Remember the name Jimmy Hua if you're one of those weirdos that follows Orange County DIY music, because something tells us, that in some way shape or form, Jimmy Hua is going to be right at the main nerve of anything you might call the OC Music Scene within the next 18 months.
And it will all lead back to 2013, the year 22-year-old Huntington Beach native said fuck it all, and went all-in doing music, quitting his cashier job at Flame Broiler after figuring out he could make as much money, and probably a lot of more, doing freelance engineering for local indie bands at the MAPS studio on the industrial west side of HB, where he's holed up every night he's not at Detroit Bar learning his way around a soundboard.
“I had a crossroads type of incident where, you know, whether I wanted to choose full time school or music,” says Hua. “I was undecided after 2 and a half years at [CSU] Long Beach and I realized I didn't have a passion for school.”
Hua is best known as the frontman guitarist of Big Monsta, a classic blues-rock power trio that's been around since his high school days, and has been steady gigging Beach City local clubs for the past year or so. The band plays stripped-down blues rock, taking its cues from bands like The Black Keys, and even more so, the White Stripes, with Hua's nasal-growl tenor, and his raw-yet-refined Gibson SG riffage.
“I really look up to his work ethic,” Hua says in admiration of White. “He's a purist and a really good musician in the studio. One of the things I learned this year about the studio is if you record crap into the microphone, you're going to get crap out.”
This seems like a straightforward enough precipice, but any veteran studio rat will tell you it's an oft overlooked aspect of the game–in garage rock especially. It's one of those great musical paradoxes: in order sound loose, you gotta play tight. And before anything else, Hua's a tight guitarist and his band has a gleaming garage rock spit shine in a live setting.
Hua says that Big Monsta's chemistry came by way of the arts academy program that he, drummer Mike Willson, and bassist Adrian Sanchez were in together as classmates at Huntington High School. "Initially I thought those classes would be like music theory or they'd teach us notation, but it was more that's we'd have showcases,” Hua remembers. "For example, we'd do a whole Beatles album at a time, so we ended up leaning Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper, Rubber Soul. They'd give us a bulk of songs to learn and it would be up to us whether we'd wanna sound awesome or not, leaning all the parts and whatnot.”
As far as the band's chosen bluesy musical aesthetic, Hua was introduced to Johnny Lee Hooker and other blues greats by his uncle as a teenager learning guitar, and that's always been steeped in his approach. "Robert Jon and The Wreck and Jeremiah Red doing a similar thing,” Hua acknowledges. "I hope we're pushing the blues to the forefront because it would be a nice contrast to the surf scene.”
Whether or not blues rock comes back and becomes the next big DIY thing shouldn't matter to Hua too much, as his circle of friends–the roadhouse-y Randburg, the art folksters Gardeners Logic and the garage-y power pop outfit Fellow Bohemians–look more and more like the emerging young guard in OC music if club bills are any indicator.
"We're just trying to create some sort of scene,” Hua says. "I feel like there isn't one, and if there is, it's ass-backwards for me to try to work my way into it, so we'll just create our own.”
Big Monsta perform tonight at La Cave with Gardner's Logic and Randsburg. No cover. 9 p.m. 21+ For more info, click here.