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A Decade of Belmont

A Decade of Belmont

A Decade of Belmont

Formed by Chicago high school friends in 2014, Belmont quickly evolved from local pop-punk band to internationally lauded rock band with the release of their 2016 EP, Between You & Me, and 2018’s debut, self-titled full-length. After signing with Pure Noise Records, the then three-piece went on to release 2021’s heralded sophomore record, Aftermath, produced by Andrew Wade (A Day To Remember, Neck Deep, Real Friends).  The trio made up of Taz Johnson (vocals), Brian Lada (drums, guitar, bass, programming) and Jason Inguagiato (guitar) now present their third album, Liminal, which further expands their eclectic sound incorporating a fusion of pop-punk, metal, electronic and more!

Highwire Daze recently interviewed Taz Johnson to discuss their amazing new album Liminal and other topics of interest as we delve into a vast and glorious decade of Belmont!  Read on…

We’re here with Taz from Belmont. First, tell me where the band is based and what is your music scene like there?
We’re actually out of Chicago. I mean, as I’m sure you know the scene there is honestly Kick-Ass. We have everybody. I mean we got old heads, you know coming out from like Rise Against and a bunch of new dudes obviously, a bunch of younger scenes.  We have like Knuckle Puck, Real Friends. The scene has always been very alive. I would say we’re super grateful to be from there. We started in 2014. In 2015, we started playing shows. We’ve been involved in the scene for quite a while now.

Let’s talk about the new album, Liminal. Is there any overall story or concept behind that album title and the song, first of all?
Absolutely. The theme of the entire album is obviously like the word Liminal. It’s kind of like a transitionary point in my life. I know that’s kind of a bit of a vague term. But in the last three years, I’ve been going through a lot of different shit from like moving across the country, going through the loss of relationships, and just kind of like growing up. I’m just in my mid-20s, just kind of hitting a weird point of like, finding out who I was and who I’m going to become. It’s generally about a lot of changes going on in life. And just like the transitionary periods that we go through, there’s stress and there are times of unease. But then on the other end, you will come out a better stronger person once you make it out of that. I feel like that’s what a lot of the songs are about.

It kicks off right off the bat with a hard-hitting song, SSX Trickmont, which I believe was also a single. Tell me a little about that song and the inspiration behind it.
Brian and Jason do a lot of the actual instrumental writing. They came together with that song. At that time we were hanging out at Brian’s house. We were playing a lot of Tony Hawk’s Underground. We’re a big fan of that series. We’re playing a lot of that, and we were messing around with the song. We’re just thinking about all the old games. It just reminded us of SSX Tricky, the old PS2 game. Because there are a lot of parts in the song where the guitar, where Jason’s using some crazy effect in pedals and stuff. We’re just joking around, it’s just like Belmont tricks. It just came together as SSX Trickmont.

Let’s talk about another one of your singles, All Bite, and the inspiration behind that.
All Bite, that was obviously a heavier one by us. Lyrically, the song is like what I talked about with the transitionary period. It’s kind of like learning, you could sit back in your life. Or you can basically either live your life or your life can live you. I guess, I got sick of sitting back and felt like I was letting opportunities and special moments in life pass me by. I feel like I had a certain wake-up point where it hit me. I was like, “I can’t just keep living in the background.” There’s the common saying, “All bark and no bite.” I did the play on the words there, at the “no bark, all bite.” And not just be all talk, but actually, go do something with what you want to actually do with your life.

Select any other song on the album, that’s not a single. Maybe one you don’t talk about a lot and what the inspiration was behind it.
Day by day, that’s a big one for me. I think that’s one of my favorite songs in general, off the record. The general theme of that song is a precursor to All Bite, where it’s realizing, sitting back, and taking inventory of your life. And realizing that, a lot of the stuff that you’ve been doing, isn’t good for you. It isn’t productive for your life. You get into these patterns, these cycles in life and you start getting used to it. And then before you know it, you realize that just like the song title, living Day By Day, instead of living for a future. That’s kind of an unhealthy cycle. I feel that I was dealing with for a long time, where I just didn’t give a shit what was like coming for me in the future. I was just so focused on getting through that day and just like lay in bed all day and rot away. It also discusses the consequences that come with that, like losing friends and family because you’re not checking up on them. You’re not being an active person in their lives and that comes with a price, unfortunately. You don’t get to be a background character and expect other people to constantly take care of you. So that’s just something that I was reflecting on in that song.

Aftermath was produced by Andrew Wade. Who produced Luminal and what was it like working with them?
It was also with Andrew Wade.  It was another amazing experience. Andrew is the boss. We love him. He has great ideas. He’s a hilarious guy. He’s very easy to work with and very easygoing. It’s one of those things where without him, I’m not sure that the albums would be… not that they wouldn’t be, you know, like Belmont. But he definitely has been a major inspiration in a lot of the writing recently.

