The group - guitarist-vocalist Rob Montejo and drummer-vocalist Monika Bullette - combines the melody-rich boy-girl harmonies and wall-of-sound approach of the premiere British shoegazers (My Bloody Valentine, Pale Saints) with the muscular fuzz-riffs and hook-fest skills of Seattle's best (Nirvana, Screaming Trees). It all adds up to a psychedelic swirl of beautiful jaggedness.
Montejo, who first appeared in Charlotte in the early 1990s with his former band, Smashing Orange, checked in recently by e-mail to chat.
Creative Loafing: Do you remember a Smashing Orange gig at The Milestone circa 1993? It was a really hot show, and everyone was really into it.
Without a doubt. The Milestone show was a total blast. I remember the band stopping at a grocery store early that day and Steve and I each buying a jug of wine. We drank all of it and were feeling pretty great without feeling completely out of our minds. I also seem to recall a soul food joint near the club. Anyway, the energy was high, and the band and crowd were on the same page. It was an awesome experience. I remember diving over my Hiwatt half stack, toppling it, breaking an input jack and falling into the drums with a big smile.
Smashing Orange was instrumental in the first wave of U.S. shoegaze bands (particularly The Glass Bead Game CD - a genre classic). Do you run into many fans from that period?
Every once in a while, someone will come up to me after a show and say, "I remember you when ... Great stuff ... Great to see you still going ... etc." And it's really cool to hear this. To know it mattered.
After Smashing Orange, you released a CD as Love American Style. But then I lost track of you. What was going on?
Soon after the demise of Love American Style, I felt pretty burned out and uninspired. I decided it was a good time to return to school and finish my political science degree and study other interests, namely painting and horticulture. In 2001, I started a new electronica/shoegaze project called My Wig Is On. That was fun, and we released a couple of recordings, but the musicians I was working with had different aspirations. At that point, I more or less lost faith in working with people and turned to a more minimalist approach. In 2004, I released a solo "acoustic" record. The solo thing was initially exciting, but it wasn't fulfilling, and I sorely missed playing loud fuzz guitar with a real drummer. Then there was this idea for The Sky Drops.
So will this Sunday's show be The Sky Drops' first Charlotte appearance?
This our second trip to Charlotte and Snug. Our first visit was definitely interesting. Leaving the hotel for the show, my car started acting up, tornado warnings were issued and flash torrential rains ensued. But we were pleasantly surprised with the turn out that night.
What are some of your favorite moments on the new Sky Drops EP, Making Mountains (Custom Made Music)?
* "Explain It To Me." It came out of nowhere, quickly and effortlessly. I love the way it flows. * The harmonies during the chorus of "Cut That Corner." * The guitar in "Keeper." This is the very first Sky Drops song where I actually play "lead guitar." It's something new for us. * The fact that I left "Together-ing" alone, with all its quirks and missteps.
I read something about you recording in the garden shed in the back of your house. Details?
Save for recording the drums for our full-length Bourgeois Beat in Monika's living room, the shed is where we do our tracking and mixing. It's a little primitive, but there's a certain Jackson Pollock vibe about the space that's inspiring.
The Sky Drops' layered vocal tracks are near perfection. You must put a lot of time into those.
Vocals are indeed very important and instrumental to the sound of The Sky Drops. What is being said and how it's being conveyed are powerful elements I do not take lightly. The tricky part is to not get too hung up on "perfect" takes.
OK, I have to ask: Are you and Monika life partners/married as well as musical partners? I have this image of you two meeting and instantly fusing into the ultimate coupled shoegaze boy-girl group, the bright white light, angels singing, etc.
Well, you've got quite an imagination! No juicy story here; we're only band mates. If not for our shared distaste for bullshit, I suppose it would behoove us to contrive some kind of sexy marketing angle. But that's not us. We're about the music.