Big Monsta and the Sugar Team Up to Put OC Rock Back on the Map

Big MonstaEXPAND
Big Monsta
Courtesy of the band

I Wonder If We'll Be Alright is the title of Big Monsta's forthcoming EP, but it could also describe the band's feelings of trying to navigate through a currently oversaturated and difficult music world.

The Orange County-based band, along with The Sugar, are hoping to help put Orange County rock music back on the map at an upcoming show and through new albums.

"It's almost like we're in a bit of a funk," said Cole Blackmore, lead vocalist and guitarist of The Sugar. "It's like we're stuck. I don't know if we need to work harder as a community, because there's so much good music in Orange County that just gets overlooked."

The bands, which each boast rock and blues influences, will play a dual album release show June 22 at the House of Blues Anaheim in the Parish Room. Big Monsta's upcoming three-track release, the group's fourth since their debut in 2012, has a different sound than previous recordings, said lead vocalist/guitarist Jimmy Hua.

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"This is a transitional or buffer EP because we're trying to stray away from our early songs and our old style of songwriting," he said. "We were kind of heavy-handed on that for a couple of years. We're trying to make the songs more focused on chorus and vocals. This is a more dynamic type of music and a little more aggressive tonally."

Like their other releases, Big Monsta — which also includes drummer Mike Willson and bassist Adrian Sanchez — recorded "I Wonder If We'll Be Alright" on their own at Wilson's Huntington Beach studio Music and Arts Productions Studio (MAPS).

Being DIY put a lot of pressure on the group originally, but since then, they've learned to "find their bearings" to be more efficient, Hua said.

The SugarEXPAND
The Sugar
Courtesy of the band

Hua and Wilson also record and produce other bands at MAPS. They've taken their experience with Big Monsta to help other groups.

"I'm more conscious about the cost of going into it," Hua said. "The method that people are going about now, especially in the digital age of recording, is there are so many options. I help people facilitate decisions before recording so it's a lot quicker and people save money."

One of the groups Hua worked with was The Sugar, who will be releasing their first album, comprised of eight tracks, at the July 22 show.

The two-piece outfit, consisting of Blackmore and drummer Tony Crosley, said working with another local band has helped them navigate through what Blackmore described as a struggling rock community in Orange County.

Hua said he believes the county is nostalgic of the 1980s and 1990s right now, which makes it hard for groups to make a name for themselves when they are playing original music. He often hears about other groups leaving Orange County and claiming other areas for this reason.

"Rock music is such in a weird position right now, whether that's on an independent level or a corporate level," Hua said. "Orange County is kind of having a hard time with that. What I've been noticing recently is that Orange County is very nostalgic. They want the '90s band or the '80s cover band, and we don't fit into that.”

Whether they choose to fit the mold or not, when it comes to playing live shows, these birds of a feather rock together.

"There are a lot of pockets in our community musically," Hua said. "I feel like if we're going to play shows it makes sense to do it with our buddies."

Big Monsta and The Sugar play at the House of Blues Anaheim (in the Parish Room), 400 Disney Way #337, Anaheim. (714) 778-2583, www.hob.com. Saturday, July 22 at 7 p.m. $10. All ages.


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