OWTK Interviews / OWTK Kindie Music News

Catching up with Recess Monkey * UPDATED *

Jack Forman, getting funky at KC Jiggle Jam '09

In late-January, while Recess Monkey was putting some finishing touches on “The Final Funktier”, bassist Jack Forman took time away from his laundry and schoolwork to talk to me about album #6, Kindiefest, and why the current kindie rock scene in Seattle is infinitely better than his hometown’s post-grunge scene.

As the title “The Final Funktier” suggests, Recess Monkey’s new disc is going to be heavy on the funk.  Whereas prior albums showed only glimpses of the band’s penchant for that side of the music spectrum (see: “Boogie Monster”, “Bubble Factory”), album #6, with “lots of slap bass”, will take that funky flirtation up a notch.  It could be said that Recess Monkey and the Funk are now going steady.  According to Forman, the band has also tinkered with new electronic gadgets and gizmos during the songwriting process and as such, promised a side order of new wave with the funky entree.  Not sure where a human beatbox song fits into all of this, but Forman talked of “a really weird song about a robot made out of mouth jams…made out of beatbox rhythms”.  Sounds like the kind of awesome only Recess Monkey can pull off.

Chris Ballew (Caspar Babypants), Johnny Bregar and Jack Forman. Photo by Eric Ode

In addition to the funk, the Seattle band’s 6th album in as many years will also feature special guests galore.   A gaggle of terrific kid’s musicians, many also hailing from the Pacific NW, recently donated their time and voices to the “lush chorus” on the “ELO-inspired epic synth rock song ‘The Galax Sea'” and another called “Sunglasses” during a fun-filled day in the recording studio.  Forman and I agree that one of the next funktiers of exploration in the kid’s music genre is collaboration (or how about an in-town rivalry?).  Maybe we won’t see kiddie rock collaborations reach hip-hop levels (and hopefully no rivalry ever does either), but in a scene this vibrant, cooperative, and young it’s only logical that forces be combined from time to time.  Word of David Tobocman and Randy Kaplan in the studio together last year sent shivers, and the thought of Caspar Babypants’ Chris Ballew, Johnny Bregar, Morgan Taylor and Rachel Loshak (Gustafer Yellowgold), Eric Ode, The Harmonica Pocket and members of The Not-Its! appearing on the new Recess Monkey CD is positively fascinating!

*UPDATE* There are a couple other guest players on the disc that deserve mentioning as well.  Lending their talents on the funkdafied organ are Chris Wiser from the Sugar Free All Stars and Grammy nominated producer Tor Hyams (Milkshake).

Drew & Jack. Photo by Eric Ode

Whereas the indie rock scene in Seattle reached cutthroat levels, the kindie rock world (with Kindiefest standing as the ideal example of this) favors collaboration, something really only possible because of the genuine in-it-together vibe that exists in the all-ages music world.  Unlike, post-grunge Seattle, Forman commented that the collection of kid’s artists located in the top left hand side of the U.S. are banning together under common causes (one that doesn’t involve scoring a 6-figure major label deal) to elevate the scene holistically, to change the perception of kid’s music, and to bring well-crafted, quirky, top-notch tunes to a pint-sized audience that’s been force fed folky instructional songs and glossy, mass-produced pop for far too long.

Forman and Co. will be in Brooklyn on May 2nd performing at the Kindiefest kid’s music festival.  This event is open to the public and costs next to nothing, considering the talent already on board (Ralph’s World, Bill Harley, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo and Recess Monkey). Head here for tickets to the kid’s music event of the year.

*UPDATE* A couple more tidbits…The new album will feature artwork by Jarrett Krosoczka, illustrator of Punk Farm and the Lunch Lady comic series (I originally though this was still top secret, but was just informed by Mr. Forman that The Absolute Mindy show on XM’s Kid’s Place Live broke this news yesterday).  For longtime Recess Monkey fans, note that for the 1st time in their recording career John Vanderslice is not mentioned by name.  Fear not, instead of referencing the indie rocker, Vanderslice’s voice (acquired via a special “Romanian Names” pre-order prize of magnetic tape) will actually be sampled and used throughout the album.

“The Final Funktier” is due out in June.

Visit Recess Monkey online.

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