Hoagies and Jawns with Fried Monk
Welcome to the 11th edition of the IMF Artist Profile, a series dedicated to the Indie Music Feedback community. The goal of this series is to take a look at the personal lives of some of IMF’s biggest contributors, giving you a peek into who they are as human beings. We’ll pull back the curtain as far as our guests allow and hopefully we will all walk away with a better understanding of the music these individuals are creating as we learn more about them.
Fried Monk describes himself as, “Live instruments sprinkled on computer farts”. Which is probably one of my favorite self-descriptions from an artist. Growing up in Northern New Jersey, Lucas moved to Philadelphia for college, where he studied Music Industry with a Technology concentration. Now continuing to reside in Philadephia, Lucas works in live sound and owns a recording studio. Primarily a guitarist, bassist, and drummer, Lucas is taking the downtime during COVID to learn piano. When he’s not in the studio, you can find him surfing, snowboarding, or learning how to code.
Digging into Fried Monk and everything Lucas has been up to over the past decade is a serious undertaking. From guest spots on friend’s albums to contributing in major ways to a number of projects and musical groups, Lucas has been extremely busy and is very diverse in his style and skill. Fried Monk, arguably his most personal project, is also my favorite. Fusing various instrumental styles over trap and hip hop beats creates such an interesting and relaxed vibe, I am instantly bobbing my head when I put on any of these albums. His latest release, Hurry Up and Wait is a masterclass in mixing and mastering. Today we’re going to dive into Lucas’ career, his music, and some of his other projects.
Baaz: Despite us all being stuck indoors right now, I like to imagine myself traveling soon and getting out into the world. Any plans for when things get back to normal?
Fried Monk: Every summer I take a trip to New Orleans around this time and this is the first year in 4 that we weren’t able to go. I love long road trips. We normally do a snowboarding trip in the winter. I would love to go back to Italy or travel somewhere new. I was on tour doing sound for a band that was cut short because of COVID. I’d love to go back on the road with a band.
Baaz: As an artist/professional who is feeling the effects of COVID pretty hard right now, can you tell us a bit about what you’ve personally done to keep yourself on top of the industry? Do you have any advice for gig workers, live music production staff, or anyone else in the industry who might be struggling right now?
Fried Monk: Honestly, I could take some of that advice. Live event work has completely frozen in place. I worked one high school graduation this entire pandemic. I was called off a 5-week tour I was on in week 2 and flew home early. This time I’ve spent working on music and attempting to learn some coding. The only advice I can really give is to check up on your friends and coworkers whose careers have basically vanished overnight with no end in sight.
Baaz: You have such an eclectic variance in your style, I’m curious to know…who are some of your favorite musicians and influences?
Fried Monk: Rx Bandits have been my favorite band since I found out about them. Their drummer C Gak is a huge reason why I’m any decent at the instrument. I would play all their albums straight through in high school and really got a lot better because of their music. Feed Me Jack has become a favorite band of mine as well. Ratatat had a huge influence on me too. I had no idea you could take a hip hop beat and throw live instruments on it until listening to their music. Around that same time, I discovered Wyclef Jean who does a similar thing with his productions.
Baaz: In doing research for this Profile, I did a deep dive into your website/production history and came away extremely impressed. You’ve got a massive catalog of music on there. I think I counted around 86 or so albums that you’ve contributed to or self-produced since 2012 and the genres seem pretty spread out…Where did you go to school and how did this journey begin for you?
Fried Monk: I went to Drexel in Philadelphia. I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to open up a recording studio because it exposed me to so many different artists and music made by such a wide variety of musicians. I love stepping out of my comfort zone and working on something I haven’t been exposed to previously.
Baaz: Your first album, self-titled and released in 2013, is a little bit hip hop and a little bit shoegaze. It’s quite an enjoyable listen but your sound has changed so much since then. What caused that change, or do you see it more as an evolution?
Fried Monk: I don’t think it was anything that had been premeditated. It kind of just came naturally. I think a large majority of that change happened because I got a lot better at the craft and sitting behind the computer as a ‘producer’. From that experience and ‘level up’ in production, it made writing a lot smoother and helped me get closer to finishing an idea or song much faster. In turn, that helps me stay productive and not get sick of an idea as quickly because I’m spending a lot less time on a song, which I think helps the song overall. I’ve also been writing with other phenomenal artists and songwriters that have rubbed off some of their skills on me just by being in the same room.
Baaz: Speaking of how your music has evolved and changed over the years…In this final section, I am going to link a few songs from across your career. I’d like you to tell us the story behind each one:
Moonshine Heather “Acid Times”
Fried Monk: This was the first album I worked on at Sleepless Sound. It was one I have very fond memories of. Moonshine Heather was a band I really enjoyed being in and I already loved their songwriting from playing with them so having the honor of producing their second release was really great for the first big project at my studio. I was invited to give my opinion on things and really step into the producer role involving some atmospheric synths and guitar parts that they were super open to me writing with them. It was an amazing first experience in a new venture.
NARK “Cry About It”
Fried Monk: This was my old punk band and our only full-length release. I played a lot of great, crusty basement shows with this band throughout college and had a blast writing/playing. It was my first real outlet with songwriting and the first experience of recording a full band in a professional studio setting. This album was made with a lot of love and care.
Fried Addict “Enter The Batcave”
Fried Monk: This was a project myself and radioaddict (Adam Laub) did in 2 sessions. In the first session, we made the three instrumentals and put WuTang acapella on top of them. In the second session, we opened up the files and the vocals got completely out of time and we lost some session files. The project was meant to be a fun quick thing so we just took the mixes we last bounced out and mastered those to release these 3 songs.
Jurks “The Breaks”
Fried Monk: This was the first single from Jurks. A good friend Matthew Jurasek came to me asking to produce his solo project as a side step from his previous band. By the time we finished writing this track together, he considered it a band with me being so involved. I remember finishing the first mix of this and I was so excited I called him up to force him to listen right then. He called me back ecstatic and we kept making music together. Hopefully, we’ll finish our new record at some point, but it’s been a slow process.