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A Tribute to February Montaine: Reviving Memories of a Midlands Musician

15 May 19 words: Eileen Pegg

Every so often, something hits our inbox that is impossible to ignore. When Sam Potter, formerly of Castle Donington-based band Late of the Pier, got in touch to tell us about his latest project, we knew it was one we had to share.

Sam’s been busy restoring the lost tapes left behind by late Midlands based musician, February Montaine, who was active during the 80s. A sensitive man with little known about him, or how he left the world, his music gives insight into his unique love affair with songwriting. After years of piecing the parts together, working alongside February’s ex-wife Amelia and stepdaughter Suzy, a beautiful, personal album resulted, and a band formed together to take the tunes live.

This band will be performing as part of Hello Thor’s 10th Anniversary weekender at Metronome, and while the imaginative, lo-fi setlist is sure to tug on your heartstrings and make your head nod, we spoke to Sam about the project to get an idea of the full background behind each song.

We can all recognise that nostalgic, heartwarming feeling of re-discovering photographs, projects or songs from years ago and reliving that moment in time. Read on and spark yer imagination with this box of memories ahead of the gig:

Who was February Montaine?
February Montaine was an amateur DIY musician from Aston on Trent who, one day in 1991, left and never came back.

All that I know of him is from items stored in a box under his ex-wife Amelia’s bed. It’s a tricky question. I still can’t work out really where he went after the last few years of trying. Hopefully, some old friends who can help us find out what actually did happen to him will read this.

What do you know about his musical history? Was he a bedroom producer, or did he ever release any music and play gigs?
Other than the last few years of his life, February never really left his bedroom, apparently. I think you can hear this in his music; he’s somebody who was never too bothered about anybody else hearing what he made.

This release is the first time his music has been out in the open, and the gigs that come with it are the first time that his music has been performed live.

Do you know much about the instruments and kit he used to make music?
I wish I knew, it’s been a pain in the arse trying to fill in the gaps. February left incredibly detailed notes about his ideas for music in the future, but nothing about how these songs were made.

For the album, I had to restore finished demos and also finish off a few songs. With February's ex-wife Amelia as quality control I had to think as February would, which is probably why it's taken so long to finish!

When did the idea to re-record and release his music come about, and why?
In 2015 I got an email from Suzy, February’s step daughter, asking me to listen to his music. I can’t say I had much hope when I first opened the attachment - whose step dad has ever made good music? But since then I’ve been a little obsessed. It's rare to hear such personal, close to the bone music like February produces.

What do you hope people feel after listening and learning about it too?
Anything that can rekindle a sense of wonder in these troubling times is worth its weight in gold.

February was a dreamer of the highest calibre and though his music is so humble, his ideas about the power of art have really touched me. In one of his many notes he said "'I can see a future where we don't just listen to the music, the music listens to us. As we learn more about the very make-up of our being, we can find new ways of helping ourselves, I think music will be instrumental in taking us there". I love this almost shamanic approach that thinks of art as 'sophisticated emotional technology' - a name on one of the album tracks too.

I can see a future where we don't just listen to the music, the music listens to us. As we learn more about the very make-up of our being, we can find new ways of helping ourselves, I think music will be instrumental in taking us there

What has been the most interesting part of the project?
Making music can be a wonderful way of understanding those abstract feelings that we feel but can't fully understand. When I make a song by myself, it needs to move me and if it doesn't, I'll move on to the next track. Through February's music I've been having to channel a man who I've never met, imagining what the deeper parts of this mans psyche wanted from each song.

It's a completely bizarre reverse haunting where I, the living breathing human, have to get into the mind of the ghost. Playing live even more so, it's the difference between a good or a bad gig if I can breathe life into his music the crowd can feel it too. We're perhaps the most eery cover band in Europe right now, part seance, part lo-fi pop conduits to the other world. Come see us play Metronome on Friday and experience it for yourself!

Sam Potter will perform A Tribute to February Montaine on Friday 17 May at Metronome, as part of Hello Thor’s 10th Anniversary weekender.

Follow the event. February Montaine’s tales told on Tumblr.

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