Exclusive Interview: KAYA Star Cory Monteith

By: Amrie Cunningham

All this talk of striking writers is bringing me down; who’s with me?

That’s why, this week, I thought it might be nice to talk to someone who’s making a name for himself in many of our favorite shows, Cory Monteith. Some may know him as Charlie Tanner, from “Kyle XY” (you know, Amanda’s ex, the cheating jerk?); others, like me, are loving him as Gunnar, the totally awesome drummer from the band Crossing Coldwater on my newest guilty pleasure, MTV’s “Kaya.”

For those of you who haven’t caught the show yet, or who aren’t sure what the deal behind it is, here’s a few things you need to know.

Kaya is the lead singer of the band I mentioned – Crossing Coldwater. She and her band mates Gunnar, Taylor on guitar (Justin Wilczynski), and Manny on the bass (Joe MacLeod) went platinum with their first album, which was distributed on an indie label. They’ve since signed a major record deal with one of the biggest labels in the biz.

The record label is trying to turn Kaya into Gwen Stefani when Gwen Stefani went solo and her band isn’t too happy about it. They seem to forget the fun they used to have when they were just a new band, starting out.

Kaya and Gunnar used to go out. There’s still some unresolved tension there, but Kaya tends to set her sights on other guys, like Eric Benet’s character T and other band member Taylor.

Kaya’s dad manages the band, her mother left them a little while back, and her sister died in what appears to be (though it hasn’t really been shown fully yet) a horrific car accident. Dad is kind of a jerk. I’m interested to see the inevitable Mom returns episode, and the sister keeps coming back in hallucinations to talk some sense into Kaya.

It’s a nice way to pass the half hour on a Monday night – get caught up in a rock star life that we all would love to have!

And now, a little insight into Cory’s life, including why he’s playing Gunnar, why roofing is a good fall back career, and his recent purchase that makes driving on the freeway a piece of cake.

What about Gunnar made you want to play this character?
I think the fact that he goes back a long ways with Kaya, and he is a drummer. It doesn’t really get better. He has a really good storyline with the lead character and he’s a drummer; because I’ve been playing drums all my life.

It’s nice to see that you are an actual drummer, and that’s why it was important to you.
It was, it was a very important part of casting for MTV and it was a very important part of what was really sweet about the job as well.

I’d imagine you play all your own parts, as well?
The songs were engineered as the scripts were engineered before I showed up. But on performance, on the day, yeah, it’s all of us really playing all of our own stuff. It’s pretty cool what they put together because everyone plays their own instruments quite proficiently.

Any chance of it ever becoming a band that goes out on tour?
I would hope to go that way with it. I think that we’ve all discussed it as actors, like the whole cast of the show was like, this would be an obvious opportunity. If the show ever gets successful, or for MTV to take the opportunity, we would all love to, so I would hope that they do.

How far into shooting are you? Is everything done?
Yeah, we’re completely wrapped. We wrapped in September – there are 10 episodes in the season. The pilot, and the further 9.

Broadening the scope a bit, what made you want to be an actor?
It actually found me. I was at a loose end, and someone suggested that it would be something that I should take a look at, and pretty much offered me free acting classes. On a whim, I was so like “this might be cool”, I was skeptical at first. I don’t really see myself doing community theatre, so I really don’t know why I would take acting classes, you know what I mean? I was 20, and it just sort of jumped in my lap, I just ran into someone who know an acting teacher and he referred me to classes. It was suggested to me that I had potential and if I were to pursue it, then I could probably be successful. I had nothing else going on in my life whatsoever at that point; I was a roofer, I was a cab driver. I was doing nothing, right, so I just completely pursued it. I just moved to Vancouver to pursue it.

That’s really great – Vancouver is a really great hotspot for new actors and struggling actors to kind of find something, invent or reinvent themselves. It seems like you’ve gotten a lot of little roles here and there, and you’re really starting to build a catalog for yourself.
Yeah it’s been a really great experience for me in Vancouver. I think a lot of people, exactly like you’re, saying, I think we’re at a very good place for people to get started.

And will we see you back on Kyle XY?
I have no idea if you’ll see me back. I hope I get to go back to that show. I know that they’ve wrapped season 2, and I know that they have plans for 2.5. Whenever I’ve been available, which I haven’t been, because I’ve been doing Kaya, right? But whenever I’ve been available, they’ve given me a call. Whether it’s actually worked out or not, which it hasn’t recently because of Kaya. When our availabilities meet up, we get me back on the show.

So you’re gone but not forgotten.
Exactly. They put Charlie in the closet until he can get out.

You’ve been in the business now for about 5 years; who are you dying to work with? Who are your favorite actors?
Oh wow. That’s the question of the ages, right? That’s tricky. There’s so many good actors, it’s hard to pick one.

I put you on the spot, right?
Yeah, I have to think about that. There’s the greats. I see an actor like Kevin Spacey and he does so many films and he’s different in each one of those films and he’s interesting in each one of his films. But there’s so many actors like that. There’s Christopher Walken and there’s so many terrific actors that it’s hard to choose a favorite.

Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
The nature of this business – I could end up as a roofer again.

We hope you don’t have to go back to doing roofing.
You know it really wasn’t all that bad. I kind of liked it. You got to work with your hands, and it feels like you’re accomplishing something concrete every day. I think being in the creative arts can be abstract sometimes. The construction is quite concrete.

It’s always a good fall back career!
Yeah I guess so [laughs].

What shows do you watch when you have downtime?
I am working on Entourage. It’s a fun show. I don’t watch any recent or hit television. I’ll watch Entourage and stuff, but it’s all on DVD, I really love Nip/Tuck, I really love Six Feet Under.

Back to Kaya for a minute, for fans, or new viewers to the show – why should they watch it?
I think that Kaya is a fun show. You get to watch the ups and downs of a young star. Not have to shave your head or sell your soul for a record contract. You just have to watch it on television.

You can live vicariously through the band.
Yeah, you can live vicariously through Kaya.

You sound so centered. You’re not taking anything for granted, and you seem to understand where you fit in.
I don’t need to be wildly famous for my life to make sense. I guess I’m kind of happy where I’m at, and I take whatever comes and it’s a good thing. So I think what I’ve already been given, as far as being able to do these shows, is such a blessing. It’s really cool to be able to do it. It’s not a job that a whole lot of people get to do. It’s a lot easier than construction.

Is there anything else you want fans to know?
This interview while Cory was driving going 94MPH on the I-5.

I’ve been on the 5, and I’ve done that same thing, so I know it’s not an easy task.
I just got a radar detector at Best Buy before I left LA, so I’ve been able to speed, safely and successfully.

It’s nice to hear from a fresh voice, sometimes, isn’t it? Let’s hope he made it home in one piece, no radar detector malfunctions or unfortunate police interaction! Keep your eyes on Cory – I have a feeling only good things are going to come his way!

Catch up with Kaya on MTV.com or on Itunes. Next new episode hits MTV at 10:30 on Monday night, following The Hills.

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  • Kay

    Like you, this is my newewst guilty pleasure and I regret to inform you that I believe MTV has canceled the series. It doesn’t show up in any of the listings for the next 2 weeks. It comes as no surprise that MTV hasn’t announced the cancelation because they usually take shows off the air without a peep (oh, Taquita and Kaui, how I miss thee!)

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  • Me

    one of his favorite shows at this time was nip/tuck? karma karma karma. and good god kaya was a crappy show