Monica Strut - Vocals Ben Rogers - Guitar Travis Presley - Guitar Matthew Mumford - Bass Vin Krishnan - Drums
Interview with Monica Strut - Vocals
ITN Magazine: Let's talk a little about the history of your band. When did you originally form and is this the original line-up?
Hey there! We formed at the end of 2017 and still have the original line-up. We were working quietly behind the scenes for most of the time we've been together and officially launched in July 2018 with our first single 'Into the Black.' We started playing shows only this year launching at a festival in Sydney, Australia called UsFest which was a killer first gig!
ITN Magazine: Do you remember how the idea of forming the band first came up?
We'd all been in bands before and I'd moved from Sydney to Melbourne 2 years ago specifically to start a new project - Melbourne is the creative hub of Australia. I met Ben out guitarist online and we were sending demos back and forth for a while before I met up with him and our other guitarist, Travis. We all got along and had the same vision and goals and a week later we had 3 songs demoed and a band name!
ITN Magazine: How long after you formed was it until you played your first live show?
Too long! Our strategy was always to build an audience online first before playing live so we played our first show around 18 months after we formed!
ITN Magazine: What are your memories of the performance?
It was a festival show in another city in front of a big audience and a lot of people from the music industry so being it was our first show, I definitely felt the pressure! I was crazy-nervous especially as it'd been a while since I'd played on stage aside from a few guest spots. It all went fairly smoothly though and we had a lot of fun! I'm glad it ended up being our first show and to play it in my hometown alongside my friends' bands was extra special.
ITN Magazine: How would you categorize the style of the band?
ITN Magazine: What image do you want your music to convey to your fans?
One of strength, determination, and energy.
ITN Magazine: Who are your influences and how have they shaped your bands sound?
We are all influenced by a number of bands. Core influences would be Periphery for the music and Asking Alexandria and too many others to name for vocals.
ITN Magazine: Let's talk a little about your latest album what are the listeners in store for with this release?
Our debut EP, 'Creatrix' was released 26 April and it's for people who like their music heavy, yet melodic. We hope you'll get something new out of it with each listen from guitar parts to hearing new vocal harmonies.
ITN Magazine: Where did record your latest release at?
Ted Furuhashi from Australian prog-metal band Circles recorded the EP.
ITN Magazine: Producers are a very important factor in recording a good record. Who did you use to produce your record?
Ted Furuhashi was the producer and I loved his vision. He loves pop hooks like I do (even though I don't listen to a lot of pop I do gravitate to rock and metal that's really catchy and melodic) so he had a lot of ideas especially when it came to harmonies and backing vocals which was really fun.
ITN Magazine: Does the entire band contribute to the writing process?
Each member has a say in their own parts, of course. In terms of writing the music our guitarist, Ben is a core song-writer but the other boys definitely get involved once the initial idea has been demoed. For vocals, I do most of the writing but the boys definitely push me in terms of melodies and it's awesome having two other screamers in the band to bounce ideas with too!
ITN Magazine: How do you feel the band has evolved musically and personally over the last year?
Musically we have a clearer picture of where we want to go. We never came into the band with any pre-conceived ideas of what we wanted to sound like. We just wanted the sound to happen organically and it meant we tried a lot of things too. Since releasing the EP and looking at it as a whole objectively we now have a better idea of the direction that works for us as a group and where we want to go in the future. As a result of everything we've worked on in the past year from videos to playing some awesome shows and just getting to know each other, we've also grown so close as friends which is the best part of being in a band if I'm honest!
ITN Magazine: Favorite memory from a show you’ve played or a place you’ve traveled to?
Probably the road trip to Sydney for our first show. We were all squashed in one car and stayed at my Mums house in her garage and it was just a good bonding experience! Plus as I got to share the stage with a lot of old Sydney friends in other bands it was kind of a reunion for me.
ITN Magazine: Favorite song of yours you’ve written?
Probably 'Fear.' It took a LONG time to find the final melody I think I worked on it for around 6 months on and off between other tracks and nothing ever felt right. It's a killer song musically so I really wanted to make sure the vocals matched that. Finally, we got there though and now it's my favorite tune!
