with open arms and treated like family which makes an environment of people wanting to connect with each other and wanting to spend a majority of their free time going to shows, and always being at the next gig. Chicago confidently has one of the most supportive and thriving local scenes out of any other American cities we’ve been to.

Is there any overall story or concept behind the Reflections EP title?
Brian:  The overall concept behind Reflections is a slice of our lives and what is currently happening to us while continuing the general themes of our previous releases. The EP is moreso a collection of songs recorded over an extended period of time, and in those months that it was being created, it tells the story of what we’re going through in those moments in a way that can hopefully resonate with a lot of people. The title Reflections itself is a simple and self-explanatory meaning of reflecting on the time period of our lives while these songs were being made.

Select two songs from Reflections and what inspired the lyrics.
Taz:  The songs Stay Up and Move Along are both lyrically inspired by the feelings of being trapped in a mental routine that keeps you frozen in place. Move Along specifically reflects on the frustration of seeing friends and family grow with ease while you feel stuck in a bottle with yourself no matter how hard you try to stop.

Who produced Reflections and what was it like working with them?
BrianReflections was actually produced by multiple people over about 5-7 months. We were at different studios at different times which is why we view it as a collection of songs. We worked with Kyle Black for By My Side and Stay Up, Jon Markson for Move Along and Back and Forth, and then we finished out self-producing Hideout and Deadweight within the band while having Jason and Taz engineering, and then Jason mixing the track. We then took all of the songs over to Kris Crummett for mastering. Overall working with Jon and Kyle was a really cool experience. We had been longtime fans of their work, and it was cool to be able to be in the studio with both of them. The great thing that comes out of being in a situation like this is you have different people giving their take on working with Belmont, and that produces many different energies in the same release. Jon plays bass in Such Gold, and we actually had met him on a tour that we did together a year prior, so it was a lot of fun being in the studio together and being able to hang out as friends while working at the same time. The self-produced tracks were a trip because we had to get them done all on our own, but we came prepared and have a clear vision of what we’re going for, so it ended up working out great.

How does Reflections compare to your previous full length album?
Sam:  Well to start there’s less songs. Aside from that it’s a lot more forward thinking and experimental. The full length was an establishment piece to kind of give a sample of what exactly Belmont sounds like. Reflections takes that and says “you know what Belmont’s vibe is, now how far can we push the envelope of experimentation while staying true to our sound

What was it like working with Mat Kerekes of Citizen and his brother Chris on your first EP Vicissitude?
Brian:  At the time we were recording with Chris and Mat, Brian and Taz were the only members out of the current lineup that were in the studio working on the first EP Vicissitude. Taz had been a huge fan of Citizen along with Brian, and Taz was able to connect with Chris through the internet. One thing led to another, and then we found ourselves waking up at 4 AM to drive to Ohio. We were all in high school, and I believe it was like the middle of the school week, and we got to ditch school for a few days to record which is always great. Mat and Chris had their studio in the basement of their house, and that’s where we would be living during the recording of the EP. It was honestly a great time, both Mat and Chris were super humble, funny, and nice guys and they took us in with open arms. I think it would’ve been pretty easy to write us off as a bunch of dumb high schoolers who are messing around, but they gave us a shot, and we are super grateful for it. Mat also let us work out and lift weights with him, and as you would imagine, our performance was a bit embarrassing, but it was a great time nonetheless!

What could one expect from a live Belmont show?
Brian:  One can definitely expect a lot of energy at a Belmont show. You can expect a lot of drums, guitars, and other craziness coming at you from all angles. All we really want from our shows is for everyone to absolutely lose their minds and get lost in the music, and we get our wish a lot of the time. The music just ignites something in people and the general vibe is to be as rowdy as possible. You can also expect to be completely soaked by the end of the set.

If Belmont could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Sam:  We’d love to open up for Korn in 1999, that would be an absolutely insane experience. Touring with A Day To Remember would probably be the one for me personally within our genre. I think they always stuck to their roots and never let anybody tell them who they should be and they always came out on top. I think that’s admirable and something we’re definitely trying to emulate.

Are you or any other members involved with any other projects outside of Belmont?
Brian:  Yes! Our bassist actually has his own acoustic project called Rare Candy. It’s great stuff, and everyone should definitely check it out!

If the music of Belmont was a donut, what kind would it be and why?
Sam:  If we were a donut I think we’d be a lemon filled blueberry donut because that sounds like a really good flavor and I’ve never seen one like that but I want one and I think that’s the essence of the band, trying to be the band that we all wish existed, if that makes sense.

What’s up next for Belmont?
Sam:  A lot is up in the air because of the current virus situation, but hopefully we’ve got a whole lot of touring coming up and a new album on the horizon. We’re working on a lot of limited run merch drops, play throughs of our songs, and live studio sessions too so there’s going to be a lot of stuff coming.

Any final words of wisdom?
Sam:  Drink lots of water! And watch the movie Your Name (it’s in Japanese but it’s one of the best movies)…

Band Members
Taz Johnson: Vocals
Brian Lada : Drums
Sam Patt: Guitar/Backing Vocals
Alex Wieringa: Bass
Jason Inguagiato: Guitar

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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