Scratching the surface of paris_monster

After talking to Josh Dion and Geoff Kraly after 40 hours of sleepless traveling and en route to Chicago for a gig with a mediocre cup of coffee in their hands, they indulged me while I tried to merely scratch the surface of the band, paris_monster.

Photo by Elizabeth West

“It definitely shows up in the lyrics I think because we’re both from rural settings, “ said Kraly of their roots in central New York and Connecticut. “They’re both college towns surrounded by farms. We like to bring an element of those settings into the lyrics opposed to just those sounds that are maybe from the city like Brooklyn, edgy or however you want to say it. In a real way, I think you can hear it; it’s right there.”

Their latest single, “Hot Canyon Air,” is layers upon layers of heavy, yet simple, sonic coatings that produce a seamless production to convey a complicated affinity. With Dion’s gravelly vocals and the intense reverberations of Kraly’s bass playing, it’s hard not to have a physical and mental reaction.

“That one in particular, Josh wrote the drum part and the bass line and melody all in one breath. Then he handed it to me, and I wrote the lyrics. Sometimes we do it the opposite way where I’ll write the lyrics and hand them to Josh, and he’ll write the music.”

Perhaps the most intriguing part of a paris_monster show is watching the two friends recreate the recordings. Dion has a drum stick in one hand and a hand on a keyboard while singing. To the right, Kraly gets lost on the strings. I made a comment on the genre-blending on their music, and they both immediately were pleased.

Kraly responded, “We have a lot of different input, and that’s the way we want them to come through.”

“We take that as a compliment,” added Dion. “We like that.”

“It’s a constant riddle because you want to sound of your time because you want to fit in, but you have to stick out. I know musically, the last thing I’d want to do is sound like other things. If we stick out, that’s great.”

The band just finished a tour in Europe, playing sold out shows in London and Glasgow before returning to the U.S. for a couple of shows then a bit of a break before returning to Europe.

“It’s a cool feeling,” said Kraly. “It’s kind of a cliché thing but those moments on a couple of these gigs, you look out and people are singing the song and you’re confused why they’re singing. It’s a really great feeling.”

The last time they released a body of work was the EP, “It Once Had Been Kind,” in 2013. Since then, they’ve been releasing singles. However, paris_monster’s debut album, Lamplight, is set to be released early 2019. The next track from the album being put out into the universe is titled, “Andalusia,” after the region in Spain, which will be released November 9.

“I guess we were being patient or really patient with it,” said Kraly of the long wait for the debut album. “We had a collection of songs that didn’t really work in a group in anyway but we were proud of them as songs and compositions. We wanted to put them out so we did it that way—maybe that pushed back working on the full length until now. We’re excited to finally have a full length.”

Through crafting Lamplight, the gentlemen explained they focused on creating their own distinct sound to stay true to themselves. Their unorthodox ways of producing compositions are tailored to captivating their audiences.

“We focused on our individual sound more. I guess if anything, we just kind of focused it more. It maybe doesn’t feel like it’s changed, but it’s solidified and came into focus a bit more through stripping things down and making it more straight to the point. Especially now, we really have a handle on what moves an audience, energy wise. I think that definitely affects the writing. It’s being in the studio and figuring out how you want to present yourself, and also in a live setting of what works and what doesn’t, and what do we want?”

Even though, Kraly admitted every time he hears their song playing in a club, he "cringes," they don't necessarily try to go against the grain or record music to fit in, their music just happens.

“We’re very organic in terms of the way we do things, performance wise. When we go into the studio, we both have a very clear vision of what we want, but I will say there were some songs that I don’t think are on this album actually but were absolutely written in the studio in an experimental state of mind. Those will be coming out at a later date. Actually, the instrumental pieces are completely experimental. A lot of times, we’re really a marriage of the two things. We both pay attention to detail. We’re both producers. We both have very strong presences in the studio, but at the same time, we’re both improvisers so there’s always a chance for the unknown, and I think we both like to have those options.”

To keep up with paris_monster, follow them here and see if they’re coming to a town near you.