Basic Vacation

They are young, inspired, passionate, and a little quirky. Contrary to what their name suggests, the guys of alternative- pop group Basic Vacation are not planning on relaxing their focus on their music any time soon.

Guitarist Jon Paul, drummer Mike Montalbano, and front man Chris Greatti have put school and other musical endeavors on hold, and they’re taking the time to focus all of their efforts on one thing. “…With opportunities like this, you just do it…” said Chris says.

Chris and Jon met through the indie-music scene in New York City, and started “throwing around ideas and songs,” according to Jon, “[We] realized that it could be kind of a fruitful thing for us to work together,” Chris says. They went on to develop the concept of the band, “Instead of going for a straight pop band, or something like that that a lot of our friends were doing, we wanted to do something with an alternative rock edge, while still having the pop foundation,” Chris says.

With the idea in place, the pair decided they needed another member, so they recruited drummer Mike, a longtime friend of Chris. “We needed that strong foundation, and thankfully he was free so he joined,” Jon says.

Since the band’s inception, Basic Vacation have been on a roll.

The budding indie-dream-pop group with roots in Philadelphia, made their debut in May of 2012 with the release of the video for their first single “If You Want To.” The video, which is a mash of pop-synth fun, subway rides, rooftop hangouts and random dancing, brought the group a wide local following.

Since the debut, the band has become a serious endeavor for the guys, “For the three of us, it was like the first serious band that we were all really proud of,” Chris says. Now, with the support of their growing fan base, Chris, Jon, and Mike are entering the studio for the first time. In conjunction with Grammy Award winning producer David Kahne, they are working on their first four-song EP, which is due out in February.

The EP will consist of an updated version of their original single, and three new originals. “We haven’t even played them live yet,” Chris says. “The ones that we played live were like half completed versions.” The guys decided it was necessary to revisit those half completed versions before entering the studio with Kahne.

Chris and Jon are both excited to be working with Kahne on this project. Jon, who had recorded the initial ideas for the songs himself in Logic, a streamlined recording program, said that working with Kahne has been a great experience. “He has all kinds of ideas, and ways to accentuate different things, like for vocals and stuff like that, that we would never think of,” Jon says.

The recording process with Kahne has been a unique one for the guys. Jon said that their method has been interesting because they did everything backwards. “We actually did vocals first, and then guitar, bass, drums, and then synths,”he says.  “Which is sort, the weirdest way you can do it.”

The group will play a show with Action Item at the Asbury Park’s famous venue The Stoned Pony in February, which will be the live debut for their EP. Their previous shows have been learning experiences for the guys, and have also helped them to expand their fan base. Chris says Basic Vacation try to keep things fresh for fans and for themselves. “[We] have a lot of stuff in our set that is very energetic,” he says. “There’s a lot of percussion stuff, that keeps things fresh, instead of just playing songs straight through. So we got a lot of great reactions actually.”

They are tentatively planning on releasing the new EP at the show with Action Item, but are still putting the finishing touches on the songs. “As soon as we can get it out is when we want to get it out, but it’s looking like sometime in February,” Chris says.

Fans will be able to purchase digital copies of the EP right away, and the band hope to release on vinyl and cassette eventually. The plan is to have everything done in time for South by South West (SXSW), which will be held in mid-March. “[We] are definitely going to be down there,” Chris says of the festival. “We are trying to figure out if we are going to be playing or not.”

The guys are keeping they’ll fingers crossed that they will be slotted to play because, Jon says, his goals for the band going forward include touring consistently and putting out records every year. “I would like to have our music get to as many people as we possibly can,” Chris adds. “And be able to play for all different kinds of people across the land. Spread our message.”

“Be yourself, and [don’t] be afraid to express yourself in the way that you feel most passionate,” Chris says, when asked what that message is. “Which is the way that we do it. That’s the moral of Basic Vacation.”

In the meantime, Basic Vacation are learning the ins and outs of the industry and the best ways to move merch and they’re blowing up their social media sites with band updates. “We are on Twitter everyday,” Chris says. “Jon’s tweeting up a storm, about cats and donkeys and stuff.”

The guys are working on the video for their next single, and planning Tri-State area tour, which they plan to announce later this month.

** A Version of this story was published by Naked Magazine in February of 2013

**Image courtesy of Basic Vacation Website at


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