Another huge success story on the South Shore is Munk Duane. Munk is the ultimate working musician. It’s a challenge to keep up with all this guy has going on. His humility is outstanding and his body of work is simply staggering. Great press? Munk has it. Licensing deals? Munk’s got them. Great albums? All there. Oh yeah, and did we mention feature length film scores? Munk has those too. And of course, Munk can play and sing his rump off. Above all of this, however, is the fact that Munk is an artist… and a damn good one!
by Jay Psaros
Another local rocker-film scorer is Munk Duane, of the Munk Duane Band, who will soon start scoring his second project with director Arthur Luhn, “The House Across the Street.” Luhn hired Duane for his last local movie, “Conned,” at the recommendation of an extra on set. Duane said it was a huge scoring project for a beginner because “Conned” included many deaf characters (Luhn is also deaf), so many of the scenes were low on dialogue. “There was a ton of music in a film like that. How do you capture those emotional peaks and valleys without dialogue?” Duane tells us that he avoided writing Celtic music for that film (he says Celtic music in a Boston gang film has become a cliche). And for “The House Across the Street,” a horror film in progress on the South Shore, he’ll stay away from typical scary music sounds and work with silence as much as he can. “I’ve learned that in a lot of instances, less is actually more,” he said. Duane promises that even though he loves this scoring gig, he won’t stop playing live. “I perform an average of 80 shows a year,” he said, proudly.
It’s worth noting that Boston has a long history of housing film composers: Steven Spielberg collaborator John Williams is, of course, a member of the Boston Pops family, and Carter Burwell, who scored “Twilight” and works with the Coen Brothers, went to Harvard.
by Meredith Goldstein
Bill Copeland Music News
Munk Duane’s new album “Argue With Gravity” is a classy R&B/Rock and Roll affair. Duane’s smooth, soft timbre coats each song with warm, emotive charm. The soundscape beneath his voice consists of artful yet tasteful self-restrained. Duane uses the studio as an instrument throughout this album with each song benefiting from a consistent polish and shine.
Munk Duane is a name people in the music scene need to remember. There is something special in his songwriting and there is a touch of genius in his ability to utilize a studio to take his songs to the level of art. This new album will likely open a lot of new doors for him.
In the early part of the decade, Boston-based independent musician Munk spent several years trying to promote tracks from his two albums through traditional PR and college radio. In 2004, he sold scarcely 100 single downloads, according to a CD Baby digital sales report. That number reached 2,500 in 2005, and by the end of 2007, after not releasing an album since 2003, his paid downloads totaled more than 12,000. Munk has now also found success with publishing deals, and he is unequivocal about how he gained exposure: “I know that it was all driven by podcast plays,” he says.
Indeed, while the media attention devoted to podcasts in 2005 and 2006 may have waned, Munk is one of many musicians and companies finding that the opportunities around them are steadily growing.
The Greylock Glass
Munk Duane Releases “Argue With Gravity” and We Have No Argument With That
Munk achieves new levels of sophistication, but somehow manages to keep the emotional truths deliciously raw. With a “just-tapped” sense of honesty, “Argue With Gravity” presents listeners with a hard-won wisdom that is matched by an absolute mastery of the craft.
C.D. On Songs, Munk Duane Band, No July
Today is the big day for the Munk Duane Band. I know they are playing at the Hard Rock Cafe on Thursday night, but without any music, well I don’t know what they’d do there. Lucky for everyone, they have released a new record today. So you have a chance to become acquainted with the material, see? So you make your acquaintance starting right now, and you’ll be good and ready for the big show on Thursday night. Everybody wins!
This song actually displays a pleasing melange of flavors from the get-go; presenting with the western flair of a big old hollowbody guitar (I bet it has F holes. Who you calling F-Hole, F-Hole?), the upwardly mobile beat of modern pop, and the pleasing shifts in speed and power that keep things interesting. It is these changes that make this song move, providing plenty of hills and valleys for the train that is “No July” to pass through. This makes for a nice landscape for everyone in the train, those passengers being this song’s listeners. Meaning us.
