Major and the Monbacks
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Major and the Monbacks

Norfolk, Virginia, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Norfolk, Virginia, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Rock Soul




"Major and the Monbacks revive the '50s and '60s with their psychedlic/doo-wop sound"

"[...] what is ultimately clear is that Major and the Monbacks have not only revived, but given a psychedelic face-lift to the soundtrack of the dancehalls of the '50s and '60s.

The Monbacks aren't playing off a sound that's already been tracked. Contrarily, they're using said sound as a platform to jump off of while they explore uncharted territories in this tried and true realm of retro musicale." - RVA Magazine

"Major and the Monbacks"

The Monbacks’ self-titled debut disc [...] is a rollicking mélange of vintage pop, rock and white boy soul, an organic extension of their sing-along live show. - Coastal Virginia

"Major and the Monbacks"

"These days [the Monbacks] are bringing something that sounds classic, yet contemporary, like a freshly unearthed live recording of some heavyweight mashup you never knew existed. Imagine Otis Redding in a guest appearance with The Band or Gene Vincent fronting Dr. Dog for a night. It's kind of like that. " - Whurk Magazine

"Major and the Monbacks: Major and the Monbacks"

"Their passionate, throwback rock ‘n’ soul has clearly been honed for the stage and dance floor, and their combination of pop melodies, organ and horns brings to mind the Southern sounds of early Stax, but also the Northern rock ‘n’ soul of the Buckinghams, Rascals, Grass Roots, Southside Johnny, Tower of Power and Chicago." - Hyperbolium

"Major and the Monbacks - "I Do" (video) (Premiere)"

[Major and the Monbacks] is a lungful of fresh air in a world where passionless indie rock is increasingly the norm. - PopMatters

"A Major Debut for Major and the Monbacks"

‘Major and the Monbacks’ is a ride through a refreshingly modern spin on 1960’s psychedelic garage rock, soul and ska all fused together." - Cavalier Daily

"Norfolk Band's blended styles makes for strong debut"

"Anyone walking past Sycamore Deli Friday night heard music bursting from within as Norfolk, Virginia band Major and the Monbacks took the stage for a release party of its self-titled debut album." - Collegiate Times

"Someday is now for Major and the Monbacks"

"The whole package is captivating; irresistibly toe tapping, the party record of the summer." - VEER Magazine

"Can't Get Enough of Major and the Monbacks"

The entire album sounds like a perfect song that comes on at a perfect time on a perfect day in a year without troubles. It’s the kind of album you can’t get enough of. -

"Major and the Monbacks Album Review"

"The Monbacks’ distinct brew of rock & roll spans across geographic locations, as well as generations. The band’s influences shine through in its songs and grab hold of listeners. Known for their raucous stage presence and uncanny ability to keep dancefloors on their feet, the Monbacks’ debut full length album attempts to capture the essence of what makes us all move and groove" - Live Music Daily

"Major & the Monbacks Album Review"

Major and the Monbacks are the 60’s rock inspired, yet uniquely 2015 band the Appalachian jam scene has been waiting for. Recollecting universal favorites like The Band, The Beatles, and Van Morrison, while pulling from timeless genres like Motown, big-band jazz, soulful rock with a funk flare, the Monbacks’ music is a celebration of all things past, present, and future. With 3 different writers and singers rotating in front of an 8-piece ensemble, including a full horn section and percussion, their sound stays lively and fresh, yet still pays respects to the origins. - Appalachian Jamwich

"Major and the Monbacks: Norfolk band performing at James River Wine & Music Festival"

"From the Beatles-esque harmonies and psychedelic guitar pedals of “I Can Hardly Wait” to the funky soul on “Somedays,” the band’s rock grooves blend a generation of styles together.

Some tracks, like “Annabelle,” feature Yardbirds-style rave-ups mixed with a James Brown soul-scream, while “Be My Baby’s” doo wop, with a touch of big band, makes for a song that you’d likely hear at a high school gymnasium dance filled with poodle skirts and saddle shoes.

