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Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Band Rock EDM


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Contestant in 'Best Emerging Artists of 2011'"

In winter of 2012, Milano was chosen to be a contestant in The Deli's 'Best Emerging Artists of 2011' poll contest. - The Deli Chicago

"The Deli Chicago's Best Emerging Artists of 2012"

Milano was ranked as one of Chicago's top 12 emerging artists of 2012. - The Deli Magazine

"The A.V. Club reviews new EPs from Tiger Bones, Milano, and Glittermouse"

Milano, Gloria EP

“A Day Is Gonna Come,” the raucous first track off of Milano’s latest EP Gloria, is, in a word, exciting. It’s refreshing to hear a young band capable of producing a sound big enough to warrant being a six-piece, and throughout the remainder of the EP, it’s Milano’s more grandiose and loud moments that make them unstoppable.
Singer/keyboardist Jon Guerra is something special, with the vocal range and musical chops to take the manic gypsy swing of songs like “So What?!” and “Come On, Come On” past Gogol Bordello comparisons and give the band its own catchy, signature sound.
However, it’s the album’s title track that is its most impressive. On “Gloria,” the band’s violin section swells to an orchestral climax that supports Guerra’s voice while not overwhelming it. Whether the band is aiming for spazzy weirdness or anthemic polished pop, Milano doesn’t disappoint. Who knows? The band’s confident musicianship and songwriting abilities could make it Chicago’s next big thing. - A.V. Club

"Best of Chicago 2011: Best Local Rock Band"

Milano was voted as best local rock band in Chicago Reader's "Best Of" issue in the summer of 2011.

Best Local Rock Band: The Lawrence Arms
Runners Up: Disappears, Milano - Chicago Reader

"Discovering the Undiscovered - Milano"

We’re pleased to introduce of June edition of Discover The Undiscovered; please meet Milano. In a literal sense, Milano is a family affair comprised of six members: a husband and wife, two sisters and three friends.. The band draws influences of rock, folk and electronic, which creates a refreshingly sophisticated combination of raw talent, multi-faceted musicianship and compelling live performance.

Although a young band, Milano's sound is both mature and distinct. Blending piano, violin, accordion, and four vocalists into the quintessential rock band recipe, the Chicago band toes the line between calculated drama and happenstance festival. Milano's "gypsy rock" sound interweaves instrumental arrangements, call-and-response harmonies, soaring lead vocals and a heavy rhythm section that goes beyond the typical 4/4, 3/4 rock formula, yet a prominent unifier pierces through the avant garde elements - Guerra's voice. His vibrato, range, and tone gives Milano its haunting sound.

Milano released their debut three-song demo, "Zombie World," in 2009. Their five-song "Gloria" EP was released October 30, 2010, and the band is currently preparing for a summer 2011 east coast tour.

Interview questions:

Who are your main influences?
Jellyfish, Bjork, Jon Brion, Nosaj Thing, Danielson, the future, happy wedding receptions, our sound man Alan

How did you meet?
I had a crush on Valerie and told her that if she dated me we could start a band and go on tour together. She bought it. Luckily, I was already a songwriter and had some very talented friends that I was dying for an excuse to play with.

What is your biggest achievement as a band to date?
Probably getting runner up for Best Local Band in Chicago Reader's Best-of competition summer 2010. Runner up always kinda sucks, but my consolation is that we lost to a band who has a hit song called "the shamburglar" or something like that. I didn't have to read that twice. We learned our lesson.

Where did the band name originate?
A friend got really really drunk at a New Year's Eve Party. He sloppily said that I should start a band called Milano. For whatever reason, the name really struck me, and I had no idea what it meant. I knew it wasn't the alcohol because I wasn't drinking alcohol at that point in my life. I liked the fact that the word was a bit elusive and that I was drawn to it despite my ignorance of its meaning (or of its subliminal references to a movie star, bite-sized snacks, and Italy). I believe art should be an end in and of itself, stirring us despite our ignorance. I want our music to be that. I also believe there is severe, hot blooded beauty waiting to rupture from the most ill-fated circumstances. I need to believe it. The pretty name came from a blind-drunk teenager and that, in a way, affirms it. If you really knew the six of us, I think our songs would confirm it too. I hope so at least.

