big monsta cover photo

“Can We Break Down All These Walls?” – Getting to Know Big Monsta

Big Monsta is:

Jimmy Hua, Adrian Sanchez, and Mike Willson

These Monstas have been a band as they stand currently for about 2 years, though they’ve known eachother for 8+ years.  Jimmy, Mike, and Adrian all did APA (Academy of Performing Arts) together in their younger years.  I say that like they’re old now, ha!

The lineup solidified when recording started.  Mike was recording/producing at MAPS at the time, where Big Monsta went to record.  Jimmy showed Mike the recordings that had already been completed, and after plenty of back-n-forth, Mike re-recorded.  Issues with old writing partner resulted in Mike falling into the drummer role and ta-da!

Fun fact:

Adrian’s a guitar player, which Jimmy and Mike completely forget on the regular.  He plays bass all the time, yet somehow doesn’t own a bass…  Soon, he says.

big monsta
Pictured from left to right: Adrian Sanchez (Bass), Jimmy Hua (Vocs/Guitars), Mike Wilson (Drums)

How did you come up with the name “Big Monsta”?

Zach was ‘Monsta’, I was ‘Spider’.  We pushed the nicknames together to get a band name.  Monsta Spider, Spider Monsta… nah, those are stupid.  They kept ‘Monsta’, and started looking for an adjective, the rest is history.  “It was never the goal to associate an image to ‘Big Monsta’, it’s this grandiose being, a vague picture painted.  I see music in colors.  Kinda like Dave Grohl, you know with “Foo Fighters”. It’s a bullshit name.  You never think it would catch on, but people like the music and they remember the name.  That’s the goal.  [Jimmy]

 

Who are your idols?  Favorite musicians?

  • Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, James Jamerson (Motown session bass player that played with one finger), Aren Antwistle, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, Allenworth, Elmore James, Sam Cook, Muddy Waters, Kenny Burrell, Theloneous Monk, Coltrane, Miles Moore, Herbie Hancock. Jimmy and I bonded over Motown, early blues on a road trip back from a gig in Vegas. Adrian brings jazz to the band, which may surprise some [Adrian]
  • Marvin Gaye, The Beatles, even Ringo [Jimmy]
  • Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana – pulls from those influences for Monsta, funk, jazz too. Mike produces a lot of modern jazz acts, and that influence just rolls right in.  Mike and Adrian are “like a solid Motown jazz fusion” rhythm section that plays really loud.  All 3 gents legitimately listen to everything, crossing all genres.

 

What is your fave part of performing?

  • It’s electrifying, completely different every time we play.  The day it feels like a soul-sucking job, I will jump ship. The spontaneity part I picked up from Jack White a whie ago, he used to have a set list every show for a while, but now just goes with the flow.  It keeps the performance fresh [Jimmy]
  • Improvisation is heavy in each of our performances.  Record is solidified, but live shows are time to mess with each other.  Never a set list, sometimes we push each other to trip up.  Point of playing live is to push each other to be better, stronger.  Let’s say we all have a good day, that’s going to be a great performance and we’re all going to feel a certain way. But if someone’s not having a good day, if something is happening…  It’s all that turmoil that’s inside of everybody’s head.  Once we get on stage, that’s all going to come through.  All the emotion is part of the performance, its authentic.  It’s not like we’re following a click, or a set list; it’s flowing [Adrian]
  • My entire being goes into messing Adrian up during a Big Monsta set.  And it’s an added bonus if we go back and forth, only to realize we’ve left Jimmy in the dust.  Hitting the stage is a great outlet.  It fixes everything.  A healthy outlet.

 

Ideal venues to play:

IMG_8202 Collectively Big Monsta seems up to play anywhere as long as business is good and people have general respect for each other.  Consistently worried more about the draw/numbers, and hitting the venue’s expectations.  Sound is muy importante!  It’s relatively easy to get a 3 piece to sound good.  If the venue can and will do that, you’re good. Mike added, “the festival circuit, we’ve got to work toward it, but it’s feasible.”  Jimmy  noted “We’ve got to make the progression.  Conquer the mid-size venues, then tackle the larger rooms.  We want to do better than the last show, every time.” There was no shortage of great things to say about the Wayfarer, I’m fairly certain a “We love the Wayfarer!” was thrown in a couple of times.

 

Locally, who do you want to play with that you haven’t had the opportunity to?

  • Deap Valley
  • The Janks
  • Kiev
  • The Bluffs
  • Caroline Rose
  • Rain Man

 

How do you feel recording and producing your own music is beneficial?

-history of Monsta recording/production.  Jimmy was in a lot more control, less external input.  Now it’s a lot more involved, getting a broader brushstroke.  Standards today almost require you to know how to do all of this.  Being a producer is the closest thing to being a songwriter for a drummer, relationship built with the songwriter in this process is exciting.  Doing both is pretty awesome.  It’s pure.  When those involved are there all the way through, it’s a process.  It’s pure.  Wrote these newer songs together, everyone’s input taken into account.  Smoother process.

 

MAPS involvement:

IMG_8249These guys are genuine, honest, and so ridiculously talented.  Not-even-funny kind of talent, I’m serious.  The MAPS family is one of diverse music, people, and stories.  But their across-the-board goal is unity among OC bands.  Combined strength, if you will.   Look for big things coming from MAPS and family in the coming months.  You might see something you like.  Right now, the team is in the process of acquiring a new space for the studio, on the cusp, if you will.   Moving forward with other projects.  As a matter of fact, MAPS is starting to track Blue Eyed Lucy this next weekend at AEA microphone manufacturing in Pasadena.  “Best ribbon mics, not even a plug, they’re just amazing!” [in unison].

 

Now to discuss Big Monsta’s new baby, Crooked – Volume One

The recording process on this bad boy started in early Spring of this year, though the writing spans a bit further. Recording has been done at Goldenwest College and MAPS (Music and Arts Production Studio) in Huntington Beach.   I was privy to these tracks before I even interviewed the guys, and I have been listening non-stop.  I feel like the songs have a common thread, but each one makes you feel something a little different. Lyrics are on point, so well written; they paint a picture so vividly clear.  Musically speaking, everything is crisp and biting in the most desirable of ways.  Feeling is something lacking from a lot of artists these days, they seemingly go through the motions in recordings.  This is where the difference lies… I get the same tingles listening to this album as I do when Big Monsta plays it live.  That’s it guys; you win the game!

 

Track Listing:

  1. No More
  2. Any Way
  3. Seen It All Before
  4. Wash Your Bones
  5. The Broken Song

 

BEER!

 

It’s such a treat, the show that’s coming up on Saturday.  Not only is Big Monsta releasing their new record Crooked Volume 1 on Crème Tangering cassette; the Janks, Jeramiah Red, and a couple more rad OC bands are going to pleasure our ear holes.  And last but certainly not least, Golden Road Brewing Company will be showcasing some killer brews for the event.  Any night out with these cats is a real good time; Saturday November 22nd will certainly be no exception.

“This beer tastes a lot like I’m not going to work tomorrow,” oh wait, I don’t work on Sundays!!!

 

Cheers guys!  Looking forward to seeing you this weekend.

Check out Big Monsta on Facebook —-> Here

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