Cleveland’s Infamous Easter Monkeys

The Easter Monkeys

HOW DID THE EASTER MONKEYS COME TOGETHER?

JIM: Out of mutual boredom. We were all freshly out of bands, all four of us, bemoaning the fact there was nothing to do.

SO WHOSE BRILLIANT IDEA WAS IT TO COME TOGETHER?

LINDA: Charlie’s.

JIM: It was mutual. It was like, ‘Hey, let’s get a band together and just fuck around.’ We liked it so much it’s still continuing today.

WHOSE IDEA WAS THE NAME?

LINDA & JIM: Chris.

HOW?

JIM: I don’t know.

CHRIS: I’ve got my mouthpiece here (Points at Steve – not in the band).

STEVE: (Speaking as Chris) Did you ever see the hat I have? You’ve never seen the Easter hat? That explains it all.

LINDA: That thing with the ears?

STEVE: Yeah. Who has that now?

JIM: What’d you ask?

LINDA: Chris said it was something about …

JIM: A girlfriend of Chris’s has a stuffed monkey. She calls it the Easter Monkey.

LINDA: Because we were naming it around Easter.

JIM: Our first gig was Easter Eve at the warehouse and we thought it was a pretty good nonsense name. We went through hundreds of names … literally.

CHRIS: We’ve since tried to change it.

JIM: It’s been changed since we’ve been Easter Monkeys, too. We were Jayne Mansfield’s Dog for awhile.

CHARLIE: Desperate Energy.

JIM: Yeah, but Easter Monkeys seems to be the perennial favourite of our fans.

AT THE BEGINNING WAS IT SUPPOSED TO LAST THIS LONG?

JIM: It was intended to last as long as it was fun.

IT’S OBVIOUSLY STILL FUN.

JIM: Yeah, a laffriot.

CHARLIE: Tomorrow’s my birthday and we’re breaking up. It’s more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

LARRY COLLINS (DJ-type from college radio station WRUW): Actually they’re the only ones each other will play with.

JIM: Everybody else hates us. We’re outcasts in the Cleveland music scene … which is fine by me.

WHERE DID THE MEMBERS COME FROM?

JIM: Chris was in The Kneecappers – lead singer. They were originally called Dead Kennedys, believe it or not, before the Dead Kennedys were …

CHRIS: Yeah. In 1975 we were Dead Kennedys.

JIM: And the rest is history.

CHRIS: Charlie was in this band called The Impalers.

WELL, EVERYBODY HAS BEEN IN THE MUSIC SCENE FOR A LONG TIME. WHEN DID YOU FIRST START GETTING INTO BANDS?

JIM: My first band was in 1968.

CHARLIE: ’66.

LINDA: 1979 was the first band for me. A band with no name.

JIM: And I was in Mirrors, Polystyrene Jazz Band and Lazarus – not the one that wass on earsville records.

WHO DOES THE WRITING?

JIM: Chris writes the lyrics and Charlie and I split the music pretty much.

ANY PARTICULAR SUBJECT MATTER?

LINDA: That’s a major portion of the music. The feeling behind the song. Chris knows all about that.

CHRIS: I know all about it.

LIKE WHAT?

JIM: Things that are close to his heart … drugs …

CHRIS: I write about horror movies. That’s all I write about. New horror movie each day.

CHARLIE: Life in general.

LINDA: Chris’s life.

JIM: Life is a horror movie. Life is a ‘B’ movie.

ANY RECORDING PLANS OUTSIDE TERMINAL RECORDS’ CLEVELAND CONFIDENTIAL?

JIM: Hoping to get a record out this summer.

CHARLIE: End of summer. Maybe an album … probably an EP.

JIM: I’d like to do a 12-inch. Three or four songs.

WHAT LABEL? TERMINAL?

JIM: We’ve got our own label.

HOW’D YOU GET INVOLVED WITH MUSIC? JIM, YOU’VE HAD A LOT OF BACKGROUND … PRODUCING.

JIM: Well, things just kind of happened. I was in the right place at the right time.

WAS THERE SOME MORNING YOU JUST WOKE UP AND DECIDED TO GET A BAND?

JIM: I always wanted to do that. Since I was a kid. I listened to radio and records as long as I can remember.

ANYONE ELSE?

CHARLIE: Seemed like a good thing to do.

