Remembering Orlando musician and activist Eric Montanez | Orlando Music News | Orlando

Click to enlarge

Photo by Jacquelin Goldberg

Eric Montanez in front of Human in January 2022

Orlando musician Eric Montanez passed away late last month, and his loss will be felt by our city’s punk and broader music scenes for years to come.

Montanez died in a car accident near Bithlo. While reading the reports — in a shockingly short and direct way — and trying to reconcile those with Montanez’s outsized influence on Orlando’s music and punk activist communities just didn’t connect. We’ve put together some thoughts on Montanez to hopefully give a better picture of him as a musician, activist, friend.

Orlando Weekly readers will be immediately familiar with Montanez as the larger-than-life leader of Orlando’s death-metal ensemble Human. Of the many local projects spawned during the pandemic, Human was arguably the most notable.

The band – Montanez (bass/vocals), John Farran (guitar) and Josh Dulcie (drums) – came out the door with a moniker paying homage to Orlando Death metal icons and a stellar album of vicious death-meetings. metal-grind songcraft.

Their first album, Extinction Delights, was released by the Philly Silence is Death label (run by Orlando expat Jake Smith) in 2021 as a series of cassette tapes that quickly sold out. The album got a proper vinyl release earlier this year – and is always available and highly recommended. human music impressed a lot far beyond the bounds of area code 407 with their fusion of overwhelming sounds with socially conscious and (to our ears) compassionate lyrics. Human didn’t play much locally, but when they did, they weathered a storm with Montanez up front, going wild.

“Eric was bigger and louder than life. He was shameless himself and that was his gift to the world,” Farran said. Orlando Weekly. “He inspired people not with words but with actions. ACTION. He was truly radical, a lover of life and all that comes with it. He will be sorely missed.”

Prior to Human, Montanez was in several other notable Orlando agit-punk projects, including BlacBloc, which later morphed into Republicorpse.

“BlacBloc were the kings of the anarcho/crust/grind/activist punk scene in Orlando,” says Orlando music archivist Joshua Dobbs. “[They] were definitely responsible for the next crucial wave of young punks. I know for a fact that Eric was the key to that inspiration and for the rest of his life.”

Click to enlarge Eric Montanez - Photo by Rob McGregor at Golden Tone Studios

Photo of Rob McGregor at Golden Tone Studios

Eric Montanez

Montanez’s punk ethic and activism didn’t stop when one song stopped. He was for many years a committed member of a local Food Not Bombs chapter that fed homeless people at Lake Eola Park.

“There was never a hierarchy in the history of Food Not Bombs, but he was definitely the glue that held us all together in a time when Orlando punks never went alone,” Sabra Starr said. , friend and colleague of the FNB. AH.

At the age of 21, Montanez was arrested by local authorities for allegedly odious crime of feeding people in need, but kept coming back to do the work.

“It’s not about me” said Montanez at the time. “It’s about everyone together, building a real community and being there for each other.”

Orlando Food Not Bombs filed a lawsuit in federal court, challenging the legality of the city’s ordinance under which Montanez and his co-workers were arrested and won, although it was later overturned on appeal by the city of Orlando.

“He cared about oppressed and marginalized people and injustice. He tried to do good in the world, according to his values,” Food Not Bombs colleague Ben Markeson said in an email to OW. “He was a good friend to many who I know will miss him and who regret not growing old with him in their lives.”

“In his celebration of life [last] On Monday night, there were over 250 people from all parts of Florida and other states, all the way to the West Coast: punks, ironworkers, people affiliated with Food Not Bombs, white-collar workers, people from the music industry, people from all walks of life. of life, race and religion and he had touched all of their lives in one way or another,” his mother Darlene King said. AH. “It was amazing to see everyone there for him and tell story after story of how Eric changed their lives and how they tried to do better in their lives because of his influence.”

“To say he will be missed doesn’t speak to the emptiness where his laugh was, but his spirit lives on in the hearts of the people he touched and nurtured to help us grow,” Starr said. “He lives in our humanity and our compassion for each other and for the earth.”

Stay up to date with Central Florida news and views through our weekly newsletters and consider supporting this free publication. Our small but mighty team works tirelessly to bring you news from Central Florida, and every little bit counts.