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Joe Montone: The Story Behind The Song.

June 10, 2015

JoeMontone2015EDITOR’S NOTE: Joe Montone, the frontman of Heat Thunder, reached out to us a few weeks ago. His band was dissolving but they had put out a wild new video that really culminated the entire musical project. He was exhausted but he had learned a lot about himself and music in general. He asked us to write a story about his experiences. We invited him to write about them himself. The following essay is Joe’s tale, straight from him.

I was in my candle lit room in South Philly and my shadow was bent into long sections spanning the wall in front of me and long over my head.

I was trying to conjure something in that solitude after hearing a tune days before, “Oh, these days I’ve been Wearin’ Black…”

It’s funny what fixation will do because once that tune is in your head, you just want to possess it. For the next two nights, I came to work on theme. I would stack all these past visions into my world, provoking a lost skateboarder without any direction. I tried to become him again. I wanted to rectify all the past wounds that I thought I had.

It was dizzying and tiresome. And so, amongst the shadows of the South Philly room, I blew out the candle without a song.

The next morning, I woke up and looked at what I had written. All these pathetically crafted lines about what a lonely, fucked up teenager I was were so infinitesimal to the real meaning. But this was my fascination. My obsession was conjuring these old images to make sense of past distortions.

Dizzy again, I yelled in surrender, “What do I really want to say?”

Heat ThunderIt was then I wrote the first line [“I will wear black linens in the ragin’ heat…”] and then the rest of the song. I became my own obsession and wrote whatever had to be said.

I took a break without a clear ending. The space had to be closed, to no longer walk around as a victim of my youth or the lurking demon that is only darkness. For in that space of becoming, I was able to peel down those hills again and carve recklessly. The turbulence of the refrain, “I’ve been wearin’ black…” hurt me but in celebration of sick, lustful downward victory.

But it needed an ending as similar as how this sheer burst of writing began.

And so I listened and it was, “black as the tarnished memories in darkness, when the cravin’ ceases… could we hear?”

The old fabrics, and world’s unfairness were dissolved in the light of listening, that which comes out of nowhere. No matter how far we go into that peaceful hell of our own distortion, the morning is going to find us again and ask us what we really want… and it’s that we just want to listen to what’s really going on here.

I’ve always known this would be an awesome, cinematic song to make a video for. My friend Evan Cohen and Eli Reeder were up to collaborating after Heat Thunder’s debut visual adaptation on YVYNYL (a visual adaptation of the Melody Love & Soul EP from February 2013). But the treatment wasn’t really coming. Just as the song, I had to listen and it was written in another stream. The video piece could be taken as a physical manifestation of my original intention with the song. The skateboarder became real again but now he can speak for himself.

My name is Joe Montone and I am a recovering from “Wearin’ Black,”  a music video, song and personal journey that was brought to life by my band, Heat Thunder.

Each time I watch the video, it’s a reminder to listen. No more plunging down hills of old habits.

The old habits followed me around though. It’s hard to set something free. And after an incredible year with Heat Thunder in 2014, it seemed as though the once joyous enthusiasm was splitting away. I was losing steam as video producer, almost signing a $2000 contract with a PR firm to get the video out by November and follow it up with a song collection in December. All of this felt wrong because I didn’t think the video was done.

It’s hard because I knew to step away. But I didn’t get a chance to just look around. So, I gave myself time.

There was something missing. I wanted animation and elaboration.

What was missing was listening.

Through this release and the commodification of clever ways to make it as an indie artist, I’m left again… allowing you to listen instead.

I had to realize what had fallen into place around me the entire time.

But this, of course, was after my idea of a band disappeared at the same time.

I felt as if I had come to a place where Heat Thunder was a name that I was fueling. It no longer felt like a way for me to express something that I may not have been able to otherwise. And so, after an ambiguous winter (and freezing cold, too) wondering whether or not the video was done, it was time to rediscover, write new songs and, before distorting my reality any further, put Heat Thunder on hiatus.

HeatThundeeSmall02I do feel free this morning. I can recall now the first time I ever brought Will, Matt and Luming to play music together. And when I met Aubrey, who starred in and helped costume the video.

I had to be reminded that this is more than a video, more than a band, more lasting than all of this. It is collaboration with darkness and lightness, joy and pain… freedom unconfined as a dog free from his leash or a skater down a hill… or me rockin’ out with a band.

Nothing is as free as the lasting message here.

For now, with no perceptions left to wonder about what could have been or what I could have done better, I’ve listened instead as well.HeatThunderSmall01

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