Martin “Marty” Monahan is the vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the Boastfuls, which formed in May 2018 and won the Steamtown Music Award for best new artist that year. Monahan grew up in Dickson City and is a graduate of Mid Valley Secondary Center. He is studying broadcast, production and digital media and radio at Marywood University, from which he plans to graduate in 2020. He works at Wegman’s and lives in Scranton.
Meet Marty Monahan…
Q: Tell me about your musical background.
A: My mom was a singer; she played flute in high school, and she played piano. My uncles were all musicians. I grew up with a piano in the house. I taught myself piano when I was 7 or 8 and learned by watching Billy Joel and Elton John. I started percussion in fourth grade and was primarily a drummer from seventh grade up until about a year ago. I played in jazz band, a few ensembles and had a band through middle school and high school. When I was 16, I got a guitar, so I have only been playing since then. I got my first acoustic guitar from my uncle when I was 17 or 18 and started to gravitate toward that and taught myself guitar.
Q: How did the Boastfuls form?
A: Our lead guitarist and I have known each other since seventh grade. We joined concert band and jazz band at the same time, and we were in our last band together. When I wanted to do something different, he came with me because he was a ready for a change, too. Our bassist and I go to Marywood together. He wanted to be in a band. Our drummer I met at work at Wegman’s. We both worked in produce and bonded over the Foo Fighters and drumming.
Q: Tell me about the band’s style and influences.
A: We all have pretty similar influences. I’m very drawn to Muse, Nothing but Thieves, Royal Blood, the Foo Fighters; that’s where most of my inspiration comes from. Each person’s influences work together. We definitely fall into alternative rock. As we’re writing, we’re finding a lot of different influences. Our styles blend really well. It was difficult at first to just sit down and say we’re going to write. Chad (Wescott) and I have very similar music tastes, and we vibe really well together. Chris (Benetiz) is a phenomenal musician. He’s one of the best musicians I know. Brandon (Rodriguez), anything you put in front of him, he can play beautifully.
Q: As a new band, what are some things you are dealing with as a band and individual?
A: Writing as a group was a big thing for us. Writing and jamming together has been something we’ve learned. It comes very easily to us, but to sit there and come up with a cohesive idea for a song and write lyrics was very difficult. For me, having to deal with the crowd was something thrust upon me. I was lucky for seven or eight years where I could sit back (as the drummer) and watch everyone get hackled, and nobody said a word to me. It was awesome. We recently played a show, and I had to look up lyrics to a song. That was the first time somebody came up to me and argued with me over something. They said it looked really bad to be looking up lyrics. I didn’t really know what to say. Dealing with people now has been different and took a lot of getting used to.
Q: How have you dealt with gaining so much success in a short amount of time?
A: We were lucky enough to have one of our first gigs with Graces Downfall, who is really huge in the area. Ken Norton, the lead singer, works with Joe Caviston, who is a booking agent in the area, (and) saw us live on Facebook. We were very lucky to be exposed to them right off the bat. It’s really exciting and cool. It’s something very new to all of us. We’ve all been musicians, but this is kind of on a new level. We go out to places and people recognize us, which is a little weird. We are lucky to have Joe and Ken guiding us through it.
Q: What inspires your original music?
A: I didn’t start writing lyrics until a few months ago. I’ve had a lot of people in my family who are very inspiring. There’s a song that I’m working on about my late uncle who passed away a few months ago. He really pushed me to do writing and playing. This has been a challenge; any of my family or friends will tell you that I tend to keep things to myself a lot. It’s very hard for me to just write something and just say what’s wrong or on my mind. I’m finding it to be very difficult but therapeutic. It’s all kind of problems, from toxic people to losing family and friends. I think I definitely have a long way to go. I’ve grown since I’ve started writing.
Q: What is in the near and long-term future for you and the Boastfuls?
A: We’re getting ready to record our first song. This will be my first time as a singer in the studio, which will take some getting used to. Long term, I graduate next year, and I’m getting ready for a career outside of working at Wegman’s and playing on the weekends. Right before this band formed, we were all kind of at a point where we were ready to graduate and move somewhere not here. Now we’re kind of locked in here and want to see where this goes and take this as far as we can. We’d like to have an EP by the end of the year. We want to keep recording and keep performing.
Q: What is a piece of advice you’ve received that has stuck with you?
A: The whole concept of getting to play with local musicians has been awesome. I love it, and it’s something that I’m very grateful for. It’s been awesome having such a support system. We’re recording with Zhach Kelsch; he’s a phenomenal drummer, (and) having his insight I think is going to be awesome. Ken always tells us we have to pay our dues. We’re very new, and we have a lot of ambition. There’s a lot we want to do, but there’s a lot we have to do before that. It’s being grateful for what you have and working for it and knowing it’s not going to just be given to you.
Q: What other hobbies and interests do you have?
A: I spend my time playing video games when I’m not writing or playing. I’m the program director at Marywood’s radio station. I’ve taken a huge interest in doing stuff like that and enjoy working with DJs and broadcast production. I’ve found a lot of fun in doing audio and video production and love learning more about the programs to do that.
Q: Have you had a moment or period of time in your life that helped shape the person you are today?
A: In late high school, I was a much sadder person than I am now. There was a very short period of time where I didn’t want to play music at all. When I came back out of that was when I really started playing guitar. That time period was when I got my first acoustic guitar, which was my great-uncle’s. My late uncle, who pushed me more than anyone else, got me my first really nice microphone, which is still the mic I use at every single gig today. That whole time period where I was getting back into music really shaped where I am today, especially as a songwriter, front man and singer.