Rob Munk puts his name on the table with “Phased Out”, his first solo album. His talent and skills resonate in fantastic songs, with great melodies and lush instrumentation – Rob is surely your indie rock discovery! However, you will find so many interesting layers in this album. Rob Munk answers our questions and it is obvious that he is here to stay!
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
Give us a short biography and discography of yours.
I was born in Brooklyn, raised in New Jersey, USA. I started playing music in Boston in my late teens. I played in a band called Thudpucker that put out a single on Lovehammer Records from Ohio. Then in the early 90s, I moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a town with a fantastic music scene, and played in a band called Tinsel. We put out some singles on indie labels and two full-lengths on Jesus Christ Records. This was all prior to streaming, so are largely unavailable. I played in a few more bands in NYC in the 2000s, The Last Band USA and Crack Eyes. The Last Band stuff is on Spotify, but it was way more high concept than what I am doing now.
Your new album, “Phased Out”, is already released. Which are your feelings?
I’m psyched! This was all supposed to happen before the pandemic in a much different way, but as they say, everything happens for a reason. I’m happy with how it ended up. I’m glad that it’s finally out there and I can start thinking about the next one.
Where would you trace the differences between “Phased Out” and your previous albums? How much have you progressed and in what way?
This is my first solo record, but it’s definitely different than what I’ve done in the past with bands. It’s sonically close to where I was in the 90s with Tinsel, but this record has a much bigger emphasis on songcraft. Still indie, but less loosey-goosey, tighter songs, more instrumentation, etc…
How would you describe your music style? Which are your music influences?
I’m influenced by a lot of stuff I liked in the 90s (Sebadoh, Lemonheads, The Shins) as filtered through layers and layers of 60s psych and 70s AM radio soft rock.
Which are your favorite songs of “Phased Out”? Why?
“Heavy Shoes (to Kill the Blues)” may be my favorite, but these days I am liking “Slumber”, probably because I have been working on a video for it and hearing it ad nauseam. But they are all my babies.
Introduce to us the band that is playing in “Phased Out”.
Oh, man. I lucked out with some great players who came in and wrote killer parts. My friend, the actor Daniel London played lead guitars. One of my oldest friends, Joe Ventura (Tinsel) played drums on most of it. The producer Ray Ketchem (Elk City) played drums and some keys and synths. Singer/songwriter Megan Reilly sang some beautiful back-up vocals, and she introduced me to Scott Anthony, who came in with some very additive ideas and played killer bass. Pete Gallagher (Holmes USA) sang some backup (he also draws the comic Heathcliff!) And then I was very fortunate to have compose/musician Chuck Johnson play some guitar, pedal steel and keyboard/synths. Also, I was able to involve my kids in the project. My daughter Maple Munk sang backup on two songs, and my son George played some keyboards.
Describe the recording process/the production of “Phased Out”.
It was originally supposed to be me and a few musician friends getting together for a weekend and banging out some songs at a studio in Woodstock, NY. Somewhat experimental, spontaneous and loose. But when the pandemic hit, I was forced to go another way. As it turns out, there’s a great studio in my hometown of Montclair, NJ, Magic Door. I tracked all there on just rhythm guitar, creating skeletons for all the songs. And then producer Ray Ketchem helped me build them out from there, adding instruments when we could. The pandemic helped dictate schedule. Then we bounced the stuff to Chuck Johnson at his studio in Oakland, who added a few more things and mixed. Ray did some additional mixing at Magic Door and mastered there as well. It was all very different for me, but I think how it was meant to be.
Where do your lyrics refer to?
I have been trying to write honestly about love, regret, fear, empathy. Being a Dad. Kind of adult stuff for rock, but I think I got to a genuine place with the lyrics on this record I hope people can relate to it.
Which are the feelings and the overall atmosphere of the songs of “Phased Out”?
Just kind of getting on with things. Looking at where I’m at in life, finding comfort when I can and facing fear head on. I think overall, the tone is mournful yet optimistic.
If you could cooperate with another famous musician, who would she/he be and why?
These days I have been listening to a lot of female artists. Faye Webster, Weyes Blood, Shannon Lay… My daughter is obsessed with Taylor Swift, so I’ve been hearing quite a bit of it. So I would probably want to write a song with her because it would make my daughter happy and me rich!
Do you play live? Which is your concert plans?
I have recently started practicing with a band with an eye towards playing live. All of that is TBD, but it’s getting closer.
How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect you?
Oh man. If I was a freak before socially, it’s now much more pronounced. I am grateful for that close time with family, the temporary return to a less-busy life, but the atrophy of my social skills is probably the most lasting effect that I’m seeing now. Plus, it was scary as hell for a while, wasn’t it?
What do you think about the war against Ukraine?
I think it’s awful, and my heart goes out to the Ukrainian people. So much needless suffering and horror. I think my Great Grandmother emigrated from there.
Send a message to the readers!
Hello readers, especially the Greek ones! Thank you for launching Western Civilization, and thank you for taking the time to listen to my music.