By Thomas S. Orwat Jr.
In the cookie cutter world of female-fronted rock bands, it is getting very difficult to distinguish one from another. Many sound and act the same, with a porn star-looking lead singer that’s more concerned with showing off her body than she is about singing. Well, if you are interested in finding a band that breaks free of this typical stereotype, look no further than the L.A. based band, Edge of Paradise.
Edge of Paradise was formed in 2011 by guitarist Dave Bates, and rock goddess/vocalist Margarita Monet. Together, they quickly, but carefully, put together a hard rocking CD entitled ‘Mask,’ which also featured seasoned musicians Tony Franklin on bass, and Greg Bissonette on drums. This release instantly set them apart, with their unique, hard-rocking sound, composed from Bates’ virtuoso guitar shredding, coupled with Monet’s powerfully melodic vocals.
The band then spent two years touring around the world, refining their sound, and developing their live shows. In addition, they recruited two new band members during this time, Nick Ericson on bass, and John Chominsky on drums. With a solid line-up in place, the band decided it was time to write and record another studio release. They contacted legendary producer Mike Wagener to produce their new material, and he instantly agreed. Late last month, the band went to Nashville to record with Wagener for a new release scheduled for this upcoming spring.
What follows is an exclusive RMS interview with one of the hottest, but more importantly, most talented chicks in rock, Margarita Monet.
Rock Music Star: Margarita, please explain how your band got involved with legendary producer Michael Wagener.
Margarita Monet: When we did our first release, ‘Mask,’ we did a radio campaign, and it did really well. We were #6 most added on national CMJ radio, right behind Five Finger Death Punch. But we realized that, if we wanted to go to the next level, we would have to find a named producer, so people wouldn’t think that it was just a demo. We also wanted our band to sound bigger and better. So, we had to up our game a little bit. So, we talked about some people that we liked, and Michael’s name came up. So, we sent him an email, and we really didn’t think we would hear back from him. But, he ended up getting back to us on the same night that we emailed him.
RMS: What was it like working with him?
MM: He is a great person and a phenomenal producer/engineer! He’s sold 96 million records, and still remains so nice, incredible to work with and he’s very into what he does, it’s very inspiring!. When we sent him our tracks to mix, he knew right away what to do. It was almost like he could read our minds, and make them sound the way we wanted them to sound, with his own stamp on it. And that was great, because before him, we would struggle a bit to get the song to sound like it sounded in our heads. So, he was able to deliver the ideas that we had and more, and we thought the final outcome was amazing. But, as far as recording with him, he does make you feel very comfortable, and you really don’t have to worry about anything- except your performance, which he would guide us on, and pick our best ones. It was really great experience, and he did exactly what a producer should do and more!
RMS: Has there been any record label interest in the band yet?
MM: Well, when we released our first CD, ‘Mask,’ we signed a deal that wasn’t really that great. So, now, we are really cautious. We want to find the right label but we’re also are trying to develop the band so we can have more control over our music, and more say in the end. We have a lot of friends in bands that signed their music away in a “360” deal, and ended up going nowhere. Of course I don’t know all the details and I’m not in those bands, but you would think that, if you were on a good record label, your career would move forward and not just stagnate. But I guess, in some cases, that happens. So we are trying to grow the band, so it’s big enough where we can make our own decisions, and recently, we’ve been talking to a couple of labels that we think would be helpful with our new CD. We have a great publicist that guides us and we would probably make a lot of mistakes without him like we did before working with him. We’ll see what happens, and it definitely looks like we have more opportunities and more and more people are showing interest in the new music!
RMS: Your first release, ‘Mask,’ has some great musicians on it, such as vocalist Robin McAuley. How did he get involved with Edge of Paradise?
MM: Well, before I joined the band, Dave Bates, our guitarist, was in a band with Robin, Tony Franklin (bass), and Greg Bissonette (drums), called Bleed. They toured, and the band did pretty good, but then Robin joined the band Survivor, so Dave started looking for a singer in LA. And then, one day, I met up with him. He told me he was looking for a singer and asked me to check out some of his songs he had written. So, I liked what I heard, and we really clicked. So, we both agreed that we should work together and form a band, and that’s how Edge of Paradise was formed. Our first priority was to record a CD, which was ‘Mask.’ We had to rework some of the songs that were written already, and we grew from there. But, ‘Mask’ was pretty much all written before I was involved with the band, and, like I said, we wanted to have a CD out. But, the first song that Dave and I wrote together is called “In a Dream,” and that will be on our new CD.
