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 NYC.
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 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 record deal in the eighties playing in a hair band.
After auditioning several horrific drummers, Nastasi asked Ryan Zygmont, a friend from his hometown, 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 to support the record, Lindsey decided to leave the band to pursue a solo career.
Once again, the band was auditioning singer. 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 started.
Tim Bluto had move to Belgium and had been having some success with the band Leech he had joined after moving their 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 and completed at Nastasi’s home studio. The final question was what to call the band. After a lot of bad names, they settled on Mara Donis, a completely made up name with no meaning at all.