The Canyoneers 3:53 p.m., July 17
Flying Under the Influence
Post-grunge badass ass-ness: that’s how Jeremy Vara describes a local rock quartet he plays in called Monkeys in Space. Half way through “My Drinkin’ Buddies Have a Rock and Roll Problem” it occurs to me that he’s right: MIS sound like one of those Saturday night kegger bands from college. I went to SDSU, otherwise known as The Party School. Then as now, there was no shortage of either beer or bands. And whether they know it or not, the Monkeys have that scene down cold. Their music is in equal measures frat house funny, insecure, and sounding at times as if they were surprised to find how good those big fat power chords can sound when blasting from their own amps. Which is to say that MIS, like Rush and Black Sabbath, are pretty much a guy experience.
“It’s loud, sweaty, frantic rock and roll,” says singer/guitarist Vara on the eve of a road trip that will take the Monkeys from here to Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Idaho, Portland, Seattle, and possibly Vancouver.
“We’ll see if we can get our bus across the border into Canada.”
Vara says they are a Poway band, Poway being to local rock what Australia is to global rock: an unlikely source of consistently good bands. In fact, a number of national acts have been nurtured in Poway, including Unwritten Law and blink 182. “We grew up looking up to blink 182,” Vara says. He admits that they never crossed paths as kid rockers due to age differences (Vara is 24; Mark Hoppus is pushing 40) but that they “have friends of friends who went to high school with them.”
But Unwritten Law is another story; Vara says that singer Scott Russo has become something of a mentor.
“We’re gonna do like he says and just go out there on the road and jam our music down their throats until they listen.” He says MIS will tour in support of their 2010 release, Flying Under the Influence.
Flying was recorded in a house where all the members of the Monkeys lived, close to SDSU. Additional tracks he says were laid down in an apartment in Golden Hill. “The screams you hear on the record? They were recorded late at night after work,” Vara says. He has a day gig at White Digital Media. “Neighbors were yelling at us to shut up, babies were crying, and dogs were barking.”
Monkeys in Space songs are custom-made for action-sports videos and as such have been featured in the Baja 1000 epic Moto Cross, a Surfline Magazine video, and, the band has played those red-eye sunrise and pancakes segments on FOX news and more just like it.
“Here in San Diego we’re running out of options. We’ve played all the major venues,” including the Casbah and House of Blues. “So we decided to stash money, buy a bus, and hit the road.” If all works according to plan, this road trip could be indefinite. Vara says they plan to work the Western loop twice in hopes of bringing in enough coin to make it across to the East Coast where they can launch a new tour.