Tramontane began many moons ago in the year 1986. I was still in high school playing with drummer Dan DeMeo. As fate would have t my mother met Michael Morris at his work and immediately saw an opportunity and got his number for her aspiring musician son and Dan and I called Michael. We ended up meeting and jamming (Michael brought along long time friend and bassist Kurt Tholken) and Tramontane was born (after an exhaustive search for a name with Certain Fury and Another Life being discussed we settled on Tramontane after Kurt jokingly mentioned the song from Foreigner’s “Double Vision” album). Our search for a vocalist took quite some time until we finally acquired the vocal services of Wolf some years later.
In 1989 we recorded what became our second demo (our first demo was horrific and best forgotten). Jeff Strahle had replaced Dan DeMeo on drums and we had written a bunch of new songs. We were really excited about the project, especially with the prospect of getting “The Passage” and “Eve Of Destruction” on tape (“The Passage” was completed just prior to recording). The recording was fairly uneventful. I remember all of us being thrilled with the sound of Wolf’s spoken word intro for “Eve” and how cool we thought it sounded. The growth between the first and second demo were quite significant and we finally started to come together as a band. Unfortunately it was short lived as Jeff Strahle would leave the band shortly after his recording was finished and the ever revolving drum slot would need to be filled again.
Many shows followed and after we replaced Scott Brooks (drummer number 3 for those keeping score at home) with Brian Hutchison we recorded our 1992 demo and the “Cast In Glass” demo a year later. Brian had to be the most amazing drummer I’ve ever seen record as he typically did all his tracks in one or two takes. Too bad I couldn’t say the same for the rest of us. Peter Stanley did a great job with the production and once again we felt the band was really growing. We would go on to get great write ups in such magazines as Burrn!, Metal Forces, Rock Hard and perform shows with such acts as Savatage, WASP, Armored Saint and White Zombie which significantly increased our fan base. Unfortunately the onset of grunge would kill all of our momentum and eventually tear the band apart as we would lose both Wolf and Brian Hutchison in the following years when it became apparent that we were severely out of style and all the clubs we had played began to close down.
Michael Morris and I soldiered on, eventually recruiting the last version of Tramontane with drummer Walter Massenkoff, singer Norman Skinner and bassist John Naas and recording our first (and last) CD “December Dark” We would remain together even performing at the Los Angeles date of the (in) famous Metal Fest, until 2000 when we finally decided to call it a day and end the group.
I hope you will enjoy this record. It brings back a lot of memories for me and I’m glad they are seeing the light of day in another format. We always seemed like the band that didn’t fit in. In our early years we were too melodic for the thrash fans of the Bay Area and too heavy for the hard rock fans that dominated the club scene. Later on we would become even more odd while we continued to stick to our guns and play heavy metal instead of jumping on all of the trends that would come and go. Hopefully we’ll be remembered (if we’re remembered at all) as a band that was honest and true to what they played.
John Antonioli -Tramontane-