Miguel Montalban is a musician, guitarist and composer born in Santiago de Chile. He started his professional career in 2013 founding the indie rock band Andes Empire in Rome. In 2014 together with producer and mastering expert Kevin Metcalfe (Queen, David Bowie, Duran Duran, White Stripes) Miguel recorded the single, “Girl” and he has continued working on his soloist instrumental rock albums Inspirations, which have sold more than 20.000 copies since their release. Miguel is now recognized all over the world thanks to the success of his albums and especially because of a series of street performances done in various European capitals. This July he is coming for the first time in Serbia, where he’ll perform on the Rock in Niš open air festival.
Balkanrock: You started your professional carrier in 2013, worked with a band, continued solo, now again with a band… which one you prefer, working with a band or working solo? Why?
Miguel Montalban: I am the composer of all my projects, I’ve been changing throughout all my career to make my music play and sound best. Almost all of the instrumentals you can hear in my songs are just an extension of myself, of what I have in mind or what the project needs. In Pineapple Road Explosion though I left a lot of space for musicians to improvise, to create atmosphere. This project was born as an improvisation mixed with some of my own compositions. It all depends on who you work with and if they are really into it I guess.
BR: Your latest album is “Guitar Juice box” with the band Pineapple Road Explosion. Tell us something about this dance psychedelic rock piece (similarities and differences in relation to your previous work)?
MM: I’ve been working on this project since 2016. We just get into the disco psychedelic rock it was absolutely something new and fresh comparing to my other works, I’ve decided to make something that would come out of the box, just get lost into improvisation mixing rhythms and combining disco and psychedelia, to create party atmosphere that basically is ‘guitar juice box’.
BR: Which pedals do you usually use when you perform and are those your favorite?
MM: My favorite pedal is cry baby, it defines my sound quite precisely I use lot’s reverbs and overdrive as well. My other pedals are tremolo and two delays.
BR: How many guitars you have in your possession and on which one you play the most?
MM: I love my cc Gibson gold top it’s a 57’ reissue that I used in almost all over my recordings. The other one is Fender custom shop 69’ for some funky and rhythm-song-sand probably the ‘battle’ one is that Greg Bennet green top which has been a loyal friend when busking all over Europe, they are different and great sounding.
BR: Beside quality gear what else is important for good performance?
MM: I guess you do not need the best guitar from the shop to make people enjoy your act. You need to be clear about the way you want your music to go on, you need to know your sound. But most of all you need to be 100% into it, you need to believe in your music because if not no one is going to believe you. You cannot try to be someone that you really are not..People will feel it, on the stage it is difficult to hide or pretend.
BR: On the YouTube we can see your interpretations of famous classics like “Sultans of Swing”, “Stairway to Heaven”, “Sweet Child O Mine”… and they are mind-blowing. Name the classic/legendary rock songs you like to play the most.
MM: I play a lot Sultans of swing and bohemian rhapsody because I feel something special about them, but I guess shine on you crazy diamond is my favorite cover.
BR: Name the musicians who influenced you and to whom you admire or appreciate their work?
MM: I love classic bands like Pink Floyd, The Doors or Led Zeppelin and the list goes on, love also modern ones like NIN, QOTSA, Foo Fighters, The Strokes or Guns N’ Roses… and over guitarist I admire Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Peter Green, Santana and also Slash, Jack white, Jason Becker, Richie Kotzen among many others. Since I have always been into guitar I have listened to all of them creating and changing my own style and taste.
BR: You’ve made a series of street performances in various European capitals and some fans took videos which have become viral hits, racking up millions of views. Where do you prefer to play, on the open air or in a club/concert hall?
MM: All stages and performances are different experience. I’ve been playing in front of 12k people and in front of one person lol. Busking is unique as you feel that special connection with people who among all the rush of the day have decided to stop and listen to you. Playing in venues has different atmosphere, different vibrations but always positives ones.
BR: You’re going to play on the Rock in Nis festival in the 14-16 of July. Since you’ll be in Nis for the first time, what can the audience expect from your show?
MM: During my show people can hear some classic rock covers and guitar juice box surprises, is going to be a guitar party for sure.
BR: Can music save the world?
MM: I think art is necessary in this world absolutely, it is all about feelings and dreams, music can take you to other dimension far away from the material world it can make you fell fulfilled and connect you with the others. Music has a power to bond people and I think it is very important in today’s world.
BR: Thank you for your time! Looking forward to your performance in Nis!
MM: Thanks, looking forward to see you in Nis! It’s gonna be really cool.