Hollis Brown and Lost Leaders

Hollis Brown

Hollis Brown is an American Rock ‘n’ Roll band. Named after a Bob

Dylan song (“The Ballad of Hollis Brown”), the band was formed by

Queens-natives and songwriters Mike Montali (lead vocals/guitar) and

Jonathan Bonilla (lead guitar). Both 2nd-generation immigrants (Italian-
American and Puerto Rican-American, respectively), they soon found

their musical brethren across America, recruiting Andrew Zehnal

(drums) from Cleveland, Adam Bock (keyboard/vocals) from St. Louis,

and Scott Thompson (bass) from Boston.

Hollis Brown’s latest vinyl EP, Cluster of Pearls (Alive Naturalsound

Records), was chosen as one of the 300 select releases throughout the

world for Record Store Day 2016. Pressed on Starburst Vinyl, the

record is limited to 800 copies and features four previously unreleased

tracks and two songs released on vinyl for the first time. Cluster of

Pearls follows up the 2015 release of Hollis Brown's third album 3 Shots

(Jullian Records/RED), featuring the Bo Diddley collaboration “Rain

Dance,” and the duet “Highway 1” with acclaimed alt-country

songstress Nikki Lane. The edgy, roots-rock indie band from Queens,

NY, known for its adrenaline fueled performances, recently wrapped

40+ amphitheater shows across America supporting Counting Crows

and Citizen Cope last Summer/Fall, followed by a month-long headline

tour in the UK and Europe.

The independent act has achieved a significant amount of success since

their formation in 2009. They released their debut album Ride On The

Train on Alive Naturalsound in 2013 (produced by Adam Landry),

garnering song and video premieres from Rolling Stone, Paste, and

American Songwriter, along with music placements on Direct TV's

"Kingdom," Showtime’s “Shameless,” MTV’s “Real World,” and the

Willem Dafoe/Matt Dillon film “Bad Country”. Following a Lou Reed

tribute concert in NYC, Alive Naturalsound asked the band to record a

tribute to the Velvet Underground’s classic album Loaded, as a limited-
edition vinyl release for Record Store Day 2014. Hollis Brown Gets

Loaded took on a life of its own, with airplay on influential

radio stations, resulting in a full CD & digital release.

The band has toured extensively in America and Europe, headlining and

supporting such bands as The Zombies, Jackie Greene, Heartless

Bastards, Rich Robinson of Black Crowes, and Jesse Malin, and

building an impressive fan base on both continents.

Facebook: facebook.com/hollisbrownmusic

Twitter: twitter.com/hollisbrown

Instagram: instagram.com/hollisbrownmusic

YouTube: youtube.com/user/hollisbrownmusic

Website: hollisbrown.com

Lost Leaders

I USED TO HAVE a steady Monday night jazz gig on Mercer street in Soho. Organ trio. It was the kind of place where Wall Street types came for a dose of "good for you" music before throwing 35 cents in the tip jar and running home to check their dai-ly winnings. The place was owned by a depressive Israeli guy who looked like he was gonna hang himself at any moment; Hopefully he never did.

Occasionally I'd use a bass player when the organ player couldn't make it and so Byron & I have been making music for a long time. But Jazz wasn't for me. I had much to prove & little to say which is boring as hell to anyone listening. So we started writing our own mu-sic. We played together as much as we could. Sounded great. Even had a pop/rock group so badly named I shan't repeat it here. But our other musical endeavors kept our collaboration against the boards. Byron started Ollabelle with some great musicians in the East Village. T-Bone Burnett signed them to Columbia Records and they were

off on the road with Ryan Adams and Diana Krall and god knows who else. Great ride.

As soon as they had some breaks in their schedule my band signed on with a BMG distributed label. It was owned by a guy who made his money liquidating companies (in acid). We used to meet him in his $1600/per night suite at The Plaza so he could tell us how tight the budget was to promote our record. He was eventually sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison for money laundering.

We did some very strange tours. One opening for Dave Davies from The Kinks (a real hero but a truly weird guy. Aliens. That's all I'm gonna say) and one sponsored by a rum company from Barbados. (Alcohol sponsored tour - say no more.) We got lots of T.V. licensing though. Had four songs on Daw-son's Creek and more on MTV's Road Rules, Real World, The Young and the Restless, E! Wild On Holly-wood etc etc etc. There are new shows I've never even heard of us-ing some of those songs.

Eventually Byron and I got to make a record called Lowdowners in Stereo (still unreleased) in a stu-dio located directly below Sonic Youth's rehearsal room. If you solo the drum overhead mics on some of the songs you can hear them howling. Someday that record will be worth something. The singer from my band split and moved to California and bought the amazing Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace. Lucinda Williams played her opening night show.

By this point Byron was playing bass with Levon Helm and was around for those truly inspiring last years. He even wrote a song on the Dirt Farmer record. It won a Grammy. He also played on the follow up record Electric Dirt and it won a Grammy (sense a pat-tern?) By this point we also had new songs that justifi ed pushing other things aside for our collabo-ration. Get it off the boards. Byron brought the ethereal beauty "The LIne The Lie", the barroom stomp "Keeping Busy Feeling Fine" and the psychedelic majesty "Miracle Mile". I came up with the cynically

folky "I'm Gonna Win", the hooky rocker "Thin Walls" (which sounds like Squeeze to me but I don't know why) and the darkly opti-mistic "Never Too Late". These were songs worth working for.

We made a new record. A new band. A new point of view. A new layer of skin. Lots of folks from the Levon camp helped out. Justin Guip played drums, engineered it & helped us produce it, Bri-an Mitchell played some organ, Clark Gayton and Jay Collins gave us some badass horns. Larry Campbell even gave it his blessing ("Byron, you & Peter got some Ev-erly Brothers shit going on..."). We recorded it at Levon's which is a church of sorts. You get the same feeling you get in any cathe-dral. We played The Midnight Ramble with Levon the summer before he died. The record will come out this year (2014). All of this tale is in there. We named our new project Lost Leaders. It just seemed appropriate.

Now you know why.

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