The Monarch Project are: Jo Boudreau, Jose Batista, James Rea Grit, and Rob Nagy. They are a group of local guys that have been making making a good impression on the Hamilton music scene over the past year and a half.
If you like the sound of alternative rock / brip pop from the 90s you will love The Monarch Project. I caught up with lead singer Jo a few weeks ago to learn more about the band. They are playing at Club Absinthe this weekend, find all the details on our events page. If you buy your morning coffee at Homegrown Hamilton, you have probably already met Jo. He works the day shift at Homegrown and is often present at shows and open mic nights.
Q – How did The Monarch Project get started?
We were all in bands and projects before, and we finally got together about a year and a half ago. I took a three year break from music, and just worked on my performance on my own. The Monarch Project came along at the perfect time for me. I was ready.
Q – How did you figure out that you could sing well?
I didn’t have lessons or anything, I guess I figured it out through just trying it at open mic nights. It came from bombing and doing really badly for a while – before I figured out my range and all of that.
Q – How did you guys come up with the sound of The Monarch Project?
Jose is really good technically, he knows how to pick amps and everything. He hooked me up with this amp, that together with my guitar, created the perfect sound. I’ve been after this sound for years. It is vaguely British sounding – and I dig that. Our songs are written on acoustic guitar, and then we add the rhythm which really carries the songs. We don’t use a lot of riffs, and are mainly rhythm and backbeat based. Our sound is our rhythm – we get some of that from our huge early 90s pop influence. I love those melodies and song structures.
Q – How do you approach song writing?
It all depends, I guess. Certain songs come together quickly and some take years. For example – our song “Desire” was written in one take. It was written as I played it through the first time. There was a moment that happened to me and I was lucky enough to have a pen and my guitar. It just worked out beautifully.
“Better Part Of You” took 2.5 years to complete. I had bits and pieces of it, like puzzle pieces, and it just took me some time to arrange it in a way that made sense.
Q – Are you involved in any other bands, or projects, right now?
This is it for me. Some people are able to split their attention and creativity between projects, but I can’t do that. I’m not judging them – I just don’t have the ability to do that.
Q – Are there any songs that you consider perfectly written, and put together?
I’m often impressed with simple things. I like simple songs that have one feature that stands out and is a bit different, or weird. I listen to a lot of Donovan, and Beatles, and they really capture beautiful song writing to me. “Help” by The Beatles is perfect. Those hooks were incredible.
Do you remember that “Making The Band” show that P. Diddy had in the 90s? Well, he kept stressing “you gotta write a hook – it’s all about the hook” – it’s like he learned from The Beatles.
He isn’t a mogul for nothing.
Haha.. no he isn’t. Strong hooks impress me, when they are tastefully done.
Q – What are you listening to these days?
I am going through a really hard Kings phase. I’ve got some of their rare vinyl and have been just listening to them non stop. I also really like this band called, White Fence.
Locally I like The Abbreviations a lot. I used to listen to them a lot back in the myspace days. I also really like Redanda – they are awesome.
Q – What do you guys have planned for the rest of the year?
We are planning to play more shows. We played the roof top of Dr. Disc a while back and I think we are going to do that again. That’s a great show. I love Mark (the owner) he is the most supportive person of local music I’ve ever met.
Aside from shows, we are slowly working on a few more singles.