By Nate "Igor" Smith
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It would be tempting to tag the Monday Photo's song "Fall" as a cynical appropriation of the Mancunian era, if not for singer Leo Marcelo's breathless enthusiasm for his source material. "We love New Order," he says. "I just love the feeling in their music the sense of sadness and melancholy even though it was still fun music." Indeed "Fall" is reminiscent of New Order circa its Eighties peak (rather than Waiting for the Sirens' Call, the Manchester band's nostalgia-drenched 2005 release).
South Florida, though it might not be a world-renowned Anglophile destination, currently has no shortage of bands flaunting British influences Modernage and Fashionista chief among them. Yet unlike many of its local contemporaries, whose skew is decidedly domestic (Interpol, Elefant, et al.), the Monday Photo is far more continentally inclined. Even when Marcelo reaches for other touchstones, he doesn't crack the Nineties, let alone this decade. He mentions the Stone Roses and Depeche Mode, citing the latter band's 1982 album, A Broken Frame, as his gateway to British music.
They were the bands that ultimately convinced him to pick up the guitar, although he admits that, being self-taught, he gladly ceded the most demanding parts to George Isa, the Monday Photo's cofounder. The two met on a job several years ago, and once realizing a shared musical interest, they began exchanging CDs and eventually decided to begin writing songs together. After weathering a few personnel changes, Marcelo says the band solidified its lineup a little more than two years ago: "At that point, we gigged, but not officially." Marcelo explains he was weary of exposing the band in its embryonic stages, before developing a strong set. "We would make up a name of a band and play, just to get our feet wet," he recalls.
Thankfully that tentativeness did not follow them into the studio. The bandmates found a like-minded collaborator in fellow local musician Omar Cuellar, who in addition to fronting his own band, the shoegaze-y postpunk outfit Francis 7, acted as producer for the Monday Photo's recording sessions. "We feel very fortunate to have found Omar," says Marcelo. "Since he comes from a very similar musical background as us, we don't even have to tell him what we want to sound like. It's a completely unspoken process [in the studio], which has allowed us to just focus on writing the songs."
Cuellar will also helm the forthcoming sessions for the full-length, which Marcelo hopes to have out at the beginning of next year so that the band can tour upstate and beyond. "We definitely want to get out of Miami. As much as we appreciate the support, we also want to play other places. We've already gotten reviews in Europe in Germany and even Sweden. We just want to put the music out and see where it leads us." No doubt songs like "Fall" and "Allies (No Tomorrow)" will lead someplace familiar, but fortunately for the Monday Photo, their simulations are rarely lacking in substance.