“Sunshine,” with its killer “woo-hoo-hoo” hook, could easily fit in with the Louisiana/Georgia Southern rock of the ‘70s (think CCR and the Allman Brothers). It’s a mix of Otis Redding, The Band, Jr. Walker and the All-Stars, the Beach Boys and so many more, but somehow it still manages to sound completely fresh and original." - The News & Advance

"[REVIEW] No Country Presents: Kim Logan & Major and the Monbacks | 11.18.14 @ Acme Feed & Seed"

Every single Tuesday, we team up with hip new restaurant and performance space Acme Feed & Seed to host a free showcase of some of our favorite emerging local (and national) talent. For our latest installment, which marked our seventeenth consecutive week at Acme, we hosted one local vocal powerhouse, the soulful Kim Logan, and continued our recent trend of bringing touring bands to Acme, with Virginia r&b/soul rock outfit Major and the Monbacks. Read on for our recap of the evening!

MajorMonbacks_Acme-Insert Major and the Monbacks. Photo by Mary-Beth Blankenship.

Since the weather’s getting colder and the sun’s setting sooner, we decided to start our Tuesday night events at 7:30 p.m. for a while, instead of 8. Arriving to an even larger dinner crowd than usual, I was greeted by a cornucopia of instruments on stage; a sign that eclectic Norfolk, VA group Major and the Monbacks were prepping to begin. We take pride in bringing a diverse array of artists to the Acme stage, and this band was no exception. Not a far-shot from local faves (and equally as horn-laden outfit) Kansas Bible Company, Major and the Monbacks launched into a set that would include a decade-spanning array of tunes, conjuring in equal measures elements of funk, jazz, classic rock, ska, and r&b. With sailing harmonies, layered percussion, horns, and a whole ton of soul, the group had the crowd dancing, clapping, and singling along throughout. Switching lead vocals duties and decked out in blazers, Major and the Monbacks had the look and feel of an old school dance hall band, but the modern sensibilities to allow them to perform to virtually any audience; I had a blast witnessing their live show for the first time, and highly recommend catching their act the next time they pass though. - No Country for New Nashville

"Monback Mania is real"

Monback Mania is real. And it is quickly spreading from Norfolk, Va to the rest of Virginia and beyond. Major And The Monbacks play soul-infused garage rock, and they'll be here October 30. Charlottesville, I don't think we stand a chance. - The Southern Cafe and Music Hall

"Who is Major, what are Monbacks, and where can you see them this weekend?"

st things first. The question(s) everyone asks upon experiencing for the first time Major and the Monbacks, one of the most energetic and entertaining bands in the Hampton Roads area.

What, exactly, is a Monback?

Got something to say? Start the conversation and be the first to comment.

"It's short for 'Come on back,' " explains bass player Cole Friedman, who also serves as the band's manager. "It's a thing my dad and his friends used to say, and we just put it as a noun. We're all such tight friends. We're all Monbacks - as in: 'Come on back. Come on over.' It's inviting. It's outgoing. It's a term of endearment."

OK, and who among the eight band members is Major?

"Major is the Monback in all of us," Friedman replies with a straight face.

That actually makes sense, at least if you've seen this band in action. And if you haven't yet had the Monback experience, this weekend is your opportunity. The band plays the First Friday block party on Granby Street in Norfolk on Friday, and the Downtown Hampton Block Party on Queens Way in Hampton on Saturday. Both shows are free. A Richmond band, the Southern Belles, will open the Hampton show.

Major and the Monbacks plays uptempo pop with a twist of Southern soul. They play with harmony in their voices and smiles on their faces, and their enthusiasm is contagious. The band has developed a healthy local following and is just now starting to expand that reach outside of Hampton Roads.

Click here to watch two songs from a recent performance on WAVY-TV's "The Hampton Roads Show."

