interview by RJ Cubarrubia
Indie-pop duo Makeup Monsters are a young band from Tacoma quickly making a name for themselves in the Northwest music scene, combining bouncy beats, fun, clean guitar, and thoughtful yet slightly goofy lyrics to create well-written pop songs rarely longer than three minutes. With an endearing, quirky charm that puts Michael Cera to shame, Isaac Solverson and Shayne Weeks (who share guitar, vocal, and drum duties) are a breath of fresh bare bones bedroom pop air that will simply make your day better (just give “Rarin’ To Go” a listen and try not to have a good time; it’s pretty hard). I met up with the pair after their impressive performance at the EMP Sound Off! Final Round, where they educated me on their beginnings (doodling in class, tsk tsk), their upcoming debut album, and their love for Tacoma.
How long have you guys been playing together and how old are you guys now?
Isaac: We’ve been playing music together since the beginning of our sophomore year of high school and we’re seventeen now, seniors.
Shayne: We all have white shoes on. That’s awesome. We should start our own gang.
That would be tight. You guys sort of came out with an EP or something like that, right?
Shayne: Kind of, not really, it’s more like a Sound Off EP. This is the only time we’re selling those because we’re working on our full length album right now. Those are four recordings from that album, which will come out like next month.
Isaac: We’re recording with Kyle Brunette, he’s in The Elephants and The Nightgowns and all sorts of other bands.
Any plans for a CD release show?
Isaac: We’ll do something in Tacoma, probably.
Shayne: Something big in Tacoma, yeah.
Earlier, Isaac and I were talking about how you guys hadn’t been out here to Seattle. Is there any reason why?
Shayne: Not really, this is definitely like a “welcome to Seattle” sort of thing right now. We’d love to play more in Seattle.
How long have you guys been working on this album and your music?
Isaac: Makeup Monsters, as just the two of us playing together, has been officially a band since last February.
Shayne: But basically, all those songs we wrote back then we don’t play anymore. We had another band called Raleigh and it was kind of electronic music with guitars. That’s how we started writing together, with just two guitars, and we just started playing shows together by ourselves.
What’s the writing process for you guys like, since you’re best friends and you switch off between instruments? Is it like just hanging out in your room and doing whatever?
Shayne: Yeah, kind of! Or hanging out in Humanities class drawing pictures.
Isaac: That’s actually how a lot of our merchandise came together. More recently, we’ve been trying to write more when we’re together but the majority of the songs that we played tonight, it’s like, I’ll write a song and bring it to Shayne and he’ll maybe tweak it a little bit.
Shayne: Yeah, we bring a skeleton to each other…
Isaac: Then we put some makeup on it…
Shayne: And they become monsters.
Isaac: We’ll have a few different ideas that we’re kind of going with and then only a few will make it out. We try to do it so we come out with them evenly.
Yeah, something I’ve noticed with your songs is that they’re all short but well written and I notice many young artists using more instruments or effects and then production when they’re sometimes lacking the songwriting. How do you guys take the songwriting to recording, bare bones DIY?
Isaac: Yeah, we definitely do everything ourselves.
Shayne: Yeah, we see a lot of bands our age go towards that.
Isaac: Tacoma bands are definitely the chief inspiration with everything: having that personal connection, knowing them, hanging out with then, seeing them live.
I see a lot of bands that are from places that are close to Seattle and they usually just say they’re from Seattle when they’re not.
Isaac: Yeah, fuck that.
Are you guys going to take Tacoma to the next level?
Isaac: Yeah, I think Tacoma’s kind of taken itself to the next level. I hate to say it, but there’s like an arts renaissance going on in Tacoma because it’s not that big.
Shayne: It feels big to us, maybe because we’re getting older and coming into our thing. But the music scene there is just… It feels like a big crowd.
Isaac: For me, I think of Tacoma’s arts as less people doing way cooler shit. People set the bar high in Tacoma too. Kyle’s been a huge influence too, as far as recording our songs, because with us, everything is so stripped down, and he’s been a really big influence on how the recordings are going to come out.
Thanks guys and I can’t wait for the album.
Shayne: Yeah dude, thanks.
Isaac: Thanks, man.
Makeup Monsters are currently recording their debut album, which will be released later this month. For more information, including upcoming shows and album release information, visit Makeup Monsters’ MySpace page.