The song’s sense of dynamics sits on top of a sturdy framework – “No July” uses a fairly sweet and somewhat underused chord progression for the majority of the track. The “I – IV Minor” motif works its way through the track, painting a picture of a band that is able to utilize various tensions to bring a song around. The key interval here is the minor-ness of the IV chord (which is a augmented fifth for those of you keeping score who still know what I am talking about). All melodies and hooks revolve around this interval, and “No July” works it to near-perfection.
“No July” gets another sense of power from the gutsy vocals. No, we don’t mean “gutsy” as in “tries for it but doesn’t hit it and we don’t want to say anything mean,” we simply mean that these vocals have a sense of gravity and power to them that gives them a serious oomph. The vocals hit hard, especially in the chorus; holding onto notes long and strong. The stalwart vocal presence is perhaps the strongest thing in the track. The guitar sort of stands to the side and does one of those “Check this guy out!” hand gestures like they used to do in professional wrestling, hitting the side of the boat with waves of chords that don’t intend to knock it over, just simply to take part in the voyage.
Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Munk Duane has enjoyed success as a solo artist with a career highlighted in network television (2010 Super Bowl Half-Time Show, HBO’s The Sopranos, CBS’s NCIS, and over 200 more), national college Top 30 radio play and major press in Billboard Magazine and the Boston Globe. The Berklee College of Music alum has been featured in over a thousand international podcasts, played sold-out shows in his hometown of Boston and has written the musical score for the feature film Conned, with a score for his second feature, the thriller The House Across The Street currently in pre-production.
Go! has sung the praises of local artist Munk ever since we heard his CD ”Anime Sweetheart,” overflowing with dizzy beats and hooks. Arbiter of cool that we are, we saw others jumping on the bandwagon, and buzz began to build. He crafts his music with intelligence and panache. Can superstar status be far behind?
Munk, who plays rock anthems that have been featured on ‘‘The Sopranos’’ and‘‘Charmed,’’ brings his power chords to the masses in more ways than one. You can go the traditional route and see the band play at Bill’s Bar tonight at 9. Or you can hear and see the performance at www.secondlife.com as soon as the site can post it. Or you can check out a podcast of the concert at www.accidenthash.com or listen to it on Sirius Satellite Radio — both at 8:30 p.m. Monday. Call us old-fashioned, but we recommend just going to the show. [Meredith Goldstein]
In the latest edition of Getting to Know, we let Boston’s Munk Duane Band tell us about themselves. You can catch the band’s next performance at Precinct in Somerville on Friday, November 18 as part of the International Pop Overthrow Festival.
How did you form?
About two years ago, a music industry friend told me he felt I might have some Country songs in me. I had primarily been a rock and pop songwriter since I started writing songs but having Johnny Cash and The Allman Brothers in the depths of my musical consciousness, I was intrigued.I took a deep dive into traditional American music, coming at it from a student’s perspective, and started to discover threads I was compelled to start pulling on in my writing approach. I then shot for the moon and contacted people like Tony, who plays with every band in town, but is the guy if you want to play in this style. I never expected he would be available, let alone interested. He responded immediately. After several member changes and a handful of “field test” gigs under the moniker “The Radio Says”, the current lineup came into focus and it feels like doors are just starting to open.
Who are some of your influences?
It’s almost a loaded question when it comes to this band. Chet Atkins to The Rolling Stones to Joshua Tree era U2. As a writer, I gravitate toward artists who have successfully navigated the waters of Rock, Americana, Country and Pop and found a new voice within the combination. My iTunes on Shuffle these days will go from Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top and Bruce Springsteen to Jason Aldean, Brad Paisely and Little Big Town to Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs and Andrew Bird.