The group began with six friends who went to Maury High School in Norfolk - Friedman, his twin brother Neal (guitar), Harold Schloeder (guitar), Michael Adkins (guitar), Hunter Rhodes (drums) and his stepbrother Tyler West. Tyler plays percussion and is also listed as the band's "hypeman," a designation that becomes more obvious once you've seen him on stage.

That group of friends has been playing together for more than four years. They relatively recently added trumpeter Aaron Middleton and sax man Nate Sacks, adding a hint of ska (and more than a hint of frat party R&B) to the Monback sound.

The Friedmans graduated from college this year - Cole from U.Va., Neal from William and Mary - and the band members decided it was time to focus on music fulltime. They have stayed busy this summer, including a gig on two of the side stages last week at Floydfest - the prominent outdoor festival in Floyd, Va.

For that appearance, the Monbacks debuted a new look - matching blue plaid jackets and white slacks.

"It's an early Beach Boys kind of thing," Cole Friedman says. "It looks cool. At Floydfest, you could see people kind of checking us out, giving us a long look, because it definitely wasn't the kind of look they were expecting."

Will they be sporting the blue plaid jackets in Norfolk and Hampton this weekend?

"We will," Friedman said. "As long as they get back from the cleaners on time." - Daily Press

"Music Profile: Major & The Monbacks"

In 2012 VEER’s local music awards recognized Major and The Monbacks as one of Hampton Road’s best up-and-coming bands, and they have certainly risen to that accolade. But, if you don’t already know the ensemble made up of home grown musicians, who shadow many other bands of their kind, here’s why you should.

The Monbacks describe their sound as “soul twang.” Bassist, Cole Friedman, explains, “We basically rely on the explosive energy of southern soul and old school R&B, mixing in ‘60s pop inspired harmonies with ska and soul horn riffs with a slight country, rockabilly twang. Our greatest modern influence would definitely be the folk, soul, psychedelic pop of Dr. Dog and the rest of the sound really draws from a lot of Stax (Southern Soul) artists like Otis Redding and Sam Cooke as well as The Beatles, The Band, and even British ska legends The Specials.”

The band’s live debut took place over five years ago at the 40th St. Stage directly across from Fellini’s on Colley Avenue, “Home to the blossoming Maury High School music scene, which now sits vacant,” says Cole, who, also described the gig as “the defining moment” whereby an impromptu rendition of “Hey Jude” by The Beatles was performed featuring Michael Adkins, who became lead guitarist, that night.

The gig was a milestone for the boys, originally known as The Yolks, as they transformed into the cool and charming chaps of Major and The Monbacks, who combine whit and sophistication with the frequent ‘Dunkaroo’ displays. (Dunkaroo: the act of dunking one unfortunate Monback headfirst into a bucket of ice cold water, before being tipped upright to shotgun a beer)

One of Monbacks’ strengths is their rapport with collaborative musicians, such as Bruce Gray (VEER’s Life time achievement award winner). During the Monback’s 5th Anniversary gig at Night of the Iguana in August, Bruce performed hits with the guys such as “Everybody Needs Somebody” (Wilson Pickett) and “Knock on Wood” (Eddie Floyd). These impromptu renditions and improvisations during Monback concerts are the additional gems to their already strong set of original tracks, making Monback Music all about the live experience, leaving no foot untapped.

It’s industries most played question, but c’mon, what’s their name all about?

“The Monback in the name refers to the term my dad (Mr. Brian Friedman) and his friends used when they were on their way to somewhere, meaning, come on back,” Explained Cole. “We adopted the term and ran with it, using it pretty universally and, of course, as the ultimate term of endearment. Major does not represent any one person in the band, but represents the Monback in all of us.”

Surely to hold down a nine-piece ensemble you need a Major to keep rehearsals locked down and under control.

“Everyone’s an integral part,” said Cole, “everyone contributes to arrangements, and everybody needs to add to our presence and energy on stage.”