ANY PROBLEMS BEING A FEMALE DRUMMER IN CLEVELAND?

LINDA: No, it’s easier.

YOU HELP A LOT OF OTHER AREA BANDS … THE DARK …

JIM: Yeah, ‘cause we know how hard it is to get your foot in the door. We’ve all been through that. We’re still going through it.

LINDA: It’s really hard to do without a backbone to the whole thing …

JIM: There’s two clubs in town … actually one … maybe. It makes it real rough.

WHAT’S THE MAJOR PROBLEM?

JIM: Asshole club owners. Same old story.

CHARLIE: Capital letters.

JIM: Underlined, parentheses.

ANY CHANCE OF IT GETTING BETTER?

LINDA: We figured it out. It seems to be every two years.

DO YOU THINK YOU’LL STILL BE TOGETHER THEN?

JIM: It’s hard to say. We’ll be going … whether it’s together or not though …

CHARLIE: Insufficient data.

JIM: Yeah, I can’t say what’s gonna happen tomorrow even. Thing is, the people who have the money and the people in control are not the people willing to promote this type of thing. It’s the same old story.

WHY?

JIM: It’s a business. They wanna make their money, they wanna see a crowd. They don’t care about the music. I have yet to meet a club owner that cares about music. If I had the capital I’d open a club up right away.

WHERE ARE THE EASTER MONKEYS GOING?

JIM: Straight to hell. At this point it’s real step-by-step. Gigs are few and far between.

CHARLIE: There aren’t a lot of clubs.

JIM: Yeah, it’s just a real bad time right now. For those of us that work, as far as touring on the road, we’d all love to do that, but realistically we all have to work to support ourselves. Except for Chris. It wouldn’t be realistic to quit our jobs and things like that.

WHAT ABOUT PARTIES?

JIM: That’s fine, but we’re trying to get away from the benefits and things like that. We’ve done a year and a half doing that. We’ve been real good about it, doing parties and benefits. But benefits don’t pay for broken equipment, new strings, upkeep of equipment. So we sort of have to look at it as a business venture now – at least to sustain ourselves.

CHARLIE: As far as expenses go, being our own roadies is beating us all. The scene really stinks right now. Let’s see some clubs open up …

JIM: You’d think there’d at least one person in Cleveland that could get the capital or had the capital available to do that, that was into the music and into developing a scene here. We definitely have a scene, but it’s back to 1966. It’s underground. Ten years from now to look back in retrospect and it’ll be cool as a legendary aspect. That sure isn’t helping things now. It’s like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer in front of a hundred people. It’s funny, a year later and nothing.

ANY MESSAGE THE BAND IS TRYING TO GET ACROSS?

JIM: Not really. It just works on energy. Very high energy level. We don’t like categories such as ‘Punk Rock,’ ‘New Wave’ or ‘Rock,’ though it is in a rock medium. I don’t really think it’s a classification for us as we’re a conglomeration of everything we’ve listened to.

WHO ARE MAJOR INFLUENCES?

JIM: It’s weird ‘cause it’s different for each of us. That’s what makes our sound kind of unique. Old blues records, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, to my personal favourite … 60s English psychedelia and some American psychedelia.

CHARLIE: Syd Barrett.

JIM: I’m a big fan of SRC, Blue Cheer and the original Stooges.

CHARLIE: Horror movies, Cramps.

JIM: Yeah, I have an affinity for horror movies. That’s where a lot of Chris’s lyrical content comes from.

CHARLIE: And Roky Erickson.

JIM: Yeah, Roky’s got it together. [13th Floor] Elevators are a big influence. But then again there’s a lot of ‘80s people that have led the way for us, like PIL, Cramps. So you’ll hear a lot of influences. Even The Yardbirds too.

AND NO SONG SOUNDS LIKE ANY OF ‘EM.

JIM: Every song we do has a different mood, totally. We’re not into having a homogenised sound.

LINDA: Most of the songs have a Charlie original bass riff.

CHARLIE: No covers.

JIM: It’s a total community effort on the part of all four of us.

WHO WILL PRODUCE IN THE STUDIO?

JIM: Everybody has their say, but as far as the actual twiddling of knobs, I think I have the most tenure in that field, so it’d probably be up to me. But all suggestions are listened to. We’d sure like a lot of people to hear us … somehow.

LINDA: We think they’d like us if they had the opportunity to hear us.

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