Hello Christian and Sean. Thanks for doing this.
Can you tell us how Monster Movie formed and how you decided on the name?
Sean – We originally formed as The Geeks in about 1988 or 1989 – we were a joke where we live. We formed as Monster Movie in 2000 but in many ways I still of us as The Geeks and I think a lot of other people do as well.
Christian – We had been doing bands since we were 17 or 18. When we started ‘The Geeks’ Sean was the only person who could play an instrument. Even though we couldn’t play, we didn’t have any songs and we couldn’t be bothered to rehearse we still decided to do gigs. Things have hopefully improved a bit since then. We tried to do another band in the mid 90s, we had a few reasonable songs, but we didn’t get things moving. Then in 2000 we were so appalled by the music we were hearing on the radio that we decided to pollute the market further. I think ‘Monster Movie’ got off the ground because we booked a weekend in the studio, and therefore had something to work towards. Otherwise nothing would have got done. We chose the name ‘Monster Movie’ because we were enjoying some kraut rock style bands at that time. It’s not a very good name, but we’re stuck with it now.
To the Moon is a fantastic cd. Can you tell us a little about the recording process of the disc? How do you approach the music before you go in to do final recording?
Sean – Thanks. We demo most tracks at home so we’ve got some idea of where we’re going, then a few more tracks will appear whilst we’re recording and at some point it makes some kind of sense and then we stop.
Christian – It seems like ages ago since we started on ‘To the moon’, so it’s hard to remember…but I don’t think our process changes much. We just make up a bunch of songs and record them.
What made you pick these particular songs for this disc? In particular, I would like to know how “Colder Days” made it on the album since it stands out in terms of style?
Sean: That’s not something that would occur to us until we read it in a review. We tend to write about 10 to 12 songs – usually a couple will get dropped & a couple will get added. We also like to make up an instrumental whilst we’re in the studio to break things up. ‘Colder Days’ has got our mate Dave doing the guitar part so it may sound different because a brilliant musician is playing – I think earlier songs that we’d written in that style had our messy guitar playing on so they sounded more like us.
Christian: I guess it is a different kind of tune from what we might usually come up with. I’m a limited guitar player and I wanted to do a song that was more picky, can’t remember why, but probably I heard something in that style that I liked. Also if you are recording an album you become worried that things sound samey, so that’s why it’s a bit different sounding.
My favorite song on the disc is “1950da.” Can you give us some insight into the writing and constructing of that song in particular?
Sean: That’s my favourite as well. It’s our ‘tribute’ to the Velvet Underground. We recorded the drums & the guitar together – that’s a pretty basic thing for most bands but it’s a big deal for us. Then we layered stuff until it was as good as it was going to get. Then we stopped.
Christian: Can’t remember anything about the writing of the tune. It must have been an accident. I saw a documentary about “1950 DA” and it was quite interesting to hear about these scientists who are working to make sure this huge asteroid doesn’t collide into Earth in about 800 years time. I thought it would be a fun and different thing for us to sing about, entire destruction of civilization.
Do both of you have a certain way that you approach songwriting in general? In your opinions, what makes a great song?
Sean: We’ll both bring bits in & then make an album out of it. I tend to bring a lot in because I’ll chuck most of it out. I don’t think about what makes a good song – if I feel a change of temperature in the room when we’re trying something, I’ll chuck it out (the song, not the room).
Christian: My process of writing is more artistic than Sean’s methods. Usually I just strum an acoustic guitar whilst watching TV with a lot of snacks nearby, occasionally I might play something that sounds interesting and then a song follows shortly after. That hasn’t happened that much lately because my acoustic guitar is broken and I have mainly been studying. Our songs are always very simple in structure, almost remedial. I think I’ve mentioned before that we are the opposite of prog rock, not that there is anything wrong with prog rock, it’s either good or funny.
I’m really not sure what makes a great song, but it would really help me out if I could find out cos I would like to rattle one or two off and then retire on the profits. It is quite interesting that some bands can manage to do one amazing song, and then can’t ever repeat it, was it a fluke? Then there are other people who just have the ability to knock off great songs all the time. I really like it when you hear a brand new song that has an amazing melody, I always think how come nobody thought of that one before?
What do you see as the future of Monster Movie?
Sean: I’m afraid I don’t think about that either. We’ve got little interest in money & I’d rather not be known by anyone so I guess we’ll just keep going until we find something else that keeps us from topping ourselves.
Christian: I would like us to do more records. I think that one day we could do something good, but I just hope we can find people who will want to put out the records or however it works these days. It would be really nice to be able to record an album properly.
Do you see any progression or difference in sound or style between To the Moon and your new disc coming soon, Transistor?
Sean: Yes, all our records are a reaction to the previous one. I’ve just spent a lot of time messing around with it so I’m too confused to comment beyond that.
Christian: I think on ‘transistor’ we are trying to keep everything simpler. A couple of the songs are more folky acoustic sounding, and there are also some simple breezy pop songs as well as a couple of instrumentals. Rachel from Experimental aircraft is coming in a few days to help out with some vocals. I’m hoping that her vocals will add something extra and new to our sound. ‘Transistor’ is an experiment for us as we have recorded the whole thing in Sean’s spare room. I think apart from “accidentally” deleting one song in the process, it has been really successful, I prefer it to ‘to the moon’.
Will you be coming to the states anytime soon to tour? Has Monster Movie played much in Europe?
Sean: We’ve never played live as Monster Movie & I doubt that we will. I don’t really see us as that kind of band – I’ve certainly got no interest in ever being clapped or anything like that. We’re not very well-adjusted people so we set ourselves attainable goals like ‘get into the car’ & ‘drive to work’ & ‘don’t expose yourself in restaurants’ – we make the best album we can then we have a sleep & then we make another best album we can.
What are your favorite albums? Are there any artists in particular that influence or inspire you? Are you reading anything or is there any author that inspires you?
Sean: I buy & listen to everything but mainly I listen to David Bowie, the Velvet Underground, Big Star & the Only Ones over & over. I think we’ve got a vague idea that we fit in somewhere – there are a lot of old people in bands making scruffy sounding music like Yo La Tengo, Grandaddy etc but we realise we’re a million miles below them.
I’m reading ‘Crime & Punishment’ – I’m a chirpy guy.
Christian: I guess Similar to Sean I really like David Bowie and The Velvet Underground. I also like some Brian Eno, Simon and Garfunkel, The Pixies, early Elton John and stuff like that. I don’t read so much because I spend reading time studying. The last book I read was Ian Botham’s autobiography, and before that it was Ronnie O’Sullivan’s autobiography. Nothing intellectual for me.
What are you listening to now?
Sean: I’m trying The Libertines out – I’m a sucker so if a band looks good I think they sound good – they seem alright, I’ll give them a bit longer. The last Rufus Wainwright album was really good. I play ‘Station To Station’ by David Bowie a lot. I was listening to Sparks this morning. So basically if it’s camp or on drugs I like it. Also, our mates Dreamend (guitars) & Vector Lovers (no guitars, bleeps) have great albums out – we’re hoping to go into the charts above them though.
Christian: My favourite album I’ve heard this year is ‘shadows collide with people’ by John Frusciante, I just heard it playing in a record store and bought it. I had no idea he’s the guitarist in Red hot chilli peppers, because I don’t like their music at all. There isn’t many albums that I like, mainly I just like songs, if I like 3 or 4 songs on any 1 album then I consider that decent. Yo La tengo are really good, I look out for their new records. I really enjoyed The
Flaming Lips last album. The Dreamend album is good.