Iconic 90s supergroupd the Monkeywrech return to Melbourne in November for a show at the Tote on Friday 15 November and Geelong for River Rocks the next day. Martin Bland also of Lubricated Goat fame spoke to Munster prior to the tour
Munster: How does it feel getting the band back together?
Martin: Feels great, although it took a few practices just to blow the dust off our fingers and out of our ears. The great thing about only getting together every 8 years or so is that we have yet to tire of playing the songs and we seem to play them with a little more piss & vinegar each time. I guess as we get older, we maybe get more cranky, which kind of suits the songs. In fact, I would recommend a regimen of only playing together every 8 years for any young band, although by the time you get back together the 2nd or 3rd time, you might not be so young anymore. But it works for us.
Munster: How hard was it with everyones other commitments to arranging a tour?
Martin: Surprisingly easy. I don’t think anyone would have dared say no to playing in Australia. Neither Tim nor Tom had been down there, Mark and Steve love it and I haven’t played down there in 26 years.
Munster: Considering you all have other bands, what is it about the music of The Monkeywrench that pulls you all back in again?
Martin: Apart from the obvious, which is the opportunity to play alongside an amazingly brilliant drummer, I would say that there is an energy level that we often reach that can be pretty exhilarating. It is what the old rockabilly guys called getting gone and we seem to have been hitting it at the recent shows.
Munster: When you first started was it indeed to be a short-term thing? Would you have been surprised if I told you you’d be playing shows in 2016?
Martin:It was supposed to be short term, but, really, everything back then was short term. I personally have never lived with any grand plan in life at all. Not only would I have been surprised at still playing shows in 2016, I would have been surprised that 2016 was even a thing. The thought might have made my blood run cold back then but I sure am glad that we are still around and able to kick up some dust.
Munster: When the band started it was to record a bunch of Poison 13 songs that had never been reordered, how important was it to bring those songs to life?
Martin: I think for Tim and Mark it was very important. I believe Tim’s aim partly was to flush Mike Carroll (Poison 13 singer) out of the weeds after he had gone off the rails a little. And it worked- Tim later worked with him in a couple of pretty cool bands during 1990’s- Lord High Fixers and Jack Of Fire.
Munster: I read a quote from Mike Watt where he said if he messes up just one Stooges show he knows he’s always going to be remembered as the guy who ruined a Stooges show – so what kinda pressure did you feel recording those tracks?
Martin: Well, I personally didn’t feel too much pressure as I wasn’t familiar with Poison 13 at the time- In fact, when Mark asked me to participate, I thought he meant Poison Idea and I thought we were all going to be playing a whole mess of metallic punk tunes. I imagined Tim was going to be a big fat drug-crazed maniac and was relieved that he was this sweet little tattooed dude with a Texas accent you could hang a Stetson on. I kind of had my head in the sand back then and wasn’t too aware of which current bands were doing what at the time.
Munster: What kept the band going and what was it like working on material fresh and from starch as a band?
Martin: The impetus to keep going came from Mark, really. In the late 90’s there was a little uncertainty about Mudhoney’s future so we reactivated the Monkeywrench for a bunch of shows in Europe and Japan. We made an lp called Electric Children which was an experiment in finding our feet as a band. Coming up with songs was no problem as we can all write a bit but it was the last lp, Gabriel’s Horn was where we really found our way and we were able to incorporate a lot of the different interests that we have- Tim was really getting into free jazz, some of the other guys were into soul, some into stoner/space rock and, at the time, I was pretty fascinated with 20th century avant garde music such as John Cage’s music of chance and aleatorical music. So we were able to include all of that along with the usual blues stuff that is at the basis of everything we do.
Munster: Monkeywrench recorded a Germs song for a 7 inch, please tell us how the Germs influenced you?
Martin:Speaking for myself, not even a bit I’m sorry to say but I know for a fact that that is not the case for the other guys. They are all pretty heavily steeped in the early US hardcore scene and when they throw around names, I’m never quite sure who they are talking about. I don’t know my JFA from my DOA. Speaking personally, by the time the Germs and the other US punk bands had come along, I had pretty much given up on punk and so I I never really gave it much of a chance.
Munster: Any new material in the pipeline?
Martin: Nothing new at the moment. I believe Mudhoney are about to gird their loins and create another epic.
Munster what’s up next for you?
Martin: I play in a couple of bands around town- a band with Tom (Price, Monkeywrench guitar wizard) called the Tom Price Desert Classic and also a soul/blues band called Bonneville Power. LatelyI have also really got into the idea of miniature songs, which requires a fair bit of discipline to cut any fat off a tune.
Munster: …..and to end, what is your favourite Fall LP please?
Martin:Slates, no question about it. I bought it just for the cover whenever it came out and was just floored by it. An amazing amount of variety despite only having 6 songs on it- something that bands rarely do these days. Leave The Capitol!
The Monkeywreches play the Tote Friday 15 November at the Tote and Saturday 16 November at River Rocks.