I reached out to Tom Watkins from Aaah!RealMonsters, a pop punk band from St. Louis… and Colorado… and California… and Indiana… and maybe Boston?, to talk about the band, their new album(s) coming out, and the St. Louis scene.
Tell me about the band.
We are a 5 piece pop punk band from St. Louis Missouri. You can hear our first album RELOCATE on itunes, amazon, reverbnation. We are in a long distance relationship. I’m attending school in California for vocal performance. Matt(bass) and Ryan(guitar) live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Nick(guitar) lives in St. Louis still along with Keith(drums). Although with Keith’s acceptance to a music school in Boston this fall it will literally put us at opposite time zones. Our second album is getting ready to be released this summer. It’s been a hell of an experience doing a 12 song full length long distance.
How do you practice and write songs from 3 different states?
Rehearsing songs is pretty difficult. Skype helps but it’s not reliable because of latency and connection issues. The easiest way I learned the songs Matt, Nick or Ryan write is by listening to scratch tracks we all send to each other.
Tell me about the new album.
We ended up having to cut the full length 12 song album “Don’t Quit Your Day Jobs” into 2 different albums because we under estimated the time it would take for vocals. We decided to cut it in half; part A is titled “Don’t Quit” with 6 songs,”Your Day” is part B and will have the remaining 6. We also plan to release an acoustic album called “Jobs” to follow part B. I think what makes us unique is that everyone has a song on this album in which they wrote. It was everyone’s job to record a scratch track of the song(s) they wrote and chain email it, and we went from there. It’s definitely been the most difficult/frustrating thing I’ve had to do in my career yet. But worth it.
Where do you see the band in 5 years?
Enough people in the states listen to our music that it allows us to be able to survive on a tour that’s not funded by us and guarantees a certain amount of money each show.
Favorite city to play in?
St. Louis!!! Always and Forever!
Cicero’s in St Louis. Every venue in that city that I had grown up playing in had either turned into a parking lot or bought out by other businesses. They have a great sound system, acoustics, pizza and the first drink for bands are usually free.
What/Who are your musical influences?
One of my cousin’s used to live with me & turned me on to pop punk. New Found Glory, Blink, Brand New were some living legends to me. He also influenced me to play guitar cause he was my cool older cousin and I looked up to him. (Awwww what a nice thing to say about Pat!) Looking back now a lot of the same things that influenced teenage Tom still influence me today. Family, friends, good music, and pretty girls. My musical taste now a days are much more broad through. I’ve been on a Fleetwood Mac/Nirvana/Jamie Cullum/Sinatra binge recently. Oh and the 20/20 experience of course.
Are all of your songs influenced by personal experiences?
Every single song. I cant necessarily speak for the lyrics I don’t write but I think its best to start from where you know especially with lyrics. People relate to stories, which is what songs should be just in a set rhythm and key. I feel like my lyrics that I write are pretty blunt and straight forward on this new record though.
Anything else that fans should look out for?
Though we are a long distance band we made a pack with each other to play a show at least once every 6 months. We love to meet new people so contact us and let us know where we should play near you!
After a couple questions about the band and the new album, I decided to switch gears and talk about the St. Louis music scene.
What’s the music scene like when you play in Colorado?
Colorado is a beautiful state. Matt’s dad let us play with him at the Mountain Shadows benefit for the Waldo Canyon wildfires last year all of the acts were mainly blues and folk. Which was funny for us because we got on stage with our huge amps and our fast punk music, Matt and Ryan’s friends were there for us though. I love the scene there. The show was outside in a local park. You could see for miles and the stage was surrounded by mountains with Pikes Peak off in the distance. It’s one of my most favorite places to be; the view, good company, blues, with a beer in hand.
Let’s talk about St. Louis, How do you feel about the music scene here?
Its obviously not as good as it was back in the Page Avenue-Story of the Year days. Most of the time I feel like it’s a double edge sword. The scene wont get better if bands aren’t playing. Bands can’t play unless they fill venues with fan’s. Genuine fan’s. The ones that come back to every show and tell other people about your music.
Any ideas to help bring back the St. Louis scene?
Bands need to make friends with each other. There are some really talented people in this city that play a lot of different kind of music. I consider myself lucky cause my cousin had played in BAMF. My band at the time had played so many shows with them. Many of the fan’s we met had been through them along with some of my favorite shows I’ve played. When you find a band like that; you want to see each other succeed, you go to see each others shows even when your own band isn’t playing, you motivate each other, you feed off each other. Thats what the St Louis scene is all about.