“Music and performing is a way to express yourself without exposing yourself. You can go on stage and share an idea, but you’re with a group and you’re all sharing it together and you’re all in sync,” said Daniel Watkins, Phd Student at OSU and lead singer of the local band, Mons La Hire.
Corvallis is noted for its growing DIY scene, an umbrella term that includes everything from punk, lo-fi and experimental noise to emo. Hidden underneath the surface, however, is a gold mine of indie rockers.
Mons La Hire is primarily considered indie/alternative rock but they have fondness for classic rock and folk. Their band is comprised of Daniel Watkins on vocals, Suzanne Watkins on bass, Charlie Carr on guitar, Matt Cornelius on keyboard and Patrick Beesley on drums. The band combines the jangling guitar sounds of artists like The Mountain Goats, My Morning Jacket and Lord Huron with the contentious clash of vocals—similar to Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy.
Watkins has been a part of different bands since he was in high school. Mons La Hire merged from his previous band, Mavis, which he started in Idaho. Mavis gained a steady following and produced one album and an EP. When Watkins relocated to Oregon in the summer of 2015 with his wife and bandmate, Suzanne, they decided they needed a fresh start.
“Mons La Hire is the name of a mountain on the moon, hence the Mons. I like the connection to a geographical object. ‘La Hire’ is also the name of a mathematician, I study math, and then there’s a crater on the same plain named Mavis, and I thought ‘oh, that’s a nice enough coincidence, I’ll do that,” Watkins said.
From there, it was a “musicians wanted” ad on Craigslist and a coincidental meet at church that brought the five together.
Their album, “Fossil Mountain” was released under their predecessor band name, Mavis. This album is now streaming on Bandcamp. It’s a compilation of tunes woven with a dense sound of guitars, emotional debris and a song structure that weaves into something contagious.
Each song takes unexpected detours into psychedelia and power pop, complete with orchestral touches and harmonic flourishes. The band finds the middle ground between postmodern Built to Spill styled pop and the loose spacious jamming of Modest Mouse.
“When you’re in a band, you really need to have the ideas that come from all of your different life experiences come together. That’s where your songs come from, that’s your music,” Watkins said.
Mons La Hire is emerging in the music scene of Corvallis and have played shows at local venues recently, including Interzone cafe. They have auditioned for the Battle of the Bands competition at OSU and continue to build their steady body of followers.