Interview with Matt Berman from Monroe

Spindle caught up with singer/saxophonist Matt Berman from Monroe to discuss their debut EP ‘The Streetlight’… Read our interview and listen to the EP below…

Why did you decide to form a band instead of taking the solo route?

I’ve always liked the idea of a band, but I’ve always done the solo thing. I play the Saxophone and I’ve played for a bunch of other people. I wanted to do a band, and have my guys around me. They’ll tell me if it sounds like shit, and I want to surround myself with the right people who will give me good feedback. I’m not the best singer or sax player, but if there’s people kicking my ass, it’ll push me to be better.

How did Monroe meet?

Tinder… Kidding. So, I went to see this band Augustana, which I’m a huge fan of. At the end of one of the shows in New York, I was waiting outside, and the bass player came out and started making out with a girl. I thought that if some dude interrupted me while I was making out with a beautiful woman, I’d punch him in the face. The next week I was playing a show at Rockwood Music Hall, we were at the bar and the bass player of Augustana walks in, and I introduced myself. That’s the guy who wrote the whole EP The Streetlight with me.

How was your live debut at the Viper Room in LA?

It was the first time playing the record, so it was pretty scary. It was a great gig, but the first time we played together as a band was on July 15th at the Bowery Electric, that was solid.

What’s your composing process like as a band?

It’s different every time. For the EP, I either thought of a melody and wrote it out on the piano or I wrote some lyrics first, then we refined the songs as a band.

How long did it take to complete the EP?

It took me about four years, I was living through this relationship and it came to a close. I wanted to end it with a hopeful ending, but I didn’t know how to end it. It’s kind of unfinished, but we’re playing a song live now that finishes the record, but it’s not added onto the EP. To me, this whole album is if I died tomorrow, would I be satisfied with this being my last thing? So I put a lot of pressure on it.

Why did you pick the name The Streetlight for your EP?

Outside of my apartment there is a streetlight, and I contemplated a lot of these songs under this streetlight, sometimes until 4am. The first time I ever listened to the final product was under that streetlight.

I’d imagine you’re a big jazz lover, having played the Saxophone for so many years. Would you say that’s influenced your musical sound?

It definitely has, I’m not sure if it comes through or not. I’ve drawn inspiration with the different textures, some of the chord progressions, in one of our songs we do some polyrhythm, making it much more complex than from what you hear from a typical pop song. I think the complexity has come from having a jazz background and my upbringing. I started playing Saxophone when I was 7, and I started playing jazz in Junior High.

How did the ‘One More Night’ music video concept develop?

I told my buddy Christopher Vitiello that I wanted to do a music video and I had this corny idea of having these two story lines similar to the movie Love Actually. He worked on it and then came back with the idea for ‘One More Night’, then we shot it in two days here in New York.

Why the furry animal suit?

Why not? It was meant to be fun and light-hearted.

I saw you’ve appeared in some TV shows, is acting something you’d be interested in pursuing?

I would love to, but I don’t really have the time right now.

You work with the Hungerford School, why did you decide to pick that foundation?

Children with disabilities, specifically autism, is very important to me and giving those kids the opportunities that you and I have. A lot of kids with Autism barely finish high school or get to go to college. The Hungerford School brings the kids their senior year where they can work and try out different jobs. They can elect to do one of these jobs or go to school; it gives the kids these opportunities to kids that don’t have many.

What do you do when you’re not working on music?
I like to go to concerts, and walk around the city. It’s seldom to just be able to sit down and chill and have a good meal.