What was the experience like playing Chain Reaction, that iconic little Club in Orange County, right in the shadow of Disneyland?
Oh dude, it’s fucking badass! I think we’ve played it, 3 maybe 4 times at this point. Every time it’s fucking killer, it doesn’t matter – the show always pops off. Even just getting the opportunity to play, and as you said in such a legendary venue. It just feels fucking badass to be out there, playing there.

Overall, what do you think of Los Angeles, Orange County and Southern California as a whole?
Oh, dude, big fan! I actually would love to live out there. Right now, our guitarist Jason, is currently living in LA. Brian and I have both talked about getting out there ourselves. I’m a big fan of SoCal. So I’ve got a lot of love for it there.

What was the experience like opening for Attack Attack! on that tour?
It was really fucking cool. Especially because of growing up in high school, I listened to Attack Attack! So it was kind of a cool, full circle moment of getting to play with the band that I grew up with. It was iconic for sure.

They always say you should never meet your band heroes and everything. How were they?
All super nice dudes, they were all very down-to-earth guys.

What was that experience like playing Furnace Festival in Birmingham, Alabama?
Oh dude, that was fucking awesome. Honestly, the whole lineup there was just cool. To get to play such the coolest Fest, how many bands that I get a chance to go see too. I guess, share, not necessarily the same stage, but you know to share the fest with those guys, it was a cool experience and something we would love to do again.

Allegedly, that venue, Schloss Furnaces is haunted. Did you see any ghosts or anything like that there?
I didn’t see any ghosts, but I could definitely walk in through at night. Like we were back by all the old furnaces. It has some creepy vibes for sure. But I did not see any ghosts.

And then another tour I wanted to talk with you about. Of course, Real Friends and Grayscale. You did that tour before the pandemic. How did that go? And what was that experience like?
That was awesome, man. That was our first time over in Europe. Europe and the UK both. It was just like cool getting to do that and then also getting to go out with Real Friends. Again, that’s a band that I grew up listening to in high school and early college. It was cool to get to share that with them, especially them being from Chicago. Then the Grayscale boys, we’ve been friends with them for a little while too. It was cool to be able to go out to a whole other country with people that you’re actually close with and you care about. It definitely was one of the most memorable experiences of my life, for sure.

And then what did you guys do during the pandemic? Were you on the road when it all started or what happened?
Yeah, we were out with Tiny Moving Parts. We were like in the second or third day into the tour. That was right when they announced that there were cases of Covid going around and that they were going to shut things down for a couple of weeks. We didn’t think much of it. You know what I mean? We just ended up canceling the rest of the tour and saying we were going to postpone it. We’re actually hoping that the postponement will only be a couple of weeks thing to possibly even finish the back end. But that didn’t happen. We ended up recording Aftermath. We went down to Florida and recorded that with Wade. From there, we pretty much sat and waited until things got back open in late 2021 or early 2022 before we were finally able to get back on the road again. It honestly gave us some time to focus on writing that album and collecting our lives too. It gets really hectic and busy when you’re constantly touring. As much as it was a little bit of a pain in the ass, it’s nice to have some downtime as well.

If Belmont could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
I think an easy one would be A Day to Remember, just because I feel like they’ve been a major influence in our writing and again just a band that I grew up on. I just feel like that would just be like a great crossover. It would be a really fun tour to go on.

This year does mark the 10th anniversary of Belmont as a band. What good goes through your mind knowing that you’ve been doing this band or anything for 10 years?
It honestly blows my mind because I was just thinking about that the other day. You know, on the one hand, it’s a little scary. I’ve been doing this for 10 years now, but it’s also crazy to look back on that. I remember being in high school and starting this band and telling a few of my friends, “I’m going to try hard to do this shit. You’re going to see that one day, we’re going to do this!” They were always supportive, but I had this attitude that we were going to do it. It’s cool to see that finally, 10 years later, we’re actually doing the thing that we wanted to do. You could easily say, a dream come true. I know this is only moving forward from here too. We’re still all in our mid 20s, so it’s like crazy to think, where are we going to be in another 10 years?

What’s up next for you guys? Any touring on the horizon?
Yes. We’re actually going to be announcing a tour coming, I think this week or next week. We’re going to be doing another tour with Can’t Swim. And we’re going to be going out with Capstan as well. So that’s just going to be another almost full US tour. We’re going to be out for about, 5 almost 6 weeks. We’re getting ready to hit that. We got a couple of fests we’re announcing, we’re playing Pugfest. There’s another fest coming up that’s not announced yet. And then we’re just looking for the rest of the year. Going to be lining it up with as many tours as we can hop on, just to get this new music out in front of people and keep the shows popping.

Do you have any messages for Belmont fans who are reading this right now?
You all kick fucking ass and we love you. And we really appreciate every single one of you who’s been on this ride with us. Definitely, the party ain’t stopping anytime soon, baby!

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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