On this installment of Music and Money, guitarist Casey Trask of San Diego thrashers Monarch talks about what's working for his band. "At it" in some form since their high school days in the early 2000s, Monarch released their sophomore album Future Shock on April 16th. Now 2021 is looking bright for this up and coming, motivated band.
Monarch, with Trask at right
Tell our readers all about your band! Where are you from and when did you get started? What is your music like?
Monarch is from San Diego. We're a heavy metal band, first started around 2005 when I joined a band with a couple of friends from high school. Aaron Chipp-Miller and Alex Pickard created the idea initially and I joined from there, they had a couple of earlier versions of a couple of the songs from our first album; it was really mean, fast thrash that wasn’t really anything but our own expression of anger coming out at that time. We were all so much angrier back then, haha. The high school version of the band sort of fizzled out and was revived when we got our drummer Adam West around 2010. Vocalist/Guitar Matt Smith and Bass player Gabe Mendez joined a couple of years after that. This really gave us the big guns to do what we’ve always wanted to do, which was bring more shred but also more creative and well-constructed songs.
Our first album Go Forth… Slaughter (2017) is a very thrashy album. We did pretty much everything ourselves: the drums were recorded to Matt and I playing along within the room to give that real live feel, the guitars we mic’d ourselves, Matt mixed the album... It was a true labor of love and we had a great time with it. But we knew the next album, Future Shock (2021), needed a little more refined touch. This album has a little more depth and melody, so we went into a real studio, Clarity Recordings in El Cajon, and got it done. And here we are now! That album was released in April and is available on our website www.monarch.band.
What are your goals for your band?
Right now, our goal is just to get our music out to as many people in the world as possible. I love the feeling of discovering a new band I’ve never heard of that I can really get into and I think our new album has such a fresh feel to it, I just hope other people will hear that as well. I think our number one goal is to have a great time doing what we love to do and if that offers us any type of success or opportunity that only makes it better, but we all just enjoy getting together and playing. Realistically, we would love to expand our merch, and perhaps find a record company to support the next album. It’s so hard to plan in these days of COVID, but we are doing our best.
What do you do for a living?
I teach guitar, privately and through a school, so does our drummer Adam. Matt works at a machine shop and Gabe works at a power plant.
How do you balance your work and personal life with the band?
Get a planner, write what you need to get done down, get some stuff done -- and then have fun, hang with your family, go hike somewhere and get outside. It’s easy to get stressed out with all the things we need to worry about today, but people have a lot more time than they think if they just organize their thoughts a bit.
What do you consider to be the best investment you've made, music-wise?
One of our best investments was cool artwork. It can go on shirts and albums and banners, stickers, and it perpetuates your message. Invest in professionals; if you want a sick album that catches people's eye, hire your favorite artist. We got Marc Sasso (Dio, Halford) for our new cover and he gave us something that exceeded our expectations.
What's the worst or least helpful thing you've ever spent money on as a musician/band?
I would say just make sure your getting good enough quality gear to fit your needs. Sometimes cutting costs can cut down on the quality of your sound -- so know what guitar and pickups will best suit your needs along with everything else. Cheap stuff usually doesn’t last, but there are exceptions.
What kind of merch sells the best for your band? And what do you purchase most often as a music listener?
Usually, the T-shirts with the artwork on them do the best. People love wearing a sick new shirt from their new favorite band, as do I. The things I buy most are vinyl, I just love having them around, and when a band I know comes out with a new release I try to at least get a CD.
Can you share some tour budgeting tips?
Buy as many granola bars and healthy snacks that you can keep with you at the beginning or at a stop along the way. Also, train yourself not to constantly need a snack because food money can add up quickly on the road. Try not to get something every time you stop for gas but make sure you are prepared for the next stretch.
Which online music or social media platforms are most helpful to your band?
Facebook and Instagram have been a place where people have constantly found us. Reverbnation, YouTube, Spotify, they all do their part. We just released our new single through Distrokid and they seem to be the best for bands these days in the world of digital releases.
What does "making it" mean to you, and what do you think a band needs to make it in 2021?
To me, “making it” means you have found a way to balance music and life without the need to look elsewhere for means of sustaining your household and well-being. It would be great to just live off of the music we make, but it gets harder and harder these days. We as a community of bands just need to start being more creative on our quest to be successful. There are no guarantees in life and there are also no requirements but those you put on yourself. If you’re not going to be satisfied until you’re a multi-millionaire, I say go for and best of luck -- but I think we’re all just looking to play music and be happy with whatever comes our way.
Connect with Monarch at the links below:
Monarch Official Website - www.monarch.band
Facebook - www.facebook.com/monarchthrash
Instagram - www.instgram.com/monarch666
Twitter - https://twitter.com/riseofmonarch
Spotify - http://tiny.cc/79yxtz
To learn more about budgeting, band finances, and more, order Money Hacks for Metalheads and Old Millennials in paperback and ebook formats: https://amzn.to/3lCsFdq
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