Hey kids, you may have noticed that this blog post is in two sections. Well there's a simple explanation to all that... the website hates me today and wanted to make things difficult. --- Well two can play at that game. If you missed the lovely intro and the first interview with Huldra, click this link here to read part one.
Monarch (Ethan Garrido, Josh Densley, Chris Garrido, Kevin Hawkins & Aaron Pulsipher)
Gavin: Hey again Chris, first thing, tell us a little about yourselves.
Chris: Hello, my name is Chris Garrido. I am the drummer for the band Monarch based out of Salt Lake City. Monarch has been in the local scene for just over five years. I guess you could classify our music as a type of progressive rock, however we don’t really sound “proggy” like Rush or Dream Theater. It is so hard to classify your own band. I hate doing it! Monarch consists of Aaron Pulsipher on vocals, Josh Densley on bass, Kevin Hawkins on guitars, Ethan Garrido on guitars, and myself on drums. We all work full time or go to school, but music really is everyone’s passion. If we had the opportunity to play music full time and still take care of our financial obligations we would do it in a heartbeat. We are down to earth guys that love to play music and share it with whoever will listen.
Gavin: What first got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?
Chris: I first got a drum set when I was fifteen. I wanted to be in a rock band with some guys in junior high just to be cool. I was the one who got tagged with being the drummer. I talked my parents into getting a kit, and it kind of took off from there. I never took lessons, so I learned by playing along with music. AC/DC helped me along the way because most songs were a simple 4/4 beat. Growing up I really loved Classic Rock music. Led Zeppelin was a godsend to me. Everything I heard from them soaked into my brain and they have been my favorite ever since. Artists like Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers really had an impact on me. After I ran out of Classic Rock music to listen to I was introduced to bands like Tool, System of a Down, and The Mars Volta. Recently I have been into a lot of “post rock” bands like ISIS, Red Sparrows, Russian Circles, as well as some up and coming bands called Children of Nova and Rishloo. As for the rest of the guys, The Beatles were a big influence on many of them as well as Pink Floyd, U2 and The Police. Bands like Pearl Jam, Deftones, and Rage Against the Machine played a role for a few of them to learn how to play music. Currently Coheed and Cambria, Fair to Midland and Hurt are some of our favorites. There are so many bands to list as influences; I really could go on forever.
Gavin: How did you guys get together to form Monarch?
Chris: Josh, Aaron and myself were in a band called Deaths Sleekest Engine a few years prior to forming Monarch. We played all over the Salt Lake Valley, but it never really went anywhere. After that band dissolved, Josh and I started jamming together and thought about putting together another band. At the time we really wanted to do something different and have a female singer. We jammed with a few and ended up playing with one for a few practices before we kicked her out for being completely nuts. During that time we posted an ad on The Rock Salt postboard looking for a guitar player and after jamming with several guitar players we finally found Kevin. Shortly after that we asked Aaron to come on board to sing and then Ethan came along to fill out the sound. After a handful of shows Ethan left the band for personal reasons. We tried to fill out the sound with different guitar players and a keys/synth player, but that didn’t pan out. For the longest time we were a 4 piece but, but recently Ethan came back and we picked up where we left off.
Gavin: What pushed you guys to play more of a progressive sound with an anthem feel to it?
Chris: I’m flattered that you would say our music has an “anthem” feel to it. When we get together to play, we don’t have the pre-conceived notion of making our music sound a certain way. I think we are a different band because we don’t try to “cookie cut” our music. Typically when we get together to write music, each of us brings a different idea to the table. Either a riff or a part of a song, and we all add to that. We piece a lot of our songs together and it just seems to work for us. We may take two or three parts to a song that sound completely different from each other and find a way to make them into one song. Sometimes it works, and other times it doesn’t. We really just feel out a song and let it be what it is whether it is three minutes long or fifteen minutes long.
Gavin: Back in 2006 you released your first EP titled Eden. What was it like for you recording that first album after barely forming?
