When guitarist Lee Heberger left the band Rainline back in 2013, he took a break — bought a house, built a studio — before diving back in. No pretense, no agenda; this time the mission was nothing other than to have fun.
"I didn't set up to do anything," Heberger says. "I wanted to be in a band that was willing to just write — whatever comes of it — then get four or five people that get along and make it about having fun. Some bands can get really serious business-wise, and with promotion and trying to get somewhere I didn't necessarily want to go. It was tiring. I wanted to form a new band that was about writing, recording, and having fun."
So Heberger got to the business of fun and assembled a cast of Rochester rock 'n' roll characters: Stacy Krebbeks on bass, Mike Guarino on guitar, and Bob Besley behind the drums. Seeking Monte was born ... almost. The band was still seeking a singer. Again, they weren't looking to fill a certain bill or criteria. Gender didn't play into the decision, either.
"We were looking for anybody," Guarino says. "We were expecting a male singer."
Vocalist Sara Passamonte called instead. They got together. The fuse was lit.
"They had been going for a couple months," Passamonte says. "No melodies, but the full instrumentation was done. I listened, and what I was hearing wasn't what they expected." She said, "I can do this," and started writing.
Passamonte's broad taste helped her approach Seeking Monte's music from all sides.
"I listen to everything," she says. "So I just took a stab at it. The vibe was right. They liked what I did musically."
With Passamonte and the rest of the band serving as two distinct entities, each with its own set of responsibilities — Heberger, Guarino, Krebbeks, and Besley brought the weight, the heat, and the power; Passamonte's voice added beauty to the beast — the music came together quickly.
"The first couple songs came together in like, two weeks," Passamonte says. "Having the music already there made it easier to write. It was nice to have a template. In the past, I've always had musicians with me writing from scratch. At least a guitar player playing some riffs that I could go off of."
In a scene where nothing is new and originality has been banished to the outer reaches of entertainment, Seeking Monte takes the standard components, re-tools them, and comes out sounding fresh. How the quintet pulls this off is anyone's guess. That mystery — that je ne sais quoi — is what makes a good band a great band. And the members don't answer with "heavy" or "hard" or "modern" when defining rock as they do it. It's just rock.
"We don't want to hyphenate it," Passamonte says.
Now with the lineup set in place and hitting on all eight, the band finds itself writing together as well. It's really quite a simple according to Krebbeks.
"We come up with something we all like," he says. "We do it."
Heberger approves. "I look at the band now and I'm really satisfied with how the five of us all came together and what it's turned into."
Seeking Monte has one EP and assorted downloadable singles out to keep the kids happy until a full-length arrives. Seeking Monte is busy writing and Heberger is still getting used to the studio.
"It's a bit of a learning process," he says.