Finish the sentence, someone would like your band if they like…
… a little Country in their Rock and Roll.
What has your most memorable moment as a band been?
Battling Hurricane Irene to get from Boston to Secaucus, New Jersey to play The Meadowlands for Guitar Con, New Jersey and loosing. See the full story on our Vlog “Subfamous”.
Walk us through your songwriting process.
It changes from song to song depending on the instrument I start with. At times, I’m pounding out a melody and changes on an acoustic. Other times, I start on the rhythm section instruments (bass and Toontrack’s EZ Drummer for guide parts) and build the track from the feel on up. Lyrics are generally dead last and take the greatest investment of time on my part. I’m a habitual self-editor, which is born of necessity. I usually start with complexity married with ambiguity and attempt to boil away my pretense to the simple root. A great song to me is like a great joke: if you have to explain the punchline, it’s not very funny.
Who is the best musician in your band?
I refuse to answer this question on the ground that it may incriminate me. Pleading the 5th.
What is your favorite local venue?
MDB is relatively new so I’ll have to speak from past experience. I love to death playing The Lizard Lounge. I’ve never had a bad gig there and the vibe is so intimate, it’s easy to make connections. On a larger scale I have to go with the Paradise. It’s really hard not to feel like a rockstar on that stage when the room is jammed.
What separates you from other local bands?
We’re like the great melting pot. There are Americana bands, indie bands, rock bands, country bands and more in Boston, which is what makes the scene so distinctive and diverse. MDB is the band where all of these ingredients are simmered and served up piping hot. I think I just made myself hungry.
What do you have coming up that people should know about?
Well we just released out debut album, Everywhere is South of Somewhere, a few weeks ago, which is available on iTunes, Amazon and a gagillion other digital outlets, so we’re out playing in support of that now. We were invited to play the International Pop Overthrow Festival at Precinct on Friday, November 18 at 7:30 p.m. We’ll also be at Rosebud in Somerville on Saturday, December 17.
Convince our readers to see your next show.
We’re here to make you feel good and give you a melody that you won’t be able to shake. It’s an inclusive experience of beer, smiles and song. A brief moment of simple pleasures in complicated times.
Everywhere is South of Somewhere (2011)
Boston-based Munk Duane has been a fixture in the local music scene for years. The New York-born musician went to college at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. His music has been featured in a variety of podcasts, movies and TV shows over the years, including The Sopranos, NCIS, and the 2010 Super Bowl halftime show. He also has a video blog called “Subfamous”, that details the triumphs and tribulations of a working musician.
Inspired by the country music his parents listened to as a child as well as the explorations of albums like U2′s The Joshua Tree and The Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main Street, Munk’s latest project finds him getting deeper into the sound of American roots music than he has before. The EP Everywhere is South of Somewhere (available digitally everywhere) contains five songs that incorporate everything from rock ‘n roll rave ups to country balladry. Under the name the Munk Duane Band, this project serves as a musical rebirth for the artist.
True to his eclectic nature, Munk served up a list of Desert Island Discs from artists who blur genre lines a little bit. Read on to see what he picked.
Soul Coughing–Ruby Vroom
This disc spun my head around and changed the way I was approaching music as an artist at the time. It was such an original blend of everything I loved all in one innovative package. Hooky melodies, thought provoking lyrics, funktastic rhythmic pocket, sampled callouts to everything from classical to jazz to The Andrew Sisters, it was the sound of New York.
From the subtle Bayou sounds to the tip of the hat to Led Zeppelin and the howl of a voice in true despair, Grace just haunts the Hell out of me every time I listen. I feel like he’s speaking to me from the other side.
Because if you gotta take just one…
I can listen to the innovation of Page and the boys all day long. They were the first iteration of “Mashup”.
I mean, c’mon… I don’t have to explain this one. This put me on the road to becoming a songwriter.