Michael Adkins uses a restaurant analogy to describe the Monbacks; Songwriters Neal, Mike and Harry, are the chefs who run the kitchen, cook and serve up fresh songs; meanwhile Cole, according to twin brother Neal, takes on role of manager. “H holds a lot of these strings together, by booking most of our shows and managing finances, and he holds down a deep bass too.”

The majority of the Monbacks met at Maury High School about seven years ago, and since then, Del Veccios Pizza on Hampton Boulevard has been named one of the Monback’s Norfolk hangouts, for all the support they have received from dollar slices of pizza!

Another Monback Norfolk hangout, may it RIP, is Tinee Giant (now Seven Eleven) on 49th St and Powhatan Avenue, which served as a meeting point for Arizona Teas and beer for practices and pre-show rituals for the band. Now the guys are spread apart due to college locations and commitments.

“Gigs at college bars and fraternity parties are essentially practice,” said Neal.

This fall alone they have played across three states: West Virginia, North Carolina, and Virginia.

“I don’t think any of us ever imagined that we’d be traveling all over the East Coast and playing to packed houses in cities outside of Hampton Roads,” Cole said. “This semester Blacksburg, VA has emerged as one of the biggest Monback towns, with four stops this fall alone, including our first appearance at a packed show at their premier music venue downtown, Sycamore Deli. We are also really excited to be recording a full-length album and headlining The NorVA for the fourth time on December 20th at 7pm with an awesome all-local line-up. We have advance tickets for sale and we also deliver. Almost 800 people came out for the last show and we’re hoping to top that this year.”

Europe, look out also, because, according to Neal, “The European tour is in the preemptive planning stages.”

Neal Friedman (guitar, lead vocals, organ) – is older than Cole by 20 minutes
Cole Friedman (bass) – doubles as business & financial manager for the band
Michael Adkins (guitar, vocals, harmonica) – was originally a bassist
Nick Saunders (keys, organ, vocals) – invented the crock pot…
Woody Marshall (trumpet) – studies business at NC State
Jay Einhorn (saxophone) – is a physics & math major at Wake Forest University & Cole & Neal’s cousin
Tyler West (percussion, hype) – is an intern at Electroganic LLC, a media and music production company in Norfolk.
Hunter Rhodes (drums, percussion) – is a magician
Harry Schloeder (technician, guitar, vocals) – once had his glove stolen by a moose and is the weather boy. - Veer Magazine

"Major and the Monbacks at the Tobacco Company"

As I write this, Major and the Monbacks’ single, “Come on Home” is playing — and boy, is it good. With its Sam and Dave call-and-responses, horn punctuations and “Music from the Big Pink”-era Band Americana, the nine-piece Norfolk group nails what it used to mean to be an American band. Its groove-based rock draws heavily from what’s been, but it doesn’t sound like nostalgia. Like Richmond groups the Northerners and the Southern Belles, Major and the Monbacks take the old and make it new again, drawing inspiration from Sam Cooke, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Gary US Bonds for their surprisingly contemporary sounding music. Their rockin’ soul review hits the Tobacco Company on Friday, June 13. Doors open at 9 p.m. Free. - Style Weekly

"Major and the Monbacks Spread Monback Mania across East Coast"



MAJOR AND THE MONBACKS is the latest group continuing the tradition of Soul n’ Roll twang-pop, which is so closely associated with the culture of Tidewater Virginia and Norfolk. If you’re from Virginia and don’t know about the sound, just look up “Sweet Virginia Breeze” by THE ROBBIN THOMPSON BAND, and you’ll probably immediately pick up on what makes the sound so distinctively Virginian.

For a band comprised of recent college graduates—some who are actually graduating this month—it’s a throwback to a sound that Virginian musicians and bands, such as CHARLIE MCCLENDON AND THE MAGNIFICENTS, pioneered in the 60’s.

