Hollis Brown and Vintage Trouble, rising stars in the Americana indie music scene, performed the final show of their 2019 concert tour in December at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles, CA. A packed house was all abuzz in anticipation of what became a double shot of two great bands. Introduced by Vintage Trouble lead vocalist, Ty Taylor, Hollis Brown, featuring Mike Montali (guitar and vocals), Jonathan Bonilla (guitar), Andrew Zehnal (drums), Adam Bock (keyboards), Chris Urriola (bass), hit the stage first and immediately launched into a memorable performance featuring selections off their last release, Ozone Park. Merging elements of rock, blues, soul, R&B and hip-hop, with their unique style, they solidified their standing as a musical presence that is rapidly gaining momentum. Fans were left clamoring for more as they exited the stage.
LA-based Vintage Trouble featuring Ty Taylor (vocals), Nalle Colt (guitar/ backing vocals), Rick Barrio Dill (bass/backing vocals), and Richard Danielson (drum, percussion/ backing vocals), closed out the night with an impressive set of blues, R&B, soul and rock-laden songs. Touring in support of their latest release, Chapter II - EP 1, band members casually made their way on stage, huddling as a group in front of the drum set—a pre-show ritual—before exploding into one of the most powerful performances I have witnessed in 2019. Taylor was a bundle of energy taking full advantage of the entire stage dancing and swaying as he sang. Jumping down onto the dance floor, he sang as he made his way through the crowd, ultimately ending up on the balcony. Returning to the main floor, he body-surfed his way back to the stage. Before taking a group bow, Taylor thanked everyone for coming and making this a very special homecoming. This was an unforgettable night of music from two powerhouse bands.
“It’s was a really good tour,” says Montali, from his Beverly Hills hotel. “We were able to get to know those guys, and they got to know us. They are super cool It’s nice to see a rock band giving it their all every night, that’s what we tried to do. Having both of us added to the flavor of the tour in general. This was a really great tour that we were happy to be a part of. It was a good way to finish up the year.”
Hollis Brown’s latest album, Ozone Park (Mascot Records/Cool Green Recordings), has been received well in the indie scene by fans, radio, and media.
“Our goal with this record was to aspire to make something that could stand up to the artists that inspired us,” says Montali. “We wanted to do something could compete at that level, almost like a modern take on a classic rock album. That’s what we were going for. If you listen to Tom Petty, and you listen to us and say, ’Alright they’re there.’ But also something relevant today versus just a throwback type of band. We were going for that vintage style where everything was done on analog tape, minimal overdubs, live in a room, like a garage band. So this time around we wanted to show that we could cross over a bigger platform, and modernize rock and roll.”
“I’m very pleased with the record,” adds Montali. “It has gotten a really good reception for the band this year, we’ve turned the corner, popularity-wise and the way people view us as a legitimate working band. So it’s been a stepping stone for us that we’re hoping to keep going with the next one. I think we’ve finally found our sound.”
Establishing a reputation for a powerful live show that has found them hitting the concert trail hard throughout the U.S. and abroad, Hollis Brown has served as an opener for the Counting Crows, the Zombies, Citizen Cope, Heartless Bastards, Jesse Malin, Jackie Greene, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes.
“I’m never where I want to be, I think we should be further along,” says Montali. “I think we’re one of there best bands out there. I think that it takes a little longer sometimes to connect when you just have your own voice, and you have something a little different. You want to say something, and be something that’s not so in line with maybe what the major pop thing dictates at the time.”
“To be fair, it has taken us a little while to figure out how to do it,” adds Montali. “It has taken us a few years of getting in the van and figuring out what kind of band we want to be. I feel like we have finally figured that out, we’ve paid our dues. I think we're in a really good place now. We just want to keep the ball rolling and making music we believe in."
Photos by Rob Nagy 2019