The timeline leading up to the release of Modern Monsters’ self-titled EP twists and turns so much, even founding guitarist Rich Wells struggles to keep track of events.
“Our sound was already changing,” Wells says. “Most of the band members had a heavy rock and metal influence inside of them that we weren’t really pushing out yet.”
That was in late 2019, when the group’s previous vocalist left the band shortly after recording several songs for a debut EP.
Not knowing what was about to happen in March of 2020, the East Bay-based Wells, Marin-based bassist Brody Bass and Sonoma County-drummer Keenan Tuohy and guitarist Wyatt Lennon started over.
“We have a strong bond between each other,” Wells says. “The band is almost like family to us.”
The group quickly recruited North Bay–vocalist Josh Weaver and began writing new songs that dropped their original ’90s alternative vibe and embraced a faster, heavier ’80s-throwback sound.
“It just really felt right,” Wells says.
With Weaver taking over lyric duties, Modern Monsters started cranking out songs together at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020.
“We generally write music with everybody in the room,” Wells says. “If someone is inspired or has an idea, we keep riffing back and forth, and all five members have a say in how it sounds.”
While the pandemic interrupted that process, the group kept the irons hot throughout social isolation and eventually recorded their new songs for the debut self-titled EP, released at the end of October 2021.
The digital EP showcases Modern Monsters’ changing sound with three songs that pack powerful heavy-metal riffs and feature shredding solos and Weaver’s vocals soaring between arena rock screams and early punk angst.
“The funny part for me and some of the other members of the band is that we’re still not really sure if we’re, like, a ‘metal’ band,” Wells says. “The metal community really welcomed us so far. But we still have influences from punk, and the whole band is into hip-hop as well. It doesn’t shine through as much, but every now and then you can hear that in Josh’s vocals.”
The EP’s sound also features elements of Wells’ experimental side, in which he takes influences from electronic music as well as noise-rock to create guitar effects that he uses in place of keyboards or other instruments.
“Sometimes I like to go and make my guitar not sound like a guitar,” Wells says. “That’s a lot of fun for me.”
Besides the three songs on the EP, Modern Monsters has another dozen songs in its arsenal, which the band will unleash as it starts lining up local shows again.
This month, Modern Monsters invades the Ivy Room, in Albany, on Dec. 17 along with psyche-rock band the Chaw and stoner-metal outfit Blackwulf. The band also has live dates coming up at the Knockout in San Francisco, in January, and the Elbow Room in Oakland, in February.
“It’s an exciting process for us,” Wells says. “We’re ready to start playing some gigs.”