Describing themselves as “Otis Redding and Chuck Berry playing a beer-soaked fraternity party”, the band has been crashing house keggers, festivals, bars, and almost anywhere else imaginable all across Virginia and the East Coast. We spoke with Neal Friedman, who is not only lead vocalist, but also plays guitar and the organ, about the Rock n’ Soul genre and how the band was formed around it, and their summer plans to go on a three month long tour through the region, spreading their brand of “Monback Mania”.

When did this band first get started? How did it end up becoming a nine-piece Southern style, soul and pop-rock group?

Cole (bassist) and I have been playing together since we picked up guitars in the sixth or seventh grade. We’ve just been jamming in my room in our parents’ house for a long time. We actually started the band back in middle school as a few other bands. It’s been done from my room ever since, and we’d have people come in my room on weekends and just jam. Some of those people we played music with back then, have played with the Monbacks. In high school, we had another band called THE YOLKS, which essentially became the Monbacks. At that point, it was five or six people, then we got Harry (technician/guitarist/vocalist) on board a couple of years ago. Along with Jay (saxophone), those were our last additions. It’s evolved over the years.

Having played for so long and with other people for a while, what kind of music were you guys playing then? What’s changed since those early years of playing music with most of the people in this band?

We didn’t originally set out to be a soul band or a party band. We used to play a bunch of different kind of stuff. As for the R&B, soul sound, Cole and I have been listening to music like that for a long time with our dad. What we ended up playing, just kind of ended up sounding like that a little bit. Once we started playing fraternity parties, it kind of made sense to play some more classic soul numbers for parties. I like the idea of the “rock n’ soul” genre. We just latched on to the idea of bands playing that.

In Norfolk, the Rock n’ Soul genre is pretty synonymous with the region. But it does seem like not a lot of people in Virginia even really know what that is. How would you describe Rock n’ Soul to someone who’s never heard of it?

It’s influenced by a lot of early Motown, so groups like THE TEMPTATIONS, THE SUPREMES, THE FOUR TOPS, and then there’s an influence from older rock bands such as THE BEATLES, THE KINKS, and ROLLING STONES. I used to be a big MARSHALL CRENSHAW fan, and I love ELVIS COSTELLO. We’re also into other classic rock groups like LED ZEPPELIN and PINK FLOYD.

monbacks 2

You guys are planning to tour and play nearly every day all this summer. Before delving into your plans for this summer, what can you tell me about your previous experiences of being on the road and what a typical show is like for your band?

We’ve usually just gone on short weekend tours. It’s hard to organize anything longer because we’re all in school, so it’s hard to get us together. Usually once or twice a month, we get together and play a few shows over a weekend, Thursday through Saturday and play different college towns. We usually play at our own schools sometimes, so we usually have friends there, and we’ll crash at their house. There’s usually after-parties and hanging out ‘till late. It’s chaos trying to organize it sometimes. With nine people coming, it’s usually like a Monback caravan of seven or eight cars pulling out of a place getting to the next town. It’s a lot of fun – lots of sleeping on floors, maybe sleeping on a couch unless you can find a girl to go to bed with. Usually a lot of beer getting spilt on your instruments – we play some groggy basements. It’s tiring sometimes, but it’s fun.

What universities do you guys attend and regularly play at?

Cole goes to University of Virginia, and I go to William & Mary. I actually graduated on Sunday, and Cole’s graduating this weekend. We’ve had members go to Roanoke, Wake Forest, NC State, and JMU. A lot of the band is out of college and based in Norfolk nowadays. Tyler (percussionist/hype man) works with the Electroganic crew running sound. Mike (guitarist/vocalist/harmonica player) is deep in the Williamsburg restaurant scene.

Cole and I are graduating, so we finally have time now that we’re not in school anymore. It just seems like we’ve been playing around and creating a buzz. Cole’s been applying non-stop to festivals and other gigs. We got into a lot of them, so we can’t just sit on our backs and wait. It seems like it’s our time to go for it.

Since you’ll be traveling much more regularly this summer, are you guys going to be consolidating the seven-to-eight car caravans?

