Photo: Morgan Young
When group members decide that their band name needs to coax out the vicious creatures lurking within The Black Lagoon, Camp Crystal Lake, The Twilight Zone, The Stanley Hotel, Hill House, The Bates Motel, and even your closet by offering them a kind gesture of “hello,” you would expect them to sound a little more like Opeth or Slayer. However, the San Francisco-based four-piece Hello Monster don’t play a mesh of hefty and elaborate minor chords mixed with harsh vocals summoning demons from the underground. In fact, from the first few bars of the band’s debut album, ‘P.S. I’m Home,’ we hear catchy vocal hooks dancing around bouncing drum beats like it’s the new headliner for the hottest summer playlist. And so, it’s not exactly clear which monsters they would be greeting. But one thing is for sure: with a sound that combines the best of American pop-punk and just a burst of fast-paced British bombast reminiscent of Kaiser Chief’s “I Predict a Riot,” Hello Monster conjures up something worth paying attention to.
Read below to learn how members Joey, Bill, Paul, and Sid got their name and how deciding to greet ferocious unknown creatures actually saved them from more horrifying aliases.
Who came up with the band name?
Joey: I guess technically it was Paul; it was a lyric from a song that his ex-girlfriend wrote. Or so the story goes.
Paul: Yeah, I was the one who threw that one into the hat. It was one of those things where it just kind of stuck in the back of your head. We found ourselves going back to it.
Was there a selection process?
Bill: There’s always a selection process. Naming anything is one of the most second-guessable things that a musician can do. We painstakingly overthink everything from song names to album names. Imagine what we go through when naming the band.
Sid: We tried to find something everyone could agree on. The discussion happened well before Bill or Joey ever came into the band, and the band members at the time had somewhat more… eclectic tastes. There were only a few serious contenders. I was hell-bent on having the band be a reference to Big Trouble in Little China, but I got outvoted.
Paul: Sid was also obsessed with the band name “Ann with an E” for a while. I’m not sure what that was all about, but given Tacking Back Sunday’s “Cute without the E,” it could have been seen as derivative. That’s why I’m the winner.
Is there a particular meaning behind the name?
Paul: In the beginning, not really. You just toss a bunch of names into the air and see what sticks. The meaning comes after the name is accepted, and Hello Monster has definitely taken on its own meaning. Bill’s place has been dubbed “Monster House” and we always talk about what’s going on in Monster land in our emails.
What’s the best name that you considered but rejected?
Sid: I suppose “Press Play” got about as close as anything to becoming our band name. I still don’t necessarily mind it. For the record, I’d still change our name to “Jack Burton” or “The Pork Chop Express” if I had the chance.
What’s the worst name that you considered using?
Bill: Colony Collapse Disorder!
Sid: Yeah, that little gem was brought up by the bassist that Bill eventually replaced. He was an interesting character to say the least, and he felt very strongly about that band name. He wanted to raise awareness about the dwindling bee population worldwide.
Any regrets about the name you chose?
Bill: Not really; it’s a name as much as anything else, right? It rolls off the tongue, and there aren’t too many misspellings to make things awkward. That’s a lesson I learned early on: pick words that don’t sound like other words. Bookers love accidentally mislabeling bands on bills.
Joey: Yeah, the closest we ever seem to get to a misspelling is “Hella Monster” but that’s a SF-ism, so it’s not out of the question.
Paul: The only regret is how much the phrase “Hello Monster” gets thrown around with Lady Gaga’s followers, but free press is free press.
Sid: But overall, we have no regrets. Even if we did, we couldn’t do anything about it at this point.
Bill: Unless you hear about a hot new band called “Goodbye Human”… in which case, we did something about it.
Pick up Hello Monster’s new album, P.S. I’m Home.
For more information on the band, check out their Facebook page.