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Altered Tunings - Mara Donis
Buy Altered Tunings


LABEL: Altone Records
RELEASE DATE: 04.02.2013
FORMATS: Physical, Digital

Band Members

Tom Natasi: Guitar
Tom Bailey: Bass
Tim Bluto: Vocals
Ryan Zygmont: Drums


Originally formed in 1994 as a Nirvana cover band, it became quite obvious that there was only one Kurt Cobain, as months of auditions for a singer became pointless. Finally after no success, the band decided to start playing originals.

Founding members, guitarist Tom Nastasi, bassist Tom Bailey and drummer Mike Haar formed the alternative rock band Martha Dumptruck on the lower east side of NY.

Starting off playing grunge rock, Nastasi saw an opportunity to start working in a unique style of playing guitar in tunings that he made up over the years himself. Within a year of forming, Mike Haar left the band due to the fact he only wanted to pay covers after having a major label record deal playing in an eighties hair band.

After auditioning several horrific drummers, Nastasi asked Ryan Zygmont, a friend from his hometown of Stamford CT, to join the band.

Now the only missing piece was a singer. Once again, after months of auditions, they settled on Monty Lindsey, a former metal singer from Illinois, living in the UK who had moved back to the US to continue his career in music. Martha Dumptruck started recording songs for their first record. The music was a combination of heavy grunge, punk and what was being called Alternative Rock. The influences ranged from Nirvana, Kiss, Sonic Youth and U2. Their first record was done as a demo deal with Sony Studios. The record was completed and released in 1996. After local touring support for the record, Lindsey decided to leave the band to pursue a solo career.

Once again, the band was auditioning singers. This time the crop seemed to be more talented and the band auditioned a singer named Tim Bluto. Tim wrote to 5 different songs and Nastasi was very impressed. Unfortunately, as democracy would have it, the band decided to keep looking. Finally, by the time they decided to ask Tim to join, he had formed his own band Orbis, but Nastasi knew he would eventually get him.

At that point, the band realized Martha Dumptruck was destined to be a three piece instrumental band, and that’s the way it remained until 1999. By that time the band had almost 100 songs recorded using over 16 original tunings which helped hone the sound of the band.

After a 7 year break, Nastasi call the band together to start their second album. This time, Nastasi knew who was going to sing before they even started. Tim Bluto had moved to Belgium and had been having some success with the band Leech he had joined after moving there in 2001. Tim and Tom had remained friends until he left but thanks to social media, they reconnected and Nastasi asked him to sing on the album.

Altered Tunings was tracked for 3 days at Carriage House Studio in Feb 2012 and completed over the next few months at Nastasi’s home studio. The final question was what to call the new venture. After a lot of bad names, they settled on Mara Donis, a completely made -p name with no meaning at all, except keeping the original initials of the band, MD.


My 21st 2013 by Jeff Sisk for triblive.com


“Altered Tunings” is more than just the name of the latest album from the alternative rockers of Mara Donis. It also sums up the quartet's approach to making the 12-track release. Their blend of rock and pop is augmented by unique tunings of their guitars for every song on the album. That must make live performances challenging, but it works on the album. “Homer,” “Modern Geeks,” “Towering Inferno,” “Target Practice” and the wonderfully titled “Beatles in Utero” are the keepers here, and I can't wait to hear more from this band.

May 2013 from babysue.com

If you dug the sound of alternative/underground guitar bands in the 1990s, there's a good chance you'll totally dig the happenin' sounds on Altered Tunings. These four guys have a loud refreshing sound that is vibrant, energetic, and inspired. The band is comprised of Tom Nastasi (guitar, guitar synth, keyboards, bass), Tim Bluto (vocals), Tom Bailey (bass), and Ryan Zygmont (drums, percussion). The range of sounds and types of expression on this album are impressive. Rather than going for one sound or style, the band seems to consider each song a statement in and of itself. As such, these guys deliver songs that range from hard rock to thrash to mid-tempo rock to pop...and no matter what style they're playing they sound convincing and real. If you dig big groovy guitars...you'll get plenty of 'em here. Eleven kickass tracks including "Homer," "Target Practice," and "Froggs."

April 9 2013 By Turrtle for entertheshell.com

The heavy hitting quartet Mara Donis, and their new LP Altered Tunings, immediately strikes the listener with a barrage of sound and warm feelings, akin to popping in a beloved 120 Minutes bootleg. The sound is raw and visceral, with chugging riffs and hardcore attitude that share more in common with 70s hard rock and Mudhoney than with modern day hard rock strutters and practitioners. However, there is also a delicacy and power-pop sensibility that elevates Altered Tunings into a beast all it’s own. Recorded in 2012, the  Mara Donis sound is a combination of rock, pop and strangely tuned guitars, (unique tunings for each individual song), giving the record a distinct, wall of sound sonic texture. Paired with a mixture of sweet and sour vocals, these elements combine to form a sound that acts as a bridge to the past, while simultaneously offering a glimpse into the future.

For fans of hard-driven, alternative rock, Mara Donis are proudly waving the flag, and  are here to recapture the purity and honesty that made it a great musical movement. Altered Tunings is their mission statement…check it out.



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