Art In Motion, Must-See Cultural Events

In the short time they've been together as a unit, MT-TV, a nine-piece, all-girl band that recently transplanted to the United States after touring Europe, has established themselves as something different. Talented musicians with influences and styles as diverse as classical composers and arena rock, they have created a show and a sound that has been called everything from "art in motion" and a "must-see cultural event."

Performing their first American shows in August 2005 and currently based mostly in the southeast, MT-TV has played all types of venues and clubs, including blues, goth, rock and punk, showing that their style can play to a myriad of audiences while establishing something none of them have quite heard before.

And while the novelty of nine beautiful women playing their own instruments might be enough to get the band a first look, it's their talent, both as performers and as songwriters, that will allow their careers to develop along with their following.

Chorus and Verse interviewed Krow, the band's lead singer, motivational force and primary songwriter about MT-TV's introduction to the American music scene, as well as their plans for recording and touring. But first, we get an introduction to the band and the story of how they came together.

Your band is relatively new. Can you start off with the story of how the members of the band know each other and how you all came together to create MT-TV?

Let me start by introducing all of the girls. We have six ladies that make up the main band, and they are: Krow - lead singer, Fuse - bass, Jo - drums, Nikki - keyboards, Alex - lead guitar, Brooke - rhythm guitar. We then have "The Stereotypes," our backing vocalists, and they are: Adrienne, Kali and Bunny.

We've pretty much known each other for many years. Fellow female musicians in today's music industry are few and far between so it wasn't that difficult to find each other. A friendly female face often stands out in a sea of long-haired male musicians.

I had decided to go with the material I'd written, so the first decision was: do I have a male or female band? Well, I've worked with so many men and there have always been so many problems so it came about that an all-female rock group was being formed. Another factor was that this band wasn't dealing with "cover version music". This band was going to be committed to "original music" only and for that I needed minimum ego input so that we could concentrate on the songs alone and not where the lead guitarist or drummer - in guy bands they seem the worst - needed to express themselves, usually over the whole song and killing the whole song. Does this sound familiar to any other band?

What are some of your previous music projects and performance backgrounds? How do you feel that having so many diverse influences coming together in a group like MT-TV affects how you sound and the type of music you perform?

It's true that influences are diverse in the band but I feel that this has only aided the songwriting process. In one sense we have more "materials" to work with. When getting the band together, in the advert I didn't have to specify "band to sound like Nirvana or Nickleback". I wanted this to be a totally free environment to create. I didn't want to close the doors before I knew what was behind them.

As it is, Jo and Fuse listen a lot to Rush, King Crimson, Jaco Pastorius & Jonas Hellborg. My main background is Aerosmith, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey and the Rolling Stones. Nikki is classically trained and so listens to a lot of classical - Mozart, Philip Glass. She also likes a spot of Pink Floyd. Brooke is a Bon Jovi freak and Alex has always hated what we call "traditional music". She's more into Diamanda Galas & Kate Bush. All in all, when this is put into the pot and stirred you get the "MT-TV" sound.

Where does the band consider its hometown to be and where were some of your first local gigs? Are there certain venues now where you feel especially at home and love the crowds at?

We're all British except one girl, Kali, who is one of our backing vocalists. She is from Holland. The band considers London as its hometown as we lived and toured there for five years before coming over to the U.S.A. I guess we see Dothan, Alabama as our hometown. We have most of our friends based there and we've been holed up in a studio for the best part of three months writing new material.

I guess Pensacola Beach and Panama City are our favorite stomping grounds at the moment. Not only are the crowds very responsive but we also get to kick back on the beach when we are finished.

A lot of bands have a problem becoming a tight cohesive unit with three or four members, never mind nine. What are the challenges in making so many players work together as a unit? Are there certain band members who act as band leaders and arrangers during your live shows to make sure that everyone stays on the same page?

As far as working together as a unit, I can't actually say there are any challenges. To begin with no one has a drug or drink problem in the band so unlike 99.9% of most bands those are two areas that we don't have to deal with. MT-TV doesn't find itself having to forfeit valuable songwriting time and creativity just to deal with snot and puke. You might think it's sad, but we're actually in it to make the best music we can. Don't get me wrong, live life to the fullest and when we play we play hard and fast but we're always in control!

If anyone knows exactly where we are down to what bar and beat, that be Fuse, the bass player. She's a numbers freak and that sure comes in handy sometimes! As to keeping it together in a live show, we took a tip from all the great artists that have been before us. It's called practice and lots of it!

Let's talk about your creative process. Who usually comes up with the ideas for music and lyrics and how are they presented and developed by the entire band? Does everyone generally work on their own parts individually, or are people open to creative input from other band members?

