Q&A with Tony Cardenas-Montana and Brentt Arcement of Shadow & The Thrill, songs of salvation to soothe the soul

"This music is healing and can bring people together. There is way too much divisiveness happening today. We can come together under music, and celebrate all the things we have in common – being decent human beings. I want them to get happy, feel free, get healed, feel amorous, dance and let go! Music should allow you to freak out without being judged. Come to a show and sing LOUDLY!  I’ll sing with you!"

Shadow & The Thrill: Let The Groove Roll

Shadow & The Thrill is a modern, blues infused, groove laden, hook filled melodic rock band that comes from the streets of Los Angeles and New Orleans bringing you songs of salvation to soothe the soul! Sugarbowl, the debut album by Shadow & The Thrill will be released August 14TH thru Deko Entertainment (ADA/Warner Music Group). Fans of Aerosmith, Rival Sons, Dirty Honey, Chris Cornell and guitar legend Gary Moore will gravitate to Shadow & The Thrill’s use of Blues, Rock and emotionally driven arrangements. Recorded in New Orleans, the band embraced the city’s influences to help guide its flavor, with the majority of the production handled by both Tony Cardenas-Montana (guitars, vocals, bass and harmonica) and Brentt Arcement (drums, B3 organ), with Jack Miele and Cedrick Courtois engineering the album, and the iconic Grammy award winning Sylvia Massey (Johnny Cash) overseeing the mix. The album mixes the moody and melodic “Sugarbowl” with rockers like “Just Enough” and the acoustic “Ready To Roll” while a heavy Blues take on the groundbreaking Gnarls Barkley’s track “Crazy” will cement the band’s wide-ranging abilities.

(Photo: Tony Cardenas-Montana and Brentt Arcement)

The first single “Just Enough” which was released today, takes a rolling Blues Rock riff and pairs it with soaring vocal harmonies and a super charged guitar solo. It’s an extraordinary time in the world, so it’s the right time for this extraordinary new act to enter our lives. Tony states, “’Just Enough’ is one of my favorite songs to play live. It’s got an aggressive riff and groove, with attitude.” Shadow & The Thrill’s future is largely dictated by the past of the two men behind the band. Tony, as a Grammy Nominated (Great White), certified multi-platinum, Billboard charting writer and musician, and Brentt (Fiona Apple, LIVE, Bullet Boys, Black Molly’s) as a tireless and sought after touring and session drummer and producer. Together they have created an album experience that rivals their iconic Rock and Pop influences.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Blues and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Tony: Both the blues and rock are universal “feelings” or expressions in almost any country or culture I’ve visited. I recall a moment while in Tokyo, sitting outside a hotel, by the street. An older woman came by and sat at a bench, and began to sing in Japanese, while crying, weeping… This plaintive wail, was the sound of anguish, but she needed to let it out, to help herself heal. I realized I had just heard the same expression that the blues gives people, and more specifically, gave the inventors of the music – the black musicians in the south, and later all the different people that adopted it, and enjoyed it.

How has the NOLA music and culture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Brentt: The music in this town is and has always been honest. musicians and writers, and artist live a lifestyle that is totally unique to anywhere else in the country. No matter what you’re into, its hard not to be inspired by that. I grew up in New Orleans, and I lived in southern California for a lot of years as well. So, where that has brought me is to a place that I feel is full circle... I try to live and breathe in my world and not let things disrupt my creativeness and drive to make great music.

How do you describe band's sound, music philosophy and songbook? What is the story behind the nameShadow & The Thrill”?

Tony: The sound is basically the grind of the rhythm section that Brentt and I become. Music means nothing to me without a sense of groove. We are going to gravitate to music that is influenced by the blues and R&B, but we are going to put heavy guitars and a rock attitude to that. What we do is honest. No B.S. here. Our manager Pete is an old radio serials fan, and he loved “The Shadow”, and then we gave a nod to B.B. King’s, “The Thrill is Gone”.

