Last year, I was recommended by a friend to go and watch a band called Monkey Boy at the notorious Plantation Café venue in Guildford. What I witnessed was probably one of the most amazing shows of the year. Live, Monkey Boy, powered by their all-bass, no-guitar sound, are a complete riot, and, as those who have purchased 'The Aquatic Ape Theory' EP will know, they're beginning to translate that sound onto record. This e-mail interview was conducted with Paul (vox and drums), and I thought I'd slip it into this issue as an added bonus for you!
Tell me a bit about how the band got together.
Mark (bass) is my brother and we have been playing together since '95. Disco joined in early '96 which is when Monkey Boy really started.
When and why did you choose to go for the two bass and drums sound?
Always liked the sound of two basses. We had all been in bands with the normal format of guitar, bass and drums and had got very bored by it (or maybe it was just the people we were playing with). We wanted to create a fun new project which would really give us something to think about.
What bands have influenced you musically and lyrically?
There are lots... Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits, Shellac, The Jesus Lizard, Mule to name but a few.
What has been your favourite Monkey Boy release so far?
Never really been happy with anything we have done yet. Each release is better than the last one but none are up to our expectations. It has all been down to getting involved with the recording and mixing ourselves. We really need to work out how to transfer our live sound onto record. We will be working with someone like Harvey Birrell next time round who is an excellent engineer and really gets what we are all about.
Was it fun working with Rothko?
Rothko are very good friends. We loved working with them. They came in to the studio one Sunday morning and recorded everything pretty much first take, then it was off down the pub. I'm sure we will have them joining us live at a few shows soon.
When's the debut Monkey Boy album going to be out?
It really depends on when we feel ready and we have an album's worth of songs we are all 100% happy with. We will put out another single first. The album will be something really special worth waiting for!
What's your relationship with Lockjaw?
We have known them all (Jack, Jools, Ben, Jim and Sam) for quite some time and have become very close friends. The way they run the label is great. It's like "When do you want to tour?" or "When would you like to put out a new single?". There's no heavy pressure to do this or do that , we all work hard together and do what we all love doing, which is music. I think because they have signed to a major label treating them like shit (Tribute To Nothing having been signed to Polygram subsidiary Go! Discs) that they wouldn't want Lockjaw bands to go through what they did.
What do you think of the other bands on Lockjaw?
We put them all up for a few nights when they are touring and have become good friends. They are all top guys. 'Positronic Raygun' by Zen Guerilla is my favourite Lockjaw release.
How do people react to you at gigs?
Depends where we are playing. Outside of London we have found that more people go mental. We have been lucky that people are really into it and turn up at the shows. Word has got about a bit now so some people know what to expect.
Is your ad-libbing at gigs rehearsed or spontaneous?
All pretty much spontaneous. We got very bored playing the same thing the same way every night. Sometimes we try and get a bit too clever and balls it up but it's good fun. It's all good fun... until somebody loses an eye.
Do you remember playing the Plantation Café in Guildford? Any funny tour stories?
Yep, we remember. Weird show that. Fun though. Having pint glasses and fags thrown at us by some meatheads in Coventry. We had to leave by the back door and over the fence. The promoter had to pay us via a hole in the fucking fence! Shit ourselves!
Could I have a Monkey Boy exclusive?
Just found out we will be touring the UK in mid April. A new single later this year. Still planning things at the moment. Main thing will be to try and play as many live shows as we can.
Issue 5 Contents
Issue 5 Winter 2000 © Tim Bragger