for all this reawakening of interest in the band--Tom
Rapp, who was in Pearls Before Swine, said something
that I really think applies to the situation. He
was on NPR and he said "You do some albums
in the sixties that are okay, and then you go away
for thirty years, and if you don't die you're a
first became aware of interest in the Monks in the
late 80s or maybe early 90s when I was living in
Texas. Gary told me about the pirate recordings
and Polydor reissuing the album. I knew there were
some rumblings in the background about us. More
and more news started to come in about it. And it
was unbelievable. I'm still amazed that people rediscovered
course, things came to a head with an invite to
play in New York. I was a bit reluctant to do the
show at first. Jon Weiss and Will Shade really encouraged
me to play. Finally I said "Okay, let's go
do it." I was a bit nervous about my drumming
I hadn't played in so long. I spent a lot of time
practicing, getting muscles back in shape. Me and
Gary played together a lot. There were some doubts
on my part about my own drumming. Even during our
full band rehearsals before the show, I was nervous.
The moment we hit the stage, it went away. I just
concentrated on the music and it came together.
we got to New York before Cavestomp!, we were babes
in the woods. Or I was at least. I had no idea what
was coming. I was amazed at the reception we got.
I didn't know how to react to it besides polite
"thank yous." It was a whirlwind. The
young people who came up and spoke to us amazed
me. There was a common denominator. They were thoroughly
educated about our music. I was shocked. They were
astute and knowledgable about all the music. It
was surprising, but gratifying in a way that I still
Germany, the audience would come up and speak to
us after the show. They liked it, but they had no
idea what it was about. It didn't fit in with English
rock n roll or anything they'd heard before, but
they did like it. At least the ones that came up
and talked. There were a lot of newspapers that
didn't like us.
York was different. The fans had a number of years
to listen to it and think on it. It seems that our
managers were right about the Monks being the music
of tomorrow. I didn't think so at the time, but
time proved them correct. 30 years was an awful
long wait, though! I think it was worth it. Hell,
I know it was worth it.
Let's Start A Beat, I like Shut Up and That's My
Girl the best. I was very surprised at how much
the fans liked Cuckoo when we played it live. Some
of our stuff is indefinable. The Monks themselves
don't even understand it. The one thing I finally
did understand personally, though, was that the
fans are smarter than we are. Don't second-guess
that album's the last thing we do, I'm satisfied.
We tempted fate and got away with it. I'd be perfectly
content to disappear again so people would say "Who
was that masked man?"
took a while for the whole experience to sink in.
I'd been home for a couple of weeks before I got
perspective on it. I'd worked a lot to get in shape,
playing drums and staying sober. And the New York
experience actually helped me. I've been able to
stay straight since I got back from Cavestomp! Having
stayed sober to play the show, I realized I could
continue to do so after I got back. That was really
a really good result that I couldn't have foreseen
remember sitting out on Irenes deck in the
summer of 1990, enjoying the sun and having a nice
cold beer. Then the phone rang and Irene said that
it was for me. I was wondering who would be calling
me at her house. I took the phone and said "hello"
and on the other end was Gary Burger. I said, "Hey,
guy, how ya doing?" He said he had some news
for me and not to fall over. Ha, ha.
he went on to tell me about these two guys who had
interviewed Eddie about The Monks and I quickly
replied "What the hell are you talking about?
Nobody knows anything
about The Monks here in the U.S." Gary said,
"Well, these guys know and theyre coming
up to interview me in a week or two."
of a sudden, my past started crawling all over my
skin. I just couldnt believe that anyone would
be interested in The Monks, especially 25 years
after the fact. I had put The Monks completely out
of my mind because all I knew is that we werent
wanted in the U.S. back then and that our music
got most people completely uptight and out-of-site,
ya might say.
looked at Irene and said, "Well, I know you
dont know anything about this, but its
a buddy from Minnesota who I played with in The
Monks back in Germany." She asked "Who
are The Monks?" I kind of laughed and said,
"Ill explain later." After Gary
and I get done talking, he said hed let me
know whats going on with this Monk thing and
I thanked him for the news and we hung up.
just sat there and thought who in the hell would
be interested in The Monks here in the 90s. I was
beside myself. Well, later on I was thinking, "Damn,
I wish I had a tape of The Monks so I could play
it for Irene and her husband at that time, but I
didnt have any Monks music at all until Gary
sent me some tapes later on.
was crazy thinking that something was going to happen
with The Monks. I hadnt talked to anyone about
The Monks in 25 years and all of a sudden it pops
right out of the blue. Then, I calmed down and said
to myself, "Dont get excited. Nothings
going to happen."
a few years later everybody except Larry met up
at Garys house and the rest is history. Gary
had also found Roger and The Monks were all talking
so hard to believe that we actually played live
in New York and that it went as well as it did.
