This week’s sweet new music comes courtesy of the curiously-titled, Californian trio Monster Treasure. Their sun-soaked location presents itself comprehensively – however subconsciously – in their sound, with its hazy melodies, irresistable scuzzy guitar and glorious harmony-laden hooks. When you put all these things together, their self-assessment of “fuzzy mermaid punk” starts to make sense – and it’s infectious.
With a new album, II, and a UK tour both scheduled to kick off in October, we catch up with singer Briana to find out more about the band, the new album and what they’ve got in store for next.
Can you introduce yourselves – where are you from, who does what and what are your roles in the band?
“We’re Monster Treasure and we formed in Stockton, California. Rachel plays bass and sings, RJ plays drums and I (Briana) play guitar and sing.”
How did you guys meet and start making music together?
“We’ve all been good friends since high school. Rachel and I started a band called Friday Night Massacre (don’t judge!), with a friend and Rachel’s little brother. RJ played guitar in his band called Tranquil Youth. We all hung out a lot and went to local punk shows in Stockton almost every weekend. After high school, RJ and I were in a band called Rabbit Rabbit with a couple other friends – that was short lived.
Over the years we all moved in and out of Stockton until 2011, where we all ended up back. Rachel and I lived together, and RJ was a good friend so we all decided to start Monster Treasure out of pure frustration, boredom and the need to play music. We would jam in the living room for fun at first, and soon after discovered we had a good chemistry working with each other and sincerely enjoyed the music we were creating. We started writing and developing songs and playing some shows in Stockton and Sacramento, CA. We soon recorded our EP with Ben Herschfield in Rachel’s grandma’s basement. Ever since, we’ve just kept going! We never thought it would take us anywhere, but we knew we enjoyed it. We’ve realised we can write good songs, play fun shows – we’ve got to do a lot of cool stuff and we’ve met a lot of amazing people, and here we are six years and two LPs later.”
What were your key influences/inspirations in getting the band together?
“Since we all grew up together playing music and going to shows etc, it just seemed natural to start a band together since we were still good friends all back in Stockton. At the time when we started, Rachel and I lived together and we were struggling with where we were in life – really angry, frustrated, confused and feeling lost. So it was definitely therapeutic to play music with each other. Not just that, but we each inspire each other too, with the songs that we all write and the way we all play. Kind of an unexplainable thing/magic or whatever.”
What’s the story behind the name of the band?
“We love Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet. They have a song called Big Baby, which is named after the graphic novel by Charles Burns which they read from at the beginning of the track. We were all listening to it one night in my car and it just seemed right. The story is just so good and ominous, plus the band and the artist/author are both amazing.”
How would you describe your sound in three words for people who’ve never heard you?
“Um. Fuzzy mermaid punk?”
What makes you special/different to other bands out there?
“We can’t really say we’re special but we’re definitely different. We feel like maybe we are special sometimes. Sometimes we get to do things that just blow our minds, and we can’t believe that we are so fortunate. We’d like to keep it posi and say all bands are special and different in their own way like beautiful snowflakes.”
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What’s the story behind new album II, and how did it come together?
“This record is a lot like the last record in that it’s basically half songs that Rachel wrote and half songs that I wrote. We only collaborated on one track together. RJ pretty much takes the wheel in the drum department and he rules. We got word from Leisure & District that we needed to record and the songs weren’t all exactly finished or polished by any means. So, this time recording was interesting in the sense that a few of songs had barely been rehearsed/were brand new or last minute, but luckily it worked out fine. We learn a lot every time we go to record with Ben at Nu-Tone Studios in Pittsburg, CA and we always love working with him. It was a long mixing process, we were all traveling, Ben got violently ill at one point, life happened, etc. We recorded it in the beginning of April of last year, so we’re so relieved and happy it’s all finally coming together!”
What were your key influences on the album, and what drew you to the themes it covers?
“We usually just write about what we’re feeling at the time.”
What’s your favourite story/anecdote from recording the album?
“RJ was eating a nasty piece of cake and I punched it out of his hand ‘cause I’m a problem child. Ben played the saw. After we finished, we drank margarita pouches. I also had a luv affair with a cardboard cutout of Marty Funkhouser.”
What, in your opinion, is the stand-out track on the album?
“We love all the tracks! We notice that people like Searchers a lot. And by ‘people’, we mean Rachel’s cousin, Ed.”
What do you hope people will take away from the album, and your music in general?
“Not sure what you can learn from our music but we really like that individuals each have their own interpretation of a song. We had to write down the meaning of our songs recently and it was hard for us because some we weren’t conscious they even had meanings. It’s a little triggering. Hopefully people can find something to relate to or find comfort in or just enjoy in any way.”
What’s been the highlight of your time in the band so far?
“Any time we release music, travel, meet nice people, play a great show – they are all highlights.”
What are you most looking forward to about the future?
“We’re excited about our tours coming up! Pacific northwest US! And then UK with Slowcoaches, we can’t wait to watch them live a bunch of times.”
What do you have planned for next?
“Release the album, tour and try not to freak out!”
Monster Treasure’s new album, II, will be released on 6th October via Leisure & District and is available for pre-order now. Catch them on tour at the dates below:
17 Oct: Old Blue Last, London, UK
18 Oct: Studio 2, Liverpool, UK (w/Slowcoaches)
19 Oct: Soup Kitchen, Manchester, UK (w/Slowcoaches)
20 Oct: The Rocking Chair, Sheffield, UK (w/Slowcoaches)
21 Oct: Lending Room, Leeds, UK (w/Slowcoaches)
23 Oct: Think Tank Underground, Newcastle, UK (w/Slowcoaches)
24 Oct: Broadcast, Glasgow, UK (w/Slowcoaches)
25 Oct: Bodega, Nottingham, UK (w/Slowcoaches)