Bands to Watch: The Town Monster

By Columbus Alive
From the Bands to Watch: The Town Monster edition

Nathan Photos of The Town Monster felt a mild case of post-project depression after the keyboard-centric band fulfilled its yearlong goal of releasing an EP each month in 2010.

"I'm already freaking out a little bit," said Photos, the band's primary songwriter. "It was weird to have been so busy and have such a steady stream of something to do for a whole year. Then January 2 I looked around and was like, 'What am I going to do?'"

It was an eventful year for the ambitious band, as they not only released the 12 "Ohio Sessions" EPs and full-length debut "Autumn People," but also opened for Weezer, bid farewell to bassist Mike Rana and welcomed James Allison on keyboard and guitar. Their live show changed drastically, and now Photos and Allison share the spotlight at facing keyboard racks, with Matt Grady on the drums.

The band's songwriting process became more collaborative over the course of the EP project, and they approached each month's album a bit differently. But throughout the year, the albums were consistently diverse. November's, for example, includes piano rock grooves, a ballad and a quirky synth-heavy dance track featuring eerie whispering.

Not all of The Town Monster's endeavors are musical. Prompted by Photos' dabbling in animation, the band put together a 20-minute Town Monster Christmas special featuring cartoon versions of themselves hanging out with Prince and fighting a dragon (named Your Mom). The band plans to produce more videos soon.

"We're selling out, but it's in a different way," Allison said. "It's not like we're going pop or anything like that. We're just becoming cartoons."

Cartoons and puppet shows will be part of the forthcoming online show Town Monster TV. Between that, playing shows around the Midwest and developing multimedia to accompany live performances, it's going to be another busy year for The Town Monster.

"We've been thinking for a while about what we're going to get into this year," Allison said. "We don't really want to do anything conventionally like a band. I think people are getting bored with that. We wanted to experiment a lot more with ways to get our music out there."