Making friends with mayhem
Like a good neighbor, Monster Squad is slightly deranged
“I blacked out at a Del Taco in Sacramento once,” Monster Squad guitarist Jason Case recalls, elaborating the Vacaville punk outfit’s strong ties to the 916. “I started peeing in the parking lot and my bandmate says to me, ‘Hey, here comes a cop!’ So I turned to the side and continued peeing, as though turning to the side would make me invisible to the cop. We always have a lot of fun in Sacramento, but it usually involves booze.”
Case and his bandmates, drummer Matt Kadi, guitarist Chris Chapel, bass player Justin Peach and singer Phil Geck, hail from all over Northern California, but in any given month they’re sure to make several trips down I-80 to perform, record and carouse in the River City. “We are proud to be part of the NorCal punk scene,” Case says. “It’s so strong and there’s a lot of unity.”
Actually, Case and company take neighborliness to a new level. Monster Squad’s live show has a national reputation, thanks to a relentless tour schedule, but the boys don’t save all the excitement for the stage. “We do band wars when we’re on tour,” Case explains. “And we are pretty much known for not ever being beaten. When we toured with the Action, they put a piece of their own poop in a plastic bag and left it on our van. They’re from Canada, so I have to assume that they don’t know much about band wars. But that definitely didn’t hurt our feelings. Matt grabbed the poop and wrote a big fecal ‘MS’ with it on their van window. He actually wrote it backward so that they could read it from the inside while they drove. That one backfired for them pretty hard.”
Now is probably the right time to mention that it wasn’t the offstage antics that landed Monster Squad a deal with Punk Core Records. The new album, Fire the Faith, takes the band’s hardcore-punk sound in new directions, but without skimping on the aggression or intensity. Recorded at Sacramento’s Pus Cavern Studios, Fire the Faith varies from anthemic to chaotic, from melodic to discordant. The title track and “All These Things” are classic Monster Squad face-punchers, while “Dirt” dabbles in off-rhythmic dissonance, and an untitled track closes the album with a reggae infusion featuring vocal contributions from Pressure Point’s Kenny B.
Case calls Pus Cavern’s Joe Johnston great to work with. “He knows what we’re thinking before we think it. Sometimes, between takes, he will add or tweak something in the mix while the band is outside taking a break. We’ll come back and go, ‘Oh my god, did we do that?’ And he’ll say, ‘No. I just thought you’d like it.’ We click so well with that guy.”
With several U.S. tours under the belt, Monster Squad soon will embark on its first European tour—six countries in four weeks. Should be fun; they’re good at making friends.
“One night in Cleveland, when we were on tour with the Casualties,” Case continues, “we went to this bar after the show. We started eating and drinking and drinking some more. For some reason I couldn’t find the bathroom. I was on the upper level of this multilevel bar, and somehow I ended up with a bag of cement. I threw the bag of cement, which was open, down from the top level to the bottom level. And I still had to go to the bathroom, so I just started peeing on the bag of cement from the top floor to the bottom floor. Since it was last call, I zipped up and thought about what I did for a second. And then I decided that the fire alarm needed to be pulled. So I pulled it, and of course I had to run. The police and fire departments were there in like five minutes, so I had to run onto the Casualties’ bus and hide out for the rest of the night.”