Monty Day from Loxodon talks debut EP, pushing boundaries, nerding out, and more

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Distorion, feedback, and militaristic drums start the EP with a “something’s about to go down” kind of vibe. The anarcho punk-esque intro weaves adeptly and unexpectedly through movements of punk, funk, post grunge, hard rock, and even a touch of prog. The long awaited EP, Stampede – three years in the making – was preceded by the single, “Gregory James,” and is just the beginning of what promises to be a busy year for Loxodon. We were able to catch up with lead singer and guitarist, Monty Day, to go over the creation of their new music, the struggles of being a perfectionist, and what you should really know about Flint, MI. 

Loxodon at the Machine Shop Concert Lounge, Flint, MI
Photos by Cheyenne Comerford

 

Melodic Mag: Loxodon is named after the Elephant Species in D&D and Magic the Gathering, correct? What made you choose this name for the band?
Monty: It’s also from the scientific word for “elephant,” which is where they got it. It was drummer Joe’s first suggestion and I hated it.  Then we looked it up and there was not a single other band with that name, which is the first time that has ever happened. Then it clicked.

Melodic Mag: For those who’ve maybe never heard of you, how do you describe Loxodon as a band, your music, and what your shows are like?
Monty: We have a fun, rock, punky kind of vibe. Our shows are very high energy and danceable. …Loxodon is a return to form. There was a time when rock was popular music. People liked bands who experimented, tried new things, pushed the boundaries of what was going on. Now bands don’t do that. They “give the people what they want.” That attitude coincides with the fall of Rock N Roll. But every great band ever did weird things, strange things, exciting things, and that’s what we’re doing.

Melodic Mag: So you’re from Flint, which most of the world knows as the city without clean water. What do you want people who aren’t from Flint to know about your city?
Monty: There’s a beautiful community in Flint. A very rich cultural scene, the best food you’ll have in your life – especially middle eastern food. The community there have each other’s backs. It’s kind of like Detroit. It has a bad reputation, but if you actually go there it’s really fun, there’s a lot going on; food, music, and art.

Melodic Mag: You’re recent winners of the Michigan State Fair Superstar contest. What does that mean for you?
Monty: It means we have a very busy year ahead! We’re going to record another EP, a music video, and a whole heck of a lot of PR representing Michigan at various events. It’ll be for this whole next year until we pass it off to the next winners.

Melodic Mag: You’ve recently released a single, “Gregory James”, and an EP, Stampede. How long has it been since your last release?
Monty: It’s been 2 years since our last release – “Long Way From Home” – which was our first release.

We started off with a trio – myself, Joe Deminsky, and Desmond Sheppard who is an amazing keyboardist, but he didn’t have the time. He was replaced by two consecutive Johns. The first John needs to spend more time with his family, and the second John was in healthcare when the pandemic happened and he was suddenly doing 80 hr work weeks. Rhett Yocum – who’s with us on bass – is a world class guitarist who just wanted to give bass a go. I call him retro cause he’s like from another time. He loves old blues records and says the coolest shit. He has a saying for everything. Colton was just under our nose. Everybody we know knows Colton, our paths had just never crossed before. He was recommended to us through mutual friends, and it just clicked. He’s a great keyboardist and writer, and we have similar influences.

Melodic Mag: Where did the name for the single, “Gregory James”, come from?
Monty:
*Laughs* I know exactly where that came from. High school friends and I were hanging out the first summer after college, and our buddy Brad wouldn’t stop talking about all the stuff he’d learned about plankton. We made a video about him nerding out and the main character was called Gregory James. It’s just become a thing for our friend group. ..The song I just woke up with one morning. It’s the only time that’s ever happened for me. I just woke up and it was fully formed. Most songs I write parts of and then we write the rest of it as a band. This one was different. It’s my pandemic song, about how everything just changes one day and it’s forever changed.

Melodic Mag: What was the recording process like?
Monty:
It was the quickest recording process. Took two days at Tuxedo Avenue, a new state of the art studio in Detroit. Best atmosphere, best listening studio. I laid down a scratch track, we took 1-2 takes on the drums, bass in 1 take, a bit of spot checking, guitars and then vocals. Colton sent in midi after the fact. Josh and Paco, who are the recording engineers there, jumped in with some arrangement suggestions. All great ideas, great atmosphere. I can’t wait to record there again.

