Sprung Monkey has enough juice to fill an hour of Behind the Music.
The East County band, founded in 1991, had several national party-romp hits, including “Get ’Em Outta Here,” “What’s That You Say?” and “So Cal Loco (Party Like a Rockstar).” Their music appeared in movie soundtracks, such as Dude, Where’s My Car?, Van Wilder, and the first four Taylor Steele surf films, which led to major-venue surfer stomps on both U.S. coasts, Hawaii, and Australia, and then to bookings at ESPN’s X Games, Warped Tours, and MTV Spring Break parties. They toured with the Offspring, Korn, and the Deftones. “Kid Rock was on tour opening for us when his record broke,” says lead singer and lyricist Steve Summers.
“When we started, we played at Soma, the first Casbah, Winters, Bodie’s, and the World Beat Center. One guy who came to see us happened to be Taylor Steele, who put us in his surf videos. That gave us and bands like Pennywise and 7 Seconds huge exposure to the surf community. We were golden everywhere there was water.”
Roy Thomas Baker, who worked with Queen and the Cars, produced their sophomore album, Swirl.
“In 1998 we spent a month living and recording at his studio in Lake Havasu. There is an apartment next door. The thing I most remember about Roy was that he would drink Oranjeboom with Diet 7UP.”
After 9/11, Sprung Monkey’s popularity waned.
“On that day, it seemed like the whole music scene stopped and it never awoke. We had shows cancel on us. People just stopped touring. It was like the energy of everything just died. A lot of things we thought were going to happen just didn’t happen. Ernie [Longoria, drummer] started playing with [P.O.D. offshoot] Accident Experiment. We never broke up. We just kind of stepped away. Nobody had any energy anymore. People just kept coming up with excuses to not go to band practice and those excuses started to become pretty weak.” The band took a hiatus in 2002.
What Sprung Monkey lacked for a Behind the Music episode was the drama.
“In that way we are very un–rock and roll,” says Summers. “There were no ‘Fuck you!’s, no fist fights, none of that. When things slowed down, we just went on to live our lives.”
After regrouping five years ago, Sprung Monkey slowly started to get rolling again. While they all have day-jobs (Summers has been the tour manager for Suicidal Tendencies for six years). They started writing and recording their first new album in 12 years, Dead Is Dead. This year they started to tour again, opening for Unwritten Law and Strung Out.
Dead Is Dead, the fifth Sprung Monkey album to be released on the local Pacific Records label, will be available on iTunes November 26.
“This record is old-school Sprung Monkey,” says Summers. “It’s sweat-drenched, down-and-dirty rock and roll.”
Monkey trivia: Sprung Monkey was formed when members responded to an ad in the Reader; and they recorded their first demo tape at Nestor Studios in El Cajon, where they still practice.