On the strength of their popular 2012 song “Sweet n Sour” (below), a duo called Mvscles quickly won a deal with Warner Music Group.
Composed of Tarzana couple Paternostro and Chad Montermini, the group had great expectations. But the label deal went sour, leaving them in a protracted battle.
The couple met in Boston in 2010, where Montermini, a Washington-native, was studying percussion and New Jersey-born Paternostro was studying musical theater. They experimented with electronic beats, felt their voices complimented each other, and made a a project out of it. “Sweet n Sour” was their first track, combining Montermini's drum beats with Paternostro's vocals over a burst of poppy synths. It's garnered over 170,000 plays on Soundcloud.
An A&R rep named Travis Rosenblatt signed Mvscles to the Warner, but left not long into their tenure. Following his departure, the members say, they were pressured to change their musical identity, and before long were dropped. (Rosenblatt declined comment for this story, saying he signed a nondisclosure agreement upon his departure from Warner.)
But breaking off the deal became an eight month ordeal, in which the details of the separation were hashed out. During that time, Mvscles couldn't release new music. The pair were now living in L.A., and Montermini took up a job as a mover to ensure he and Paternostro could afford to stay.
Once the deal was finally dead, the duo were finally able to get back the rights to the music they'd made with Warner.
But there were other distractions as well, particularly the odd spelling of their name.
Mvscles emerged around the same time as the Scottish electronic music group Chvrches, who started off as Churches in 2011. While Mvscles was in the midst of their label dispute in early 2013, Churches signed to independent label Glassnote Records, where they ended up changing their name to Chvrches.
[Paternostro thinks that the similarity of their names could have been a reason why Warner dropped them. (A request for comment from Warner was not returned.)
But in any case, the shared “v” has drawn constant comparisons between two acts, who don't really sound all that much alike. Mvscles felt compelled to author a blog post on the matter, hoping to dispel more comparisons with the Scottish band and noting the importance of keeping their original name.
In any case, now that the drama is behind them, Mvscles have been focused on making music on their own terms. “You can do it their way and let the labels tell you what to do and pump those steroids, but we're doing it our own way, eating healthy and just working out every day,” explains Montermini. Their inspiration includes the warm California weather and a shameless appreciation for One Direction.
Today four of their songs, two of which were written under the label, are available, including “Somethin',” below.
They're now focused on releasing a debut album by the end of the year, while planning a music video for “Sweet n Sour.”
As for the “v” in their name? Montermini references the famous Nathaniel Hawthorne novel when he contemplates it. “It's a little weird because we have the scarlet letter now in the music industry,” he says.