Interview by: Staff
Monarch consists of James Lascu [bass] and Matt Puhy [drums] from rock band Wilson along with Ryan Williams [guitar] from Red Sun Rising and vocalist Sabastian Duke. When their Wilson broke up and Ryan left Red Sun Rising in 2019, they decided to start writing songs together. Once they heard Sabastian’s voice, Monarch was formed. Together they have released two singles, “The Fray” and “Pearls,” with an album due our Spring 2022.
My Global Mind caught up with bassist James Lascu to discuss the formation of Monarch, how they collaborate when creating songs, and what they want their fans to take away from their music.
Tell me a little about the band’s origins?
Matt and I used to be in a band called Wilson, and Ryan was in Red Sun Rising. We were both on the same record label in 2015; we toured together and played a bunch of festivals together. Ryan and I always kept in touch. When Ryan parted ways with Red Sun Rising and Wilson broke up at the end of 2019, Ryan got in touch with me to see if I was interested in collaborating with some songs he had written. We exchanged ideas via email and talked on the phone and realized we had great chemistry together. The more the songs developed, the more we realized that we might have something special, but we needed a vocalist. We found Sabastian by random while posting ads on our personal social media pages. We had no idea what we were looking for until we heard his voice. Matt was my obvious go-to when it came time for us to find a drummer.
How did you come up with your band’s name?
Ryan’s Mom actually came up with it. It just made so much sense to us as soon as Ryan presented the idea. For us, Monarch represents a rebirth, a new beginning, a chance to shed our old skin to become something greater.
How do you define your music, and how do you want it to be classified?
I define our music as all things rock because we all have so many different influences. I think we all really come together and meet in the middle with classic rock, 90’s rock, and alternative music. If I had to put a classification label on our music like if you wanted to find our album in a classic physical music store, I’d be more than happy with saying we were Rock/Alternative.
Where do you get your inspiration from when writing songs?
I get a lot of inspiration from my bandmates. Many times, Ryan or Sabastian will come up with an awesome riff or melody. That’ll inspire me to add on to what they have or even write a full song. Sometimes ideas will just pop into my head while I’m half asleep, especially in the morning time. I also get a lot of ideas on the toilet [laughing].
Tell us about the songwriting process for the band?
I can’t say we have a really defined process. We all write on our own and share our ideas with each other constantly. When an idea unanimously sticks out, we work on it. Sometimes one of us will have full orchestration version already worked out, and we’ll all be stoked on what it is. Sometimes we’ll pick someone’s song apart and rewrite the whole thing. Sometimes we simply don’t agree on something, and if that’s the case, we move on. We don’t really let anything slide. We try not to be overly attached to our ideas.
Who do you hope these songs speak to, and what do you want them to take away from it?
Sabastian and Ryan write all of the lyrics together. Our songs are all about something very personal and revealing. These songs speak about the human condition. No matter what type of person is listening, I think they’ll all realize they have more in common than not.
What do you want the fans to take away from your music?
I want people to feel like their lives are just a little bit more enjoyable because they heard our music. If our music can inspire anyone in any way, then all of the work is more than worth it.
What does it take to stand out as a band nowadays in an overcrowded market?
You have to be able to take on multiple roles. Nowadays, every musician is also an amateur manager, social media director, marketing director, and content creator. Underneath all of these roles, most importantly, you have to write music that you feel is 100% great. It has to truly represent you. You need to feel that you are indeed contributing something great to the world. If you don’t feel good about performing something every night for the next decade, then you probably shouldn’t be in it at all. Always try to bring something fresh to the table. It’s one thing to honor your influences and another to just mimic them.
What do you think has been your biggest challenge, both musically and professionally, so far in your career?
I think many can all agree, the biggest challenge has been the constantly changing environment of the music industry, the financial instability, and the need to always be able to adapt. Sometimes money is coming in, and sometimes it’s going out even faster. For me, throughout the past ten years, I’ve always kept a day job; even when I was doing well with my music career. Either working in music production, for an IT company doing commercial installs, or dog walking. The list goes on. Sure, if you’re successful, you won’t need to supplement your income, but if and until you reach that point, you have to be willing to do those things.
When will an album be released?
We don’t currently have a solid timeline for an album release. But we will all be together this September in Los Angeles, working with the amazing producer Bob Marlette. Bob worked with Wilson as well as on “The Fray” and “Pearls.” We will release a few more songs before the new year, with the full album not dropping until spring 2022 at the earliest.