When MT-TV births a song it usually starts off as a strange feeling in the back of my head. I can feel the song "bubbling" and I'll generally try and mentally "look the other way" so that I can give the song time and space to take form.

Anything from three days to a week later I'll twiddle on the guitar, throw different chords around until it best resonates with what I'm feeling. The tune will then be born and I generally sing "mumbo jumbo" for the next few days until I get the full meaning of the song. It's at this point I'll write the words to it.

I'll then take it to Finn and we'll play around with it to see what kind of direction we want to take it, soft, rock, etc. Once we've got the direction that's where the real magic comes together. We'll take it to the rest of the band and it's generally Jo (drums) and Fuse (bass) that will give a solid skeleton to hang all of the other musical parts on.

All band members present their own musical parts but we do often take on board suggestions from one another. To be honest with you, it is the only sane way to work. To make sure we're on the right track we'll often record the writing process, listen to it, discuss it, change it, record it again, etc.

If you're trying to make the best music you can, you need to hear the song as it evolves, hear what it's trying to say and not get in the way with too many "ideas"!

Your stage show has been called "art in motion." How important are theatrics and choreography to your performance and how much time does the band spend developing your stage presence?

We've developed the show to illustrate what we're singing about. It's important to give the whole picture. I hate paying good money to see a band and coming away totally bored off my head because they literally stood on the same spot for two hours. Move your ass dude! I've paid for you to entertain me and if you're not going to do that then get off of my stage and let me show you how it's done!

Is it difficult at times to balance putting the focus musicianship verses how you look on stage and wanting to put on a "show" for fans?

The problem is most musicians and artists have become complacent. Most aren't in it to weave the magic and feed from a moving art form. They're more interested in the free beers that the venue gives them. We're in it for the bigger picture and I guess that's why our fan base is getting larger.

You performed your first shows in the United States in August 2005, and are currently touring the southern U.S. as we're doing this interview. How do you enjoy your time in the States and what are some of the differences in breaking your band and becoming successful in the European music industry and in the U.S.?

We love the U.S.A. The main up thing for us is the weather. We don't have to freeze our tits off unloading the gear in the afternoon. Yes, it is that cold in England. The pace is a lot slower over here and I've noticed that our songwriting sessions have changed because of it. We tend to kick back a lot more.

We've found the [American] crowds to be really receptive to what we're doing and they certainly enjoy themselves more when they go out. In the U.K., the crowds are really fickle and blow hot and cold and can go cynical on you in a heartbeat. But I think that's mainly been due to the recent decimation of the independent radio stations. There's no one out there providing a frame of reference for the public. It's the same here - more so - but, ironically, I believe that the U.S.A. is the last place that an independent band like us actually has a chance of getting anywhere.

Commercialization is total here so people don't know how they're "supposed" to react. They react pretty well!

What are your plans regarding recording and releasing an album? Can you give us any idea of when you'll be in the studio and when a CD will be available for fans to get their hands on?

We have been writing new material for a new album. However, trying to get it recorded is an absolute nightmare. Touring is to blame! The live shows aren't such a problem, it's the long distances that you travel in the U.S.A. We can easily spend three days sitting on a bus when we're actually dying to be in the studio. It'll happen, though. We have many fans waiting for the next CD. And I'm getting a backlog of songs. By the time we're through we'll have have written enough for three albums.

It seems that many bands and musicians are able to have success in Europe or the United States, but often have trouble doing so in both. Why do you think that a lot of artists become more famous in one market than another and do you think that MT-TV has potential for success on both sides of the Atlantic?

I think that many bands become more famous in one market than the other because of the basic differences in music tastes. For example, in the U.S.A. you have country music, a whole music genre that really doesn't sell enough in the U.K. So the music companies don't sign or promote these acts.

Another factor is that the music industry has become more money-grabbing. They'll promote and saturate a territory until everyone is gagging on the new artist and the artist will be dropped as a "loss" to the company. Sick business, but that's the one we're in.

I do believe that MT-TV has potential for both sides of the Atlantic. We just need a company that still believes in old-fashioned values and that will see MT-TV as a long-term investment not a short-term loss. Anything can happen with time and money!

What are your long-term plans for the band, and how far do you think the band can go? Do you plan to work simultaneously on promoting the band in Europe and the United States and how much traveling do you expect to do in the year ahead?

Long term we're aiming to do the whole of the States. That's really long term! I believe that MT-TV will go all the way to the top. All that requires is a large fan base. We do aim to go back to Scandinavia at the beginning of next year. We'll need our mittens for that one! Snow! Snow! Snow!

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Matt Mrowicki

Matt Mrowicki founded Chorus and Verse in 2001. He is a rock star designer and technologist, Internet professional, content creator, and entrepreneur specializing in web development, IT consulting, branding, social media and online marketing.