Favorite Bands?
The Beatles, Radiohead, Rufus Wainwright, Bob Dylan, anything Jon Brion touches.

Plans to Tour?
We're going out to the east coast two different times this Summer (Aug 3-18) and Fall (Sept 9-17). We can't wait.

June 30 - Cornerstone Festival (Busnell, IL)
August 4 - Rohs Street Cafe (Cincinnati, OH)
August 5 - Kobo (Columbus, OH)
August 9 - R Bar (New York City, NY)
August 11 - Sierra Grille (Northampton, MA)
August 12 - Ingraham House (Bristol, CT)
Sept 9-10 - Middlewest Fest (Dekalb, IL)
Sept 14-16 - Kobo (Columbus, OH)
Sept 22-24 - Midpoint Music Festival (Cincinnati, OH)

Plans for next release?
That ball is definitely rolling. It's going to be called "Festival" or at least sound like that name would be appropriate.
- Filter Magazine

"Best of Chicago 2010: Best Local Band"

Best local band: MOS Scocius
Runners-up: Milano, The Sweeps
- Chicago Reader

"Milano - Gloria EP Review"

I first heard about Jon Guerra and his merry band of musicians a year ago. On a return visit to the UK, an old friend of mine gifted me with a copy of Milano‘s Zombie World EP. If a bunch of socially conscious gypsy rockers decided to write show tunes, then that EP would be central to the production. The songs were catchy, convicting and adventurous. This year sees the release of a second EP, Gloria, and listeners are in for a treat and a challenge. Let me tell you up front, Gloria might be the freshest thing I’ve heard all year; chock full of melody, clever lyrics, riffs, musical diversity (Gypsy Prog Prophets is a moniker they’ve recently earned) both stylistically and instrumentally – it’s all here. You need to go and listen.

And in the midst of it, this Jesus loving guy drops an f-bomb.

Some people maybe just left the site, never to return. I mean, how could I recommend such an anomaly of nature right? Because everyone knows one thing for sure: Christian’s shouldn’t cuss. Sadly, the context of the aforementioned f-bomb is pretty important to its use. But too late. Only you brave souls left reading get to know that an interview with Mr. Guerra is coming very soon to the blog, and we’ll be talking Christ, culture and cussing. Should be a blast, eh?

Whilst Zombie World had as its core issues of consumerism portrayed in the metaphorical undead, Gloria has a focus on a future culmination rather than present distress. Opening with the fist pumping “A Day Is Gonna Come”, Guerra displays a growing clarity and range in his vocal which on the previous recording had some of the wildness of Jeff Buckley’s live performances, but is now displaying greater control and coherence.

“Gloria”, the title track, is all exultant joy, infectiously drawing us into the narratives of lives encountering the majesty and glory of God. Dripping luscious harmonies, rich string parts and stadium sized rock soundscapes, this is music on a grand and epic scale, the kind that makes you sing along until singing is no longer possible.

Then the crazy gypsy vibe arrives in full force, but these gypsies have Eastern European flair to their music as “So What?!” comes bounding out from the speakers. Guerra cites Taraf de Haidouks as the band that started the gypsy influence for him. As if to highlight the moment as dramatically as possible, Milano take this wild and crazy dance into a loungey breakdown as Guerra croons, “If you’re mouth is running close it shut/ I may only say this once/ So listen up/ Everyone in this room is f**ked up/ Everyone is…/Everyone is…” I haven’t had the chance to talk with Jon about it yet, however, from the musical construction, this was no off-the-cuff moment, but instead an intentional declaration of what is really true. Without Jesus, we’re all a mess.

To break us from the shock of realization comes the dynamic “Come On, Come On” which begins sparsely but soon drops a firm beat and bass. The chorus has the zombie sway of their former EP and delivers a little extra aggression to the mix. These songs are going to connect with diverse audiences and surely raise the bar on the level of excellence Christians should aim for in any creative endeavor.

To end things comes the beautiful “A Holy Song” where strings, banjos and more emerge to lead us into the climax of a dazzling display of artistry, juxtaposing with this lyrics that speak to judgment, betrayal and more; though not surreal, the lyrics are not always clear in their meaning drawing you into closer examination and, personally, self-examination. It just goes to show that sometimes beauty is not comfortable, nor should it be.

