Interview with 100 Monkeys’ Jerad Anderson
– by Rachel Fox
100 Monkeys is currently embarking on its very ambitious 100 dates tour to promote the group’s first studio release, Grape. The L.A. dance-rock/funk-roots band (with slightly Goth vocals), which features Twilight‘s Jackson Rathbone (sorry, it has to be said) in the lineup, swings by Vancouver’s Venue this Sunday, Jan 17.
On Tuesday, Rachel Fox spoke with Jerad Anderson, who is 1/5 of the 100 Monkeys, 100% musician-man, and 0% vampire.
Rachel Fox: Who am I speaking to?
Jerad Anderson: This is Jerad. Jerad, uh, J-Rad. That’s my pseudonym.
RF: That’s your pseudonym, OK.
JA: [laughs] Yeah.
RF: What number Monkey are you and what do you do in the band?
JA: I’m 20 per cent of the Monkeys, because there’s five of us. I do what everyone else in the band does and I play each instrument, uh, and that’s what I do. And I create fun.
RF: That’s positive. Where are you right now, and what are you doing?
JA: I’m sitting in a car, and we just left Tulsa, Oklahoma and we’re driving to Denver, Colorado.
RF: Very glamorous. You’re in a car, not a bus.
JA: Yeah, I’m in a car. We’re doing it grassroots-style.
RF: Grassroots, that’s nice. You’ve got a new album, Grape, which came out November 29, 2009. It’s your first studio release, fourth album. Tell me, why Grape, why not Banana—are you fooling with me?
JA: Well, what we say is, “Orange you glad we didn’t call it Banana?”
RF: [inexplicably channeling the spirit of the late Ed McMahon] Hoooooh! Zing!
JA: That’s the response we give.
RF: Tell me, was that a group decision answer or was that one particular moment of Monkey inspiration?
JA: As far as calling it Grape?
RF: No, I was actually referring more to your wicked-clever answer.
JA: I forget who originally said it but that’s what we’ve all been repeating ever since.
RF: That’s pretty awesome. How’s it different with a studio album—the recording process? It says on the website that you guys recorded on the road, kind of grassroots. Can you tell me a little bit about the difference between your other albums and the process for this one?
JA: The first albums we did—one was completely improvs[ised], all in one take—that was Monster De Lux. Jay—Jackson Rathbone—he would pretty much roll out of bed and we’d have it all set up. We’d recorded a track and then we’d say, “Hey, put lyrics on this” and he would go [do it] and then that’s the song [laughs].
So that’s how that one was recorded. The next few, the Creative Control Live Session—that’s pretty much us jamming. We played a few songs that we had written but it’s a live recording, there wasn’t any going back to try and perfect the take. And then the studio album was much different, where we tried to perfect the takes, we got the tones correct, we worked on the structures of the songs and we really tried to nail it in a studio situation. That’s the difference.
RF: How long did it take you guys to record?
JA: The actual process of recording Grape took a month, to lay down the tracks. We camped out at a house that had a recording studio built in, in Lockhart, Texas. It was like summer camp for us. We slept in bunks. We’d wake up, record all day, go to bed and do it again for a month. Then the mixing process took a long time because we were on the road, and we brought our engineer, Scott Coslett with us, and he would mix while we were playing in places like Vancouver and wherever else we may have gone. All in all it took about three months.
RF: And now you’re on a rather ambitious tour, 100 Dates. You’re playing Vancouver this Sunday. How’s the tour going so far?
JA: So far, it’s been awesome. From the first few dates that we’ve started our audience has increased and the energy level is getting better because people have started listening to Grape and they sing along as we play and it’s just been—we’re all on cloud nine from the stage. We have smiles that we can’t get rid of.
RF: Aww, that’s sweet. So you’ve played obviously, in Vancouver before—of course Vancouver is something of a Twilight Mecca —is that correct? Can we say that?
JA: You could say that. They shoot all the Twilight movies there, and so, at least when we were there in the past it was during the filming of the last two Twilight films. Paparazzi is camping out, fans come from all over the place just to camp out during the shooting.
RF: I have to say honestly, I hate to say it… I’ve not seen a Twilight movie.
JA: You’re a rarity.
RF: I’m also a grown woman.
RF: I don’t know if that has anything to do with it. I don’t know if that sounds really horrible or not. I haven’t read the books…
JA: It’s not a requirement.
RF: I was kinda thinking, I’m going to the show on Sunday and I noticed it’s not an all-ages show, it’s 19+ and I’m wondering if that will weed out, perhaps, some of the Twilight people.
JA: Actually, you’d be surprised. I would say it’s spread across the board. There are cults of Twilight fans from ten years old up to 60 years old. From our experience traveling around, initially, that’s the audience we have because Jackson is in the movies. What we’re doing now is using that as a springboard to get our music out there to create fans of our music.
RF: Is having this huge spotlight—having one of the members of your band in this pop-culture phenomenon—is that good for you? Does it get annoying or detract from what you’re trying to do as musicians?
