Rising Stars Belmont Detail Genre-Bending LP 'Aftermath' + Countrycore Single "Country Girl" [Q&A]
Photos: Moe Horta
The Noise is Ones to Watch’s home for all things punk, hardcore, metal, emo, you name it.
Just like the city they call home, Chicago up-and-comers Belmont have proven they are much more than meets the eye as the Pure Noise signees are currently leading the charge in the cross-genre revolution. With their latest twelve-track album Aftermath blending pop-punk with the likes of nu-metal, hip-hop and even country, the boundary-breaking band clearly isn't afraid to push the envelope.
While out on their recent headliner playing with Super American and Youth Fountain, The Noise sat down with Belmont members Taz Johnson, Brian Lada and Jason Inguagiato for a quick photo session and interview before their raucous set.
To see what the three had to say about the response to their new eye-opening single "Country Girl," how you can support them after an unfortunate van accident plus working with legendary producer Andrew Wade, be sure to see below. Afterward, make sure to grab a copy of Aftermath here.
First and foremost, Belmont was recently involved in a van accident which left your van and trailer completely totaled. How can fans donate/help the band get back on your feet?
Jason Inguagiato: Yeah we hit some black ice the morning after a crazy snow storm and rolled over in our van. We've never been in an accident that bad so flipping our van, Tony Honk, was pretty devastating. It's been really heartwarming to see how many people have come together to help and support us while we're struggling. Fans can still donate to our GoFundMe or if they want to buy merch that works too. Any support goes a long way and we appreciate the hell out of it.
Leading up to the release of your brand new album Aftermath, you guys dropped a fun EP to hold fans over titled Bowser’s Mixtape. It included original songs, acoustic versions of fan favorites but also covers of The Kid Laroi/Justin Bieber and Avenged Sevenfold. What made you pick such diverse artists to cover?
Brian Lada: We originally had a list of covers we wanted to do that were all mostly songs from nu-metal bands. We always wanted to cover something like Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park just for the fun of it. However, we were trying some songs out and it wasn't working out exactly how we wanted. Jason had previously brought up the idea of doing an Avenged Sevenfold cover and that was in the back of our minds. Then "Nightmare" was brought up and we realized that we naturally kind of knew how to play the song already on all parts, so we just decided to run with it. We also wanted to Belmont-ify it and incorporate electronics just making it super weird and different.
During this time too, we were still looking for a second song to cover. "Stay" had just gotten released that week at the time, and I really just enjoyed the song a lot. I also felt like it had a little pop punk element that would make it easy to translate to our sound. So I brought up the idea to the guys and everyone was down. We tried to feel it out instrumentally in addition to testing Taz out on the vocal side of the song and realized we can make it happen. A little bit of Belmont spice added in and the rest was history!
Moving forward to Aftermath, with so many different genres showcased on that record, what were some of your influences when writing/recording the album?
Brian: The real genre meshing idea started during the Reflections era of the band. I really wanted to incorporate hip-hop/electronic/fusion elements and influences while writing the music, so we broke that barrier prior to getting into the meat of the Aftermath writing. We all share love for a wide spread of genres like hip-hop, electronic, prog, jazz along with all types of rock and metal. The whole idea going into Aftermath was really just to not have any boundaries at all and make the music we would like to hear; all of our influences were going to be thrown into the melting pot.
It's hard to pinpoint specific artists, but the influences were ranging from all types of rappers, nu-metal bands, prog bands, heavy bands, electronic artists, fusion artists, literally everything under the "rock" umbrella, country, and there's honestly more that I'm probably forgetting to mention. All spanning from the last 40 years of music to the new music we have coming out today.
"Country Girl" seems to have sparked quite the discourse amongst fans. Can you explain how this song came to be and how you feel about the reactions so far?
Taz Johnson: I had written the main chorus at home prior to going into the studio and never really expected it to be a Belmont song. After showing the guys and Andrew Wade [Aftermath producer] in the studio, we all agreed it could be something fun, but nothing we would take super seriously. By the end of our tracking time, we had a full blown countrycore song on our hands. We knew the reception would be completely split but that was part of the plan all along, giving our fans and new listeners something fun and different to digest. Almost every night on tour so far we've had a "Country Girl" chant during our set so I guess you can say we did something right!
Can you explain how it was working with Andrew Wade and what made you decide to work with him on this release?
Brian: Working with Wade was absolutely great! He was able to click with us perfectly and really understood the whole no boundaries thing we had going into Aftermath. He had tons of great ideas that worked super well with the sound we were going for. The chemistry was really good. We were also just fans of a lot of the previous work he did. So we reached out to him and when he agreed to work with us, it was a no-brainer.
Tracks like In "My Skin" and "4 am // Disappear" are very introspective and self-aware lyrically. What motivated you to take a more vulnerable approach on this album?
Taz: I've always admired other artists who are able to write from a place of vulnerability rather than writing something factious and shallow. All of these lyrics were written in the studio and focused on the culmination of the last few years of my life dealing with grief, growing pains and changes in life I couldn't control no matter how much I tried. I spent most of my studio time locked in a small room writing so I was really forced to dig deep in my heart and head to express what I was feeling on the inside. The experience was truly therapeutic more than anything and even helped me realize things about myself I never paid attention to in the past.
With so much time passing since the Aftermath songs were actually written, are you already anticipating writing for the next release or are you going to fully embrace the Aftermath era now that it has finally arrived?
Jason: We're always writing when we're at home but we are definitely taking a little time before we head straight into the studio with new material. Because of the pandemic, we had to sit on those songs for a little longer than we had hoped so I know we're all really eager to get new stuff going. The songs on Aftermath had been written over the course of several years so I'm really looking forward to writing new and fresh material.