Interview: Soulmonkey

Interview: Jared Wilson
Sunday 11 September 2005
reading time: min, words

"Monkey's definitely have soul, I once saw an orangutan singing some Curtis Mayfield tracks. Phenomenol"

If you want a real monkey then you may have to pay a visit to the zoo, but if you're looking for soul then let us introduce you to a band with bags of it.  SoulMonkey are Bob (drums), Craig (bass), Dunc (keyboard),  Jim (guitar and vocals) and Jono (guitar). They originally began in Nottingham as "Rocket! Soul Monkey" in early 2000 with local bass impressario Mikey W as part of the line up. These days they are a tight five piece who take influences as far and wide as Bob Dylan, the Stones, AC-DC and Christina Aguilera. They are the first band to play our new night of home-made music LeftLion Live at The Orange Tree on Thursday 15 September. We put some questions to them...

Tell us a little about Soulmonkey. Where and when did the band meet?
Jono: Emotionally or physically?
Jim: Guess it was about five or six years ago. It was all very random really; postings on message boards, family ties, that kind of thing. The band just came together over a period of about 6 months and, apart from an early change in bass player, we’ve been playing together ever since.

What kind of influences do you think you have?
Dunc: Everybody and nobody. Most people think we sound like the bastard lovechild of the Doors and the Stones which we take as a pretty good compliment.
Jono: The ethos of certain “jam bands” is clear in our music as we never seem to play the same song the same way twice. Sometimes it all works out beautifully and sometimes it sounds like modern jazz – quite exciting when we’re out live.

Are you looking forward to playing the Orange Tree? I understand you’re regulars there
Jim: I have been seen in there on the odd occasion, it's true.
Bob: Of course – it’s one of the few Nottingham music venues that we haven’t actually gigged yet. I reckon our type of music is spot on for the regular clientele.
Jono: We have been visiting The Orange Tree since it was just a little pip.

Do you think that monkeys have souls?
Jim: Oh yeah they definitely have soul, I once saw an orangutan singing some Curtis Mayfield tracks. Phenomenal!
Jono: Not sure, but we could maybe try selling a monkey soul at the crossroads at midnight, see what happens.
Bob: Erm, is this like the number of angels on a pinhead?
Craig: I actually believe that it is the soul that has a monkey – you’ve just got to find a way to get it off your back.

What are your favourite hangouts in Nottingham?
Jono: My sister in laws’ kitchen, she feeds me sausages.
Craig: I prefer to hang about outside Threshers with a bottle or two of White Lightning, although sometimes I occasionally stand outside Hollywood Nights video store if they’ve got anything good on their tellies, it’s only a short walk from my cardboard box as well, I’m very lucky in that respect.
Bob: Conditions of my parole make hanging out difficult

What was the last album that you bought?
Craig: Carnival by New Model Army (It’s great, buy it now)
Jim: Raw Power by Iggy and the Stooges
Dunc: Laid Back by Gregg Allman
Jono: ZZ Top’s first album
Bob: Bought!! Haven’t you heard about the internet?

What was the last book you read?
Dunc: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Jim: Around Ireland with a fridge by Tony Hawks and Zigby's Birthday Party but that probably doesn't count, it's my little girl's book.
Jono: The Two Of Us: My Life With John Thaw by Sheila Hancock
Craig: Billie Morgan by Jools Denby (It’s great, buy it now)
Bob: Harry Potter and the philosophers stone
Jim: Bloody hell, Bob! I only read kid's books because I have to.

What was the last thing that made you laugh?
Dunc: The oldest swinger in town at our last gig
Jim: Yeah, he was very energetic. And there's a story I heard about one of my colleagues being a little poorly through drink; that made me laugh a lot.
Jono: I once had a peanut stuck in my ear. Stayed there for ages so I went to the doctor. He poured some chocolate in and it came out a treat.

What was the last thing that made you cry?
Jono: That joke of mine, it was crap.
Jim: Flippin 'eck don't think I've cried in years. Somebody told me about a particularly nasty testicular injury. That certainly brought a tear to my eye.
Dunc: My bank balance.

What’s your favourite song about a monkey?
Jim: Dark Side of the Baboon (haaaa ha ha ha ha ha ha)
Bob: Monkey And The Engineer by The Grateful Dead
Jono: You git, that's what I was going to say
Craig: Baboon Boy Boogie

If you could get anyone in the world to record a track with you, who would you choose? Craig: Frank Zappa (but he’s dead so that may be a little tricky)
Jim: Xylophone Man but he's dead too, so I guess Keith Richards
Jono: Either the Monkey or the Engineer, or both, I’m not fussed either way.
Bob: I’d reform Abba and do Motorhead covers

Have you got any other favourite bands in Nottingham?
Jim: Swordfish John deserves a mention here, oh and KWS
Dunc: Earth the Californian Love Dream, Viterbo and Copperface.
Craig: Shamus O’Blivion and the Megadeath Morrismen
Bob: The Demon Llama

What is coming up for the band over the next year?
Craig: Something very big but I’m afraid we can’t say too much about it at the moment
Jim: Yeah we could tell you but then we'd have to kill you
Dunc: A few more gigs, some new tunes, some recording and a tour.
Jim: You told 'em! We've got to kill 'em all now.

Anything else you want to say to LeftLion readers?
Jim: All of you ring Sony music, everyone, do it now, that includes you at the back, and demand to know why they haven't signed SoulMonkey to a four album multi-million pound record deal.
Dunc: And see you next Thursday…
Craig: Come to the gig on the 15th September and boogie like a baboon.
Bob: Play hard. Rock on. Be nice to your neighbour.

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