The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Long Island band has lots of promising talent

If record sales were based solely on an audience identifying with a band then The Montauk Project would have already hung a platinum record on their wall.

There is an unforgettable something about the unsigned Long Island foursome that gives them that “it” quality, the one that makes their audience and their budding fan base think that they can take over the world of music.

The soft and honest lyrics, whether sang in the quiet intimacy of The Cup, a coffeehouse in Wantagh, or the low roar of Bethpage’s Mr. Beery’s, have an undeniable attractiveness that mirrors the band’s overall likeability.

There is no age, nor a specific audience, just the simple message of well-written, personal lyrics that connect to anyone who has ever walked outside of their home.

“Most often it starts with no intention of writing a song,” said Rich Albergo, co-founder of The Montauk Project, who like most songwriters uses life experiences and memories in the band’s song creation process. “Eventually, something clicks, the lyrics, melody, they all blend together and feel right.

“One thing I’ve learned from the process of creating is letting the truth take control of the song and using the instrument as a means of personifying the feelings I have.”

Albergo and Antonio Gabriele, the founding members and the band’s guitarists and vocalists, performed alone until bassist Andrew Vega and drummer Alby Rojas were added. The band’s acoustic, lyrically based strength is evident with their first three songs: “Anything,” “I Will,” and “Walk Beautiful,” which were recorded solely by Albergo and Gabriele. Luckily for Vega and Rojas, the childhood friends and founding duo avoid any type of whiny cacophony that would threaten the poetry of their strong lyrics.

Both Albergo and Gabriele provide vibrant singing voices that are full of clarity and emotion. In “Anything” after a soft guitar intro Albergo croons “Something ’bout the radio/ Listening to songs I know/ Always gets me thinking of you,” followed soon after by the chorus, “If I could be/ what you need/ I would give anything.”

“Something as simple as a song on the radio, a picture, or even the scent of a candle can make you think of someone over and over,” said Albergo of the song he penned. “I was, and still am so intrigued by acoustic guitar sounds that it was a really cool experience to record two songs with only guitars and vocals.”

The Montauk Project’s latest recordings, “What It Is,” and “Escape,” are the first to feature all four of the band members, who hail from North Babylon, Long Island, with the lone exception being Wantagh’s Rojas.

“More melodies were written and I found myself playing “Escape” before it was even called that,” said Albergo. “During that time I felt the need for a stronger sense of percussion. Bass guitar and drums followed soon after the guitar structure was completed, and gave us a personal feeling of energy behind the song.”

Vega’s forceful bass adds considerable depth to the music which was previously reliant on lyrics. Rojas’ control of the drums completes the latest song releases, noticeably different from band originals.

That difference becomes one of The Montauk Project’s strengths, as very early on in the band’s career they have exhibited a versatility and diversity of sound, something that popular musicians such as The Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, and Creed have sometimes been criticized for lacking. The guitar work particularly, both lead and bass, exhibits a maturing quality as the degree of complexity has noticeably increased over just five songs.

“It is what it is,” said Albergo. “I just like to write what’s on my mind and how it sounds is up to the listener to decide.”

The band members point to artists such as Dave Grohl, Chris Carrabba, Keith Caputo, and the band Coheed and Cambria as artistic influences, with Gabriele pointing to the latter as a possible example for The Montauk Project.

“I remember seeing them play to like 30 people at the Knitting Factory five years ago,” said Gabriele, “and recently saw them play to a few thousand at the Nokia Theater. It goes to show what being driven can do.”

Looking to emulate that passion, The Montauk Project has played in various venues and has launched a successful account on the Web site “MySpace” in an effort to disperse their music via the Internet.

“It has been, and continues to be a means of constant promotion,” said Vega. “There’s a positive synergy involved with playing a show and plugging the Web site; it allows listeners to connect with us on a personal level, through comments and e-mails- the best part is that it’s free to post the music and absolutely free to have a listen.”

The band also plans to tour the United States this July, according to Gabriele, playing in Texas, Philadelphia, Virginia, Georgia, Las Vegas, Arizona, Tennessee, and California.

“We feel like we’re ready to travel and want to get our sound out to more people,” said Gabriele. “Like the artists and bands that have inspired us, the goal is to become emotional fuel for the listener. We’d like people to walk away with our songs in their heads, but also being able to take a message out of them.”

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