Congratulations to MonkeyJunk, a Canadian blues band celebrating their 15th anniversary. Correction. They’ve been tagged as a blues band since their inception. While that’s true for their first two albums, the trio has defined their current style with rock and country.
“When we create music now, the influences we pick up find their way into the sound. Our music now happens organically. We don’t try to manipulate it. We think less and trust our gut on what feels good to us,” said Steve Marriner, vocalist, guitar, harmonica and organ. Rounding off the trio is Tony D (lead guitar), and Matt Sobb (drums and percussion).
With many theatres playing catch-up after the pandemic freeze, the Ontario-based entertainers plan on putting on an impressive show upon their return to the Arden Theatre on Friday, March 31. It is part of a four-city Alberta tour.
In addition to playing old favourites and ragging on each other, MonkeyJunk introduces their newest single – Shotgun Love. Recorded at Bryan Adams’ Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, Shotgun Love was inspired by a couple’s argument Marriner witnessed.
“I was in Victoria before the recording. I was walking and heard a couple arguing. The woman seemed quite upset and the man looked scared of her. And I let my mind run with it,” Marriner said.
Recording the song at the Warehouse deliberately coincided with Sobb’s 50th birthday. Sobb is a huge Bryan Adams fan and had always wanted to record at his musical hero’s studio. Marriner and Tony D along with Pat Steward, a drummer for Adams, planned surprise recording time without Sobb’s knowledge.
“I was in Vancouver with Colin James and Matt’s wife was in Vancouver on business, and Tony flew in for the recording. He (Matt) thought he was getting a tour of the building. Instead, we recorded and filmed three songs – two covers and Shotgun Love.”
Most bands never reach their 15th anniversary. They become casualties of creative differences, tour burnout or family considerations.
“Truthfully, we knew we’d be doing this as long as we live. We were friends and had played together for more than a decade when we started MonkeyJunk. We had a lot of connections. We share a familial bond. We ebb and flow. We take steps back. We have busy years and quiet years. We’ll always play music together. Now especially, our music has never been this emotionally deep.”
Although the trio’s popularity spreads from coast-to-coast, their strongest fan base is Alberta.
“I’d say CKUA is 90 per cent responsible. They play our music. We’ve been very fortunate to receive their support our entire life. Two of our songs received spins on commercial rock radio, but they didn’t stay on long enough.”
CKUA Radio is a public broadcaster relying on donations to operate across Alberta. It is the only radio station of its kind across Canada.
“CKUA programs its own music. DJ’s play different music at different times of day. They absolutely get it,” said Marriner railing against radio networks that predetermine what affiliate stations must play while having little connections to local markets.
“But I really do enjoy life and we’re looking forward to playing at the Arden.”
MonkeyJunk plays the Arden Theatre on Friday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $39 at tickets.stalbert.ca or at 780-459-1542.