Tuesday, June 30, 2009

MonkeyJunk Layeth the Smackdown

Steve, Matt and Tony are MonkeyJunk.
The hottest blues band north of the border...no, the other border... takes time out from their cross-country tour to talk music, life on the road and marijuana legalization.

MonkeyJunk is promoting its debut disc Tiger in your Tank and have completed their western swing. They are now gearing up for the festival season playing on the bill with artists as diverse as KISS and Johnny Winter.

The band describes their sound as “a frothy cocktail of our influences blended into swamp R&B, soul boogie, and bedroom funk.” Consisting of Tony D and Steve Marriner on guitar and Matt Sobb keeping time on drums, MonkeyJunk can be caught at the always rocking Tremblant International Blues Festival north of Montreal, the Montreal Jazz Festival, a hometown closing night set at Ottawa Bluesfest and the Blues Sur Seine for fans in France.

Here's some of what the smokin' bluesmen had to say to Estoy Pacheco.

Q: You are touring in support of your debut disc Tiger in your Tank how has the reception been like out west for the band?

MATT: The reception has been great - we have had several really successful shows - primarily the ones sponsored by blues societies have been the best attended and we seem to sell the most CDs at those ones too... we have enjoyed radio play right across the country - primarily on blues shows.

STEVE: We've had a fantastic response from the public and the media as well. Holger Petersen has been playing us regularly on his show Saturday Night Blues on CBC. Also, CKUA from Alberta has been playing us quite a bit. Both these radio shows really helped spread the good word.

TONY: I think the reception for the band has been great all around. We’ve won some new fans and took very much a new sound to the blues/R&B that is out there…out there in that land!

Q: The band has been together about two years, what is the highlight for the band to date?

MATT: For me, the highlight has been the release and instant acceptance of our debut CD - I'm very proud of it personally and I think we are collectively too - for it to be so well received by the media and the public has been great!

STEVE: Actually, it's only been one year...we're younger than we look! Certainly the CD release was one of the highlights. We sold a whack of copies right off the bat, sold out two shows at The Black Sheep Inn, an infamous music venue near Ottawa. For me though, I'm partial to our experience at the International Blue Challenge in Memphis. We were hanging out at a bar watching Johnny Max's band play, and then they announced that we would be moving on to the finals at the Orpheum Theatre. As it turned out we were the only Canadian group in the finals, so we had a lot of folks behind us. Then to come in third place out of 100 bands from around the world...it felt great.

TONY: Actually the band has been together for just over a year and the recording is definitely a highlight, as well as playing in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge, just had a blast down there. I mean right on Beale Street, mercy!

Q: Fave venue? Individually or collectively, what was the best crowd or venue that you played at?

MATT: The Dream Cafe in Penticton was really great - all the way through . . . probably our best performance

STEVE: Agreed, The Dream Cafe in Penticton, BC is it! The owners Pierre and Debra not only treat the artists like gold, but they have cultivated an audience who gives every drop of their attention to the show. Between songs you could hear a pin drop and after a tune they cheer so loud you can't hear your guitar. The energy the give only serves to make our show better. It's a two-way street, ya know?

TONY: I liked the way the we played in Saskatoon and Calgary, the reception in Edmonton was good.

Q: Who are you looking forward to playing with the most this summer?

MATT: I am looking forward to playing at the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival in September opening for Los Lobos.

STEVE: At Mont Tremblant Blues Festival, we're opening for JJ Grey & Mofro. I personally think these guys are toughest roots act going right now. I love their records and have yet to see them live.

TONY: All the fests are cool but getting to see Jeff Beck after our show at Ottawa Bluefest is something I’m really looking forward to…

Q: As Estoy Pacheco has a focus on pot and surfing I have to ask whether you got any surfing in on the left coast? Are you in favor of decriminalization/legalization of marijuana?

MATT: I was in Tofino and didn't go - never done it and was too cold to learn...I am in favor of decriminalizing it even though I have never smoked it...it's the whole principle of it...

STEVE: Sadly, there was no time for surfing. I've wanted to try it forever. Almost got the chance in Australia a couple years ago. As for Mary-Jane; I am in favor of decriminalizing. While I don't smoke much anymore, I still think that its ridiculous how misunderstood marijuana is. You still find people brainwashed from the 'reefer madness' mentality of the '50's and '60s. The fact of that matter is that it's no more harmful to you than drinking alcohol, which is perfectly acceptable in our society. Think about this...how many violent crimes (fights, murders etc.) are committed when alcohol is involved? When's the last time you heard about a couple of stoners getting in a fight? Never.

TONY: Pot makes me spit up

MonkeyJunk has left the building!

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