ITN Magazine: Favorite song of yours that you like to play live?
I love playing Echoes. It's not as hectic as the other songs in the set right now and the second verse is swaggery which is fun to groove to on stage.
ITN Magazine: Where do you draw the inspiration for the songs you write?
From life experiences past and present. I feel it's important to be as real as possible in terms of where I get my inspiration from as I really want my songs to connect with people as other songs have connected with and helped me.
ITN Magazine: How important do you rate the lyrical side of your albums?
I'm a vocalist so I'm always going to be bias and thing lyrics are very important. At the end of the day, listeners may not be able to play or understand guitar or something even though they appreciate and like the way it sounds. Words are a form of direct communication anyone can understand. Even if you speak a different language to what's being sung, you can still understand the emotion behind the vocals which is what makes them so powerful.
ITN Magazine: What are your current tour plans, if any?
We're hoping to tour the US next year. I've been dying to do that since I was a teenager so hopefully, we can make that happen soon!
ITN Magazine: Describe your live performance for those who have never seen you live?
Pretty hectic. Our bassist Matt is constantly spinning and swinging his hair. I'm surprised he hasn't injured one of us yet. Travis the guitarist is a rock star plain and simple and Ben our other guitarist has his own thing going on and shreds like a maniac. Vinny on drums is solid as a rock, he's a real drummer's drummer. As for me, you'll expect a lot of blond headbanging and just having a good time!
ITN Magazine: Getting radio airplay and support is important for a any band, What is your view on that?
Yes definitely important! It helps your music reach more people and establishes credibility.
ITN Magazine: Do you see as we do that most local radio rarely support the up and coming new bands and even more local bands just starting out?
Yes, that's an issue here in Australia too. We don't have many radio stations as we have a small population so this is definitely a problem. Bands are struggling to find ways to get exposure because of this and due to a culture that doesn't really attend live shows these days (compared to my parent's generation), it can be tricky!
ITN Magazine: What do you think of the music industry right now?
I think it's good, it's just different to how it was 15-20 years ago (naturally like any industry) and constantly changing. A lot of bands base their business strategies on the way the industry was in the past and then wondering why they're not getting bigger. There are a lot of factors now with the rise of social media allowing bands to take their careers into their own hands. But overall I have a positive outlook.
ITN Magazine: Did you find it hard to break into the business and what was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?
I didn't find it hard, it's more like a slow burn. Working for a music magazine was one of the best things I could have done for my career as it allowed me to network and get a different perspective on the industry I may not have gotten otherwise just seeing things from a musician's point of view.
ITN Magazine: Tell us about your thoughts on your local music scene?
It's healthy. Heavy music is doing well in Australia, we have several festivals now which is crazy because for a while we had none! A famous festival called Soundwave grew steadily for years and then suddenly went under and it left a lot of music lovers heartbroken. Heavy music fans were crying out for another festival for years and now we have Download, Good Things and Unify to look forward to each year which is amazing especially for local up and coming bands!
ITN Magazine: Are there any new and upcoming bands that you are into?
Yes everyone needs to check out Redhook and Windwaker. They're both amazing.
ITN Magazine: How has Social Networking (Facebook,Twitter, etc.) impacted your band?
Yes definitely. We used social media to build our brand and presence first before playing live and as a result, our first shows were really worthwhile. It was definitely beneficial.
ITN Magazine: Where can our readers find you on the web?
ITN Magazine: What equipment is the band using and do you have any endorsements currently?
Guitarist 1: Line 6 Helix, Line 6 Shuriken Guitar and DI or through Orange Cab, Guitarist 2: Axe FX 2, Schecter Guitars through Orange Cab, Bass: Fender P Bass and Sansamp DI, Vocals: Not interesting lol - whichever microphone is at the rehearsal room as I always forget mine (typical vocalist).
ITN Magazine: Thanks for answering these questions. Do you have any last comments for our readers?
Thanks for your interest in the Last Martyr, come connect with us on socials we'd love to hear from you!