© Sandra Garrido Campos
Bands come in all shapes and sizes but it’s hard to believe that spanning half a dozen albums and better than a decade of live performances Monkey3 is still providing a unique and interesting take on the Swiss psychedelic sound. Thunderous drum and bass teamed with sky-high keyboards and searing guitar solos team to create a living beast threatening to steal your breath away at any moment, these guys seem to bleed a stoner-rock aesthetic. Songs stretch like never ending roads before the listener, only held in check by the occasional track change or time signature shift keyboards and strings spinning off into a psychedelic oblivion. With a new album in the works and a busy year of touring coming up I thought now would be a good time to ask about the history of Monkey3, what it’s like being in the band ten years down the road and exactly what the future has in store for one of the most interesting bands from the past decade. So kick back, put on some tunes from the media section of Monkey3’s website (http://monkeythree.com/video) and enjoy a tasty slice of the cosmic stoner-rock sludge that is Monkey3!
What’s the band’s lineup? Is this your original lineup?
Monkey3 is Walter on drums, Picasso on bass, dB on keys and me, Boris on guitar. It's not exactly the original line-up, during an early stage of the band our keyboard player was someone else, but he quit the band after one year and dB joined us and took his place.
Are any of you in any other bands? Have you released anything with any other bands?
We’ve all played separately in several Swiss bands (Sludge, Sideburn) throughout the years and we’ve released several albums with those bands.
How and when did you all meet?
Picasso and I met in a bar in Lausanne. We didn't know each other but he had a Kyuss shirt on and I started to talk to him. We talked about jamming sometime, there were always musicians coming and going, and one day my friend brought Walter along to jam; he never left!
When did it start and what led you to form Monkey3?
The jamming stuff started around 2000-2001, after a lot of jams and different musicians we thought "why don't we start a band"? Four guys (Picasso, Walter, Boris, Darkman) were down for that and we started working on real songs for live shows and an album.
Where are you all originally from?
We are from Lausanne, Switzerland.
Where is the band located now? How would you describe the local music scene? Are you very involved with that local scene?
We are located in Lausanne. The music scene there is quite active, lots of bands (some of them are really good) and quite a few clubs to play. Most of the scene is various metal genres or pop stuff. There's not really much going on with stoner, psych or heavy-rock music, so we’re not really involved in our home town’s music scene, but we do sometimes play in Lausanne and people show up and dig the show. I think in the future there might be some space for that kind of music there too though.
Has the local music scene played an important role in Monkey3’s history or evolution?
There are some pretty obvious influences in your music but there are tons of hidden sounds, tones, effects and influences peppered throughout Monkey3’s music as well. Can you talk a little bit about who some of your personal musical influences are? What about the band as a whole as opposed you as individuals?
We are big fans of classic-rock bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and AC/DC… We more or less have the same tastes. Walter loves The Black Crowes, Picasso is a Kiss fan, dB digs Jimi Hendrix and I really appreciate Ten Years After. The influences that brought us together most though were probably Kyuss, Jane's Addiction and 35007.
© Jaak Geebelen
I don’t like to label or classify music, how would you describe your music to our readers?
Difficult question... Let's say we play rock music with a psychedelic vibe, a progressive spacy edge, and a taste of stoner rock all with a big smile on our faces!
Can you describe Monkey3’s writing process? Is there a lot of exploratory jamming or does someone come in with a more polished, finished product to share with the rest of the band?
We usually do a lot of jamming, record everything, listen to it back and then work on what we like the most in order to have proper tracks that we all enjoy playing and make sense.
How has the songwriting process changed or evolved since your debut album in 2004?
Our writing process hasn’t changed that much since the beginning, but the process is probably a bit faster and we know a bit better where we want to go much quicker.
You just announced April 16th that you are working on a new full-length album! Can you tell us a little bit about that upcoming release? Are you going to try anything radically different with this album? When is it going to be available? Where’s it going to be recorded? Who’s going to be releasing it?
The new album will be recorded in June 2013 and will be released at the end of October 2013 by Napalm Records/Spinning Goblin.
Do you have any other releases planned for this year?
Apart from the album, not yet.
You released a live DVD in 2009, Live At Aventicum, how did you go about recording the show? Was it a soundboard tap or did you mic all the instruments up? Who released it? Why a DVD?
We miced all the instruments in order to do something really nice. During the show there was a power outage and we lost a lot of what was recorded, but we managed to release it without studio overdubs anyways. The purpose of the DVD was more promotional, it shows how the band is in a live situation. We released it ourselves.
2009’s Undercover was comprised of cover songs featuring guest vocals by John Garcia and Tony Jelencovich, what brought that album about? Why an album of cover songs? How did John Garcia and Tony Jelencovich get involved with the album?
