Nov. 16 2016 12:50 AM

Monte Pride pulls inspiration from folk giants, local legends

“Play number five!” shouted a small voice from the crowd. Ben Hassenger, guitarist for local band Mystic Shake, obliged 5-yearold Monte Pride’s request, knowing that he meant “Lois,” the fifth track off of the group’s first album.
Okemos native Monte Pride draws inspiration from folk giants like Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, as well as contemporary folksters like Bon Iver and the Tallest Man On Earth.
Courtesy Photo

Fifteen years later, Pride is preparing to release his first full album, “Hawthorne Morning Sound,” with a CD release show Friday at the Robin Theatre. And Hassenger will take the stage to open for the 20-year-old singer/songwriter. Pride has released two EPs, but he feels that this album is his most mature work yet.

“This project is a really long way from those EPs. I still like some of the songs, but for the most part, I feel like I’ve grown past those,” he said. “The writing process, the songwriting in general, has become much stronger.”

Pride draws inspiration from folk giants like Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, as well as contemporary folk genre-benders like Bon Iver, the Tallest Man On Earth and Frontier Ruckus, which got its start at MSU. Hassenger describes his sound as “soothing and edgy at the same time.”

Over the course of the five-month recording period, Pride ended up scrapping over half of his originally planned songs and replacing them with songs that better fit the “vibe of the record.”

“You sit down after a crazy month or two, and you realize you have things to write about,” he said.

Pride, an environmental studies and sustainability major at Michigan State University, had a burst of creativity over the summer, using the break from school to focus on writing.

“The summer has really become my time to write,” he said. “There’s a really calm energy, and there’s not as much pressure from other factors. I can really focus on creativity,”

The album is named after the Okemos street Pride grew up on, which is where he did most of the writing. The album features several themes, but nostalgic memories of home are some of the most prevalent. Pride attributes this in part to one of his main influences, Simon & Garfunkel.

“They were really a huge inspiration in this project, they really came through more than I expected it in the recordings and the overall feel of the album,” Pride said. “I think it has an interesting vintage sound. It’s something I didn’t necessarily expect to come of the recording, but it’s there, and I’m happy with the way that it turned out.”

Pride enlisted the help of other musicians to create a deeper, more experimental sound than his past releases. These collaborations are especially noticeable in the song “Bedridden,” which incorporates cello and layered vocals for a rich yet still intimate sound.

“I can hear his style maturing, the ways he’s orchestrating things,” Hassenger said. “And some (songs) are a little more up-tempo than what he’s had before. So he’s expanding a little bit.”

Hassenger will be joined Friday by fellow Mystic Shake alum Pat Malloy. Pride describes the duo as his “musical uncles,” mentors who have helped guide his musical development. Hassenger noticed Pride’s love of music early on.

Monte Pride releases his first full-length album, “Hawthorne Morning Sound,” at the Robin Theatre Friday.
Courtesy Image

“He claims I gave him his first guitar lesson,” Hassenger said, “but he’s a way better guitar player than I am.”

Hassenger gave him music lessons and tips on how to choose instruments, but it wasn’t until high school that Pride started performing. For a talent show, he covered “Criminals” by the Tallest Man On Earth, and the positive response gave him the confidence to write his own music and continue performing.

Hassenger and Malloy also perform with ukulele trio the Ukulele Kings. The two are still finalizing a set list for Friday, but there will be a few treats for fans of their now-defunct group.

“We’ll do some Mystic Shake and some of the other things we’re doing now,” Hassenger said. “I think it’s going to be a great night. It’ll bring some different generations together.”

Even with the album release coming up, Pride is already thinking about his next steps, but his first priority is finishing up the semester at MSU.

“I’m definitely trying to get a tour this summer, just a kind of do-it-yourself thing around the East Coast if I can,” Pride said.

Pride wants to finish his program at MSU, but he’s also keeping his musical options open.

“We’ll see what happens, but once I graduate, I’ll definitely pursue it full time for a while,” he said. “You have to be realistic with music, but if an opportunity presents itself, I’ll always take it over anything else.”

Monte Pride Album Release Show

With Ben Hassenger and Pat Malloy 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18 $12/$10 adv. The Robin Theatre 1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing therobintheatre.com