God bless all you devoted Monk fans out there. You
brought The Monks back from the dead. Thanks everybody
and keep monkin!
Bye for now.....
Shaw I left Carson
City, Nevada, February, 1961; went to Germany, then
returned home, February, 1968, as a different person
finding a much-changed place, one that took many
years to get used to. The years as a monk had a
profound effect on my life, whether I wanted it
to or not. When I returned home, I had a hard time
adjusting to post-monk life. I moved to Minneapolis,
where Gary and I went to school. Roger eventually
moved there as well. We had a shared experience
we couldn't explain to anyone else and we still
relied on each other for support. The monk experience
made things difficult. At first we would talk about
what we did, but others would look away and say,
"You're bullshitting." When I played monk recordings
for my family and childhood friends, they all thought
there was something wrong with me.
I bragged I was going to write a biography about
it someday, they said, "Yeah, in order to keep people
from using it as toilet paper, you're gonna have
to write it on sandpaper." I think we all soon stopped
talking about it, believing we had failed. For me
it became very hard to listen to those recordings.
I didn't listen to them for many years. I continued
to play music in other groups, touring and recording
in the U.S.A., until a few years, (1980) after my
first son was born. Anita (I changed her name in
the book because she wanted anonymity) and I were
married for thirty-two years. She had escaped from
East Germany in 1961. When the Berlin Wall came
down she wanted to go back to Erfurt, where she
had lived as a child. She lived there for awhile
but now lives in Gelnhausen where we first met.
I eventually returned to Carson City.
1992, I was surprised one morning when two young
men, Mike Stax and Keith Patterson, came to my house.
They said they were looking for a monk. "What the
hell are they talking about" I thought. They showed
me an article in "People Magazine" written some
years before about a group who covered the monks
- known as Das Furleins. Then I was informed of
the English group, The Fall, who covered some of
our tunes in their recordings. Right then I thought,
"damn! In fifteen minutes, everybody's gonna be
famous!" We spent the night at my house, digging
out old photos, the bass, a monk suit and other
souvenirs. It was the first time I had talked about
it in years, amazed that anyone would appreciate
our efforts. Mike Stax then wrote a piece for his
magazine, Ugly Things.
they left I called Gary and said, "Gary, you won't
believe it. There are some American kids who have
listened to pirated monk records and they like the
music." He said, "You're f**king crazy," and hung
up. It took a little time for us to get used to
this new interest.
the article was published in Ugly Things,
I received a call, in 1994, from a movie producer
asking if I would write a book about the monks.
I stopped writing the book I was working on, and
immediately punched out black monk time.
Since I had a quick deadline, the first draft was
written very quickly, which the other monks (Larry
couldn't be found) approved after making some corrections.
Then it was published with all its grammatical mistakes
and optioned for a movie. A number of scripts have
been written by different script writers and are
still being developed. The option is renewed every
year. As I have found out, it takes a long time
to make a movie.
a publisher of other authors as well as my own books,
I began to travel, promoting the book, black
monk time. It was reviewed in many national
magazines, newspapers, on different TV stations,
and even Rick Karr's program, All Things Considered,
on National Public Radio. Interest in the monks
began to increase, helping us all come out of the
closet. I did some research with my agent in Los
Angeles and put together a music publishing company
for publishing rights. All five monks were made
equal partners and then I asked Larry if he would
be our secretary/treasurer. He handles money better
than anyone I've ever known.
Zero then licensed the recording, Black Monk
Time, and gave us our first release in the
U.S. The reception was good; and when Henry Rollins
talked about it on MTV, I think we all thought we
had died and gone to heaven. Since then, two more
recordings have been released: Five Upstart
Americans, on Omplatten Records, and Let's
Start a Beat, on Cavestomp Records, distributed
by Varese Sarabande.
the Infinite Zero release, we began to get invitations
to play again. I wasn't convinced it was the right
thing to do, believing it best to let the monks
be remembered for what they were. Who wants to see
a bunch of old geezers trying to convince people
they're still twenty-one years old? After a lot
of discussion, and after turning down Bumbershoot,
we did agree to play for the Cavestomp festival
had last seen Larry in 1972, when I had a week's
engagement at Mother's in Chicago (maybe it was
when I was passing through Chicago after playing
in Boston, I don't remember). I was playing in a
jazz/funk group, Copperhead, later known as Minnesoda--with
many unreleased recordings and one album on Capitol.
