jason kundrath interviews the high-energy band out of the Jersey Shore …
Artist: Status Green
Homebase: The Jersey Shore
File Under: radio-ready rock ‘n’ roll; on the verge
Players: Lou Montesano — lead vocals, guitar, piano; Chris Marino — vocals, guitar; Russell Tolas — vocals, bass; Mike Montalto — drums
Rock critics like to describe bands as “on the verge.” This intangible quality, however, is nearly impossible to measure, and while it sounds good, it’s essentially meaningless. Yet, Status Green — a four-piece pop-rock powerhouse from the Garden State — happens to have the resumé to justify this tag. Since forming in 2006, Status Green has racked up an astounding list of accomplishments, selling out clubs in New Jersey and New York, playing tons of festivals, and sharing stages with the likes of Weezer, Blink-182, Fall Out Boy and Bon Jovi, to name a few. They’ve released three albums of razor-sharp, hook-laden gems: the humorously titled Greatest Hits Volume 1 in 2006, The Essentials in 2009, and most recently, Cheap Sunglasses in 2010. Their sound is an modern amalgamation of assorted chart-topping acts cherry-picked from the last few decades, alternately recalling tones of The Killers, Elvis Costello and the J.Giles Band, among others.
Frontman Lou Montesano has a powerful, expressive voice, and he sells the package with a knack for great melodies and expert songwriting that borrows but never steals, making for a listening experience that is at once fresh and familiar. Make no bones about it: the men of Status Green aren’t out to reinvent the wheel. But they are looking to move you out of your seat and onto the dance floor. And the band has the songs and the style to get the job done. Whether they’re down at the local bar or up on the stage at the PNC Arts Center, Status Green delivers and connects with an exhilarating, high-energy performance that screams “on the verge.” Let’s hope they get there.
‘Rath on Record recently sat down with Status Green guitarist Chris Marino for some Q&A.
‘Rath on Record: After only a few months of being a band back in 2006, Status Green won a big contest that landed you the opening slot at a Bon Jovi concert. Did that set the bar very high for your career expectations? Did Jon Bon Jovi have any sage advice for the band?
Chris Marino: It definitely helped us out at the time. It was a great kickstart to our career. We promoted the first show we every played so much that we drew about 400 people to Club Deep in Asbury Park [N.J.]. But once we opened for Bon Jovi, our name spread so far around town we played the Stone Pony in Asbury a few months after and sold the place out. I think it was upwards around 950 people. And it just grew from there. And no — Jon didn’t have any advice at the time.
ROR: When you decided to name your debut album Greatest Hits Volume 1, was it purely tongue-in-cheek, or was it also a statement about the band’s level of confidence?
CM: We are all jokesters, so we thought it would be funny. We aren’t cocky in any way.
ROR: Lou Montesano said in an 2008 interview that Status Green “picked the worst time in history to start a band.” Do you still agree with that statement?
CM: It’s definitely tough. I feel like labels were signing a lot more bands back in the day and willing to work and develop them whereas nowadays that doesn’t happen at all. So you as an independent artist have to pretty much “make it” on your own before you get any love from the higher-ups.
ROR: How would you say the band has evolved since its inception? Are you still defining your sound?
CM: We are just trying to become better songwriters in general. As you grow as a musician, you begin to realize what really goes into making a great song. Toying with different instrumentation, hook melodies, layering parts, really making your parts intertwine and sing.
ROR: You’ve accomplished a lot so far in your career. What’s next for the band? How big are your aspirations at this point?
CM: Right now, we are focusing on writing and just playing locally. But you never know what the future will bring.
ROR: If Status Green had a mission statement, what would it be?
CM: “Four guys that came together to put a smile on peoples faces, feel a part of something special, and dance ’till the sun comes up.”
ROR: Do you feel like you’re carrying on a great musical tradition as New Jersey artists?
CM: We are just trying to do our own thing and hopefully people catch onto it. Hopefully someday people will respect us as a part of New Jersey’s musical tradition.
ROR: How do you feel about MTV’s Jersey Shore? Being a Shore-based band, would you say that it’s representative of your culture?
CM: Personally, I think the show is hilarious. Do I agree with it… No. But it is extremely entertaining watching these people overdramatize life.