Monsterboy LIVES: The Noise Interview
Monsterboy LIVES is one of the most unique sounding groups in the indie scene today. Founded by the husband-and-wife team of Chris Long and Veronica Dirges in Little Rock, Arkansas-based, the band is the very definition of the term eclectic. Mixing sounds from a variety of influences from Classical to Jazz to Rock to Country, they conjure sounds and moods that are fresh and powerful.
They recently signed with Kinetik, APM's artist-driven library, and their self-titled four-track EP is now available for licensing.
We chatted with the duo and talked about their creative process, inspirations, and grand plans.
Tell us about this EP. What was the process like?
Veronica: How we make music is not glamorous. It is, in fact, absolute chaos. We recorded these songs in our living room makeshift studio. We found every studio that we tried in our area just made us sound like something we were not. Chris is more the producer type of person between us.
Chris: No two songs ever come together the same. I wish there were a formula, but formulaic just does not work for me. We take the songs we have recorded and produced and usually send them out for mixing and mastering. All these songs except “Heavy” were mixed by our long-time collaborator Devin Castle. I mixed it myself as Devin was not available.
Veronica: When we record the songs, we do so one instrument at a time. I love being able to play multiple instruments with this layering technique. That way, each part sounds exactly like I envisioned it during songwriting. Translating this to live performances was easier than we thought, and the crowd loved seeing us move from one instrument to another.
Tell us about your musical inspirations.
Chris: I listen to a lot of music, spanning from sugary pop divas to Rock, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Classical, Electronica, video game soundtracks and everything in between. I feel the influences I pull the most from my songs would be Trent Reznor, Yasunori Mitsuda, Akira Yamaoka, Tricky, Björk, Danny Lohner, Chuck D, John Williams, and The Chemical Brothers.
Veronica: My biggest inspiration is Beck, bar none. I want to do a collab. Just putting that out there. He just does what he wants in music fearlessly, and the album he releases is who he is in the phase of his life. It is so honest and authentic. I get his love for weird. Also, Soul Coughing is my everything, definitely because of the weird factor. I do listen to a lot of music that is current, and right now, Miley Cyrus, Lil Nas X, and Doja Cat are all on my current playlists.
You take pride in using vintage instruments. Why is it important to you? Are you an analog/vintage purist?
Chris: Not particularly! We love using new methods of music production and creating new sounds using sound recordings I capture for my samples folder. We love playing all kinds of synths, too, not just old-school analogs. I do prefer playing 1980s and earlier custom electric guitars, so maybe I am a bit of a purist there, but at the core of it all, we are all about bringing the best sounds of the past in conjunction with the best of what we have access to today.
Veronica: Chris says I run a rescue for forgotten and neglected instruments. Weird captivates me. I would say that some of my instruments are a bit quirky to play, but there is a voice that comes with a seasoned instrument. I really enjoy finding that sweet spot and creating a song designed around that one voice. In that way, I am the old soul in our relationship.
Watch Monsterboy LIVE at the Basement in Nashville.
What is the most difficult part of being in an active band?
Chris: Fitting our multi-instrumental rig in a cross-over car without it being a danger if we slam on the brakes. Figuring out where the line between affordable and gross with hotels is and then hoping we are right. It is a dangerous yet rewarding life.
Veronica: Seriously, at this point, it is wearing all the hats. Promoting shows, social media content, writing material, booking our own gigs, updating our riders, and understanding contracts. Hopefully, getting everything, we need to get done and still having room for creativity. I do look forward to having team members that can handle tasks that we do not need to be doing directly.
It looks like the music industry survived the tech and piracy disruption in the late 90s and early 2000s. Is it better now or worse?
Veronica: Honestly, it is simply different. It is worse for some and better for others. I personally like the new model quite a bit. Gatekeepers kept a lot of people from thriving who they did not think were thin, young, or perfect enough to resonate with audiences. I love all the nonbinary, curvy, and authentic stars we see now. I love the fact it is now the audiences themselves that make these decisions. We can determine when we create, put out new work, and tour. These partnerships work a lot better for our independent spirit.
How did you get involved with the APM Indie Artists initiative?
Veronica: This industry is all about relationships and work ethics sprinkled with a little bit of luck. I would not suggest anyone else do what we did. However, here is the story. I honestly cannot believe this worked after hearing how unacceptable this doing is normally seen, but sometimes you just get lucky.
So, there was this guy named Eddie Wohl that was in this Facebook pop producers' group. I had joined the group to learn from the producers doing sync, a bit of a fly-on-the-wall situation. Well, Eddie and I felt the same way about quite a few things, I sent him a friend request, and we started messaging. After I mentioned that tv and film placements were one of the things we were looking into but that we were an actual band, he shared with me he had worked in the sync industry for years. He asked me to send a link to our material, so I sent over a playlist of fifteen songs. He laughed and joked that he should have asked me to send my complete catalog. Me missing the sarcasm, followed that by a Dropbox file of eighty additional rough takes and pieces of songs that we had been working on.
I will say once again, do not do this. The industry standard is one to three songs. You will never hear from that contact again. Eddie decided to listen anyways, as I had built rapport through the group interactions. He was surprised by what he had found and told me he found himself being taken to various places by our music. He told us he wanted our work in AMP. He did eventually make it through all the songs.
Tell us about your gigs in 2023 Chris: We just played The Basement in Nashville last April 4 and we will be at Flux Festival twice this year. BMI and the Arkansas Festival and Events Association have been great to us by helping us find opportunities to reach new stages. Listen to Monsterboy LIVES’ EP HERE.