The newly formed band Meno, originally from Doral, Florida, is making a big splash into the music scene. The members of the band have worked hard and created something magical that fans will not soon forget. What makes their story even more remarkable is that the band shares a deep connection and respect for each other. In a recent spotlight, I spoke with Andres Mena of Meno about what's new with the Florida band. Here is what developed.
Isaac: How do you sum up 2008 for Meno?
Meno: 2008 is actually what saw the beginning of Meno as a band, I moved to Florida at the beginning of the year to join forces with my brother Jose. We quickly started recording the old material I had piled up over years of writing. We also started visiting open mics, and we shortly found our drummer Richie. We selected the material for the first album, and it was finally released by the end of the year. It all happened very fast.
Isaac: What do you feel was the band's biggest accomplishment for 2008?
Meno: Well, since 2008 is our only year so far, we've had many accomplishments, I'd say the biggest is the our debut CD release, it has given us the opportunity to be heard in different parts of the world gaining fans from different cultural backgrounds.
Isaac: Describe the music scene in Doral, Florida.
Meno: It's quite diverse and interesting. We have had the opportunity to share the stage with some excellent local talents with genres varying from acoustic folk to some hard hitting rock and jazz. One of the things I really enjoy about the local bands is that the Latin culture here truly gets reflected in their music.
Isaac: Elaborate on the concept behind Meno.
Meno: I have been writing music and poems from a very young age. It has always been a passion of mine, since I was little I wanted to play guitar and as soon as I learned the basic chords I wrote my first song, it was silly but it was a start. Since then, I've been writing, composing and educating myself more on music.
The main concept behind MenO is simply the result of a group of guys that enjoy writing, creating, and performing music. When I originally moved to Florida, we thought MenO was going to be an Acoustic/Americana/Rock band, but when we started to create music together the music kind of shaped itself into something else. My brother's progressive guitar virtuosic phrases started to take shape in the songs, and Richie soon incorporated his Jazz influence into the mix. We realized that Meno was really about creating good music; whatever genre came out was not such a concern. We just create what comes to mind and then play our songs for the audience; we see their response and take it from there.
Isaac: Elaborate a little about whom were your biggest influences in the music industry and why?
Meno: First, I would say the Beatles, because our father was a huge fan, this is one of the first bands I was ever exposed to, to this day I believe this has been the greatest band ever. What we all have in common as influences are old bands such as Beatles, Dire Straits, Alan Parson's Project, The Police and so many legends it would take two hours to list them all.
Then each of us has his own set of influences, for inspiration, I look at Dave Mathews, John Mayer, James Taylor. I'm a huge songwriter's fan there is nothing more inspiring that a well written heart felt song, as a Bassist my heroes are Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller, Tony Levin, Richard Bona and the late Jaco Pastorious.
My brother's influences on the other hand are more on the heavier guitar based rock side, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert too name a few, this gives Meno a little edge, on live performances we usually go free, and incorporate bass & drums solos with extended guitar pyrotechnics and people are surprised to see this kind of twist in this lyric driven music.
Richie on the other hand is a seasoned Jazz Drummer with a heavy understanding of Latin Jazz beats, his influences vary from Alex Van Halen and Stuart Copeland to Dave Weckl and Steve Gad , although we play close to the rock sound some tunes are heavily based on jazz beats, specially live when we combine Bossa Nova style rhythms with distorted guitars or a Jazz Shuffle with a Funk bass line.
Isaac: Let's talk about what you feel you will bring to the music industry?
Meno: We hope to bring a fresh sound. And be a band you can like for the musicality as much as for the strong songwriting behind each tune. I have a little saying that I try to focus on when writing a song. I always say "A good song lets you know where you need to take her; it's up to you to listen to her". I wish nothing more than our listeners to grasp that idea as their own experience.
Isaac: If you had an opportunity to work with one artist or group, who would it be and why?
Meno: Without a doubt, the first name that pops into my head has to be Sting, as a songwriter and a bassist he is a huge inspiration for me and having the opportunity to share a project with him would be indescribable. I can probably name more than twenty of his songs that I have been listening for years and every time I go back to them I always rediscover the genius behind them some complex and some simple but always great.
Isaac: How would you describe your music to others?
Meno: This is always the hardest question, not because we think we are unique and the only ones doing what we do, but because what we think we sound like is not what we hear from our fans. Our fans and listeners compare us to Santana, U2, America.
But we thought we were closer a heavier version of John Mayer meets The Police.
We have been told a few times that some of our tunes sound like Jimmy Buffet, but to tell you the truth I have only heard his name and very little of his music.
Isaac: What is your definition for Rock Music?
Meno: If it's not making your heart race, your emotions flow and your mind escape reality for the duration of an amazing song, then it's not rock.
Isaac: What type of feedback have you received from your previous releases?
Meno: Our only release so far is Tales of a Dreamer, which is a mellow album with some rock elements but it is more on the Singer/Songwriter side. The fan favorites are "Lie to Me", "Beggar" and "Reasons".
It is such an honor and a privilege to receive the emails I do about the band and our music. Recently, I received an email that reminded me why I started this quest in the first place I wanted to find those who shared my experiences so that through the songs that I write they could find closure or understanding. This message described how the song "Lie to me" for our first release seemed to have captured their own life experiences and to quote a line of the email "It felt as if you were singing about me" that last line there gave me one of the biggest rewards I have ever received, Appreciation.
Isaac: What can fans expect from your debut album titled Tales of a Dreamer you are working on currently? What is the inspiration behind the album?
Meno: The CD is out and about and I can honestly say that you can expect nothing less than everything I had to offer when I wrote those tunes. Every single note, every single rhyme and every single chorus was not a creation of a well thought out pop song, but an entry. In my own personal diary of understanding life, my inspiration was without a doubt my own surroundings. It also tells a story about a woman in my life who is not in it anymore.
Meno: Our second album is currently being recorded we have about 5 tracks done at this time and we are having a blast. This CD will surely capture this new sound we have been carving with no limits to our imagination. Make sure you stay updated through our websites for release dates and such.
New album, more live performances, and side projects from the band members. We also have three side projects being worked on at this time, Jose is soon to release his own Guitar Instrumental CD and it promises to be time warping (or so he says), Richie and I also play in a Jazz Fusion band called Aleatoric Effect and it's a lot of fun as well. Few more surprises that we rather not tell yet.
Isaac: Time for some shout outs to your family, friends, and fans…
Meno: Of course, we do not want to end this interview without expressing our deepest gratitude to everyone who has supported the band, believe me when I say I read every single email. And if I don't reply to one it is because it slips out of my hands, sometimes it is hard to keep track of everything, but every single word of appreciation and encouragement never goes unnoticed.
A big shout out to our families, they are scattered all over, U.S. Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Argentina. And a special shout out to our youngest brother Pechiche, the band is not complete without him, he is currently living in Argentina studying music but we hope he'll reunite with us soon.
Isaac: Final words from Meno…
Meno: We'd like to thank you and Junior's Cave Online Magazine for this opportunity, we hope to keep bringing good music to people's ears for the rest of our lives.