Mixed-Genre Monday Night At Cactus Club
This past Monday saw a great turnout for a stacked bill at Cactus Club – all of which played something a little different. Oriisdead, Mario Lanza, Armon Hassan, Math Mountain, and American Bandit all brought energetic performances to the room.
Mario Lanza plays guitar-driven alternative R&B, amplified by his thundering-but-warming vocal melodies. Both Xavier Schaetzke and Mark Soriano play drums for him depending on the gig; Schaetzke played this time.
“This is probably the best show I’ve had up to this point,” Lanza said. “Up until this year it was just acoustic performances here and there but this year I’ve been able to bring my tracks to life that I produced on my own and now I’ve got guys playing with me…so tonight was amazing.”
Lanza has a song out with a music video titled “Tried and True.”
“I wrote that song while I was working at HoneyPie and I’ve been in the industry for many years,” Lanza said. “I’ve been clawing my way out and that song is just me wanting out. I wanted more than this.”
Mario Lanza has two songs that are being mixed and mastered at N43 Records – one of which has an accompanying video.
Math Mountain is an emo-power pop outfit consisting of vocalist/guitarist Shane Langenfeld, lead guitarist Joe Scheibl, drummer Chris Bodjanac, and bassist Kyle Prefontaine. The project began as a two-piece with Langenfeld and Bodjanac, while Langenfeld would sub bass for Schiebl’s old band Human After All. Scheibl and Langenfeld began living together, which led to more collaboration.
“There’s a distinct lack of egos in Math Mountain,” Langenfeld said. “The four of us are very much in tune with each other’s difficulties and faults and we’re all super supportive. When your best friend tells you what you just did wasn’t good enough, it takes a certain kind of approach to be able to handle that.”
“You can take it either of two ways,” Scheibl added. “You can tell them to fuck off and continue doing the thing that you set out to do by yourself with no other input, or you can listen to constructive criticism and move forward and make better art. Nobody achieves anything alone, so why not collaborate and make something great?”
Math Mountain just recorded two songs with Ryan Roberts of Lakefront Studios (also drummer for American Bandit).
“It was the single smoothest recording experience I’ve had,” Langenfeld said. “I’ve had plenty of nice engineers but (Roberts) doesn’t get in the way in a really incredible way. It was almost like he was the fifth member of the band.”
“What’s great about (Roberts) as an engineer is that he allows you to just be you and your band and your sound as much as possible, and then just mix that sound as good as he can,” Scheibl added. “That’s hard to find, because a lot of engineers try to put their own color on things…which isn’t a bad thing; I think a lot of people go to engineers for that color. Like they want that sound the engineer does. But when you’re trying to establish yourself as a specific thing, I think it’s good to find somebody that allows you to be “that” as good as possible.”
The first of the two songs, “Sam,” is described as a thank-you letter to an ex – having no hard feelings toward them and valuing them as a person. The other, “Have Fun,” abandons the cliche romantic tropes of songwriting and is about “not sitting around and being pissed off all the time.”
“Life is all about making something out of nothing,” Scheibl said on that note.
Math Mountain plays Burlington Bar in Chicago on Saturday. They are releasing their two songs in the next two months and plan to record a full EP this fall.
Armon Hassan brings a unique fusion of hip-hop, pop, and metalcore vocal delivery. He currently performs with Nik Voyn on guitar and Ryan Roberts on drums. His two singles “Too Late” and “Right Now” are available streaming everywhere.
“Too Late is a bit out of the rest of this project’s element. I’m a big fan of The Neighborhood, and it’s a song where I had these lyrics backed up for the last two bands I’ve been in and I just never used them. The song’s pretty much about realizing whether it’s a friendship or relationship, sometimes love isn’t enough and you just gotta walk away…focusing on yourself and making sure your happiness is number one, and that’s okay. Right Now was about me getting kicked out of a project that meant everything to me. Two years prior to developing the project I came up with the name. I started this band and long story short, I devoted everything to it and then got asked to not be a part of it anymore. The song is about the first week where I just sat around and felt sorry for myself and drank myself into a coma. Siren is on the song and she’s been a friend of mine since I was eighteen and since then I’ve been asking her to be on stuff…she came in and did one take and blew it away. She’s one of a kind.”
Hassan just returned from a brief Midwest tour with American Bandit.
“It was a good time. I noticed recently that a lot of metalcore and genre-bending tours and shows are coming up, and I wanted to bring that to the table…especially being a metalcore artist for the last ten years. It was a lot of cool memories with the guys. We played this place in Iowa called Spicoli’s and I was sold the second I stepped into the bathroom and saw a wall of Marvel comics and was like “I don’t care if zero people come tonight, I love this venue!””
Armon Hassan has an array of other songs recorded and has been demoing. He plans to put out an EP at some point but in the meantime enjoys dropping singles.
“I’m trying not to be someone that’s lumped into a category. When I put out Right Now, everybody was like saying “oh this sounds like an alternative Lil Peep-style song” … I thought that was cool cuz Lil Peep was dope, but I want somebody to just know me as being me. After being kicked out of the project I was in, I felt broken from having a bunch of dudes sit me down and tell me what I couldn’t do, and this project is me standing back up and saying I can do what the fuck I want. I can’t wait to see where this takes me.”