Once you’re a musician it’s hard to repress the desire to make music. Though former Giving Chase drummer Justin Shaner is a happy family man with a wife and two children, there was something from his past he could not shake: an urge to make music.
“I took a break from making music for about 10 years after meeting my wife and having two kids,” says Shaner. “The obsession never left me, though. I was always reading about it, looking for new bands that I felt something from their music and would still go to a lot of shows kind of wishing I was playing again.”
In 2014, when a friend coaxed Shaner to jam with him on guitar, he couldn’t put the instrument down, and not long after he was recruiting fellow musicians to create a new Miami-based band he dubbed Lochness Monster. Explaining the band’s name, Shaner says, “I liked the mystery of the name. Why is there only one in the stories, and why do people view it as a scary creature and not a happy, playful one?”
Playfulness is key to the Miami quartet, composed of Shaner on guitar, singer Michael Morello, ex-Quit drummer Andre Serafini, and bassist Larry Monteleone. Shaner and Morello explain a collaborative creative process that begins with song sketches by Shaner on guitar and are capped off with lyrics by Morello.
It all culminates in a lush, powerful sound that Shaner and Morello happily admit is partly rooted in ‘90s alternative rock that they grew up listening to including bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Smashing Pumpkins, and Hum.
“Though lyrically I would say my biggest influences would be Joe Strummer and David Bowie,” Morello reveals. “I tend to write in stories, so I was influenced by some of my favorite songs from rock operas such as The Wall, Tommy, Ziggy Stardust and Queen II.”
The band have already dropped a pair of digital singles, “Anchors Gone” on Bandcamp and a lyric video for “Pendulum” via YouTube. The first kicks off with layers of driving, shimmering guitars and bass with Serafini’s pounding drums. It’s a dynamic track that chugs along, pausing for a few intermittent moments to peel back musical layers revealing the tight musicianship in Lochness Monster before returning to its driving layers of hooks.
Morello projects his voice expertly above the harmonious churn of guitars, bass, and drums, demonstrating active, evocative lyrics during the chorus, “One day they’ll be turned over/Hearts won’t be welded shut/Find the axe to break them open/Now that your anchor’s gone.”
“Pendulum,” on the other hand, builds to big choruses from the pluck of a guitar and the tap on the rim of a drum with Morello coolly setting up a story about the terrors of space flight: “Cold sweat running down my face/Mission control has lost its trace.” The song builds on waves of ominous keyboards, which are swept away by crunching guitars and vibrant drum work.
This is a taste of the range of artistry that can be found on the band’s debut full length, Fables, which will be released in January 12, 2017. It was recorded is St. Cloud, Florida at the home studio of James Paul Wisner, a producer of several multi-gold albums, including such influential records like Dashboard Confessional’s The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most and Further Seems Forever’s The Moon is Down.
Morello describes a casual but meticulously controlled set up at Wisner’s house, with bedrooms acting as isolated studios. “I doubt a less experienced producer with the most expensive equipment and studio in the world could have gotten the same result as James did from this house,” says the singer.
Coursing with the ache of emo to the grandeur of progressive rock, Wisner brought out the album’s meticulous music via layers of bombast and delicate moments of intimacy. You can hear it in the album’s title track, a bouncy cut that’s bright yet still heavy with sophisticated details, from the subtle high-pitched hum harmonizing with Shaner’s intricate guitar licks to the warm echo of the guitar’s strings.
“Pixie Cut” starts as a cute, perky track and builds toward a pair of soaring, harmonizing guitar parts. “Salem” is another lush track featuring ripping guitar lines coated atop each that build to grand gestures, like tidal waves crashing upon the cliffs. Fables overflows with grand sounds and intricate moments, such as the actual sounds of waves lapping at a shoreline on “Nocturnes” that gives way to brilliant, crystalline guitar work and the rhythmic clack of Serafini’s kit.
Lochness Monster has put immense effort and detail into their debut record, making for an impressive calling card, not to mention a major release of creativity for Shaner that has inspired him for the long run. “When I took a decade off from creating music because I thought it was time to move on, I never seemed to get rid of that drive to create music. Now that I’m doing it again, I’m filling that void, and to be creating something that each band member is proud of is really special and worth it.”
You can already pre-order Fables via iTunes, and the album will be made available on various streaming formats, digital download, CD, and vinyl via Sobe Brooke Records on Jan. 12, 2017.
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