Expect to see this on my list of highlights of the year, and consider getting lost in Milano yourself. - Reflective Musings

"Artists Build The Church"

Inside a dark theater in the center of Chicago, the frontman for Milano sits at the piano, illuminated by only a dim spotlight. He begins singing a composition based on Psalm 127.

I work for a wage but my pockets have holes

He won’t leave us, He won’t leave us

I’ve seen a lover betray and I am she

He groans out for you, he groans out for you.

It’s Sunday morning. Jon Guerra is leading worship at The Line, as he does every Sunday. But he is not a music pastor. At The Line, an Acts 29 church plant in Lincoln Park, they do things differently; Guerra is their artist-in-residence.

The Line was planted in 2009, and the artist-in-residence program began shortly thereafter. It was a product of two uniquely gifted people—Jon Guerra and Aaron Youngren, The Line’s lead pastor—coming together under a unified determination to tear down the walls between church art and city art so that music can freely flow between the venues.

Jon Guerra (photo by Joe Lieske)

As The Line’s artist-in-residence, Guerra (pronounced Gare-A) receives a livable income simply for making music. Though he is not a music pastor, Guerra leads worship on Sunday mornings, often playing original compositions or creatively rearranged covers. He also disciples other artists in the church. Aside from those responsibilities, he is set loose to create. He spends his days writing music, studying theory, editing recordings, and reading the Bible. “I can make my schedule around writing music,” Guerra, 25, said. “That is a dream come true.” And it’s a dream that both he and Youngren have worked hard for.

Guerra, the son of a pastor, was raised in Wheaton, Illinois. He began writing music in high school, and in 2004, he formed the band Scarecrow Garden. The band’s popularity quickly swept throughout the Chicago area. They entertained various contract offers with Warner Brothers, Virgin Records, and their subsidiary labels while performing all over the United States. But as quickly as the band formed, it broke up. In the aftermath, Guerra enrolled at Moody Bible Institute, where he studied historical theology. When he graduated in 2008, he tried to dedicate himself fully to his new band, Milano, while also working various jobs to pay rent. It was a tough balancing act.

Meanwhile, as Guerra was making his way through school, Aaron Youngren was in Seattle quickly climbing the corporate ranks of Amazon. Though successful in his work, Youngren’s real desire was to plant a church in an urban hub that would cherish art as revelation and value artists as spiritual leaders. Being an artist in his own right—a musician and a writer—Youngren had long struggled to reconcile the seemingly off-kilter role the arts had played in his own church experience, and he hoped to correct that at The Line.

“We never say ‘something is missing in my Christianity because your voice isn’t there,’” Youngren said. “We never say, ‘I want to see artists who are theologians and leaders who will teach me something about God that I otherwise wouldn’t understand.’”

What Youngeren was frustrated by is exactly what painter and founder of International Arts Movement Makoto Fujimura mourns in his must-read essay, “A Letter to North American Churches”: “An artist’s relationship with you has not been easy; we are often in the margins of your communities, being the misfits that we are. . . . Instead of having quality artists at the core of your worship, we were forced to operate as extras; as in ‘if-we-can-afford-it-good-but-otherwise-please-volunteer,’ Extras.”

Youngren, the son of church planters in Ecuador, began to see artists through a missiological lens, thinking of these “misfits” and “extras” as a lost tribe.

“Modern missiology says you don’t value a tribe or people group until you go in and preach the gospel,” he said. “But at some point you have to hand it off to them and then sit under them and learn about God.” Youngren hoped to plant a church that could specifically minister to artists and clear a place at their feet where the entire congregation could sit and learn from them.

So in January 2009, Youngren, his wife, and three children moved from the Pacific Northwest to Chicago to plant The Line. One of Youngren’s hopes was that The Line could ask and then affirmatively answer the question: “Can the art that is present in the world be redeemed and be a part of the church?” By “redeemed,” Youngren doesn’t just mean hung up on the wall, but fundamentally changed from the core so that, as he said, “everyone can respect it and see it right alongside the rest of art and know that it’s different.”

