By Todd Houston
Exclusive to TRRT
Rockford Rocked Interview: A lot of your music starts off very beautiful and happy (sort of like the Foo Fighters with a toothache) but it gets ugly in hurry. What word would you choose that best describes your music?
Brian Mastrangeli: Psych.
RRI: Who are the members and when and where did the band form?
BM: Tundras consists of drummer/keyboard player Josh Ellis, guitarists Cory Wicklund and Chris Rodriguez, and me on bass. The band started in the spring of 2012 here in Rockford following the dissolution of The Rough Tracks (Cory, Brian, Josh) and Indomitable Ancients (Chris) the previous winter.
RRI: I’m pretty sure (guitarist) Chris is that guy that fixes guitars and stuff at a local music store here in Rockford. Does he ever try selling you guys used gear or ask you guys to fill out credit applications for store credit? Be honest.
BM: (Laughter) Yeah, Chris is the guitar tech at Guitar Center. We don’t usually let Chris talk us into too much, but we definitely take advantage of not having to run to the music store to grab fresh strings and sticks.
RRI: Who are the main song writers in Tundras and what inspires you to sit down and write a tune?
BM: Most songs start with a riff or general idea that Cory or Chris will bring to the rest of the band, and from there song writing is a pretty democratic process for us. The four of us have been playing in bands together on and off since we were in our teens, so we have a connection as musicians that make jamming and writing music together a joy.
RRI: It seems as though the lion’s share of your songs are instrumentals. Have you ever thought about finding a suitable singer to parade around the stage and yell at folks or are writing lyrics just a big pain in the butt for you guys?
BM: We started this band just the four of us and didn’t put much thought into vocals for a while. As our first set of songs rounded out we tried out a couple of guys on vocals and it just never felt right so after some discussion we decided to continue on instrumental. We will have one song on our upcoming album with vocals and are not opposed to find more of a place for them in our music going forward.
RRI: What’s the story behind the song Anna Page? Is that song about the park here in Rockford or about a girl?
BM: The advantage of being an instrumental band is that your songs can really be about whatever we choose. At the time we wrote that song we were really into disc golf so we named it after the park.
RRI: I recently read an article in a major music publication that claimed “metal music” is dead or slowly dying. There are so many subgenres in metal music that it would be ridiculous to make a statement like that in my opinion. Thoughts?
BM: There are always ebbs and flows to whats in and out in music. I think metal might not exactly be in the national spotlight but if you look at the internet or go to shows you’ll see the genre is alive and well.
RRI: You guys play all over the Rockford and Chicago area. What’s your favorite venue to play?
BM: Hands down it would be Mary’s Place in Rockford. They are the most welcoming and supportive venue to local bands in northern Illinois. They also have the best live sound and most energetic crowds in town. We seriously can’t say enough about how great that place is.
RRI: In 2013 you released an EP entitled The Process. What can we expect from that release and more importantly where can we find it?
BM: Yes, we released that in the spring of 2013 and you can download that for free at tundrasil.bandcamp.com.
RRI: What does 2016 have in store for Tundras?
BM: We just finished up recording our, as of yet untitled, first full length album at The Midwest Sound. We hope to have that ready for release by spring. Beyond that hopefully playing new places and seeing new faces! You can find all things Tundras at facebook.com/tundrasillinois including updates on the new album and all of our upcoming shows.