Lead singer and guitarist Jimmy Hua chose to meet late-night at the Huntington Beach staple, The Donuttery, located right on Beach Boulevard. Friendly and light-hearted, Hua beamed a genuine charisma and energy that was contagious. His local blues rock trio, Big Monsta has been captivating their growing audience for a few years now, which earned them the title of OC Music Awards’ Best New Artist in 2014. These Huntington Beach locals, which also include Mike Willson on drums and Adrian Sanchez on bass, grew up together and have established themselves as upcoming Orange County talent through their dynamic live performance, and their thoughtful song-direction and recordings.
Their initial self-titled album released in 2013 laid the foundation, which was followed by Crooked Vol. I EP in 2014, then the singles, “Monos” and “Come Back to Me” in 2015. Producers like Jon O’Brien of The Music Box, combined with band member Willson’s engineering skills showcased at his own studio, MAPS, have been essential elements to Big Monsta’s rising success. With quality studio spaces at their disposal, they are able to refine their recordings, and also bring in strong accompaniment to add additional textures to their tracks. This weekend, the band are set to reach another echelon when they release their fourth effort, a follow-up EP, Crooked Vol. II, this Saturday, July 16th at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa.
OC Weekly: When did you start writing Crooked Vol. II?
Jimmy Hua: Actually, I started writing it when I finished recording and mixing Crooked Vol. 1. So I got really lucky with whatever creative wave happened in 2014.
Where was your perspective coming from when writing Volume II?
The theme for Crooked Volume I was about my criticism of interactions or relationships that people were having in my life. Volume II is more introspective. It feels like I’m talking with myself, like inner banter.
When and with whom did you record this latest EP?
After three years I figured out that in order to have successful recordings, I needed to have a good team. For my own stuff I usually produce, arrange it as much as I can, finish with the lyrics and melody, then I’ll bring it to the guys and they’ll help me with the final arrangement for recording. They really do take it much further. This time, I got my drummer, Mike, and Jon O’Brien to mix it together. They both went to Hybrid Studios to mix on the large SSL console they have there. We spent about eight hours mixing six songs.
Has the music progressed since your first recordings?
The most significant change is in the quality of the way that we wanted to record it—and we found it. If you listen back, the recording method for the first album was very different, since we recorded together and then I overdubbed quite a bit. This time I just wanted to track it together in the same room and do one overdub for guitar—at the most—and that’s it. Simple and dry.
How has the local scene driven inspired you as a band?
There is a lot of talent in Orange County. You go out any night, anywhere and people playing are good. That’s what inspires me.
What do you have in mind for the event on Saturday?
We like to keep it in the family, so whomever we work with—that’s why we have Hybrid Studios, MAPS, and Jon O’Brien’s The Music Box. The Wayfarer has literally been there since we started, even before when it was Detroit Bar.
In what formats are you releasing Crooked Vol. II?
We’re going to start off with CDs, and cassettes with Parker Macy at Creme Tangerine. So it’s similar to the same deal we had with Volume 1, so we’re going to continue that for Volume 2. We’re not going to have a digital release until around August. If anything, there will be a single on Soundcloud.
So if you don’t come to the show, it will be tough to score the EP?
That’s what we want to push. What I’ve noticed going to my friend’s shows locally, people don’t buy, and what that means is that people don’t value the music, even if it’s at $5. For the amount of work and money that the bands are investing in studios for mixing and mastering, it should be more than that. So I want to test it out and see if it fairs well.