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Chainsaws and Mermaids: An Interview with Briana Granados of Monster Treasure

Encapsulated in a wall of fuzzy guitars, only penetrable by their angelic voices, is the band Monster Treasure.  Hailing from Northern California, this trio of Briana Granado, Rachel Orimo, and R.J. Mar are pushing the envelope of punk by incorporating shoegaze and grunge, creating something entirely new.  With their brand new album II hitting the airwaves, Briana took time out of her busy schedule to speak with me.  How have their lives been impacted since the release of their first album?  Let’s find out.
 
I am loving the new album.  Your growth as a band is unmistakable.  II was recorded over a year ago but is just being released.  How has the band changed in the year since it’s been recorded?
Glad you’re enjoying it! I think we always surprise ourselves with what we can do.  We didn’t start out with big intentions or aspirations at first, but what has happened in the last couple years has really encouraged us.  We never thought we would put out our first EP on cassette, or first vinyl LP, let alone a second LP.  We never thought we’d see the UK let alone tour there. It’s been pretty surreal lately. I think we’re slowly realizing it’s okay to be confident in what we’re doing.
 
From the inception of the band, do you feel the musical direction has changed?
I think we started this band for fun, and it slowly became something we all needed.  Musically, I think we do well accommodating what any one of us feels they need to make at any time.  We get called shoegaze and grunge all the time, but in my mind we’ve always just been a punk band.
 
For the first two albums, you and Rachel wrote the songs separately for the most part.  Have your writing habits changed since then?
Rachel lives in Oakland now and so the process hasn’t changed.  We had the chance to write “No Hope” together on this last record.  I think when either of our song ideas start out, they are so stripped down that we all really take part in the completion of every track, when it comes down to it.  We’ve never been the types that have planned writing sessions.  Ideas come to us when they want to.
 
Is the band more creative during live shows playing music, or while sitting in a practice space writing music?
I think it’s different for both situations.  I’m still at the point where it’s hard for me to look at faces in the crowd at our shows sometimes because I’m so anxious.  We’re all very shy and nervous, so our showmanship is always something we’re working on.  I do feel more free during shows.  I like the point in the set when the adrenaline finally kicks in and you can kind of tune the anxiety out.  I think we all secretly hate practice, but when we meet specifically to put songs together, we have a lot of fun.
 
You have described your music as “Fuzzy Mermaid Punk”.  If given a chance, would you like to rephrase that?
Nope, that’s still the best we can come up with. Although it has evolved from it’s terse ancestor “chainsaws and mermaids.”
 
Ooh, I like that.  How would you describe your live show for someone that hasn’t seen you play?
Very loud.
 
Ha ha.  What is the most rock star thing that has happened to you while on the road?
Ha ha. We’re a very tame bunch. Once, RJ threw up and I slipped in it and that’s probably about as rock star as it gets, aside from the random record signing – Oh! and smuggling drugs over the border, obviously.
 
Oh no!  Do you find life on the road difficult?
The first day/night is always really hard for me for some reason.  Especially when we’re  far from home.  But once you get into the swing of it it’s great.  Touring has it’s challenges, but I love it so much and I’m incredibly lucky my best friends are in my band with me.  It’s nice to know that someone’s always going to have your back when you’re out there.
 
Does social media play a big part in who you are as a band?
We absolutely hate having to keep up with social media.  For some reason, after age 25 I personally became really bad and subsequently uninterested in keeping up with it all.  It can be fun sometimes. We love to communicate and keep in touch with people, but building up and sort of feeling like you have to maintain an online persona to the point where it becomes like maintaining a brand is really icky and impersonal and fake and we don’t really want any part of that, so we try to keep it genuine and simple.
 
Who has the worst tattoo in the band?
Rachel and I have given each other quite a few shoddy stick-n-poke tattoos, but we love those. RJ doesn’t have tattoos! I think I win for the worst. I tried out tattooing a few years back, and as practice I gave myself a really sketchy traditional rose.  And I had the bright idea of coloring it green.  It looks like a cabbage.
 
If you had a cassette stuck in the tape deck of your car which one would you want it to be?
Oh man. I really love this Shonen Knife “Rock Animals” cassette that I have definitely left in the deck for weeks at a time. Dookie was the first cassette I ever bought in my life and I actually might have to go with that. Or maybe it’s more fitting if I’m doomed to a lifetime of listening to the Scatman cassingle I inexplicably lifted from a thrift store in middle school!
 
Scatman?  Ha ha!  When are you coming to the East Coast?
We don’t have any plans at the moment but we would love to come out there!
 
I am looking forward to seeing you when you do!