Larry and I spent an afternoon at his house where
we looked through his photo albums. It was very
interesting to see the photo of Dave and Jimi Hendrix,
in the back room at the Star Palast in Kiel, Germany.
No one had talked to Larry since, until Gary found
him in 1998.
thirty-plus years, it felt very natural when we
came together in the Cavestomp studio. We shook
hands, turned on the amplifiers and went to work.
It took us a couple of minutes to get through the
first song and then begin to argue, just as if it
had only been a couple of days since we had last
seen each other. Some keys were changed, to accomodate
changed voices, and I had senior moments forgetting
what keys went to what songs. We practiced for five
days, which wasn't enough time. We certainly weren't
as tight as we used to be, but then, what the hell,
the last time we played was over thirty years ago.
The audience and critics were very forgiving. When
we began to play that night, I was surprised to
see the congregation singing along with the songs.
They knew the tunes! Most importantly, thank god,
Mike Fornatale knew all the words. Gary lost his
voice the very day we were to perform and I called
Mike begging for help. He went on stage with us,
without any rehearsal. I think he now has a new
career, helping other old timers.
been a gratifying experience. I've met many new
friends. After writing and publishing black
monk time, I've done some book tours and made
some sales. I've sold a car, sold some property,
and had garage sales to support this cursed monk
thing. Surprisingly the monks did earn some bucks
from the Powerade commercial, which seemed to come
out of nowhere. Other things have happened to me
in the last ten years as well. The owner of the
Old Globe Saloon put my name on a bust, which is
prominently displayed behind the bar, but that wasn't
because I was a monk. It was because I had spent
enough money on drinks to help start a college fund
for his kids.
also shouldn't forget to mention meeting Will Shade
when I read an article he wrote in 1997. I was impressed,
wrote to him and we became friends. He and Jamie
Goodman put this website together, and through it
the monks have found many more friends.
what has changed for me the last ten years? I've
met a beautiful woman, Sherrie. She makes me feel
good. I also hear people telling me I'm a rock star
which I don't take too seriously. My main accomplishment
was to survive all those years of playing music,
still alive with maybe two or three percent of my
brain cells still intact.
I changed? I say I have, but other people tell me,
I'm just as weird as ever. It doesn't matter. I
still like the idea of playing loud music to piss
folks off. There's a bunch of old fogies (politicians,
special interests, et al) who deserve a loud raspberry
now more than ever. I've discovered I actually like
the people who tell me the monks were a good group,
but then I do get uncomfortable when someone makes
me the object ot their misguided reverence.
still pick up the trumpet, bass guitar or play the
keyboard for my own pleasure. For awhile I jammed
on Slayer tunes with my sons, but that ended when
I complained to them that I wanted to play something
else. When the drummer (Reu, my oldest) and the
guitar player (Erin, my youngest) made fun of me
by saying, "I think we have a cry baby in the room,"
I unplugged my bass and quit. It's no big deal.
I'll come back when they learn some other tunes.
Music is something I will always do. At this time,
I'm finishing the book I was writing before I wrote
black monk time. I have a bunch of unfinished
manuscripts I want to finish. I'm trying to keep
my life on track as a writer. This new interest
in the monks has been energizing and distracting,
but things are beginning to settle down.
result of being a monk is that there are five men,
bonded to each other for life. That's important.
And then--I still have many miles to go before I
can take the next fifteen minute break. That sounds
like a fucking love-life cliche doesn't it? Be careful
with monks who talk about love. While Roger still
searches for the meaning of cuckoo, I'm
holding on to the glimstick and continuing to fall
with others, arses and elbows (higgledy-piggledy)
on my way down to heaven. Thanks for the fun.
first indication that the Monks were getting more
than their 15 minutes of fame came to me in the
form of a telephone call from a total stranger.
