Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Twenty some odd years ago, my friend Max stopped by to have a beer and talk music, bringing with him a crappy quality video, definitely one of those recorded and duped to exhaustion. But I'd never seen it so, what the hell, right? The tape was of the Monks. Fuh huck. Instant fan. They were nuts. They looked nuts, they sounded nuts, and they acted nuts. In an unsettling to squares sort of way.

Musically, there's three things you will notice right off the bat. The electric banjo, the near absence of cymbals and snare, and that beat. That relentless, steady beat, all toms and bass drum.. That thud is menacing right where it is, it doesn't need a wall of Marshalls behind it. Their lyrics? These guys were pissed, I'll leave it at that. The band's whole story is pretty remarkable, but I'm not going to go into that. There's a few profiles linked below, if you're so inclined (and you should be). Much more thorough versions than I'm capable of.

I'm posting these because something happened that got me thinking. Remember the kid Isak, from a few weeks back, that did his class project on Moondog? His pop Espen wrote that, the other day, he was reading a bit about the Monks' Gary Burger (who passed away in March) online when Isak and his friend Karl were walking by. Karl was taken aback by a photo of the Monks, so while Isak, who is eleven years old by the way, explained to him who the Monks were, ol' man Espen dug the CD out, and played it for them. Forty minutes later they were walking around singing "Cuckoo". (Espen tells this story way better in the comments on this post).

It made me happy that, although Gary Burger had died (the third Monk to pass), here was a couple preteen kids keeping the beat alive. Not even of hipster age, and they could end up cuckooing down the hall at recess. It got me thinking that this world would benefit if all parents and children made more time for weird. Quality weirdness, often and early. How could that not open doors? But, that's the yapping of someone with no parenting experience whatsoever. Regardless, here's to parents, to kids, to roads less traveled and all that folksy jive. To Gary Burger. To the Monks. To the beat.

The Monks - Monk Chant mp3 at Pretty Goes With Pretty
The Monks - Complication
(German TV) at YouTube (HIGHLY recommended)
The Monks - Boys Are Boys and Girls Are Choice
(German TV) at YouTube
The Monks - Cuckoo
(German TV) at YouTube
The Monks - Oh, How To Do Now (German TV) at YouTube
The Monks - I Can't Get Over You
(German TV) at YouTube
You're A Monk, I'm a Monk, We're all Monks,
profile at YouTube
The Monks Official site
The Monks
at Wikipedia

1 comment:

espen e. said...

Experience be damned Tom, I think your reflections are more than valid (remember: although it should, reflection doesn’t necessarily follow experience – parents/parenting not excluded, so don’t discount yourself!).

Treated the kids (including Karl, who was sleeping over) to a friday-night Monks mini-marathon experience (YouTube) before bedtime. They had the whole weekend to reflect.

And, while we’re on the subject:

A few months ago, I ordered some back-issues of Ugly Things, one of which just happened to have a review of the film «the transatlantic feedback» – the 2008 documentary which made it pretty clear that the format was initially scripted, and the guys duly directed and correspondingly coached – before being sent out to fend for themselves. Sir, yes, sir. Managers Remy + Niemann – the original instigators and creative AD’s… Monks #1 and 2 of 7.

Can’t find that Ugly Things issue right now, but do recall a rather scornful go through… I’m thinking it’s probably due to the film's info/angle being conceived as detrimental to the glorious notion of renegade US GIs beating out a glimpse of the future on the Bierstube circuit.

And now, checking your links, the Monks' own website seems to downplay the integral part of the German management duo… there are hints, sure, but you have to look hard.

Don’t know about you Tom, but for me, the Monks revealed as a German conceptual art project made things fall into place (Ach zooo!) – even adding to the «mystique» of the band. The important part is that SOMEONE was crazy enough to plot this all out, and for it to be a couple pudgy looking, conservatively suited, jr. execs from Germany, just makes it cooler.


«…a good manager stays in the background» – Walter Niemann (on declining official participation in «the transatlantic feedback»).