Many churches in Youngren’s past had been aware enough to ask this question, but answered it negatively, believing refined art is not appropriate for a church setting. “In other words,” Youngren said, “We can turn the amps up, we can make it sound more modern, but when it comes to things like abstraction, impression, and subtlety, we think they are best left outside the corporate church setting.”

The poet Luci Shaw has also noticed this trend, and in her essay “Beauty and the Creative Impulse,” she expresses her concern:

The church has given considerable attention to Truth and Goodness, to theology and ethics. But too often beauty has escaped us, or we have tried to escape from it. This is partly because of its innovative, experimental aspect, its way of reaching for originality or a new way of expressing an old standard. In many Christian circles this is felt to be dangerous; the pursuit of beauty is seen merely as an option, and a seductive one at that, because beauty can be neither controlled nor programmed.

Despite many churches’ fear of artistic impression in a corporate context, impression is often how God works. At The Line, they look to Abraham for their theology of impression. When God called Abraham and first told him he was going to make him into a great nation, he didn’t sit him down and say, “Here are my promises 1-5, sign here.” Rather, God said, “Abraham, come outside. Look up.” Abraham gazed into the luminous Middle Eastern sky. As he was contemplating the stars, God continued, “See how amazing that is? That’s what I’m going to do with you.” God started with impression and then moved to propositions. He directed Abraham’s attention to his handiwork, and then asked him to imagine the impossible.

In his essay “The Imagination: Its Function and Its Culture,” George MacDonald writes:

In truth, a very wise imagination, which is the presence of the Spirit of God, is the best guide that man or woman can have; for it is not the things we see the most clearly that influence us the most powerfully; undefined, yet vivid visions of something beyond, something which eye has not seen or ear heard, have far more influence than any logical sequences whereby the same things may be demonstrated to the intellect.

The church should foster imaginations, but they must be wise imaginations. At The Line, artistic excellence is always paired with spiritual maturity. Becoming more Christ-like, not just better artists, is its main priority. “If we ‘re not doing the hard work of studying Scripture and taking care of our own spiritual lives, why in the world would people listen to anything we put out?” Guerra asks. “There needs to be a well from which we are drawing, and that well needs to be rich in the truth so that we aren’t given to vagueness or heavy-handedness.”

Together for a Purpose

Shortly after arriving in Chicago, Youngren began his search for a mature Christian, a theologian, and a public artist who was making art that could hold its own in the city and enrich his church. He didn’t want the history and tone of evangelical culture to shape The Line’s worship. He wanted the church to reap the benefits of an artist who was creating within the context of the Chicago music scene. Knowing how difficult it could be to find someone who could straddle sacred and secular music, Youngren expected to be looking for a while. So when he met Guerra at the second church meeting he held in his apartment, he was skeptical. Could he have found his artist so easily?

Milano (photos by Joe Lieske)

As Milano shows filled to capacity, Youngren carefully observed Guerra, getting to know him as a Christian and as an artist. Not too long after their initial introductions, it became undeniably clear that God had brought Youngren and Guerra together for a purpose. Youngren approached Guerra and made his proposal: The Line would support Guerra with a salary, and in return, Guerra would continue making great art and shipping it into the city.

The financial strain of such an arrangement on a new church is no small matter. In fact, the program initially began as a patron program, in which The Line asked those within and without the community to financially support Guerra. Papers were written to explain the theology behind the methodology, websites were made, and the vision was cast. But in the end, only a few signed up as patrons while the rest remained unsure about what their money would actually be buying.

Despite the discouraging response, Youngren persisted. “We decided that we were going to have to do this regardless of if anyone got it,” he said. And so even with a tight church-planter’s budget, The Line chose to prioritize its vision for the arts by funding Guerra without any patrons, hoping others would follow.

The challenges to such a program are not only fiscal. Perhaps the biggest difficulty with launching the program was leading the congregation into unchartered, artistic territory.

In most evangelical churches, many view artistic expression as being merely supplemental to other forms of revelation and understanding. Its centrality to worship is muted.

Put another way, “This practical modern world is prone to conceive beauty as an extraneous luxury,” Charles G. Osgood writes in “Poetry as a Means of Grace.” “We do not think of it as an integral and inseparable element of our living, as did the Greeks; or as did the Christians for many centuries. . . . .Beauty is an indispensable and logical part of practice and worship in the religious life.”

