In Predator, the scene where they are just firing away in the jungle perfectly captures what we try to achieve…
When a band with such a wonderful moniker drops in your inbox, one can only pay attention. And yes, they are a weird and wired bunch. With two releases to their name already – a 2011 EP dubbed Womb Eater Wife Beater and another in 2013 Somewhere Over The Painbow – Belgium’s 30,000 Monkies recently release their first album, I Ate Myself to Grow Twice as Big (reviewed here). Here, one of the 30,000 talks to MR’s Jason Guest about the album, the band, music and, of course, Predator…
Thank you very much for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on I Ate Myself To Grow Twice As Big, it’s a fantastic piece of work!
Hi Jason, thanks for the compliment, we tried our best!
With two EPs behind you, what was it that you wanted to achieve with I Ate Myself To Grow Twice As Big?
Well, the primary objective of this band has always been to get rich and buy a big house with a pool, so this album is just another step towards that goal. Get rich or die trying, a wise man once said, am I right? I am proud to say that by now, we have made enough money in music to buy the inflatable crocodile for the pool!
But seriously, I think the main objective was to make a record where every song is different with a lot of variation and still make sure it is cohesive as a whole. This is completely different from our previous EP’s, which were more or less collections of songs we finished kind of independently over longer periods of time and wanted to put out. We did find it important that those EP’s work as a whole as well, and I think they did work that way, but we didn’t explicitly set out to write those songs as an EP. We also wrote the record in a much shorter amount of time compared to the EP’s, which helped to stay in the same mind-set when writing.
What kind of progression does it mark for the band?
Oops, I guess I kind of answered this in the previous questions too. I like to give long and bulky answers so it seems like I know what I am talking about.
Did you have an idea of how you wanted the album to sound, or did each of the tracks and the whole thing take shape as it was being developed?
It more or less took shape as we were writing it. When we wrote the first couple of songs that ended up on the record, it was immediately clear that these songs were meaner, weirder and heavier than our previous work. Then the songs we wrote after that to complete the album kind of naturally followed to match. We did write some more material, actually the stuff we wrote first, that didn’t make the record because it was way more straightforward and we didn’t think it would have matched. Some of it ended up on our drone album “WATCH THE DR((O))NE” by our kind of sideproject 3((0)), ((0)) ((0)) ((0)) M((O))NKIES, which is being released by Tartarus Records on tape any minute now, some of it we are refining now for future releases.
What are the themes on the album? And where did inspiration come from?
First and foremost, I don’t think lyrics are that important in our music, I wrote the lyrics mainly with their rhythm and sound/timbre in the back of my mind. Some themes did creep in though, it actually always tends to be the same stuff when writing for 30,000 Monkies: hubris, over the top violence, crooked leadership stories,… that kind of stuff. There is one more notable theme that runs through most of the record as a common thread, but I’d like to not say what it is. It is pretty obvious though. Seek, and ye shall find!
The artwork is by Wouter Medaer. Why choose to work with him? And how much direction was given in its design?
He’s a friend of the band, we know what he can do and he knows what we like so it grew very naturally and he played a big part in the visual representation of the band since the beginning. Therefore we don’t have to give him that many instructions anymore. He knows that we like more colourful artwork that looks sweet at first sight, disguising a much more twisted image. For this record though, we also talked with him about the title we would choose for the record, so we were sure that we chose something that could have a great visual representation. It actually took us a great deal of time to find a title. We must have debated about more than a hundred of them, but in the end we could pick something that came straight from the lyrics so it was lying before us all that time.
To get us up to speed, can you give us some background on 30,000 Monkies, how the band formed and what drew you together?
We already started this band in high school and kept it going ever since. We did go through some personnel changes (we’re currently on our fourth drummer), so we’re not all high school friends anymore though. So apart from money, I’d say friendship and the fact that we were drawn to similar music drew us together, it’s pretty cheesy really.
Where does the band name come from? What inspired it? And does it have any particular meaning in relation to your music?
We lifted the name from the title of a Lightning Bolt song, who were very influential to us when we first started out. Our music definitely ended up sounding completely different though, after all.
Who are the band’s musical influences? And how have they impacted on the band’s approach to creating music?
Long time influences definitely include noisy bands like Lightning Bolt, Sonic Youth, Liars and Melvins. Then we got more and more into heavier stuff, mostly through Melvins, but what mostly draws me in is music that is heavy and weird at the same time, or bands that sounds like no other. Discovering Harvey Milk, Thrones and bands like Sunn 0))) was definitely important in that regard. I really respect bands that carve out their own place, not setting out to sound like something that is cool at the moment, and that is what we would like to accomplish with 30,000 Monkies. Another thing that really inspires me, is when bands create an entire world around their music, such as Flaming Lips (who are also a great influence because of their experimentation musically) or Amen Ra.
Other than music, does the band have any other influences?
It goes without saying that we are influenced by money mostly, even more so than music I’d say. Apart from that the first Predator movie was pretty influential. I mean, the scene where they are just firing away in the jungle for minutes, pretty cool right? That image perfectly captures what we try to achieve at times. Some other movies are pretty enjoyable (and I guess they help us when coming up with videos or other visual ideas).
What does the act of making music mean to 30,000 Monkies?
This is always hard to answer. It is something I am inclined to do naturally and I’m not sure why. Maybe some of the other guys would have better answers to this. Alas, I am the one answering!
What, if anything, are you looking to capture when making music for 30,000 Monkies?
These questions keep getting harder and harder! I think the nicest part of it is if we can make music that speaks to someone’s imagination, or if people hear something in our music that they haven’t heard anywhere else (and liked it). So that is definitely something we strive to achieve.
Any plans for shows in support of the album? And if so, will we be seeing you in the UK anytime soon?
For sure, we have been playing some shows in Belgium since the release, but we are planning a 16-date mainland Europe tour in October/November. We have no concrete plans of coming to the UK, but lots of people seem to show interest, so I guess we should contemplate it. Maybe we can try to make a couple of dates happen in the coming months.
What would be the ideal setting for a 30,000 Monkies performance?
Confetti canons that constantly spew confetti over the crowd. A place small enough to be close to the crowd, with a big enough stage that we don’t hit each other when moving about on the stage, and most importantly big enough so we can turn our amps up without the sound guy complaining. Stage volume (from the amps) is so essential to feel pumped during a gig for me. Also no dB limit, which sucks in Belgium. Does it not suck in the UK? Then we definitely need to contemplate these UK dates.
Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Make money and stay br00tal \m/ 666 \m/