RMS: There is some amazing musicianship on the ‘Mask’ release. Dave is a very talented guitarist who can certainly shred with the best of them.
MM: Well, thank you.
RMS: What do you think separates Edge of Paradise from all the other female-fronted rock bands out there?
MM: We live in LA, and there are so many bands out here, and we set out to do what we want to do, and we never give up. I think, that will help in moving us forward. I think our music is a little bit different from what is out there right now as well. When we write, we write what we want and don’t follow any trends. Well…what do you think? Do you think we sound different?
RMS: Yes, I do think your sound is unique. I think many of the other female-fronted bands are very one-dimensional. But, Edge of Paradise is different, in that you not only have a talented and hot looking vocalist, but you also have a superstar guitarist that is in a class of his own. It’s obvious that the music comes first with your band, and you can hear that. And that can’t be said for so many of the other female-fronted bands. I think, ultimately, people will respect you for focusing on the music and being musicians, as opposed to a “hottest chick in metal” pin up girl.
MM: I’m so glad to hear that. That is one of the things that we wanted to avoid. Thank you!
RMS: You’re welcome. It really seems like so many of the female rock/metal singers are losing the focus of the music, and instead, are focused more on shocking people with their sexuality. It’s almost a competition nowadays. You have Maria Brinks (In This Moment) showing her ass on the band’s new tour poster, and then Taylor Momsen (Pretty Reckless), is nude on her new CD cover. And, Jill Janis (The Huntress), posted a nude picture of herself wrapped around a toilet. I know that some fans, especially male fans, are lured in this way. Do you ever see yourself doing nude photos?
MM: I think it’s all Miley Cyrus’s fault. No, I’m just kidding (laughs). I understand that these artists do this to sell more records, but then again, if you do that, it takes the focus off of the music, and that may harm the longevity of the artist. One of our goals is for our band to be around for a long time. I would totally never do something like that. In some ways, I do have respect for them, because they are out there enough to do that. But, on the other hand, it doesn’t do anything for the music; it takes away from it. It doesn’t make me want to go to their concert or buy their music any more because I saw a nude photo of them. It doesn’t make them an instant hero of mine (laughs). Guys might be that way, maybe, but they also may just look at the pictures, and never go out and buy the CD.
RMS: What is the ratio of males to females in your audience?
MM: There are a lot of females that come to our show, but it is mostly male-dominated. I guess it also depends on the show, and who we are playing with. But, most of the time, it’s guys at our shows. I would say 70% guys.
RMS: Do you have any major tour plans right now, or are you waiting for the CD to come out first?
MM: Well, we toured the east coast right after we finished recording our limited edition EP. We played all over the states; it was great fun. We have some shows this weekend in San Francisco, and then some more dates in March, and a benefit show at the end of March, as well. In April, we are going to go back a record more. Then, in summer, we have plans to tour over in Europe. We are booked for a festival in Croatia, and I’m really excited about that. And, we are currently trying to book more shows in Europe, since we are going to be there anyways. But, before that, we might be doing some shows in Texas, and hopefully some more on the East Coast at the end of summer. But, everything is up in the air until the record comes out. If a tour opportunity comes up, we will definitely take it.
RMS: Would you rather tour with a classic rock band or a newer modern rock band?
MM: With our first CD, people were saying that we had a lot of 80’s influences, but with a modern industrial edge. But, our new music is a lot different; it’s more modern, but still has those old school elements, especially in the guitar. It’s very guitar-heavy. But, we don’t have too many samples; we don’t over-compress anything. There are a lot of keyboards because I go crazy with keyboards; it’s one of the things that I love. But, other than that, it’s pretty much rock. I don’t even say we are Metal anymore because Metal is so heavy these days. So, we just say that we are hard rock. So far, we’ve been able to find an audience that likes both old school stuff and modern rock. I’m thankful that people are reacting that way. But, overall, we have a rather diverse audience.
RMS: Margarita, my last question for you is, what do you enjoy doing outside of the band?
MM: That’s hard to answer these days, because the band takes up so much of my time. But, I really like to draw. I also like playing piano. But, drawing is probably the thing I do most. I did the cover for our first CD, ‘Mask,’ and a lot of the art for the band at the beginning.
For more on Edge of Paradise, please visit www.edgeofparadiseband.com
Special thanks to Margarita Monet and Dana Kaiser.