Chris: We were a pretty green band when Eden was first released. A few of us had studio experience and for others it was their first time. We first recorded three tracks off of that EP to put out as a demo. One song in particular, “Mexico”, we thought we had it figured out as a band but when it came time to record the track, the producer went through and completely re-arranged it. In the long run it made it a much better song than what it initially was, but it definitely was an eye opening experience for us. We realized that we really needed to have our stuff down before heading into the studio. After the initial three tracks were recorded we went back to the same studio and added four more tracks to the disc. We were much more prepared and overall pleased as a band. I feel at the time it really represented where Monarch was musically.
Gavin: What was the public reaction to it like when it finally came out?
Chris: Overall I think the reception was fairly well. Eden has the most “radio formatted” tracks that Monarch has put out. Helmut and Metalhead at KBER 101.1 really gave our band a shot and we received a lot of airplay on “The Salt Lake Soundcheck”. We were the # 1 most played band on their show for 2006 and placed in the top three the following three years. We did several of the Soundcheck Concert Series and really owe a lot to those guys. To this day, we still get people coming up to us and saying that they hear us on KBER! We had the opportunity to release Eden the same night that we played with Shinedown at The Depot. That was definitely a high point and defining moment for the band.
Gavin: You played around the state for the next few years and gained a following as a must-see live act. Was that a conscious decision or just something you simply ended up doing?
Chris: It is definitely something that we just ended up doing. Looking back now, we really have played a ton of shows over the past few years. We really just wanted to get out in the local scene and make a name for ourselves and play with good bands. We would play any gig that was thrown at us. We played on some of the smallest stages to some of the top venues in Utah. We had the opportunity to open up for some really great national acts such as Shinedown, Lacuna Coil, Scott Weiland, Fair To Midland, Hurt, Halestorm, and a few more. I believe that playing all those shows no matter how small or big they were really shaped us into the band we are today. We are definitely a live band. We have a lot of energy and really put it all out there each time we play. We enjoy the recording process and making albums and everything that comes with being in a band, but where we really shine is when we are on a stage.
Gavin: In 2009 you released your second EP called How I Tried. Why the long wait between albums, and how did things feel doing it as an experienced band?
Chris: The reason there was such a gap between the two albums was due to the band playing so many shows. We wrote a lot of material between the two albums and recorded a set of tracks that never really saw the light of day, but we would play them live quite a bit. Once we were ready to record our second EP we chose to record the songs at a slower pace and not try and knock out five songs in two days which is what we did with Eden. We had the luxury to record drums one day and guitars the next and so on. The whole process was spread over several months. I liked not having the pressure, but at the same time it obviously prolonged the album being released. As a band the recording process was much smoother for us. We knew how we wanted the songs to sound and the structure of the songs. It was just a matter of getting them down on tape.
Gavin: You've released your third EP this week titled Station: Deva. How was it putting this album together, and why did you choose to self-release?
Chris: We are really proud of this album. It definitely represents what Monarch is to date. Our writing style has progressed over the years and I think you can hear that in our recordings. We wanted a great sounding record but at the same time not have too many effects or sound too polished. We wanted to keep the sound as close to what you would hear at a Monarch show. We chose to record with Andy Patterson who is phenomenal at what he does. He understood from the start what we wanted and he was able to capture that sound. The songs were well rehearsed and overall the entire recording experience was great. As far as self releasing the album, it is something that we have always done. We are open to signing with labels if the circumstances are right and all the pieces fit.
Gavin: With the longevity and local exposure you've had, why haven't you decided to record a full-length or sign to a label?
Chris: We definitely have toyed with the idea of releasing a full length album. Originally we planned on having Station: Deva be a full length. Time and money constraints did not allow us to do that. I think that when trying to shop your record around to labels, when you send them a full length album a lot of the songs get lost or are not even played. Where we are at now as a band, we feel it is better to pick the best group of songs and record those to gain interest. I can definitely see Monarch recording a full length album in the future. We have had some label interest in the past, but not much has come of it. With the release of this album, we will really shop the disc to labels and see what comes of it.