We actually just bought “The Monback Van” two weeks ago. It’s a 15-passenger van, so we’ll be able to spread out a little bit. I’m stoked about it.

monbacks 3

Being booked for so many festivals and shows this summer, what do you guys have planned for your live show? What can people expect?

We’ll definitely be playing newer songs this summer. I want to try breaking out a lot of songs we’ve had written but not able to play because we haven’t been able to practice much in the last year. I’ve been writing some songs. Harry and Mike (guitarist/vocalist/harmonica player) have a few things they want to do, but I’m real excited for our next batch of songs we’ll be introducing. I think they’re better than the ones we have out now.

Are you going to be recording any of those new songs soon? What’re your plans for after this summer?

That’s going to be our next step—recording. We just released a single, “Don’t Say a Word” that we recorded with the studio Electroganic, so we’ll be recording with them again soon. The only thing [holding us back] is money, so we’re looking to put something together and maybe do a few demos once things settle down with the summer schedule.

Thanks for talking to us here at The Dominion Collective. Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about y’all?

We’re looking to go for it. We’re trying to write and play great music and give the best possible time on stage in Virginia. We want to continue our high standard of performance. - Dominion Collective

"ARTS Picks: Major and the Monbacks"

The ink on their college diplomas is not dry, but the nine members of Major and the Monbacks are already making a splash in the Central Virginia music scene. Defying genres, these energetic artists combine Motown, Ska, and Southern rock with the self-proclaimed “Eastern Seaboard’s Horniest Horn Section.” Their songs are pure celebration, a tribute to the days when a soulful tune and a willing voice were all that was needed for a good time. - C-Ville Weekly

"The Jefferson Review: Showdown in the Hometown - Erin & The Wildfire vs Major & The Monbacks 02.08.14"

All hell broke lose as two awesome local bands battled it out Saturday night at the Jefferson. Billed as “Showdown in the Hometown,” some argued that perhaps it would have been better labeled “Showdown of the Hometowns,” as all members of Erin & The Wildfire call Charlottesville home, while, only Monbacks’ bassist Cole Friedman resides in C’ville as a 4th year student at UVA. The rest of Major & the Monbacks hail from Norfolk, Virginia. Both bands brought soul and swingin’ good times to the Jeff this past weekend, and both were ready to win the battle. The University of Virginia’s beloved Dean of Students, Dean Allen Groves, stepped in as emcee for the night, kicking things off with a much anticipated coin toss to see which band would get the ball rolling.

Up first: Major & the Monbacks. The currently eight-strong group took the Jefferson stage in full force, with hype man/percussionist Tyler “Teeter” West, Woody Marshall on trumpet and Jay Einhorn on Saxophone, who together comprise the group’s self-proclaimed “Horniest Horn Section on the Eastern Seaboard,” and all the other boys in between.

What started as a high school jam band (known briefly as The Yolks) in twin brothers Neal and Cole Friedman’s bedroom over five years ago, has now grown into a nine-piece group including three guitars, bass, drums, percussion, keys, trumpet, and sax, allowing the group to achieve a booty-shakin’ mix of rock n’ roll, funk, and soul. Monback, a noun, coined by the Friedman brothers’ father, refers to a slang term for “Come on back.” Saturday night’s show, filled with catchy guitar riffs and groovy horns, definitely seemed to make the crowd want to ‘monback’ for more, as chants of “Monback, Monback!” could be heard throughout the theater as the night went on, arguably winning much of the crowd over to the Monback side of the battlefield.

Over the years, Major & the Monbacks have developed their song catalogue, with electrifying covers and original songs that are a result of the collective genius of all of The Monbacks. Lead singer and guitarist Neal Friedman writes the majority of the band’s songs with the remaining slack falling largely on the backs of back up vocalist/lead guitarist Michael Adkins, guitarist/vocalist Harry Schloeder, and percussionist Tyler West. The Monbacks packed all originals into their Saturday night set with the exception of a cover of The Band’s “Ophelia.”