Because many don’t treat art as an integral part of living or worship, they do not know how to experience God through creative impressions and musical abstraction. They don’t know how to receive art unless it is spelled out plainly.

At The Line, it wasn’t any different. Since its beginning, Youngren and Guerra have worked tirelessly to coach people on how to read and listen critically, how to understand the tones and backdoors through which beautiful truths and experiences of the gospel can enter. As Youngren and Guerra helped their congregants mine the depths of impression as part of a worshipful experience, the people submitted themselves to it, and they grew. “It was a wonderful, wonderful process,” Youngren said. “The rewards! The rewards are so great!”

Before attending The Line, Sarah Lee, a 26-year-old elementary school teacher who has been at The Line since February 2009, had for eight years attended a church in the suburbs where the worship was mostly traditional hymns and contemporary Christian music. She says that when she first came to The Line, she was a little uncomfortable. “My personal taste didn’t jive with Jon’s vocals or music style at all, so everything seemed so melodramatic!” But through the leadership of the church—the preaching and the music—she has grown in her understanding of God through a growing understanding of the arts.

I particularly remember a Sunday when Jon and the crew were playing “Gloria.” The powerful dynamics of the lyrics to the glorious orchestral sounds brought me to my knees, and I was more worshipful than I’d ever been before. Corporate worship took on a greater meaning to me from that point on. We preach God’s transformative power through the Word and the gospel; shouldn’t the music be just as powerful? There are times when a melody brings me to tears because I’m in pain with the impossible beauty captured in the sound. Then there are times when the thumping beats of one of their electronica-renditions of an old hymn have me and even unbelieving visitors really listening to the words for the first time and carried away to a place where we’re truly celebrating with our every being as the author had originally intended.

Jon Guerra leads worship at The Line (photo by Joe Lieske)

Joe Lieske, a 22-year-old photographer, was initially suspicious that what was happening at The Line was authentic. “I spent some time in the Emergent church, so I had learned to doubt if what I was hearing was real or just pretentious,” Lieske admitted. Now attends The Line regularly, sometimes helping Guerra lead worship or making coffee on Sunday mornings.

When Les Rorick, a 25-year-old actor, started coming to The Line, he was surprised to find himself rooting for Guerra as an artist, challenging him to push his music to new limits. Rorick admits that he has never felt that way about a worship leader before. “I always gave worship leaders a huge latitude of grace, thinking that, as an evangelical, the text is more important than how it sounds. But now I’m in a process of finding a balance in that. Finding that the sound is an expression of other attributes that are important, like goodness and beauty.” Text remains important of course. But, as Rorick has learned, artistic impression, wordless conduits of truth, are also of great value.

‘Through the Eye into the Eternal’

In his letter to North American churches, Fujimura writes: “An artist’s task is to see through the eye into the eternal, into the invisible.” So much of God’s truth is located in the eternal and invisible. God is in the sublime, but the sublime is often only accessed by artists. To inadvertently push artists into the margins, then, is to limit a congregation’s experience of God to the finite realm of mediocrity. Artists ought to be central to any church body, because they can reinforce these unseen truths in people’s souls. Guerra is well aware of his responsibilities as an artist and does not hold their power lightly. “It’s a gift to participate in the searing of truth in people’s lives,” he says.

The Line is on a mission to give back to the church a voice that has long been muffled, the voice of artists who lead in the church. “There is an undiscovered richness of the character of God that we will find when we are led by this particular tribe of serious makers and artists and when we submit to that,” Youngren said.

Submitting yourself to this tribe is not limited to attendance at The Line, or churches with a similar elevation of artists. Anyone can submit to beauty and art by simply learning to appreciate it. Learn how to read a novel or a poem. Learn how to listen to music and experience a painting. Support the artists in your community not just spiritually but also financially. Seek out creative and unsolicited ways to do this. Attend a Milano concert or buy their new EP. Purchase a painting or attend a friend’s show. By supporting artists, you are co-collaborators with them in creativity and truth-searing. And remember that, as Fujimura pointed out, “the first people known to be filled with the Holy Spirit were not priests, kings, or generals, but artists named Bazelel and Oholiab, who built Moses’ Tabernacle.”