We wanted to do something for the fans that shows the band in a different way. We thought that doing covers of songs that had influenced us as musicians was a good way to show the band from the inside. When we were producing Undercover, we figured out that some tracks needed vocals. We started thinking of what singers would be great on those recordings and the names John Garcia (Kyuss) and Tony Jelencovich (Transport League) just kind of came up naturally, they are great vocalists and they have a real vocal tone signature. We contacted them and they liked the project. It was a bit different than usual, we had to think slightly different in regards to the arrangements of the songs, and we had to leave space for vocals, which we’re not used to. We recorded all the instruments in Lausanne and then sent them to John and Tony. They did the vocals on top of those versions. John Garcia did the recording in California and Tony Jelencovich in Sweden.
You’ve dealt with several record labels as well as having self-released some of your own music. What are the upsides and downsides working with a record label? What about releasing your own material?
When you work with a label you have a lot more distribution and promotion possibilities. We prefer to work with a label, so the band can focus more on the music side.
I know that some of your back catalog is out of print at this point; can you tell our readers what you still have in print and where the best place for people to get copies of those albums is?
All if our back catalog has been re-released in CD and LP formats. You can purchase it at our shows, on our web-site (http://www.monkeythree.com) or on Napalm Records/Spinning Goblin’s web-site.
When you perform live do you have everything planned out behind the scenes or is there a lot of improvisation involved with Monkey3’s live performances?
A lot of it is planned and very close to the album versions but a bit of it is jammed in order to keep it fresh, for the audience and for us.
© Fabio Piccioni
Monkey3 has been around for over a decade at this point, what does the future hold for you? Do you plan on continuing to perform and release music for the foreseeable future? How is the band’s creative energy after all these years? It doesn’t seem to have diminished at all!
We still want to play music. We want to keep releasing records and play as many shows as possible. Right now we have a lot of energy to put into the new record!
What do you have planned as far as touring goes this year?
Burg-Herzberg Fest, DE, the 21st of July, Robstock Fest, DE, 14th of September, and a European tour around November for the release of the new album.
You’ve been gigging for almost a decade at this point and have played with some absolutely amazing musicians, who are some of your personal favorites?
It's too hard to pick a favorite, we shared the stage with a lot of different bands and we have a lot of respect for all of them.
Are there any funny or interesting stories from live performances that you’d like to share?
We were playing in a Swiss festival called Rock Oz' Arènes, it was a Wednesday and we were the last band of the day, right after Nine Inch Nails. We were recording what became the Live At Aventicum album. In the middle of the show we had a power cut that lasted for about fifteen minutes and we thought that the audience would go home, but instead of leaving they started screaming and yelling, supporting the band and it became this big party!
Where’s the best place for fans to keep up with the latest news like album releases and upcoming live shows at?
Our web-site, our Facebook page, Napalm/Spinning Goblin’s web-site or Sound Of Liberation’s web-site.
I love having a digital copy of an album to listen to wherever and whenever I might want, but there’s something irreplaceably magical about having something to hold in your hands. The art along with the music makes for a much more complete experience, at least for me. Do you have any such connection with physical releases?
I agree. Vinyl, as opposed to digital formats, has something magical about it. The cover looks great and they sound better, you don't just have music but a real piece of art in your hands.
Digital music is rapidly changing the face of the music industry to say the least while at the same time it’s exposed me to a vast world of music, including your band that I probably would never have otherwise heard of. How do you feel about digital music and distribution?
The advent of the internet changed the way promoting, listening and selling music worked. It allowed small bands and small structures to be heard and promote themselves worldwide without radio or TV promotion and without a big budget. A lot of underground scenes were able to survive and even thrive because of the internet, passion and hard work.
I ask everyone I talk to this question in hopes of hearing just a small amount of the amazing musicians out there right now; who should our readers be listening to from your local scene or area that they might not have heard of?
A rock band from Lausanne: Azazel Blue's Earthworms.
How about nationally and internationally?
My Sleeping Karma, Glowsun, Colour Haze...
Is there anything that I missed or you’d like to talk about?
Thanks for the interview and cheers to all our fans!
(2004) Monkey3 – Monkey3 – CD, DLP, digital – Buzzville Records, Napalm Records/Spinning Goblin
(2005) Monkey3 – 39 Laps – CD, DLP, digital – Buzzville Records, Napalm Records/Spinning Goblin
(2006) Monkey3/Hypnos69 – Split – 10” – Rocknrollradio
(2009) Monkey3 – Live At Aventicum 2009 – DVD – Self-Released (Monkey3)
(2009) Monkey3 – Undercover EP – CD – Self-Released (Monkey3)
(2011) Monkey3 – Beyond The Black Sky – CD, LP – Stickman Records
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013