He introduced himself as Keith Patterson, a rock
n' roller from Minneapolis. He started out by telling
me stuff that only a collector would or could know,
like . . . did I know that there were pirate versions
of Black Monk Time out there? Did I know
that the album was going for pretty big bucks on
the collectors' market, and the singles also? No,
I didn't have a clue that the Monks were back in
the marketplace and indeed had never truly left
it, primarily because of the interest of the record
collectors and fans. Soon after my introduction
to Keith, Mike Stax (publisher-owner of Ugly
Things) featured the Monks in an issue. When
that came out, I knew that the Monks were beginning
to roll again.
than this, I'd been getting calls from Eddie, who
was sweating out his book Black Monk Time.
Soon, I'm hearing from Dave about rumors of Monk
interest in the Seattle area--and funny enough,
my good friend, Monks drummer Roger Johnston, had
just moved to my hometown to escape a tumultous
life in Texas. But the real stinker was when the
fan mail started to come in from around the world.
Now, I truly knew something was going on.
didn't take long to learn that Repertoire Records
(Germany) had somehow obtained the Black Monk
Time masters, and had released another pirate
with no compensation to the Monks--plus we found
that our parent record company, Germany's Polydor,
had also released another vinyl version in the mid-1980s.
Then the Infinite Zero release, then the Omplatten
release . . . yes, things were happening.
scattered bits of news coming to me did provide
some satisfaction for all the work the Monks had
gone through in the 60s. Hell, we'd worked hard
to put out Black Monk Time and then when
the band collapsed, we saw it all go down the drain.
It was not a good feeling. Personally, it took me
a long time to come back, to recover from being
a Monk. Returning to the States should have been
terrific after so long away, but it was not that
good. Getting used to a regular job after being
on the Monk Lam for so long wasn't easy for this
camper, but I was determined to get on with life
and build something for myself.
time, good things happened and I put the Monks behind
me. I still played in a small club band or two (1969-75),
but they were not very exciting cover bands. I didn't
even play guitar anymore . . . I was a front singer
. . . do a few songs, go have a beer, come back
and do a few more songs. I wasn't happy about this
musical life and eventually escaped from it. My
point is that the Monks and "serious music" had
evaporated from my life and I didn't realize how
much I missed the comradeship of being with a dedicated
group of people determined to play tight and solid
and to make a mark on the music world.
the Monks' resurgence first began to roll I was
interested from a divorced, isolated point of view.
I didn't feel like I had to participate or needed
to participate in this whole business. It was happening
without much input from me and I was comfortable
with that. Ed Shaw was/is crazed from his efforts
to promote his book and get a movie deal out of
it, but it wasn't hitting me like it was him. At
least it wasn't hitting me until the suggestions
and offers began to come in that the Monks should
love playing guitar and I did want to see my buddies
and to play with them again. When I realized that
a decent probability existed that the Monks might
be called on to do a concert I did the only thing
I could do to help it along . . . I went out and
job in a rock n' roll band. Get the chops - get
the chops - get the chops so you won't be totally
stupid if and when the Monks play. I started to
write songs and record them.
the Monks, except Eddie, came to my studio in 1998
and we cut seven songs with a stand-in bass player.
It was a good exercise and made it clear to me that
Roger, Dave, Larry and myself were able to play
with accuracy and intensity. I still didn't know
about Eddie's playing even though he kept saying
over the phone that he was the best bass player
in the world.
we did get around to doing Cavestomp! in New York
City. Man, it was hard. We practiced until I was
voiceless and then did the show. Shitty deal, but
life has its curve balls and we pulled it off anyway
with a little help from our friend, the now-famous
Mike Fornatale. Even though we had some awfully
rough edges, the audience at Cavestomp! saw no wrong
and we ended up having a blast and came away with
a very good feeling.
Cavestomp!, I began to push on the Monks that we
should start work on a new album and recently found
that there was not much enthusiasm for it. To me,
the main ingredient required when writing and recording
songs is enthusiasm and joy for the idea of the
project. We don't have it. I started out with a
very high interest level, but lost it after a ho-hum
reception from most of the Monks. So, the excitement
and energy required to record is simply not there
and I believe it is not there to play another live
show. You've got to WANT to do these things and
not be drug along kicking and screaming and whining
that you'd really prefer to be elsewhere doing other
things. I've come to understand that all of us are
now comfortable enough in our life situation that
to put ourselves through a wrenching event like
a recording session or a live concert is going to
take more than a six-horse team to make this wagon
I'm not convinced that the Monks will ever play
again and if they do not, that is alright with me.
It takes a huge amount of strength to bring us together
and I'm not sure there is that much power left on
this planet. I'm believing that the Monks at Cavestomp!
is quite a good and safe place to leave it.