The Monkey Power Trio makes considerable headway despite serious challenges

I forgot to mention it, but The Ballad of Christian Wolfcock, the most recent record by my one-day-a-year pseudo band, the Monkey Power Trio, debuted on the college charts a few weeks ago, which I think might be a first for us. [While we’ve always gotten played quite a bit by the likes of WFMU and WCBN, I don’t recall ever being told before that we’d made any kind of college radio chart, so it seems like the kind of thing that I should record here on the blog for posterity.] While I don’t think we ever got higher than 189, we weren’t that far behind Childish Gambino, who placed at 156, and I guess we should be somewhat proud of that. [The Indigo Girls beat us both, coming in at 148 that week.]

[update: Apparently we were wrong about this. While we did make a college a chart, apparently, as it’s now been explained to us by an industry insider, it was a somewhat meaningless chart… The tears, they will not stop flowing.]

But, yeah, some people seem to like it… or at least appreciate what it is that we’re attempting, or maybe just our refusal to stop. Today, I got word that we’d been reviewed by a Toronto blog that appears to be mainly about kayaking. The author of the piece, a guy who says he’s been following our career for the past few decades, had some nice things to say. He called the record “amazing and wonderful,” and the band “a thing of beauty,” which was nice. Of course he also described us a being “not geniuses,” and called out our “floundering beats.” That’s his quote at the top of this post, on top of a photo he’d posed in one of his many articles about kayaking around Toronto. [I’m now thinking that, next year, we should go to Toronto, and record in kayaks. I wonder if Canada has grants for things like that. It seems like something they might be into.]

As for this most recent record, it was recorded over two sessions – our 20th day as band, which was spent in the godawful exurbs of Atlanta in 2014, and our 21st day as a band, which was spent in a nondescript neighborhood of Cleveland in 2015. As for the quality of the material, I’ll just say that it’s not bad for five people who pick up instruments only one day a year, and walk into each session with not so much as even a single idea written down. [And yet to we still managed to make it on a meaningless college chart. It kind of makes you wonder what we could do if we actually worked on our songs, knew how to play instruments, and practiced.] Here, to give you an sense of it, is a link to one of the tracks on this most recent record. The song is called Feed Your Hunger. [Make fun if you’d like, but I’d like to see you do better in one take, accompanied by drunken 50 year old versions of the assholes you sat next to in high school school math class.]

I’ve said this before, but, for those of you who might be new to the site, and don’t know this particular part of my origin story, the Monkey Power Trio formed back in 1995 with a promise between old friends one hot, summer afternoon in Brooklyn. On the spur of the moment, we’d decided to make a record. We gave ourselves just one hour. We gathered whatever instruments we could find, and we made our way into an unlocked basement storage room somewhere, where we proceeded to scream and beat on things while an old cassette recorder whirred away, suspended from a string tied to sewage pipe. The result was a 7″ record, which we decided to call The First Hour, acknowledging the fact that we’d agreed, shortly after finishing, to meet up and do the same exact thing every year until the point when only one of us was left alive. And, surprisingly, we’ve stayed true to our word for nearly 25 years now, despite the fact that, every year, it becomes exponentially more difficult for the five of us to get away from our real-world obligations, express ourselves creatively, and put up with one another.

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  1. assembler
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    an unweighted chart is a list of records that came out (or were received) that week, not a list of rankings.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Not bad for non-geniuses who don’t really try.

  3. Sad
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    It’s nice to see an older person accomplishing so much. Hearing about all you endeavors is very entertaining. Your wife must be quite pleased and your children impressed by all that you do. Keep up the good work.

  4. Music Critic
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Shouldn’t you mention the Monkey Power Trio’s predecessors? It would seem that Yeti Load and Prehensile Monkey Tailed Skink were essential to the formation of Monkey Power Trio. You write as if the Monkey Power Trio came out of nowhere, which is not the case.

    As legend would have it, the drummer of Yeti Load became embroiled in a domestic dispute, the compromise of which required him to abstain from performing live music. This led directly to the formation of Prehensile Monkey Tailed Skink, who proceeded to release a few records and tracks here and there. In time, though, fractures appeared leading to the band’s dissolution.

    The core members of the band would, however, continue, again as the “Monkey Power Trio” keeping to the simian themes of the previous musical outfits.

    Critics could argue, that while the conditions of Monkey Power Trio’s recording differ from those of the previous groups (once a year and budgetless), the band has continued far longer than 25 years, and all three bands are essentially the same group with essentially the same disregard for musical quality and the same childish aesthetic.

  5. Monkey Power Trio
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Ha. I guess that just shows how naive we are about this, assembler. We didn’t even know that. Thanks for the lesson. Now, as someone who is clearly an industry insider, can you introduce us to the ghost of George Martin?

  6. Monkey Power Trio
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    It sounds like you know a lot, Music Critic. How about channeling that knowledge into a Wikipedia entry for Prehensile Monkeytailed Skink? Right now, all we have is a pathetic little thing they call a “stub.”

  7. Irving
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Before Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were Simon and Garfunkel, they performed as Tom and Jerry and were not popular.

    Prehensile Monkeytailed Skink is to the Monkey Power Trio what Tom and Jerry is to Simon and Garfunkel.

  8. wobblie
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Happy Nat Turner day.

  9. M
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I ma 99.7% certain that no children have been conceived while Monkey Power Trio records have been playing.

  10. Cookie monster
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Hey M- then you haven’t listened to panty groove

  11. Anonymatt
    Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I am glad and surprised to hear from Music Critic that people are still passing around legends about Yeti Load, although as is often the case with legends, some of the details get changed. Strictly speaking the drummer for Yeti Load was not banned from performing live, but was banned from traveling outside the AA/Ypsi area to do so. That still triggered the demise of YL. Skink did not form in the wake of YL’s destruction, it actually began as a side project between members of YL and Hwaseem many months previously. I was not originally involved with Skink but joined after YL ended , so YL’s end did trigger the final formation of Skink where I joined founding members Dan, Mark, and Klaus (Pete). (Additionally Chris from Hwaseem was in Skink until he moved away. I’ve also been told that Rikkeh was in it but quit after the first hour, but I wasn’t a witness.)

    I’m not sure of any fractures leading to Skink’s dissolution other than Mark and Dan moving away from Ann Arbor in Fall 1993. I don’t remember any personal problems. Two band members did end up having an acrimonious dispute, but since I’m not one of the parties involved I don’t know many details other than it occurred after the band broke up and they eventually reconciled.

    I don’t feel Yeti Load, Skink, and MPT are essentially the same band but there are similarities.

  12. Where is 4
    Posted November 12, 2022 at 1:41 am | Permalink

    Find number 4. Whilst you can.

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