JA: It’s good and bad. We’re trying to keep that separate as much as humanly possible.
RF: That’s interesting that you’d say “humanly possible” because, of course, vampires… are not human.
JA: [laughs] We all are musicians. Jackson originally moved to L.A. to be a songwriter and so, we’re fortunate in that we have an audience because of that but at the same time we want to be legitimized as musicians.
RF: I’m curious about the audience. I did go to an ‘N Sync concert once—
RF: I saw an encore. I was actually doing some promo work and I snuck into the venue. The thing that really surprised me about the show was number one, I didn’t think they were in sync, and number two, there was just so many young girls [children] there. I thought it was kind of strange. You’re not really having that kind of thing as you’re playing different kinds of venues but—do you have that? What’s your reaction to that—the fandom?
JA: The fandom is great because it gives us the energy that we reflect back when we’re playing live shows. So, I’m not going to complain about a bunch of screaming girls.
I think a lot of what we’re going for is extending beyond that. It’s fun when I see more and more guys are showing up for our shows and they seem to really, really genuinely like the music, I would say more so than a lot of the women. It makes me smile, because it means we’re doing our job and accomplishing what we’ve set out to do.
RF: It’s sort of an interesting thing, to have a band to have this other aspect, in terms of reinventing or recreating yourself. I was thinking of Jared Leto and his band, 30 Seconds to Mars.
RF: Oh no—you’ve heard that before, or you get it a lot?
JA: No, that comes up occasionally. He’s got a legitimate band and it’s separate from his acting career. I believe that’s one hundred per cent possible, so that’s what we’re setting out to do. So far so good, we’re just starting out.
RF: I’ve never actually heard 30 Seconds to Mars and to me Jared Leto is always Jordan Catalano.
JA: [laughs] He does have his music fans. I see what you’re saying. Unless you’re drawn in by his music he’ll always be “the actor.”
RF: What can I say—My So-Called Life—I’m of that age. All of you guys in the band have this other part-time, döppelganger life as actors that I was reading about on your website. You improvise a lot and bring it onstage with you.
JA: We all started out in L.A. and we all did act and still do. It’s another form of entertainment, just like music, and I think that helps our live show.
RF: Would you consider yourself a jam band?
JA: You know what—yeah. We go into extended jams onstage. We make up songs that we get from the audience. Those songs that we make up are purely a jam that comes out of this air on the fly. I wouldn’t classify us as a “jam band”, but that was our roots, for sure. We used to play and never have a single written song. We’ve been writing songs since we recorded studio album, and we’re less of a jam band now.
RF: So, here we are in the New Year. Complete this sentence: “New Year, new – “
JA: (Pause) Awesome Monkey music.
RF: All right. Seeing as we are in a New Year, what are you listening to now? What’s playing on your iPod or playing in the car where you are driving?
JA: We’ve been obsessed with the Rolling Stones lately. We’ve been watching a lot of their performances. A lot of what we’ve been doing in the van is watching DVDs of performance, because we’re obsessed with performance on top of the actual music. I’m actually watching the Kings of Leon right now. We watch everybody from Prince to the Doors to Michael Jackson and Jimi Hendrix… anybody who was a great performer, we’re taking notes and soaking it in.
RF: I had this vision of maybe one, or all of your band, somehow doing Mick Jagger moves on stage.
JA: Oh yeah!
RF: Will you be incorporating that into the show? He can really get down.
JA: Yeah [laughs]. I think movement on stage is fun and it keeps everyone stimulated who is watching the show. On top of the fact that we all play every instrument, so when we switch it’s an added unique element that we bring to the table.
RF: Well maybe you can look forward to some choreography in the New Year.
JA: [laughs] Choreography might make us ‘N Sync.
RF: That could be the difference. You could be 100 Monkeys in Sync or Synced Monkeys or something to that effect.
JA: We’re trying to keep our cred as funky rock-and-roll musicians.
RF: One final question—We have the Monkees, we have Arctic Monkeys, we have 100 Monkeys [not to mention Fight Like Apes—Ed.]—what’s going on here?
JA: You know what—the name actually started in the living room of Ben [Graupner] and Jackson, they were roommates. It just was a name that they kicked around. The name 100 Monkeys is a theory of collective consciousness, and what we’re attempting to do through a few people liking what we’re doing to growing contagious on a big level.
RF: If you were going to play a gig with the Arctic Monkeys, what would you name the tour or the event?
JA: I would say… that’s a tough one, there are so many options. We could call it The Great Ape Tour.
RF: Oh, I like that. In my mind I thought, 100 Arctic Monkeys but that would be too obvious.
JA: Yeah, that is a little obvious and it’s the first thing I thought.
RF: I like that, “The Great Ape Tour.” So, I guess we’ll see you on Sunday night at Venue.
JA: Yeah, I’m excited. We’re going to have a lot of fun. That’s what we try to do – make sure that everyone is having a blast.