On March 11th, I had the privilege of talking to the boys who are a part of the indie band from San Diego called, “Stray Monroe,” about their first EP release. The members include: Blake Imperl, 22 (Lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Adam Hakes, 24 (Lead guitar and vocals), Brett Kelly, 19 (Bass guitar) and Colin Croft, 21, who plays the drums. To get to know the boys a little bit better, I asked them all for “one really funny child hood memory.”
Adam: “I was sick when I was 7 and my older brother told me that I had to eat natural food. My parents caught me in the backyard eating ants from an ant hill. The ants had been eating poison from traps and my parents had to make me vomit. It was the first time I remember vomiting and my brother teases me about it, to this day.”
Blake: “When in the 1st grade, at recess we would all play in the little clover patch outside on the playground. One day we discovered there were lady bugs in the clover patch and it was quite possibly the raddest discovery. My friend Brian and I came up with this ingenious plan where we were going to create a lady bug colony and to start this, we needed to begin to collect them. So after lunch we saved our Ziploc sandwich bags and decided we could house them inside these plastic bags… we must have collected about 200 in one day. We then closed up the bags and placed them in the shade (because lady bugs need shade… right?) so we came back the next day, super excited, only to find that all the lady bugs died due to lack of oxygen. We had failed to understand basic biology that lady bugs are living creatures and need oxygen to survive.”
Brett: “I fell butt first into a cactus.”
I thought this might help new fans get a little glimpse as to what the boys were like as youngsters.
Me: “What bands/musicians or any humans outside of the music world influenced the sound of the EP?”
Stray Monroe: “So we’re all pretty eclectic in our music taste, but if I had to say bands that immediately influenced this EP, the short list has got to be: The strokes, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon, Ride, Cage the Elephant, The Velvet Underground (Lou Reed in particular… I listened to “Transformer” a lot before writing “Satellites”) Bob Dylan and The Pixies. For people… Lars Orange (our producer/engineer) and Willy Shadoan (the guru) for all their help and inspiration.”
Me: “When I first listened to your EP, my first thought was that Blake sounded like Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys so that’s super cool that they partially inspired the project! How long did it take to compile the EP and what struggles did you face along the way?”
Blake: “That’s awesome, thanks! I had started writing a few of the songs about a year and a half ago (with the exception of “Tiny Islands” that I wrote the basis for in my freshman year of college). Once we got together as a band in September, 2015 (it was just me, Adam and Colin at the time). We began really fleshing out what would become “Take It Fake it”, “Muddy Soles” and “Tiny Islands.” We started recording in January of 2016. The EP took about 13 months in total. When we started, we didn’t have a bass player. Thankfully Brett came in at the perfect time and thus completed the band. We then finished writing “Broken Records” (which wasn’t even meant to be on the EP, until we decided one night to spontaneously record it.) The “Intro” and “Satellites” were last minute additions. Some major setbacks we encountered were finding the time to do it, rewriting the songs and most importantly, our name change from “The Hype” to “Stray Monroe.'”
Me: “Speaking of the name change, what’s the story behind the name, Stray Monroe?”
Stray Monroe: “We changed our name after playing for Michael Halloran (former 91X DJ). He advised us to do this in order to avoid long term legal repercussions. Once we changed our name in November 2016, we began to put the final touches on the EP. We really wanted to solidify our brand and image and make sure we put out the best possible representation of our music. We took the whole process very seriously and wanted to leave no stone unturned. We decided on the band name, Stray Monroe after about a month of throwing names around. Brett came up with the name, “Stray Arrows” which we thought was cool, but it didn’t really click… so one night in October we were at our producer’s house and we were yet again throwing names around… we liked stray but needed a better noun… so in a total moment for a lack of a better word, ‘genius’, I (Blake) looked up at a picture of Marilyn Monroe and thought, Stray Monroe. At the time, I didn’t want to say it out loud because I thought it may be stupid, but I decided to share it and it just clicked. The meaning we took from it, is a juxtaposition between stray and Monroe. We want to stray away from the norm of San Diego bands (for example: surf rock or metal) with our unique sound and Monroe symbolizes the flashiness or doing things that command attention. Kind of like how in her time Marilyn Monroe was considered risqué.
Me: “That’s a sick story. The band name has a groovy ring to it. This definitely fits your sound. It grabs your attention and it’s different from a lot of local SD sound. I’m going to wrap this up with one more question. What plans do you have for Stray Monroe in the future? (Venues you see yourselves playing and artists you plan on creating new material with).”
Stray Monroe: “Our plan for the future is to keep writing, recording and growing as a band. We want our music to have a positive influence on as many people as we can. One of the biggest goals of the band is to leave the San Diego Music scene better than we entered it. If we can leave behind a stack of records that influences another kid to pick up an instrument or to start a band, that would mean the world to us. As far as venues we want to play into the future, we really want to play The Observatory, Casbah and Soda Bar. In the future, we want to play around the world. We also want to support and be a big part of the San Diego music scene.”
Me: “That’s so wonderful. I really hope to see you guys at one of those venues soon! It was such a pleasure getting to talk with you guys. Thank you for this opportunity.”
Stray Monroe: “Of course, thank you so much Hannah. We greatly appreciate it and really look forward to continue working with you in the future.”
The boys of Stray Monroe will be releasing their EP on March 21 (TODAY), 2017 which will include 6 diverse tracks. This EP produces a wide spectrum of feelings. The third song, “Broken Records” reminds listeners of a special ex-lover. This track is drastically different from “intro” which feels like when you close your eyes at a concert and time stops running for a while. You can feel the band’s sound start to tingle on the inside of your skin, as you sway with the music, unaware of your movements. In “Muddy Soles,” fans can hear the pain in Blake’s voice, while singing about being controlled. Most listeners can probably relate to a situation and put themselves in his place. Overall, Stray Monroe produced a beautiful first EP and I can’t wait to see where this talented band goes next.
Thank you again to the boys of Stray Monroe for this wonderful opportunity!