Miguel Montalban Passionately Talks New Music And More

Miguel Montalban & The Southern Vultures have just released their latest single, Fragile Hearts. With an upcoming album in the works and a series of high-calibre performances on the horizon, MetalTalk got to speak with frontman and band architect Montalban himself. The guitar virtuoso was more than amenable to divulging all the details of what was to come for himself and the band.

Fragile Hearts plays as a gorgeously bluesy number with an intense, giving emotion behind each sleek guitar slide and haunting long-held note. “It’s exciting because I’ve been working on that track for a long time,” Montalban said.

“I’m really proud of it. It has a lot to do with my personal life, so I’m excited to put it out for everybody. You pour your heart into the music, the composition, the whole work behind it. It’s a ballad, and it’s a powerful ballad. There is a lot of epicness in it, a lot of soulful, you know, that kind of music I like.”

However, Fragile Hearts is not the first to-be hit by the Chilean-born musician. Having graduated in music from the Conservatory of Jazz Music in Rome, Montalban quickly garnered the attention of over 150k online followers worldwide whilst repeatedly touring Europe, the UK and the USA. Currently, his band stands as Edoardo Mariotti on the drums, Bruno Pinto on bass, and Yuri Kufa on the second guitar.

But despite being constantly on the road, Montalban is looking for that next album release. “We are focusing on creating new music and a second Southern Vultures record. I’ve been working on all these tracks for a long time. I started getting back to my folders and had over fifty songs there. Choosing which ones I’m going to cut is hard.

“Whilst Fragile Hearts is a ballad, the upcoming record will be a rock album. But it is always interesting to dig up music from months or even years ago because musically, you are always changing—different influences and people around you. But the band is still very much in its psychedelic, classic, and blues rock elements.”

Miguel Montalban & The Southern Vultures – The Half Moon, Putney – 4 April 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

Though a guitarist by trade, Montalban is a multi-instrumentalist, which lends to the initial song creativity. “I develop all the ideas idea in my studio. But it changes with each song. Sometimes, it starts with just a drum beat, and sometimes, it’s a bunch of chords, you know, pick up the guitar and then hit the bass.

“You develop the raw idea of a song and then develop it in recording. That is when I work with my band in the studio, where everything starts making sense. I like to work with my friends, with whom I can feel the freedom of being myself. They trust me in terms of the composition, as a person and as a band member. It works much better when we all believe we are doing something powerful together.”

Having just signed on with a new booking agent and management, the band and their fearless leader will have their hands truly full over the coming months. “We are doing our first big festival soon as well as a bunch of gigs throughout the year. There are plenty of shows in the UK, then a tour in the Netherlands and Germany. I use those shows to connect to the people in my audience because they are a huge reason we can keep going as a band and musician.”

Miguel Montalban & The Southern Vultures – The Half Moon, Putney – 4 April 2024. Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

“I love meeting new fans. Some people are now travelling quite far to see us play. At the last gig we did here in London, there were people from Belgium and Germany who had come to the UK just to see us. It felt amazing.”

Despite being a relentless touring musician, Montalban passionately believes in the importance of having a solid social media presence. “After I went viral on YouTube, it became critical to my career. At the very beginning, it all felt a bit wild and out of my hands having to deal with social media, but now I am much more connected with my online presence—live streaming and the rest of it.”

Are there any difficulties with social media and the worldwide reach it can cast? “Well, I have a large fan base in the US, and people are always asking me to go there to tour, which is slightly complicated. We played Miami and a few shows in South America last year, but it would be fantastic to do a full tour once we can sort that out.”

Though, as many musicians would agree, social media has become an ocean of wide-reaching opportunity, there is nothing quite like being in the hub of the live scene. “I was busking all over Europe before I came to the UK,” Montalban said.

“I met dozens, hundreds of people every day and was able to sell so many records. But I carry those times still with me now. The scene is a family, wherever you are. It is important to be out and stay connected to other musicians and the people who take the time to hear you play.”

With a rich blues, rock-embellished, and soulful sound in all his music, Montalban’s dedication to his craft is on par with his mastery of the six-string instrument he wields. “I always loved Fender. I have big hands, so finding a guitar that was just right for me was really hard. I tried all of them, honestly all of them, for about four years.

“Now I have my 57-reissue Fender Strat, which I custom-made parts of. The classic white one you will see often onstage is another custom. I changed all the circuits inside. That one was a Telecaster, but I love how the Fender feels, so I took the neck of the Tele and put it in the Strat. But I could go very keep into guitars here!”

Miguel Montalban speaks with MetalTalk – Slim Jims – Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

With some of the best guitarists in the world being known to customise their instruments, I had to know if there would ever be a Miguel Montalban brand of guitar at some point. “Maybe. I am obsessed with the sound—I’m so obsessed. I’m constantly developing my tone. However, I am currently working with Tone King from the US. They do handmade, extraordinary, massive-sounding amps. I’m very proud to work with them, but who knows about the custom guitar? Maybe in the future.”

Though Montalban found his initial considerable success with his cover work (his version of Sultans of Swing helped to dub him by Dire Straits Mark Knopfler as a ‘totally excellent musician’), the guitarist sees himself striding further under the Southern Vultures banner to a higher retort of original music dignitary.

“I love the cover songs I did, but I hope people can understand that I have to grow in music. I am a composer and songwriter as well as a guitar player. The band and I are working hard in the studio to get this next album out, and I am very excited for people to hear more than just a great guitar track.”

Miguel Montalban with MetalTalks Monty Sewell – Slim Jims – Photo: Ryan Hildrew/MetalTalk

From what we have already heard from Miguel Montalban & The Southern Vultures, they are but on the cusp of a hard-rocking scene takeover. Montalban himself is a worldly musician with an evident aptitude for the direction he and his band are undoubtedly heading.

Catch them next in Kent on 5 July at The Red Kion. Then, on 5 September, they return to London to play The Half Moon in Putney. From then on, we eagerly await the album’s release.

Head to https://www.miguelmontalban.com/ for more.

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