"Music is supposed to be a release for people. you can take whatever you want from it, that's what makes it so great. I would hope people can listen to SATT and say "Yea"! that is a kick ass band. the energy, the vibe... that's all you can ask." (Photo: Shadow & The Thrill / Tony Montana & Brentt Arcement)

Brentt, you’re musician and producer of album. What is the hardest part to be musician or producer?

Brentt: I can’t say that there is a hardest part to either, on the other hand producing your own material can present challenges. you are always your own worst critic, so for me, I’ll hear things sometimes that I feel are terrible but then going back through comps and coming across those takes you thought were awful at the time wind up being the best of them all.

Are there any memories from "Sugarbowl" studio sessions in New Orleans which you’d like to share with us?

Tony: My favorite memories are of the amazing singers and musician’s help we got.  Tony Hall’s bass performance on “Crazy”, and Telissa Long’s vocal on “The Grind” were such a gift.  They both lent their gifts and made a difference.  Jimmie Bones’ piano track on “The Grind” dropped my jaw. We are so blessed.

Brentt: Some of my favorite sessions were with the singers. We had some great girls come in and hearing what they did and the vibe that they brought was super exciting.

Which meetings have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Tony: Most important meetings are meeting people who say that this music means something to them. My old manager, Alan Niven, who has consulted us extensively throughout the making of this album, has always said, “if you can’t sit with an acoustic guitar and a voice, and make it feel like a song, then start over.” That’s good advice.

Brentt: Be yourself and play like YOU play..

Brentt, are there any memories with your dad on gigs and studio; and Lee Dorsey which you’d like to share with us?

Brentt: Lee was a great guy and my dad played in his band for 10 plus years. they would rehearse at my house and I would sit there for hours. I would go to the sessions at Sea Saint studios when I was a kid. That was Allen Toussaint's place. One day they let me go in the drum booth and jam some. I put the headphones on and started playing, all of a sudden, I hear Lee come over the talk back in the head phones he says "give me a stronger back beat little brother" and it scared the shit out of me lol! I was probably 10 years old at the time. He invited me to play the jazz fest the following year. I played one song and it was "get out my life women" which was a hit for lee in the 60's... great memories.

"Both the blues and rock are universal “feelings” or expressions in almost any country or culture I’ve visited. I recall a moment while in Tokyo, sitting outside a hotel, by the street. An older woman came by and sat at a bench, and began to sing in Japanese, while crying, weeping…This plaintive wail, was the sound of anguish, but she needed to let it out, to help herself heal." (Photo: Shadow & The Thrill / Tony Cardenas-Montana on guitar and Brentt Arcement on drums)

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Tony: I miss the sense of magic from the days of recorded music where true performances were being nurtured and captured. I costs money, because time in a REAL studio to get that lightning in a bottle is expensive. Pros, producers, engineers, and dedicated, talented musicians. I hope we get more live music recordings, more improve. I want to, and I like to hear others, take it out the edge and deliver in a live environment.

Brentt: What I miss is how great it was! That's a loaded question lol, my hopes are we start treating each other better, my fears is we wont

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Tony: Always be genuine. Always be kind, you never know who you’re talking to.

Brentt: Growth, if we don't grow from our experiences, we are doing something wrong. musically I would like to think that every record I make or play on or am a part of has something a little more special then the last.

What is the impact of Rock n' Blues music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

Tony: This music is healing and can bring people together. There is way too much divisiveness happening today. We can come together under music, and celebrate all the things we have in common – being decent human beings. I want them to get happy, feel free, get healed, feel amorous, dance and let go! Music should allow you to freak out without being judged. Come to a show and sing LOUDLY!  I’ll sing with you!

Brentt: Music is supposed to be a release for people. you can take whatever you want from it, that's what makes it so great. I would hope people can listen to SATT and say "Yea"! that is a kick ass band. the energy, the vibe... that's all you can ask.

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