Morningside Lane, an alternative/pop punk band, originated in Bergen County, New Jersey in 2009. Since then, it has spread its sound waves to the corners of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Many of us in New Jersey might recognize this group from its appearances across South Jersey and Asbury Park. The group has been nominated for two Asbury Music Awards (Best Music Video and Best Pop-Rock Band) in 2015 alone. These awards are pretty impressive for four “regular” guys from Fort Lee and Palisades Park, and this is only the beginning for Morningside Lane.
Starting out in local coffee shops and at open mics here in New Jersey, this band has grown into a tour-crushing force with a lot of rock power. Marc Del Giudice (lead vocals, guitar), Jon Khan (lead guitar, vocals), Ori Yekutiel (drums) and Jake D’Onofrio (bass) have brought their sound to places they’ve never anticipated. Khan also happens to be a senior political science and law major as well as a public administration minor here at Montclair State University. Khan and Del Giudice are founding members of Morningside Lane and have watched the group develop from its beginning.
Morningside Lane has cultivated its pop and soul roots with the assistance of veterans in the industry. Ted Young, Grammy-winning sound engineer (Arcade Fire, Gaslight Anthem) and Pete Steinkopf (The Bouncing Souls) are two of Morningside Lane’s early mentors. Currently, the band is signed to Super Sick Records, a record company based out of the United Kingdom. The group has a lot of excited things planned for this upcoming year.
Khan sat down with The Montclarion and let us in on some exclusive details about the band and what fans can expect in the future.
Montclarion: What is it like being a student and a member of a professional rock band?
Khan: I play an administrative role for the band in addition to playing [my instrument], so that gears me up for managing my school work. School comes easy to me after booking tours, maintaining professional yet personal relationships with clients, other students, professors or other bands and venues. It’s the same concept with different titles. My time management has improved significantly through this. Going to school has also made me more articulate in approaching people. I feel like I’m Superman or Batman sometimes with all these separate identities. By day I’m a student and by night, I’m in a pro band, but they all mix together in the end.
Montclarion: What was the moment when things changed from playing with your friends to being a professional band?
Khan: Our perception of who we are hasn’t changed. We do things on a professional level right now, but we’re doing the same things we’ve been doing. The point where you go from local garage band to a more sophisticated, experienced group would have to be going on tour. That’s when you separate yourself from small-time to professional. Of course, no matter what, you can’t be too cocky or hard on yourself.
Montclarion: Who are you as a guitarist?
Khan: I’m totally biased towards the Fender Jazzmaster. It’s my favorite guitar. I’ve also used the Fender Stratocaster. Both are great, but I’m on the Jazzmaster now, and it’s totally where I’m at. It serves me pretty well. [Laughs]
Montclarion: What do the four of you bring individually to your sound?
Khan: I love this question. Marc and I have fluid chemistry. It’s very easy to work with each other. Marc has soul and an old-school feel, definitely. It’s almost sentimental. Highly conceptual. I’d say I bring more of a contemporary, punk, modern-rock influence. Ori is on drums, and no matter what Marc and I will throw at him, he knows which rhythm works and which doesn’t. He’s great at catching what our listeners will appreciate from the rhythm section. And Jake is an extremely progressive bassist. He’s never afraid to experiment. Some bassists will stick to what’s expected and deliver the same chords. Jake is always pushing himself as a player.
Montclarion: How do you know when it’s time to write a song?
Khan: It’s a natural process. Marc will bring something in — chords or anything really, the skeleton of a song. We’ll hear it out and start improvising, get a rough song together. We produce so much material, record to record, that we overlap, and the writing process never stops. It’s always good to branch. It’s always time to write a song.
Montclarion: You’ve cited Bruce Springsteen, Elvis, Bob Dylan and James Brown as your major inspirations. Who are your biggest influences?
Khan: When we were in New York City, Ted Young, who won a Grammy for his engineering skills, mentored and engineered us. We never knew how to record a record before we met Ted Young. He taught us everything. Working with him totally established our standard of working. Being with him taught us to hold ourselves to high expectations and high performance rates. Pete Steinkopf is a part of the underground basement scene in New Jersey. Nothing like playing the Stone Pony or the Hard Rock Café. Pete plays with The Bouncing Souls who have blown up rightfully so. Pete has served as a main component of the ‘Souls’ and has played some of the biggest and coolest festivals in the world. I consider Pete to be the king of the Asbury Park scene. He’s shaped our sound and connected us more to our Jersey roots.
Montclarion: What do you love most about playing New Jersey?
Khan: New Jersey has a reputation for having one of the best music scenes next to Philly. Playing a show with a great crowd is the most rewarding. Going on tour pushes our boundaries. To see people you’ve never seen before singing the lyrics to your music — it’s a feeling you can’t replace.
Montclarion: How would you describe the Asbury Park scene?
Khan: The music scene in South Jersey/Asbury Park is, in my opinion, stronger than the one in North Jersey or New York City. We’re more connected to authentic rock roots. It’s a DIY community—a do-it-yourself community. We’re creating the music and the audience ourselves. There is a huge street scene rooting for you — vouching for you.
Montclarion: How do the crowds in the UK and Canada compare to the crowds in your hometown?
Khan: Oh, you can definitely see the difference between European crowds and local crowds. People abroad are more willing to let loose. It’s also a different energy because when we’re out of the area, people see us differently. We’re representing bands in New Jersey within a 45 minute- set. When we’re home, our audience is mostly our friends who know us and hold us to a higher, more personal standard.
Montclarion: What has it been like working with Super Sick Records?
Khan: They’re awesome. We started working with them in 2014. I love everything about what the label stands for and the people who run the label. They’re down to earth [and] don’t ask for too much. They just want us to make music, and they take care of us. When we’re in the UK they take us in, bring us to barbeques and all that stuff. We enjoy working with them.
Montclarion: So what can fans expect from Morningside Lane?
Khan: For the Montclarion, we’re going to announce something that no one knows yet. We’ve been working on our first full album as well as planning our upcoming tour. We’ll be playing from New Jersey all the way down to Florida, finally concluding with Nashville, Tennessee, Ohio and Pennsylvania through late June. We’re in the process of recording our first LP. We’re really taking our time with it. It will be out in the fall or winter of 2016.
Montclarion: Congratulations. What will be the title of the album?
Khan: Thank you. It’s called “Bloodlines.”
Montclarion: Great name.
Khan: It just rolls off the tongue. [Laughs]
Montclarion: It does. What do you want fans to know about “Blood Lines?”
Khan: I want fans to know that it’s going to be raw — like raw meat, raw — rawer than anything we’ve ever done before. It’s some of the best stuff we’ve done, musically. We’re self–recording it with our own engineer. We’re working with a guy named Chris Hammil, who’s great. It’s going to be different.
Morningside Lane has upcoming performances on Apr. 22 at Maxwell’s in Hoboken and Apr. 23 at Shame Shack in Franklin Lakes. Fans can visit the band’s Facebook page for more announcements.