Dark-horse Monsters picks up the pieces
A few years back, before she went over to the dark side with Los Angeles's Monsters Are Waiting, Annalee Fery was briefly part of a band that she'd rather not think about today. Reached at a New York tour stop, the otherwise forthcoming frontwoman initially tries to take the Fifth when pressed for details, cryptically offering that the country-oriented group was a "man-made project". Pushed and prodded, however, she eventually capitulates and shares the gory, gruesome details.
"Oh God–do I have to tell?" Fery asks with a groan, which is followed by nervous laughter. "We were called Lace. A producer, David Foster, sort of put three girls together. They ended up firing me because I was so horrible, which was kind of a blessing in disguise. The whole thing was really–what's the word?–kind of strange."
In the grand old tradition of every manufactured group that's ever gone platinum, Lace didn't write any of its own material, but that didn't stop Fery from trying. Looking back, she never once got close to completing anything even remotely usable. As a good indicator that she's now found her true calling, the opposite has been true of her time with Monsters Are Waiting, which includes drummer Eric Gardner, guitarist Jonathan Siebels, and bassist Andrew Clark. If the Portland, Oregon –raised Fery ever had an inner shit-kicker, you'd never know it from the band's debut, Fascination. The title track starts out an authentic '80s synth sensation and ends up sounding like a math-rock tutorial taught by Karen O. From there, "Nobody" swings between morphined sugar pop and DIY new wave, and "Perfect Stranger" is a neon-lit shoegazer with a bass-bombed postpunk undertow. Even though the disc sunk without a trace upon release last year, it should have been a candidate for the year's Top 10 lists.
What makes Fascination doubly appealing is that it's a totally lo-fi affair, with the fact that large chunks of it were recorded on tape adding to its already considerable charm. That aesthetic has placed Monsters Are Waiting on the same footing as emerging L.A. hipsters like Silversun Pickups, although Fery admits that she and her bandmates haven't built the same buzz yet.
"In the beginning, we were touring with She Wants Revenge and had a lot of high-profile stuff going on," she says. "Then everything sort of went south. So we've parted ways with the people that we were originally working with–managers and lawyers–and are starting over. We're going to be releasing a new EP and trying to get people interested all over again. It's challenging, but I kind of like that. There's no one behind us pulling the strings–we're doing this because we love it."
As a result, Fery says, she's having more fun than she would ever have imagined when she arrived in L.A. The word from the underground says that's abundantly clear from Monsters Are Waiting's live shows, which have earned raves for the frontwoman's by-all-accounts captivating stage presence. Still, should that not be enough to kick things up to the next level, the undeniably photogenic singer/synth player has a backup plan.
"All we need to do is bring in some steel guitar," she says with a laugh. "Yeah–that would be perfect."
Monsters Are Waiting plays Richard's on Richards on Monday (July 23).