Mals Totem has been getting attention for their blend of alternative rock in clubs throughout New England, with fans comparing their sound to a heavier Radiohead and Mars Volta. Composed of Dave Vives (vocals), Asher Kurtz (lead guitar), Michael Lostica (rhythm guitar), Ronnie Lanzilotta (bass) and Angelo Spampinato (drums), Mals Totem is releasing their debut EP digitally via their website on September 16. In addition, check the cred of the producers and engineers involved with project: George Massenburg (engineer for Journey, Earth Wind and Fire, Billy Joel), Susan Rodgers (producer for Prince), Jonathan Wyner(David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Nirvana), and Raul Chirinos (Berklee College of Music). Angelo answered a few questions for me about the recording process for the EP, the band’s name, and upcoming tour plans including the EP release party on September 16.
JW: Angelo, you have four producers/engineers who helped make this album with you. My assumption is that the producers, as well as the band, are Berklee alumni. But how did you all meet with the producers to bring together conceptual ideas for this EP?
Angelo: The main producer on the EP was our good friend Raúl Chirinos, who now is a Berklee alumni. He not only spent 100+ hours on production but also was our recording engineer as well, so his impact on the final product can’t be emphasized enough. Susan Rogers is a Berklee professor and George Massenburg works independantly of the school but comes in once a semester to help bands out. They both got on board for the single Gargantuan, and the whole track was recorded live in a session that was only a couple of hours. We had the song ready to record before going in, but Susan and George pushed us to really take it to the next level, and made the track something special.
JW: Where you in band configurations before Mals Totem, and exactly what does the name ‘Mals Totem’ mean or stand for?
Angelo: The band used to be called Noize Tank, and had a different configuration. MIke, Asher, and Ronnie were in it but there was a different singer and drummer. Me and Dave came along towards the end of Noize Tank and we collectively decided to change the name to Mals Totem soon after joining. We’re all huge fans of Christopher Nolan, Mal’s Totem is the object Leonardo DiCaprio uses in the movie Inception to make sure he isn’t dreaming. Mal is his dead wife who still haunts him, and her totem is the top he uses.
JW: Any touring plans outside of New England area in support of the EP?
Angelo: We’ve got our release party on September 16th at the Middle East Upstairs, and a date at the Fete Ballroom in Rhode Island on the 22nd. Other than that it’s tough to tour at the moment because Dave is finishing up his last year at school. We’re hoping to having some dates during December/January, and again next May, but it’s up in the air at the moment.