Hypnotic sounds, unforgettable melodies, and intricate arrangements equals a musical potion that makes the saying “better living through chemistry” ring true. All Night Chemists is the brainchild of front man and multi-instrumentalist Len Monachello, who wrote, recorded, and produced their self-titled debut album.
Brooklyn-based, Len was one-quarter of the band Thisway. Signed to Reprise Records, their debut album was released in 1999 and produced by David Kahne (Fishbone, Tony Bennett, Sublime, Paul McCartney). Heralded as “a signpost to alternative pop perfection in the new millennium”, Thisway brought their Brit-Pop inspired music to the US and Europe by touring with bands such as Supergrass and Echo and the Bunnymen. Their sophomore effort was recorded in Liverpool, England with producer Ken Nelson (Gomez, Badly Drawn Boy, Coldplay) and remains an unreleased, undiscovered treasure.
Len’s passion for music may have been determined at birth. Len’s father, an accomplished musician, gave music lessons from their Long Island home and ran his own music store (building custom cabinets for Kiss, Peter Frampton & Foghat). He taught Len the guitar when he was 4. “Music just seeped into my life,” Len says. “My parents never forced me to play. This left me to find my own way on the instrument, which is probably why I love it so much. I learned songs from my parent’s Beatles and Cream records and then started digging deeper into their collection, scratching the hell of out everything, till they finally put the albums on cassette for me, to spare them any more abuse.”
In addition to the guitar, Len learned to play drums in the school marching band and taught himself piano on an old upright in Woodstock NY said to have been played by Rick Danko of The Band. “Throughout college I continued to play and composed mostly instrumental guitar pieces on a four track. When I moved to NYC and started playing in bands, my approach to songwriting became more focused.” Len’s collaboration with other singer-songwriters, including Thisway band mate Brandon Wilde, helped him hone his craft as a songwriter and expand his vocals and musicianship as well. “I started writing more as Thisway was winding
down. I wrote “Silent” when Thisway returned from Liverpool. I set up my own studio to demo songs and then went overboard producing them. One song led to another and I realized I had an album. I always have songs at different levels of completion, which
allows me to rotate the tracks and come back and finish them. The production evolved with the songwriting. It’s hard to resist adding the parts I hear before the actual song is written.
When asked what makes a good song, Len says, “Anything that you(the listener) can connect with, the groove you feel, the lyricism, the tone of the guitar. You need to have some kind of physical or mental reaction.” Add to that a chemical reaction.