Daniel Monte Band: The Musicians Transcending Genres
Daniel Monte and Antonio Cocuzzo, two members of the Daniel Monte band, open up about their inspirations, creative process and bringing Nespresso machines onstage.
Positioning their band as “orchestral pop-rock,” Daniel Monte, Antonio Cocuzzo and Flavio Silva aren’t afraid to experiment with genres.
With over 10 years of classical training in both piano and violin at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Monte founded the band in 2017 while studying at York University. With material written and ready to go, he started looking for others to add to the roster. He met Cocuzzo, who sings and plays guitar, and soon after met Silva, who plays keyboards.
While the Daniel Monte catalogue is the clearest indicator of the wealth of influences the musicians draw from, the desire to create music comes from a place closer to home.
“My dad introduced me to a lot of music and helped me with preliminary songwriting,” says Monte. “He is also an Italian immigrant, so there was a lot of that culture. It wasn’t that I overtly listened to only Italian music when I was growing up, but it was just infused in his culture, which brought it to me. That’s why a lot of music we end up writing and recording is very eclectic, in that European vein.”
Cocuzzo picks up where Monte left off, saying, “What we do is progressive in a way that we bring different things together. A lot of Italian rock acts, especially in the ’70s and ’80s, are not far off from bands like Led Zeppelin.”
When you hear Monte and Cocuzzo speak, you sense their passion for music and creativity, but also collaboration. Even with Silva not present, you can tell he’s there in spirit.
“I’VE FOUND THAT PEOPLE CAN FEEL, SEE AND RELATE TO WHETHER OR NOT YOU’RE BEING GENUINE. I THINK THAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING AS AN ARTIST.”
“Daniel Monte is the seed,” says Cocuzzo. “The blending together of the classical stuff and the rock stuff and the place that the song comes from is a very Daniel thing. At first, I was just a for-hire guitar player, but when we started to take it more seriously it was because I realized there was something special in the way that he was writing songs.”
Cocuzzo continues to offer insight into the band’s collaborative process, sharing how Monte will write a song that will either be finished or just an idea waiting to happen, and the other two will take it and develop it into something bigger and better.
“I find there’s a stark difference between the first album I released, which was just my project, versus the second album that we released,” Monte says. “It was that kind of process of me bringing it to these incredible musicians and having them add their kind of sauce to it.”
To date, the band has had a number of success stories. As well as playing in the Coca-Cola Concert Series in Niagara Falls, they’ve recently released their new album, NOW Part 1, and are enjoying a string of live shows — so many shows that they share a recent story of setting up a Nespresso machine on stage, behind the drums, to provide an extra kick to get through the evenings.
The group recently performed at the Vitanova Foundation’s Family Day BBQ on August 29th. The not-for-profit institution, located in Vaughan, provides a range of addiction-related services to individuals, families and the community at large – all at no charge – to restore the individual’s potential as a valued member of a fully-functioning family and a net contributor to the community.
When asked what he would say to others looking to pursue a career in music, Monte says, “You have to be genuine and be you. I’ve been told multiple times in my life that we have to do this, do that, change this, change that. I’ve found that people can feel, see and relate to whether or not you’re being genuine. I think that’s the most important thing as an artist.”
Daniel Monte’s album NOW Part 1 is available now.
INTERVIEW BY MARC CASTALDO