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Monkey brings his own style of music across the pond

Since 1975, Monkey has been bringing his style of music to us from the other side of the pond — first with The Adicts, who released their first EP "Lunch with the Adicts" back in 1979, and most recently releasing "Monkey with…" on Dr. Strange Records this past December 2021.
Monkey

Monkey

By Alan Brostoff

Since 1975, Monkey (Keith Warren) has been bringing his style of music to us from the other side of the pond — first with The Adicts, who released their first EP Lunch with the Adicts back in 1979, and most recently releasing Monkey with… (shown below) on Dr. Strange Records this past December 2021. 

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Monkey (who now lives in the States) sat down to talk record collecting, art in general and why it's a good time to release his first ever solo material.

  

Goldmine: What made you decide to work with an all-star lineup on this solo project (Phil Rowland from Eater and Slaughter and the Dogs, Kevin Preston from Prima Donna, Inge Johansson from Against Me, along with James Harding, Lauren Napier and Bad Otis Link) An amazing list of who’s who from the punk world. What made you decide to work with them on this project? 

Monkey: Some of these songs were written a long time ago with another friend of mine. I’m living in Ventura County in California and my friend was living in Santa Barbara. It was during a time where The Adicts were not active, and we just got around to writing some basic songs together on a cassette tape. They sat around for a long time. A couple of people encouraged me to revisit the songs and record them. There really was no other reason than it was just the right time to get these sort of people together. It just, honestly, fell into place. Pre-Covid we laid down some of the basic tracks and then last summer we tweaked it a little and did some baking vocals. My concept of the “Monkey with…” is that it would be a collaborative group of people, perhaps rotating. Who knows what the next one will sound like, it could be with these guys or others and we could go veering off in another direction, different genres. I see it as an open source of artistic collective. I’m hoping that is how it develops. I would like to do more with these guys.

GM: The album Monkey with… seems to be a record collector's dream, with several various color options. Was that important to you? Having it released on vinyl was important to you? 

Monkey: Putting it out on vinyl was important to me and the various colors and pressings are more of a record label thing. The problem with the vinyl was that it takes so long to get it out. It took months and months to get this out — as a small label it’s hard. We planned ahead and looked to schedule the release date, but we never knew when we were going to get our hands on the actual vinyl. There are different versions of the vinyl and they look good. I love music but my actual vinyl collection is quite small.

GM: You released this on Dr. Strange Records and recently did an instore signing. I imagine your hand is quite sore from signing everything. 

Monkey: I have known Bill for a long time. He has always been an independent record store and has always done things his way. I admire that longevity and that stick-to-it-ness.

Goldmine: What kind of music did you listen to growing up? 

Monkey: The first time I was really interested in music, it was glam rock, British glam rock from the early to mid-'70s: T-Rex, Sweet, Slade and Roxy Music. I really liked the flamboyant colorful catchy stuff. From there I went into more rock music for a while and then I drifted in more avant garde music. You know, David Bowie and Lou Reed and that sort of segue into punk. But the first thing I really got excited about was glam rock. It’s weird, Mike Nesmith passed away and the first 45 that I ever bought was when my parents took me on vacation and told me I could buy my first record. So, the first record I got was D.W. Washburn by The Monkees, not even one of their best songs.

GM: You mentioned that you have a small record collection. Is there anything that you are looking for that one of our readers might have or can find for you? 

Monkey: I have this box of original 45s here. I’ve carried this box around with me ever since I moved here from the U.K. Every time I go to a record store I like to find a box like this (a little box of 45s that hold maybe 250). I would go and check through this box for new punk records and If I did not have them, then I would buy them. If there was something that I was looking for… I had this four-track EP from a band called Machines and I gave it to a friend. I wish I had that one back. If anyone wants to trade for that, that would be cool. The one with the plain white label.

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GM: What is the inspiration or the story behind the new artwork on the album? 

Monkey: Just posted that on Instagram. The artist is Bad Otis Link who is a legendary artist in the punk community. He did the front cover and I tried to do the work on the back. He has done some incredible work over the years and we became friends and I just asked him to do it. I told him he had no limitations or expectations and he incorporated some of the characters in the songs into the amazing piece of art. For the inside sleeve, I just took pictures of thigs laying around my house.

GM: It seems that during the pandemic you have been doing a lot of different art projects and doing some art shows. 

Monkey: Yeah, that truly is a result of COVID. Being a performer, an artist of sorts for years, for over 40 years. For all of that time, we had a lot of creativity in our shows. The stage shows, the props, the costumes, the makeup and all that kind of stuff. I am forever working to keep it fresh and new. I have started to work in different mediums in different shows. Just basically experimenting with all kinds of different mediums. This got me into a few galleries and some pop-up events. This has been very therapeutic. It’s not quite as exciting as a live show but it’s OK.

GM: Do you think you will be able to get out and tour to support this new record? 

Monkey: I would love to get out with The Adicts, as would everyone associated with the band. There is so much joy in those performances. The show offers an escapism. It’s happy and pure fun. However, it is quite difficult because we have three international locations for members of the band. It’s not a personal issue, we just need to work through it. In the meantime, I would like to do some local shows with the Monkey With… group. Who knows, it’s a matter of life and death but hopefully well get around to it all.

GM: There seems to be a strong connection between The Adicts and Clockwork Orange. 

Monkey: You need to know Clockwork Orange to understand what we are referencing, but we like the imagery that is Clockwork Orange. We have adapted it for the stage with all white outfits, boots and the bowler hats. We thought it had a very strong, striking feel. Before this, I had been making my face up with freakish designs. Now we are recognized for this look and 40 years later we are sill using it. Now, we just need a little more makeup.

GM: What is planned for Monkey in 2022? 

Monkey: Um, that is a good question. We have some Adicts shows on the horizon. I might do another recording session of Monkey With… I was just talking about hosting a radio show out here. It would be a punk rock show. So, that’s bubbling along as well.

GM: Right now where is the best place to get the new release, Monkey With…

Monkey: I know you can get it at Dr. Strange Records. www.drstrange.com