This mostly instrumental GUITAR focused disc showed me there are still guitar heroes out there to worship. From the tone to the technique and whimsy, Paisley is everything in a player I aspire to be
All Music Guide
Usually when an artist has penned music for a variety of TV shows and video games, it means that they’re quite musically versatile. As evidenced by the 2008 release, Modest Among the Living, the gentleman who goes simply by the moniker of Munk is up for a challenge of genre jumping any day of the week. It’s pretty darn impressive how many different styles of music Munk takes in on Modest Among the Living. Case in point, the album opening “Dirty Work” comes off part pop/part Nine Inch Nails (the vocals especially sound Reznor-like), while “30 Days” is Beatlesque, “Brush Against Me” is any emo boy’s dream, “Awake and Waiting” is a sweet ballad, and “Superheroes” is a Moby-like dance rocker. With popular music becoming increasingly predictable circa the early 21st century, the arrival of a “hard to pin down to a single genre” artist like Munk is certainly a welcome one.
Sea of Tranquility
Here’s a guy who’s been run through the wringer, professionally and personally. Linked with bands on the brink that then fell prey to label trouble and the victim of a near-fatal car crash caused by a drunk driver, the man simply known as Munk had every reason to give up on the biz (maybe even life itself). Instead, the Boston-based singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist became sort of an icon in the world of podcasting with a song called “Podpeople” that he wrote for a popular podcast called “Pacific Coast Hellway.” Former MTV veejay Adam Curry then picked up the song for his own popular podcast, proclaiming “Podpeople” as“the anthem for the podcasting revolution.” Since that time, Munk also has placed his music in dozens of network and cable television shows. Neither “Podpeople” nor those TV songs appear on his third album, Modest Among the Living.
In both his music and his self-penned liner notes offering personal reflections on each of these 13 songs, Munk comes across a regular guy who happens to possess a gutsy voice, a crunchy guitar and a commercial-rock sensibility. He plays all instruments on Modest Among the Living, singing about the importance of personal accountability in the storming opener “Dirty Work” and death and family dysfunction in the haunting ballad/mid-tempo rocker “Grave,” and incorporating clever vocal interplay with himself on the memorable “Beautiful (I Know You’re).”
Even if you’ve never listened to a podcast, don’t let that be your excuse for failing to give Munk a spin.
Chicks With Guns
Second chances are rare, but exciting. After a near-fatal car accident, Munk is back from the dead (metaphorically speaking) with “Modest Among The Living;” a Swing-Pop/ Alternative Rock opus complete with crooning/raspy vocals and smooth guitar work.
Heavy without going overboard, and poppy without leaving that sugarless aftertaste in your mouth, “Modest Among The Living” is so much more than a mere come-back album.
Starting with “Dirty Work,” a classic Pop/Rock banger, and swinging into piano-driven rocker “30 Days,” “Modest Among The Living” starts with a bang. The album flows into “I Am,” a flutter, electronic-influenced slow jam. This song is as innovative as it is ambient; slightly influenced by fellow East-coasters God Lives Underwater, and flows into electro-ballad “Awake and Waiting.”
“Modest Among the Living,” has a “unique blending of lyrical resonance with the soft, vibrantly fluid flow of his music. The Alternative genre finds a touch of spirituality in the subtle beauty of his music, like a lively orchestra wrenching at your heartstrings while [munk]’s calmly passionate words reverberate a sense of understanding and recognition into your soul.”
Munk has a complete game. The album sounds great, it looks great and Munk’s writing is strong enough for each track to have an identity. Munk’s spiffy superhuman ability: production. He cooked up this entire disc on a Mac laptop in his house, and it sounds lovely. His material crackles out of the speakers. Guitar and drums are perfectly integrated into the mix, while retaining their inherent nastiness. The mix is perfect, and there’s no dross: everything’s good. Mixing a home-studio CD to this production level is no joke. There’s not a major-label studio in LA that could have done any better… progressively more memorable as it goes, and that’s from a strong start.