By Pascalle Sabine Ricard
The Monks were creating a sound and a cult following, all while they were just killing’ time when they made Black Monk Time in 1966. Garry, Larry, Eddie, Dave and Roger were all GIs stationed in Germany in the mid 60’s and were just fresh out of high school. Fresh faces and fresh minds looking for trouble; and a part-time ditch-digging job was not going to cut the biscuit for these boys.
The Monks began as The 5 Torquays doing mainly covers and tribute performances, while practicing in private their more experimental sounds that would later lead to the Monks. With the advice from two art school friends the Monks began to take form starting with the uniform and hairstyle. In the beginning the five pals all wore black cassocks and nooses as neck ties and the classic tonsure hair style consisting of the entire top of the head being shaved. The hair was an impulsive gesture done by Dave and Roger with the rest of the band following suit. In my mind the hair style that the monks decided to take on has been remarkable for three reasons: it is a perfect play on the band’s name, it suggests an extreme to the point of irony devotion to their music and lastly it’s an early account of making a counterculture statement with hair. 70’s and to this day, the shaving of hair to make a statement in music hadn’t caught on yet. In fact the Monks in many circles became known as the anti- Beatles band just by sporting the hairstyle, not to mention their unique edgy sounds.
Even though the Monks just released the one album Black Monk Time, it has more than stood the test of time and many musicians have claimed it as a key influence. Not one song on the album is a miss and each has the classic primitive chant-like feel to it that somehow verges on sarcastic buffoonery. Admittedly it is impossible to pick one song as a favorite, “I Hate You” is one that has always warmed my icy heart and I have caught myself singing it to my significant others every now and again. But the well-known “Monk Time” with the gritty repetitious beats has always gotten me off, simply making my feet move while making pie in the kitchen. Yes Garry we all hate the atomic bomb, and we would all like it if Pussy Galore was coming down too. The Monks and their one studio album has had resonating effects on me, being introduce to them at the tender age 11 by my mother, the chanting voices of Garry, Larry, Eddie, Dave and Roger have been osculating in my brain even since, leaving me susceptible to future weird sounds. Check out Eddie’s written biography of the band called Black Monk Time and get as much Monk action from the many demo tapes and live recordings have.