100 reasons to see Twilight's Jackson Rathbone and his Monkey mates

First off it has to be said that this collection of multi-instrumental musicians are hard to define. The 100 Monkeys, made up of Jackson Rathbone, Ben Graupner, Jerad Anderson, Ben Johnson and M. Lawrence 'Uncle Larry' Abrams, delivered a set bursting at the seams with a quick paced mash of blues beats, soul sounds and rock-n-roll rhythms but with a modern fresh twist.

The result was, under the command of Rathbone, that the swaying crowd were well and truly “funkified” as the upbeat chords of opener Ugly Girl bounced around the room. 

Before the gig 100 Monkeys sat down to talk to STV about their unique live shows and how they don't let their busy lives get in the way of coming up with new ways to please their every growing troup of Monkey followers.

Rathbone commented: "With any group of artists who come together to focus on one unified vision you really have to dedicated the time and energy for that and that's not easy. All of us do have different jobs or different bands that we perform in or different avenues of the arts that we pursue. We have to take the time to practise, practise and passion are the two most important aspects of being a musician. There are five of us and we have five very different lives and it can be a chore some times but we make it work we have fun with it."

The thing that makes 100 Monkeys so fun to watch is their energy and unpredictability, they play for the sheer enjoyment of making music and pleasing the crowd. So often we’re plopped in front of musicians who lazily deliver a performance that ebbs along giving gig-goers a fulfilled but formulaic few hours. This is not a characteristic of 100 Monkeys. Predictability was replaced by a tightly polished set that wandered across every sound on the musical spectrum. 

Speaking of their hard to categorise sound Graupner said "funky rock and roll is the short answer we give." Uncle Larry added "it's a musical collage, a genre collage."

This mash up of different styles comes from the influences of each of the band members, and song writing is a very collaborative process as Rathbone points out:  "We all bring a different blend of genres, i think the interesting way that we write music is that's its not one way its not somebody writes the music somebody writes the lyrics it all just comes together in this jumble. It's really fun because everybody has different musical passions and backgrounds and we bring that to the table."

The gig was like watching an hour and forty minute long game of Musical Instruments as between every song the band members switch back and forth between guitars, drums, bass, bongos and even trumpets. They come together to produce one impressively cohesive simian symphony that was treat for both the eyes and ears.

Audience participation is very important to these guys, at every show they get the crowd to shout a proposed song title for them to improvise lyrics and music to. There were a few suggestions but the most vocal turned out to be the controversially named storm of last week, Hurricane Bawbag. Thankfully the Monkey's were pre-warned of the existence  of this phenomenon when they sat down with STV earlier in the day. The song about the irritating wind was well received and extremely well conceived as Ben Graupner sang the blues about the storm.

Anderson added: "The spontaneity of improvising instrumentally and with the lyrics its fresh every night , its completely different from structuring and writing a song. I love to make up a song or when we chose to jam out of nowhere in between songs its one of my favourite moments."

There were obviously some fans attracted there due to the connection to the Twilight universe , however, if you are not a fan of the movies don't let this put you off seeing the Monkeys, as Rathbone said they all have their day jobs, but their music is not aimed at the teen market. It's mature and edgy but with a fun, funky and fresh spin that makes it appealing to a wide audience.

  • 100 Monkey's new album Liquid Zoo is out now.

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