We need artists who can build the church, and others who are willing to fund the construction. “We need artists who are strong, who are free, who know their story, know their songs well, and can lead people into our freedom dance,” Guerra urged. And we need people who will follow them. - Gospel Coalition

"Milano- Zombie World"

Are you walking through life, feet dragging, drowning in a sea of people, often feeling alone? Do you think there is a measure of stability and independence that is equivalent to success in life yet always seems just out of reach? Do you know that there is something worth fighting for yet you wander as you look for a place to draw a line in the sand? Do you, like John “The Savage” in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, struggle to fight for a more meaningful life against all that wars against you? Then consider Milano’s EP an antidote to your anesthetized “Brave New World.”

Hans Mosicki and Alissa Strattan start the EP’s first track off with a playful waltz that is quickly turned eerie by the clatter of drumsticks like dancing bones and Jon Guerra, a haunting ghost crooning the melody. Guerra then slams his listeners with a call to a deeper perspective on life and a suggestion of higher expectations. As flesh is put on the skeleton of this call he is joined by a chorus of those who have been made wiser by the passage of time. The song builds as chorus wails, “Wake me up with plenty of time to process. How we got here and how the hell we are getting out.” If the goal of this first track was to take the listeners somewhere, and feel a sense of urgency, then it succeeded. But, where do we go from here?

Empowered by the call of the EP’s first track, Guerra’s ghost is no longer dancing. Rather, he is marching to the beat of a war drum while assembling a troop of rebels who have heard the call as well, in the title track, “Zombie World.” Mosicki leads this song with a rock solid groove. As the song enters its chorus, a detuned and octaved electric guitar, and Guerra’s soaring vocals back Hans. “This is my zombie world, free world? A coup d’etat we will bring, we will bring.” With this, Jon, “The Savage,” corrals all those who have been awoken from their anesthetized slumber into his battle march. Guerra’s prophetic calls queue Valerie Strattan to bring the song to its anthemic conclusion as it enters the bridge and all the parts synchronize to her violin. The song fades out to Guerra screaming prophetic pleas on the tails of a final chorus.

In the third and final song we find “The Savage” pleading, praying in desperation for his awakened heart’s desires. The rest of Milano supports these prayers with clashing, yet contemplative instrumentation. I found myself most closely identifying with the tenor of this song. Having been brought through the angst in the EP’s first two songs, this song answered those feelings with a white knuckled determination. The music brought me to my knees as the lyrics echoed the crys of my heart in prayer.

Milano put a soundtrack to the call to live for something far greater than someone can reach for on their own. Yet it never feels preachy. The music and lyrics seem to walk together through all of the songs each serving the other and contributing to the direction of the EP as a whole. This life’s got soul, if you can bear to fight for it. You can buy their EP on iTunes, or listen to it here. Keep an eye on Milano. If their next work is as good as this one, I see bright days on their horizon. - Pop Damage

"Local Q&A: Milano"

At first glance, Jonathan Guerra, founder and frontman of gypsy-tinged rockers Milano, might appear to be a fan of Halloween macabre. This is not the case.

Despite titling the band's debut EP “Zombie World” and littering new song “A Day Is Gonna Come” with ominous lines such as “the living will be dead,” Guerra claims to never have seen a horror film in its entirety. It's far more likely that the sextet's latest EP, “Gloria,” being celebrated this weekend with an album release show at Subterranean, is divinely inspired. “I continue to probe deeper into these spiritual things,” says the 25-year-old Edgewater resident, who studied historical theology at Moody Bible Institute. “I'm finding the story of redemption and hope resonates with my soul.”

By phone, Guerra discussed his nomadic upbringing (he was born in California and raised in Texas before his family settled in the Chicago ’burbs), his first Halloween costume and why he enjoys dressing up for performances.

Listen: “A Day Is Gonna Come”

Your last EP was called “Zombie World.” Are you a fan of zombie films?

I'm not. It comes back to wanting to perpetuate that idea that we can spend a lot of our time disconnected from the realities of life. That's where the zombie metaphor comes in.

