LoveMonkeys stretch out with new CD of originals
Though they are known as one of the more popular (and busy) cover bands in the area, The LoveMonkeys recently finished a new disc of original music -- their first in a decade -- entitled "Things Are Different Now."
We caught up with singer John Hauser and guitarist Keith Pulvermacher this week and asked them about the new disc.
OnMilwaukee.com: The first thing I thought when your CD hit my desk: "How does a band that plays so many shows find time to write and record?" What was that process like? How long did it run from conception to completion?
John Hauser: We'd discussed doing a new CD for quite some time as it's been 10 years since our last release. Some ideas were lingering, some songs finished, a few were being performed live, but there was never a firm commitment to a project. Personally, I was hesitant, as I'd seen attempts come and go over the years with disappointing results. Everybody else was up for it, but my mental state needed a kick in the pants.
We finally sat down in late March 2008 to get a sense of unity on the project. Most of the songs were there and, in my opinion, that is half the battle. Keith Pulvermacher is a hidden talent in this city both as a guitarist and a songwriter.
Because of Keith, a great foundation was provided which led to us being excited enough to make this CD. So many bands insist on releasing CDs just for the sake of justifying their existence. They obviously have talent, love to play and feel they have something to say but the songwriting usually isn't strong. It's such a subjective matter and topic among the music community as everybody has their tastes but the proof is in the final product and whether or not people relate to the songs. In our case, I feel the songs were well written which is equated to a general overall enthusiasm within The LoveMonkeys. We wanted to record a new CD as opposed to the feeling that we HAD to record a new CD. Because we're known as a cover band and have a track record of longevity, I'd like to think we're somewhat in tune with a good 4-minute song ... and this CD has good 4-minute songs.
The trick to completing this was scheduling around the commitments of life as so much has changed over the years. Families have grown, work obligations increase, yet we still perform nearly 100 shows per year. The consensus was to get in and get out as quickly as possible while trying to capture the feel of this band. We hired John Wheeler of BellyMac to engineer the project, recorded 99.9 percent out of my home and managed to record all 10 songs within three weeks. By recording at home, we found a comfort zone that was never found in previous studio sessions. We also were very fortunate to hire on Justin Perkins to mix the tracks and Trevor Sadler of Mastermind to handle the mastering. They were very accommodating in response to our turn-around needs. All are great guys with amazing track records and they went above and beyond the call of duty for us. We knew we were in great hands with them at the helm. We're ecstatic with the results.
Keith Pulvermacher: We had to make time, we all are pretty busy people and we just had to make our minds up to accomplish it. Not including time to write, rehearse and arrange the tunes, tracking the record took about two weeks (115 hours of relentless organization). Actually, everything fell into place pretty well. The process was stressful, when you are trying to accomplish something efficiently without causing too much tension while maintaining respect for everyone involved. It can be tricky. Like being in a family. But everyone was excited to see this happen. Everyone made themselves available when we needed them to perform. Mixing, artwork, and mastering, all probably took another three and half months to finalize the project. Approximately April-August.
OMC: There are a lot of influences evident on the tracks -- reggae, pop, some sweeping Springsteen-type hooks. You guys play a wide array of music during shows. Obviously, everybody in the band brings different backgrounds and interests. Is it a matter of "What goes in, comes out?" Do you have any favorite moments on the CD?
JH: Some of the tracks were performed live and the direction on those tracks had already been solidified. Because of the deadline we created and instilled, some things were rushed but it's only obvious to those of us that were there. Some songs were rehearsed for a night and laid down a couple of days later. We definitely went into this with focus but kept a free spirit about this. We wanted to see what we could capture but not dwell on the little elements that make recording a crazy process. The beautiful thing about the studio is what happens when mistakes are made and you decide to keep those mistakes because they simply add a little character flaw that you didn't expect.
My favorite moments are many but I am simply happy with the energy on "Things Are Different Now." Friends who have been loyal to the band for years have mentioned we finally have a product that sounds like us and I agree with that. By home recording, we captured The LoveMonkeys. We've been trying to do this for years and we finally succeeded. With Keith producing and John engineering, they knew what to look for. It takes a lot of discipline and maturity for musicians to take direction from other musicians and we truly gelled together. Now that we've crossed that bump in the road, it's time to start writing our art deco album.
KP: I have been in the band for about four years. In that time, after playing all these shows with these guys, you get to know each other pretty well. The songs I wrote for the band, I wrote to bring out the strengths of the personalities in the band. The songs that were written by John and Mia Montenegro, we just tried to arrange them the same way. We wanted a cohesive effort that wouldn't be the same song in a different key. Not a lot of filler.
(We) wanted to capture the band well, and play songs that would record well as well as be performed well live. My favorite thing about the recording is the diversity both musically and personally.
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"By your thinking, Led Zeppelin should have just stayed to Howlin Wolf and Willie Dixon covers instead of writing Ramble On and Moby Dick." if you're talking to me, read my post again. i am saying the opposite. and cover songs are fine, but if 80% of your set is covers, you, my friend, are in a cover band. if you evolve out of that fine. but cover bands are the leeches of the music industry.
I love when "real music fans" start voicing their opinions about cover/tribute bands. Rock musicians have been playing other people's music since rock began. How do you determine who is a cover band and who is not? I'll bet you can't name one single band who has never done a cover. Why? They don't exist. By your thinking, Led Zeppelin should have just stayed to Howlin Wolf and Willie Dixon covers instead of writing Ramble On and Moby Dick.
i like cheap trick, but i think it's odd you feel that the house they grew up in (and did they all really grow up in the same house?) would need to be preserved. also, cover bands should never be revered, or even encouraged past the point where a musician is able to write their own stuff.
Re: CheapTrick - Rockford never appreciated what they had. Now there is Ian and Holland Zander and they are barely followed. Instead of preserving the House where the band members grew up, they tore it down - Rockford never showed them repect even after they made it "big"...enough about CheapTrick.
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