Looks, they’re what we base our first impressions on. We’d all like to say that we don’t and pretend we’re above that, but we aren’t. So when I laid my eyes on Hello Monster, I thought; here’s a band that’s going to be a demolition match in my stereo. I was completely wrong as they’re music was like some of my favorite fellas, Back Pocket Memory; smooth vocals incased in rock.
With only one song from their upcoming release P.S. I’m Home to strike my interest, it’s going to be a long few weeks wait. So while we sit here twiddling our thumbs, let’s enjoy these back and forth words between myself and the guys of Hello Monster. It’s all about intimidation, culprits and Smurfettes? Wait, what…
Kendra: Just to get this out of the way, last year your San Francisco banned nudity in public. I want to stress that this was just last year…Thoughts on that? Because I’ve been on your buses and they get pretty packed and just the thought, excuse me while I head towards the nearest trashcan…
Bill Bergstrom: I dunno, man. Haters gonna hate, nudists gonna nude, right? Honestly, in the last year, I haven’t even noticed that much change. As a daily commuter on our public transit system I’ve learned two concrete lessons: never sit down, and wash your hands as soon as you possibly can once you get off the bus. When you grow up with the occasional naked guy sighting, you just kind of get desensitized to it I guess.
Kendra: Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, on to the good stuff, the music. As you near the release date of P.S. I’m Home, are you getting nervous for everyone to hear it? I imagine it’s like that first day of school feeling.
Paul Gimenez: We just have to be confident that even if it’s not for everyone (because, really, what is?), we know that lots of people will really enjoy it. Being a band of optimists, we have to believe that it’s going to be well received.
Joey McKane: I still haven’t heard it, so I’m more nervous than all the other guys put together.
Bill: For me it’s more like the night before Christmas; you know you’re going to wake up and it’s going to all excitement and you’ll think you’re one of the luckiest kids in town.
Kendra: Home in the title, and the idea of identifying who you are with where you are in the first single “Be Where You Want To Go,” I noticed a place theme, so if the record’s sound could be likened to anywhere in the world, where would that be and why?
Sid Slater: Rio de Janeiro – Beautiful, exciting, and a little bit dangerous.
Joey: Yeah, and at any moment, a cartel could come in and swoop you away, and you’ll wake up in a bathtub full of ice.
Paul: We definitely love the connotations associated with “home,” the one place that can guarantee comfort and stability. The album is largely about the instability of the world, and of relationships, but in the end could be anywhere.
Bill: But really it’s the Outer Sunset district of San Francisco. Three of us all live within three blocks of each other, so that neighborhood is the nerve center of our lives and of our bands. Plus it’s by the beach, for what that’s worth. Anyone who knows what’s what would want to live there.
Kendra: You guys have a very light sound, but you look like you’d be giving me some Senses Fail. Have you all ever experimented with those harder styles like screamo and hardcore?
Bill: Jeez, you make us sound like a yacht rock band or something just because we still mostly play in standard tuning. We used to do some heavier stuff back in the early early days of the band, but it just didn’t suit us. Plus, Paul’s got the voice of an angel, so you gotta flaunt what you’ve got.
Sid: Funny you should mention that, considering we all just went to the Senses Fail show at Bottom of the Hill a couple nights ago. We haven’t gone that direction as a band, but some of us have gotten pretty heavy in some other projects. There’s definitely a place in our musical hearts for those styles, it’s just not really where Hello Monster found its sound.
Kendra: A little more about the behind the scenes of P.S. I’m Home. Was it intimidating working with a producer like Erik Ron given his resume?
Paul: Intimidating? Absolutely not. He’s pretty much the nicest guy a band could hope to work with. That said, we were incredibly impressed both by his proficiency and expertise.
Bill: Going into it, things were a little intimidating, but once we talked to Erik a few times, we were totally at ease with him. He’s an absolute pleasure to work with. He’s quick, efficient, and has amazing ears. Plus he understands the balance of work and play, so after we’d finish up for the day, we’d end up at a bar with him, or even at his house playing video games. He’s just another dude about our age who likes the same things we do, so it was a great time down in SoCal with him.
Kendra: Do you even question a guy like that when he makes suggestions?
Paul: You do have to question the people you work with regardless of their credentials. Ultimately, it’s your music and you know the sound you are looking for. Erik was extremely receptive when we did have concerns, but because Erik has fantastic taste, there was usually little need to question him.
Sid: Like Paul said, he has such good taste we rarely felt the need to.
Kendra: What do you have in store for the CD release show on May 17th, a lot of new, little bit of old?
Sid: We’re so transparent! Dammit!
Joey: I’m hoping to take the opportunity to finally unveil the rock opera based on the life of Jack the Ripper that I’ve been working on. I’ve been trying to get the guys to go along with that one for a while.
Bill: Mostly new, probably a little bit of older stuff for the die-hards who have been with us since day one to sing along to. We’ve got a new cover tune in the works that we might debut that night. Other than that, it’s just going to be a high-energy show with some great bands. We haven’t played out for almost six months in anticipation of this show, and I’ve even started exercising so I can power through the whole set.
Kendra: You’ve got a lot of ties with Culprit. They too worked with Erik and they’re playing that May show with you, are you two in talks to do a bigger tour together soon?
Bill: Here’s hoping so. We got to bro down with them a little when we were down in SoCal recording, and it turned out that Zach and Travis are longtime friends with our old drummer, AJ. We’re thrilled to have them on the bill with us, and we’ll go on record as saying here and now: if they’re down to tour, we’re down to tour.
Kendra: Totally off topic, but I recently wrote an article about crush worthy Star Wars characters, and wanted to ask is there a fictional character you’ve dreamt of hooking up with (they don’t have to be from Star Wars)?
Joey: That Taarna chick from Heavy Metal. Maybe Smurfette.
Paul: Chun Li from Streetfighter, or Moira, the hot maid from American Horror Story.
Bill: Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim. It’s funny, I was convinced Paul was going to say Knives Chau, but I guess given his track record, she’d be the one to have a crush on him.
Kendra: My brain instantly went to Monsters University when I saw your name, so if you had to make a mixtape for a college dorm party, what would the top 5 songs be on it?
Neon Trees “Animal”
LMFAO “Sexy and I Know It”
Taking Back Sunday “Liar”
Death Cab for Cutie “I Will Follow You into the Dark” (need something slow to reel in the ladies)
Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z “Suit & Tie”