So you're more from the George Romero school of thought? The zombies in his movies are always a metaphor for something else; in “Dawn of the Dead,” the undead lumbering around the shopping mall also function as an attack on American consumerism.

Exactly! I'm all about that ultra heavy-handed metaphor. I am kind of a budding fanatic of that stuff just because it's so melodramatic.

Was Halloween a big deal in your family when you were growing up?

Not really. I always went to the softened Halloween events like Harvest Fest, where you rode on hay wagons and found candy in [piles of] cotton balls.

Have you ever dressed up for Halloween? When was the first time?

I never did the costume thing growing up. [The first time] must have been a couple years ago with my now-wife. We were Dwight Schrute and Angela from “The Office.” [The band] might actually dress as zombies for this show, so it's not completely out of the bag.

Are you drawn to that theatrical element of dressing up for the stage?

Yeah. I guess fundamentally I believe performance is theater, whether you're performing music or doing a play. I think you need to adopt a theater of yourself if you're going to be up on display for people. There's really no other place where it's appropriate for you to prance around singing about something you believe in and not get thrown into an insane asylum.

What drew you to historical theology as a field of study?

I was in a band [Scarecrow Garden] that had a reasonable amount of success when I was 18, but I felt like all the songs were about nothing. I've always been interested in theology and spiritual things, so I thought it'd be the most interesting. In a lot of ways, that's loosely in the center of what I write about now. I want to perpetuate these stories of beauty and redemption and hope. It might sound a little bit dramatic, but I'm kind of a dramatic person.

When you formed Milano, did you already have that gypsy-rock sound in your head?

There's this gypsy band from [Romania] called Taraf de Haïdouks I got into as [Milano] was starting up, and it's just stunning music. There's just something about the spirit of the gypsy or the nomad that resonates deeply with me.

Does that have anything to do with how often you moved around growing up?

I never considered that, but perhaps. It's probably an important piece of information that my parents are both immigrants (Guerra's father immigrated from Cuba and his mother from Argentina). We never really had extended family; we were moving around so much it was difficult to stay in touch. It was always just me, my mom and my dad. But this gypsy rock-slash-electronic kind of sound we've arrived at could just be due to my own musical bipolar-ness. I tend to be all over the place.

Andy Downing is a Metromix special contributor.

Jonathan Guerra Personality Test

What's the last album you bought? Janelle Monae: "ArchAndroid"
Song you've listened to on repeat recently? None. “I don't listen to songs on repeat, which my wife hates.”
Song you never want to hear again? Any sing-talk song by Ke$ha
Best concert you've seen in the last year? Jonsi at the Vic Theatre
New band you don't know personally that deserves to be big? [Chicago trio] Dozens
Favorite movie ever? “I'd rather answer my favorite film composer ever: Jon Brion or Jonny Greenwood.”
Chicago's best music venue? Subterranean. “I love the venues that respond to emails with some semblance of politeness. The House Call Entertainment folks are great, and they book Subterranean.” - Metromix


Festival EP (2011)
Love, Milano Single (2011)
Gloria EP (2010)
Til I Die - Acoustic Single (2009)
Zombie World EP (2009)



Milano comprises six members: a husband and wife, sisters, and three friends. In a literal sense, Milano is a family affair.

The lead singer/songwriter, Jon Guerra, whose live performances have drawn comparisons to young Thom Yorke and whose compositions have been compared to Rufus Wainwright and Arcade Fire, started the band in 2009. They were described by Chicago's "Metromix" as "gypsy-tinged rockers." Drawing from rock, folk and electronica, Milano is a refreshingly sophisticated combination of raw talent, multi-faceted musicianship, and compelling live performance. “Whether the band is aiming for spazzy weirdness or anthemic polished pop, Milano doesn’t disappoint. Who knows? The band’s confident musicianship and songwriting abilities could make it Chicago’s next big thing,” says The A.V. Club Chicago.

Milano has been featured in many of Chicago's most reputable publications (including being named runner-up for the "Chicago Reader's Best Local Band" in 2010 and 2011), and their following continues to increase. Milano returned from their first self-managed tour of the Northeast during summer 2011 and, due to the fan-building success of the summer tour, they are planning another Northeast tour for summer of 2012.