Erin & The Wildfire followed up the Norfolk boys with some bluesy, gut-blasting vocals. Although only half the size of The Monbacks, Erin & The Wildfire managed to hold their own against the competition. In 2012, Erin Lunsford, who also stole the gold at Charlottesville’s Paramount Idol 2013, grabbed up the three most talented musicians she could find at UVA and dubbed them “The Wildfire,” which includes Matt Wood on bass, Nick Quillen on drums, and Ryan Lipps on guitar. Playing gigs throughout Virginia, and now making their way along the East Coast, Erin & The Wildfire have developed a jazzy, soulful, and at times almost gospel-like repertoire of both covers and originals. Erin & The Wildfire filled their set with a mix of originals and covers, finishing up the night with a powerful rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” I guess that was their shot against The Monbacks…Lunsford’s voice certainly warranted such veneration.

Honestly, though, what was billed as a “Showdown” proved really to be a bit of a gimmick as both bands definitely gave it their all, and no true “winner” was apparent at the end of the night. This conclusion however, despite all the hype, remained more beneficial to the crowd, than not, giving all in attendance two awesome shows packed to the brim with soul and body moving beats. Although all of their members are either still in college or just fresh out of it, these two bands have got some seriously soulful skills. It’s been rumored that both wildfires and Monback mania (yes, it’s a true epidemic) spread quickly, so make sure you’re ready. - The Jefferson Theater

"Major and The Monbacks Popular In Area With Great Jam Sound"

By Sean Hillegass

With summer coming to an end and their college years winding down, the musical careers of one of the hottest up and coming bands to hit the Tidewater music scene in many years is just beginning.
Known collectively as Major and The Monbacks, the band has swelled in popularity and members, growing from its original two, to nine today, and August marked their fifth anniversary.

The founding members of the band are Norfolk residents Cole and Neal Friedman. The Friedman boys, fraternal twins, have been playing since the age of nine, with Cole playing bass guitar while Neal played guitar, keyboards, and drums.

“I don’t recall a day when Neal and I didn’t jam together at our house during our junior and high school days,” Cole said.

They were greatly influenced by their father Brian, who grew up around music and was a big soul fan. Other than exposing the twins to different types of music that have influenced their sound, from rock, to blues and jazz, their father also helped give them their unique name.

“When dad would tell someone to ‘come on back,’ it sounded like he was saying ‘monback’,” Cole recalled, adding, “and we got the Major part of the name because dad would describe something big by saying it was major, as in major league.”

All nine members are full time college students in their early 20s, with schools from ODU, to UVA, William & Mary, and JMU represented.

What started out in their bedroom has now expanded to nine members, and they have played to packed houses at venues from the Norva to the Jewish Mother.

In 2012, the band released their debut CD titled “Monback House Party.” “The songs on our CD are originals written by Neal but the rest of the band members also had a hand in how we recorded and arranged the songs,” Cole said.

Along with Neal, the Monbacks have three other vocalists and a horn section that will please their growing fan base. Each year brings new fans and success for the Monbacks who hopefully will be around another five years.
- The Downtowner

"Norfolk band Monbacks poised for breakout"

“Monback,” once an abbreviation for “come on back,” now can be heard during fans’ encore chants at venues such as the Norva and the Jewish Mother in Hampton Roads. Formerly known as the Yolks, Major and the Monbacks have landed sunny side-up, recently releasing their first five-song EP, Monback House Party, on iTunes. The EP awaits possible release in local Charlottesville record stores.

Growing from a five- to a 10-man band thanks to the brilliant addition of a horns section and two alternating drummers, the Monbacks have reached “Monback mania” status in Norfolk, Va. Since its high school days, live shows have been the band’s staple — they recently played an impressive seven shows during a three-week winter break.

