Pale monsters are a new wave art-rock band bringing a modernized take to guitar and synth driven rock. The quartet features Boston music veterans and friends Chris Mulvey, Kevin McGrath, Mike Ward, and Travis Richter. In 2016 the band released their debut EP ‘Take What You Can Take’ which was described as “fresh and vital” by the Worcester Telegram. Their single, “All This Time We Wait,” which was released in 2017, was rated one of Boston best singles by Vanyaland, an influential Boston music site. This track gives a peek into their up coming full-length album, ‘Are You Feeling Alive?’
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
When I was a Freshman in high school, my younger brother started playing guitar, but I avoided it. I had always loved music, but I was scared that if I started playing, I would go would go down a rabbit hole that never ends. One day my brother missed his guitar lesson, so I went instead. Just as I feared, I was hooked. When I transferred schools sophomore year, I became best friends with guys that loved music as much as I did. We spent the rest of high school learning to play and write music together. By the time we graduated, we had played a bunch of gigs.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
Years ago on tour (before I was in Pale Monsters), I played a venue in Houston with my old band Muy Cansado. It was a last minute gig we booked while we were on the road. After we performed, the club owner mentioned an after party that he wanted us to play. We weren’t sold, but agreed to think about it. As the clubs in the neighborhood started to close, we packed up our gear, but the owner told us we couldn’t leave yet, because the streets were mobbed. To our surprise, he was right. The streets were totally mobbed, and there was no way to get out of there. The weird thing was that it seemed like this mob show outside was a nightly occurrence on weekends (it was a Friday). Since we couldn't leave, the owner had finally convinced us to play his after party. The party was conveniently located in a burnt out warehouse above the club. I know - it totally sounds like the premise for a horror movie. We had to play an acoustic set, since there was very little electricity. I also remember needing to look where I stood and stepped, because there were a lot of sharp edges, and there was little to no light. We hung out for a while after our set. It was a crazy setting – lots of booze, little lighting and tons of people. The only bathroom was a toilet in the far corner of the room with no walls and no lighting. Every time we tried to leave the club owner did everything he could to make us stay. Eventually we got out of there in the very wee hours of the morning.
What has been the high point of your music path?
Finishing up the new Pale Monsters' album, Are You Feeling Alive? There is a pretty amazing high every time an album is finished, and the songs we have been slaving over are finally done. This time that high is even bigger. We are all really proud of the work and excited to get it out there.
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like?
I work on new music all of the time, constantly demoing material and tinkering with it. I take ideas, try new parts, swap out melodies and try different variations until I figure a song out. Sometimes stringing a verse and a chorus together is easy. Other times it's hard. It all depends on the song. About 6 or 7 years ago, I became really focused on melody. Once I get melody I like, I translate it to guitar. Performing the melody on guitar without accompaniment really lets me dig in and understand what is happening. I want to be sure the melody has enough movement. Once I have a pretty baked idea, I bring it to the band. I make sure I have a solid verse and chorus with chords and melody. Lyrics are great, but not necessary. And though I prefer to work out all of the song changes, such as a bridge or an outro, sometimes nuances like that can be added with the full band. When I bring new material to the band, I give everyone an idea of where I think the song should go. However, they come up with their own parts. We coach each other along, but everyone figures out what their instrument needs to do.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be?
The biggest challenges are exposure and money. Hasn’t it always been those two things? The industry is in a weird spot these days, and I feel like those two things are even harder to come by. There is no clear path and to get music out there requires a lot of hard work and money.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
Radiohead, because they are the best band out there. The have been making amazing music for over 20 years. They have put out more groundbreaking albums than most bands' good albums. I love what they do and would be thrilled, if a little intimidated, for Pale Monsters to share a stage with them.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show?
Each Pale Monsters' rehearsal has a purpose. If we are preparing for a gig, we run our set in order. If we are working on new material, we warm up with three to five songs we are comfortable with to get the juices flowing. Then we run the new material over and over again. Workshopping new material, requires a lot of repetition, tinkering and demoing. It usually takes a few months to figure a new song out.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
My greatest challenge (so far) was writing Pale Mosnters' most recent single “All This Time We Wait,” which we just released late last year (on iTunes and Spotify now). I came up with the chorus back in 2006, and I knew I was on to something. Over nearly ten years, I tried so many different verses that never panned out. There is demo upon demo of different versions of the song. Eventually, after trying so many different ideas, I just gave up on it. When Pale Monsters was forming, I hadn't thought about "All This Time We Wait" in a long time. But one night I was sitting at home working on songs, and I came back it out of nowhere. Within in a few minutes, it clicked. I had finally figured it out, 9 years later. Then I brought the song to the gang, and they made it way cooler than I imagined. Trav dropped a backbeat rhythm for the chorus, which makes you want to drive your car forever. Kev went for a melodic Mo-town/Spoon/McCartney-esque bass line that is pretty fantastic. And of course Mike dropped some spectacular, otherworldly synth on top.
What's coming up in the future?
Our new full-length album Are You Feeling Alive? will be released in March. Before that, we will have a video for “All This Time We Wait,” and we will share another track.
Where can fans can access your music.
www.palemonsters.com is the best place to access our music. The site has links links to all of our social media.