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14 October 2010

Interview: Rob Montejo of The Sky Drops and Smashing Orange.

The Sky Drops are Rob Montejo and Monika Bullette, a duo based in Delaware, and their amazing sound is often described as "gaze-grunge". After releasing the impressive Clouds of People EP in 2006 and the even more captivating full length, Bourgeois Beat, in 2009, these guys have created quite a buzz about themselves in the shoegaze and dream pop scene. With another EP on the way in the Spring of 2011, The Sky Drops are sure to capture the hearts of even more fans; When The Sun Hits is most certainly looking forward to that release with great anticipation.

If you are thinking that the name Rob Montejo sounds familiar, you'd be right, as he was one of the guitarists of the classic gazer band from the early 90's called Smashing Orange - a shoegaze band that rocked harder than most, and that had a fabulous 60's psychedelic edge that other bands of the time simply couldn't touch. Legendary stuff.

When The Sun Hits was thrilled to have the chance to interview Rob, since Smashing Orange is, without a doubt, representative of the best in classic shoegaze, and The Sky Drops are the cream of the crop, as far as the new wave of contemporaries is concerned. Enjoy the interview, and look for The Sky Drops' new EP next spring on Custom Made Music.

1. How were The Sky Drops formed? How did you guys meet? Why a duo?

After a year of performing with an acoustic guitar, I sorely missed plugging into my Jazzmaster and stomping on a Big Muff. I wanted to start a band that had a big sound and was heavy on harmonies. I had produced a song on Monika’s solo record and seen her play drums with Licorice Roots. The fact that she could sing and play drums seemed ideal, so I gave her call and asked if she was interested. Initially, there was a bass player in the picture, but she never showed up. We decided to work on songs anyway and realized soon after it sounded pretty good without a bass player. Why not continue as a duo, see what happens?

2. Do you feel like you guys are a part of the new shoegaze scene?

Yes and no. Although we are generally associated with the Nugaze scene, it’s not a snug fit by any stretch. I feel there’s quite a bit more breadth to what we’re doing.

3. Can you tell us what you've been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (recording, tour, etc?)?

We recently finished an EP that was slated for an October release on vinyl on Custom Made Music. Just when I thought it was ready to go, I ended up finding my mixing job unacceptable, so it’s been bumped to Spring ’11. However, we’re going to release “Christmas Feels Like Halloween” (our original Christmas song) with a new song on Black Friday.

We’ve got a bunch of live dates coming up, including our Midwest tour October 7th – 16th. All of our upcoming shows can be found at

4. What sort of set up/gear do you use? What is the most important piece of gear for your sound (i.e. pedals, guitars, drums etc.)?

The most important part of my set up is playing through two amps simultaneously. The best combination that works for me is a Fender Blues Deville and a Hiwatt Custom 100 through a closed-back 2x12 loaded with Fanes.

Secondly, and just as important, each amp has its own chain of pedals. This allows me to create a tonally and sonically wide sound with a nice broad brush.

5. What shoegaze/dream pop bands (if any, or whoever) have most influenced your work?

Syd Barrett, the original shoegazer.

6. Tell us a little about what you are currently into (bands, books, films, etc)?

I’m reading Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. I dig Surfer Blood.

7. Can we expect to see a Sky Drops release in the future?

A vinyl EP on Custom Made Music, Spring ’11.

8. What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop artists, any favorites?

Unfortunately, most of the new bands I’ve seen and heard are way too focused on being a retread or tribute band. I wish more bands wielding the “shoegaze” and/or “noise pop” sound would find their own voice and create something unique. How many more times can we hear the next Loveless or Psychocandy?

Enough already, please stop it.

9. Why did Smashing Orange split up?

The band had run its creative course, and the desire to be something special was dead. I finally realized I could not shoulder an elephant of complacency and move forward. I needed to grow.

10. Do you think modern bands realize who Smashing Orange were and their importance, and will there ever be a reunion?

I think there are a few people out there that remember Smashing Orange. The early releases were exciting and fresh. We were doing “shoegaze” with a 60's psychedelic bend.

There was a time when the live shows were spectacular -- no one could fuck with us. A reunion? No.