|Monty Warren without the Whatevers |
Photo by Raymond Goodman
On Oct. 22, roots rockers Monty Warren & The Friggin' Whatevers (MWFW) came together at Alligator Alley Native Florida Sub Pub & Tap Room in Oakland Park, Fla. to celebrate the launch of MWFW's newest CD, Far Out Close Up, and the birthdays of Monty Warren, Chuck Berry and local musician/bar owner, Kilmo Doome (aka Carl Pacillo).
"This CD was released on Keith Richards' birthday at the end of last year," said Warren. "But that was the official CD Launch Party because we finally found the time to appear on stage."
The Palm Beach Post named Far Out Close Up to its annual Best Music List in 2015.
With the exception of Monty Warren (who writes and sings the tunes, and plays rhythm guitar) and his lead guitarist John Beemiller, the "Whatevers" tend to be...whatever. This time around, South Florida veteran musicians Bill Meredith and Ron DeSarem were on drums and bass, respectively.
"John Beemiller is the common denominator," said Warren. "Every musician on that stage has a history playing with him in a band over the years." Warren and Beemiller go back as far as the '80s when they both played in the South Florida band Fallen Angels.
"Giving these local bands a spot where they can shine is what Alligator Alley is all about," said Pacillo, who opened the bar in April.
Indy Week stated that Monty Warren & The Friggin' Whatevers "retroactively bridge the gap between '70s pub rock/power pop and the arrivals of Tom Petty, Graham Parker and Elvis Costello…"
"It's kind of fitting that one of our songs on the new CD is Raise the Bar,”said Beemiller, who flew in from Nashville, Tenn. to join in the festivities, and co-wrote the tune with Warren. "Because that's exactly what we did."
How would you describe your new album Far Out Close Up?
MW: A journey through the musical influences you exposed me to before I knew how to curse.
Full disclosure: Monty Warren is my brother. If you’ve ever seen the opening scenes of the film Almost Famous, that was our story. I left Florida after dropping out of FSU, leaving my little brother all my rock and roll albums.
What has inspired you the most in putting together the songs and the music?
MW: What inspires me the most right now is that I may finally be beginning to understand better my own voice and the process of recording and producing.
Who inspired you the most as a musician?
MW: Keef, of course. Paul Westerberg, Steve Earle, Michael Penn and John Lennon. Oh yeah, and Rod Stewart and The Faces, Tom Petty, Dylan, Big Star, Neil Young, and The Kinks. You can hear our homage to Morris Day and the Time in Raise the Bar.
Any favorite songs on this new album that just make you go “Wow”?
MW: Warren names off several. Of particular note are Raise the Bar with its engaging opening riff and fun lyrics [Baby, I know you’re getting tired of the same old thing / You got me all inspired like Martin Luther King]; the ethereal, tongue-in-cheek Into the Light [Floating high into the clouds / Don’t forget to write / Give them all my best regards / Heading into the Light]; and the ode to our once-homeless mother, Grace of God [And all you fat cat politicians / Gotta miss a meal once in a while / And try and work up some contrition / Before your eternal soul stands trial].
How has your music grown since Trailer Park Angel?
MW: What really changed things around was becoming friends with David McConnell, who produced Elliott Smith. In rock songwriting, he opened me up beyond three or four chords and a bridge, and introduced me to a different method of recording rock and roll. This record would never have been written and recorded in the same fashion had our paths not crossed.
SoCal musician and artist David McConnell collaborated, produced and engineered the late Elliott Smith’s final album, From a Basement on the Hill.
What do you hope listeners will take away with them when they hear the album?
MW: A happy and optimistic smile, and a spring in their step.
You've put out three albums since the first in 2008 while maintaining a thriving law practice, and gotten great reviews and sales. What is the most challenging aspect of balancing your two careers?
Since this interview, Warren has turned down the volume on his legal career, and escaped into semi-retirement
Do you ever have any listeners who ask you who that song is about or anyone who accuses you of writing about them and they're not happy about it? Or the opposite?
MW: No one ever talks to me so it's easy to avoid having to dodge that situation.
What drives your passion for music?
MW: Anger and genetics.
You divide your music time between Florida and Raleigh, N.C. What does Raleigh mean to you as a musician?
MW: Raleigh is Rock and Roll Heaven to me. Clubs book you and folks still show up to listen to local original rock and roll. The people I meet there are wicked smart, sly as foxes and friendly as Aunt Bea; and they are killer musicians, so just being in that mix makes you want to write and play music just to keep up with them.
Monty Warren & The Friggin' Whatevers Website: http://www.montywarren.com
Raise the Bar Music Video: