Monkeys in Space

Ryan Higginson: Drums | Johnny Rukkus: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric), Vocals | Jeremy Vara: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric), Vocals | Josh Smith: Bass guitar

Genre: Rock

RIYL: Weezer, Unwritten Law, Propagandhi

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Inception: Poway, 2009

Ex-Band Members: Ryan "Kerp" Koerper, Bass guitar, Vocals

Influences: Unwritten Law, Foo Fighters, Lagwagon, Saves the Day, Face to Face, NOFX


“We were just four childhood friends, reuniting in our home town of Poway for a jam session,” says Johnny Johnny Rukkus, ala Johnny Airplane, singer-guitarist for Monkeys in Space.

“We realized we’re all still young — in our early 20s — so we still have a fair shot at chasing our dream. Now we frantically fight the pull of the blue-collar world. We put our professional lives on hold, accepted minimum-wage jobs, and formed the band that we hope will save rock ’n’ roll.”

The group self-financed their 2010 EP, In Wake of Recent Events, playing around town and sending promo material to every music-biz professional they can track down with wi-fi and a laptop.

“Before Nirvana was Nirvana, Kurt Cobain wrote to every record label he could find, begging them to sign his band. We’re gonna write to every label, promoter, agency, artist, manager, band, record store, venue, and radio station in the free world.”

Why should we care? “We aren’t your average women’s-jeans-wearing, high-pitched-screaming, wine-drinking, soft-spoken douchebags,” says Johnny. “Instead, we fight the real world for our right to rock, and that’s what we play and sing about: being a full-time, loud, and in-your-face rock and roll band.”

In 2011, they debuted a new song, “Roses,” on the Live with Tim Pyles radio program on 94.9FM. Later that year, they released Flying Under the Influence. "I’d have to say the most fun I have ever had playing a local San Diego show would have to be one of the many shows we did over at the Sandbar right next to the rollercoaster in Mission Beach," says Rukkus. "Although not a usual thing for that, we somehow befriended the managers and were allowed to close the place down for our shows. It was a real punk rock setting, where the band is right there on the same floor as the crowd. I always love that vibe because truly anything can happen, and I feel like that’s how a good rock show should be. If you don’t leave with a chipped tooth and bruised elbows, you didn’t do it right!"

However, the band seemed to lose its drive over the next few years. According to Rukkus, "I am ashamed to mention that we for sometime gave up on one another and lost sight of why we started this band in the first place. After a prolonged series of misfortunate events we had reached our breaking point and had inadvertently fallen into an indefinite hiatus. Alone and defeated I was the only band member left, barely standing. Unsure if the Monkeys would ever play together again or even talk to each other for that matter, with a hard drive filled to the brim with unreleased tracks, the foothold in the San Diego and L.A. scene we had worked so hard to establish began to quickly crumble. Egos, outside stressors, and insufficient funds had bested everyone. It seemed as if I went to bed one night on top of the world and woke up to find I was the only one that hadn’t yet jumped ship. Rocket-ship, that is."

After taking on an unsatisfying day job, Rukkus decided he'd rather reunite the band. They recorded their 2014 album Kill Your Past, preceded by the single "My Drinking Buddies Have a Rock & Roll Problem," which was also previewed on the Pyles show. The album lineup features Rukkus, Jeremy Vara, Josh Smith, and Ryan Higginson.

“A little piece of each member can be found on the tracks within Kill Your Past, and we even managed to coerce several other incredible musicians to contribute, adding great depth to the monster album,” says Rukkus. “Throughout, we found ourselves repeatedly saying alright, for real though, this is the last song on the album. Another six months down the road, eighteen songs later, and here we are, through the darkness and on to the other side. If we could make it through that, I have no doubt in my mind we could make it through anything.”

Keyboards were provided long-distance via a German musician named Sebastian Gottlieb. “We found him on the Do Anything For Five Bucks service website He did a piano part for ‘Our Great Escape,’ and we were absolutely blown away, so we had him do the rest of the album. He was stoked to be a part, and we definitely consider him the fifth member and our long-distance Monkey.”

Kill Your Past dropped May 9, 2014, at 710 Beach Club. In addition to the digital and CD releases, a vinyl version with different cover art includes the bonus track “Pretty Rock City.” The following summer, they released a new single, “Blackout.”


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