Gavin: Are there any plans for a tour after the release or will you be sticking more to home for now?
Chris: Our plan was to play some shows locally in support of the record, then head out west for a few stops. Unfortunately we received news that our bass player is leaving the band after our CD release show due to personal reasons. It was a real blow to us. After the CD release, we will focus on finding a new bass player and get them up to speed so we can go out in support of the record.
Gavin: Going state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?
Chris: I think that Utah has some really great and diverse bands. There are some decent venues to play at in Utah. We have played at our fair share of them. Personally I think the local scene needs a shot in the arm, something to get the energy going again. I think the biggest downfall is the turnout at shows. It is hard to get people out to shows. I’m sure the economy has a lot to do with it, but there are some really great bands that just want people to hear their music. Go out and support local bands, local venues, and local shops. They all really need the support!
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Chris: Like I mentioned before, go out and support local music and venues. Go see bands at places that you normally wouldn’t go see. I’m not a bar or venue owner, so I don’t know how to run a music venue, but when a place treats a band right and really appreciates the fact that a band is out there to play and pull people into their establishment it really goes along way. Bar Deluxe where we held our CD release show is really a great place with great sound. Kaci and Jake really know how to treat bands. They have been great to work with and they are pulling in some great National acts as well. I also feel if bands support each other and turn their fans onto other local bands that can go a long way. I don’t feel it is a competition to be better than any other band out there. We play with bands of all different genres and I think that’s a great way to get people to shows. I think more people will come to shows if there are different genre bands on the bill versus four being metal bands.
Gavin: Not including yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?
Chris: Wow. There are quite a few to name. We have always been really tight with the boys in Supersofar. We have played many shows with them and they are great musicians. King Niko is a really great band and kudos to them for their CWMA win! Heartbreak Hangover, Red Pete, Long Distance Operator, and Downright Blue are great. A few of our favorites have recently disbanded like Broke City, Ayin, and Medicine Circus. When you play in the local scene for five years you meet a lot of great bands. I’m sure I am missing a bunch but those are the ones that come to mind.
Gavin: What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio and how its affects local musicians?
Chris: I think that radio is a pretty powerful tool. Like I mentioned before, KBER 101.1 has really been great to our band. They play local music every Saturday night at 6PM. I really wish radio would put more local music in regular rotation. Just recently the local stations have started playing more local music which is fantastic. 97.5 The Blaze has started playing locals on Tuesdays which is really great. X96 just recently started up a local music spot again, and Darby at 94.9 Z Rock plays a lot of local music on KAOS. KRCL also features a lot of local bands on the radio as well as in studio. Some of the biggest shows that we have played have happened because of local stations. They will bring in National acts and ask local bands to open the shows. I think that is great and it is important to get our local bands on bigger stages. It allows local bands to reach a new audience and gain more fans. I really wish we can see more of that as well as more local acts on regular radio rotation.
Gavin: What do you think of file sharing these days, both as musicians and a music lovers?
Chris: Personally, I love it. I have found so many new artists through file sharing. As a band we really want our music to be heard, not only here locally but as far as we can possibly take it. I know that file sharing is pretty heavy recently and if it means getting our music heard then by all means we are for it. If my sole income was based on making money through music, I might feel different, but for now, share away!
Gavin: What can we expect from you guys over the rest of this year?
Chris: After the CD release show our first priority will be to find a bass player. That is key to keeping the momentum of the band going and getting that person up to speed with the material. Once we find the right player to fill the role, we would like to play some shows locally then see where that takes us. There is always the possibility of heading out for a few stops over the western part of the country and seeing what happens after that. We are ready to write new material as well, and get that down tight to be recorded. It is hard to foresee what will happen in the future, but we are excited to see what the next chapter is for this band.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Chris: Please go check us out on Facebook. Support local music! Support local venues and local music shops! Go out to bands shows, buy their merch and really support them. Salt Lake has a great music scene and they deserve the support!
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