Belmont is a pop-punk quintet from Chicago’s North Side. Formed in 2014, the band has garnered a sizable following in the Chicago area. Its latest EP, Vicissitude, was recorded over a three-day period after Citizen vocalist Mat Kerekes invited them to join him and his brother at a studio in Toledo, Ohio.
The result is a high-energy album that blends pop-punk and hardcore elements, reminiscent of bands like The Wonder Years and Knuckle Puck. The Chronicle spoke with bassist and background vocalist Joey Legittino about the band’s formation in Chicago, its latest EP, and what it was like working with some of the bands influences.
THE CHRONICLE: Who are a few groups that influenced you?
JOEY LEGITTINO: For me personally, influences come from an old-school punk background like the Dead Kennedys and Sex Pistols. As a band, it stems from Citizen, The Story So Far, Counterparts, Such Gold and those type of bands that really brought our sound to what it is.
How did the band form?
I’ve known our drummer, Brian Lada, for years because we go to the Glenbrook South High School [in Glenview], and I knew he was a drummer. I asked him numerous times to be in a band with me, and he finally agreed. Amal Sheth , who used to be in the band, reached out to me because he was starting something with Taz Johnson, our singer, and another guitarist. We practiced with another drummer, and it didn’t work out, so we just kind of picked up Brian. He practiced once with us because he was just going to fill in for one show, and eventually he said, “Whatever, I’ll be your drummer.” That’s sort of how Taz, Brian and I came together, and then we switched between three different guitarists before we landed Sam Patt, our rhythm guitarist.
What inspired the band’s name?
Our first month of practices started in a loft on Belmont [Avenue]. We thought, “Hey, this is a catchy name.” It’s one word and it rolls off the tongue right, so we might as well name it after the street we practiced on. At the time we thought, “Whoa, this is pretty pop-punk of us.”
What was it like working with a member of Citizen?
We went [to Ohio] for three days over a weekend. When we walked in, and he came up the stairs, we thought “Whoa, this is the real deal.” Mat and Chris were just two of the most genuine guys. We slept on Chris Kerekes’ floor and just [hung] out. We grew a friendship with them, which is astonishing, and it was one of the first times we ever felt like a band doing something useful.
How did you come up with your latest EP’s name, Vicissitude?
The whole EP is kind of about change. Taz writes most of the lyrics, and [they] really stem from the heart. He was saying the whole EP was about people in his life who have come and gone. He said some were sad and some were good, so we were just thinking of a cool way to include change. Brian had said, “What about Vissicitude?”
How has growing up in Chicago affected the band?
Just seeing Fall Out Boy come out of Chicago, and bands like Real Friends and Knuckle Puck come out of Tinley Park. Fall Out Boy is a huge influence on me now, considering Patrick Stump went to the school I currently go to. If I could say one thing, it’s that the Chicago local scene is the best scene out of any state we’ve ever played in or heard about. We couldn’t be anything without the community support.