For now the Monbacks are just looking for a good time, as their EP title implies. But if the opportunity arises the Monbacks say they aren’t opposed to hitting it big — after they all graduate from college, of course. Something of the sort might be in the band’s near future — Veer Magazine recently nominated them the best local indie/pop band. The winner will be announced Feb. 12.

For now, they’re sticking to the small scale. Though CD sales and shows aren’t making much money so far — at least split between 10 people — they’re all satisfied doing what they love, cliché as it sounds. But the band, especially twin brothers Cole and Neal Friedman, don’t always agree on everything. After differing accounts of who “Major” really is, bassist and third-year Commerce student Cole summarized him best as representing “the Monback in all of us.”

Lead vocalist and guitarist Neal writes the Monbacks’ original tunes with a ‘60s pop-inspired sound. Two songs, “All I Wanna Do” and “The Way Things Go,” date back to 2007-2008, Neal’s 10th-grade years. The lyrics, though simple and sometimes cheesy, are always endearing.

In the early days, the group’s songs were a little lackluster. But with the band’s new members and extra practices, their efforts have paid off. Both “All I Wanna Do” and “The Way Things Go” have been revamped to incorporate new vocal harmonies from Michael Adkins and newest member Harry Schloeder, and to include work from the recently added horns section, featuring Woody Marshall on the trumpet and Jay Einhorn — no pun intended — on the saxophone.

“Sweet Pumpkin Pie” and the more recent track “When I’m Rollin’” are both upbeat melodies with catchy lyrics that are meant for dancing. If their beat alone isn’t enough to get you going, Tyler “Teeter” West is, at least at a live show. From hype man to bongo player extraordinaire, Tyler brings more energy — and sweat — to the shows than any other. His constant movement can never be captured on recording.

The recording does not do a live show justice, but it makes for a close substitute. Make sure to check out this up and coming local sound. After making their first appearance at the University in the fall, they may be back. Keep your ears open.

It seems like the Monbacks will be around for sometime: Monback, hollaback. - Cavalier Daily, University of Virginia Newspaper


'Major and the Monbacks' Debut LP, released May 12 2015

"Don't Say A Word" (Single), released March 2014. 

"Come on Home" (Single), released February 2013. 

'Monback House Party EP', released December 2012 


Feeling a bit camera shy



Major and the Monbacks style of music has been highly debated since the band’s inception. Fans and critics alike have argued relentlessly in an attempt to classify their sound. From garage rock to blue-eyed soul, from country funk to Beatlesque pop. Truthfully it’s all of the above and even a little bit more. The band simply calls it Rock n’ Roll.

All born and raised in Norfolk, VA, The Monbacks began their journey as a loose collective of high school friends with a common interest in late nights and loud music. Desperate to escape the impending reality of the 9 to 5 workday, the group decided to hit the open road and play for anyone willing to listen. What ensued was a nine month continuous tour of the Eastern United States that spanned 30,000 miles and 150+ shows in their beat-up, old passenger van. No matter how dark the basement or lonely the bar, it was here in the farthest fringes of the music industry that these ragtag renegades would make their stand. What they initially lacked in musical prowess was compensated for by sheer volume and occasional acrobatics. Nevertheless, their mission to spread the musical spirit and sensibilities of days long gone drove them onwards to hone their songwriting and live performances.

Growing weary of scorching summer days and 3 hour sets, ‘the Monbacks’ gradually turned their attention towards recording. With the help of an extremely successful crowd-funding campaign in early 2015, the old comrades threw together their best batch of original material written over the previous years and split for a recording studio in Nashville, TN. What resulted was a critically acclaimed and award winning debut album released in May 2015 that captured the raw energy of their live shows, sealed on analog tape.

Now with yet another tour under their belts, an ever-faithful cult following, and sold-out venues across their home state of Virginia, Major and the Monbacks are readying to release the follow up to their self-titled debut. They have recruited internationally acclaimed producer Matthew E. White of Spacebomb Records to guide them through the rough waters of the recording process. The resulting album will surely prove to be a Major turning point in the Monback timeline.

Band Members