Melodic Mag: Would you say that “Gregory James” is typical of Loxodon?
Monty:
I would say that it’s not a typical Loxodon song, which is why we released it separately as a single. “Stampede” is most typically Loxodon. Gregory James has less fusion. It’s probably our most straight up pop song. It’s hard to say what a typical loxodon song is, though.

 

Melodic Mag: Tell me about the EP. What lyrical and musical themes are present?
Monty:
We could have released this two years ago probably, but we had to tweak it until I am where I’m at. Some of it is a bit cringe for me now because of how personal it is and how long it’s taken to get it out, but it’ll always be relevant. It’s got every one who’s played with Loxodon – Desmond, the Johns – on it. Even though I’m a perfectionist and can see its flaws I’m really proud of it.

When I was writing it I was going through a divorce, I got laid off, I was dealing with these family issues, and I just went into this insane writing mode. “Stampede” is the first song that I had to write lyrics for, and whatever came out I was just going for it. Some songs like “Long Way from Home” and “Gregory James” had their own thing going on. The EP has all the angry songs.

The song “Straight Face” – I was having lots of arguments at that time, and I started seeing it as a duel. “Razor sharp and ready with a straight face.”

“Staring in Shadows” is referring to Plato’s allegory of the cave. I was having these realizations about my own life and all our lives. I’m into Noam Chomsky, like lots of millennials, and now a days it seems so obvious that the few are taking advantage of the millions, but not enough of us want to believe it to do anything about it. “Got a full plate on my table, don’t have time for Plato’s fables at all.”

Lyrically the EP was about finding courage. The songs are dark, but I had to do it because I needed to develop the courage to say those things and move through them. Not temporary courage, but courage that stays and lasts. Courage that makes the world a better place. The future seems much clearer now, but there was just so much uncertainty at the time that I was writing the EP “the road it bends, I can’t see the end, but I’m not afraid to go down it.”

Melodic Mag: And musical themes?
Monty:
Musical themes – that’s actually a really good question. I’m getting into lyrics now, but I’ve always been into the music most. It sort of bubbles up from deep within, it’s hard to describe. I wanted it to have the impression of being like a symphony. All five songs could stand on their own and also flow together. “Gregory James” was really straight forward, but in Stampede every single note was poured over. There’s a lot of fun stuff in there for music theory lovers. We go into some fun time signatures – 5, 7 – without ever sacrificing the beat that you can rock over. It’s both accessible and intellectual.

Melodic Mag: Not unlike an elephant!
Monty: Yeah!

Melodic Mag: I hear a bit of punk, post-grunge, hard rock, and even a touch of prog in the EP. Who are your influences?
Monty:
I’m glad you can hear that! Flint Michigan’s punk rock scene was me all the way. That’s where I came from. One of my idols is Johnny Rotten. I just love that guy. I love punk. When I first learned guitar I was overwhelmed by the more complex stuff that I wanted to play, but I could play every green day song I wanted to play almost immediately. So I started in the punk scene, and eventually I learned music theory because I wanted to apply it to this raw punk energy.

In music you have a lot of that. There’s Beethoven, who can get 40 people to play something unbelievably sophisticated and difficult and emotive all at the same time, and then there’s the sex pistols who’s music is so simple yet somehow accomplishes the same emotive goal. From the get-go I’ve wanted to marry sophisticated and simple brilliance. And then just let Joe rip on drums!

Melodic Mag: What was the recording process like?
Monty:
We recorded the EP with Lee Hoffman. He’s a perfectionist like me. It took us 3 years to record these 5 songs. By the rime Rhett and Colt were in the band lots of the EP was long finished. Lovesick, for example, has been perfect since the first recording session. But I was very interested in the idea of recording something you can’t do live. Live we’re always pushing ourselves and each other and improvising. That kind of energy just doesn’t work on an album in my opinion, so I didn’t want to do that on the EP. There’s lots of cool studio things that I can’t do live. One song ends with a crazy bitcrush effect. There’s a couple guitar parts on there are not even possible to do. We just got that from playing around until we found something we wanted to leave in there.

Melodic Mag: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Monty: I really hope that you enjoy “Gregory James” and Stampede, and find something in them that makes you feel less alone. I know that’s cliche, but I don’t care. I want the world to be more wholesome.

You can listen to “Gregory James” and Stampede on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.
Keep up with Loxodon: 
Instagram // Facebook // Twitter // bandcamp // Website

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