WE FIND OURSELVES IN A HOUSE OF MONKEYS
Towards the close of the Radiators' 2nd set on Friday 13, 2017 at Tipitina's, we played that old warthog of a song by the Stones, "Let It Bleed.' And there was something about how Reg and Frank and I were playing together that kinda gave me this feeling of holding on and letting go at the same time. And that feeling stayed with me, haunting me….
Would we get back to that feeling if we played a smaller club, maybe in an off time, like the middle of summer? I ran through various scenarios of musicians to play with Reg and Frank and me and just adding Dave to the line-up felt like the perfect move to make. Camile was living in Minnesota and without the full Rads, we could stay away from the regular Rads material and indulge in some gut-bucket fun. There were 2 tunes I'd been working on at home, "I Got a Buzz On," and "Time To Rise and Shine," that were so simple and tasty, it was like the guys already knew ‘em. We called this 4 piece The Rattlers and we played at Chickie Wah-Wah's on Saturday, July 29. It was everything my twisted little heart wanted (and I wasn't alone in the jolly's department). And the 2 new tunes came off really well.
So – some weeks later, I get a call from Reg, saying he and Dave were talking about doing a quickie in the studio and putting out an EP with these new songs and maybe a coupla more, to have a little CD to sell at the upcoming Tips gigs in January of 2018. Well, it just so happened that I'd been recording in my home studio a bunch of old Rads songs that the band never had gotten around to recording in a studio setting, and, on top of that, one of my fantasies has been for the Rads do a whole album in the studio, quick and live, of these overlooked tunes. And that's what I suggested to Reg.
And soon everybody was excited to embark on this new sonic adventure. Dave added some tunes from the Raw Oyster Cult songbook, "16 Monkeys" and "King Earl," that fit us like a T and we were amazed at the amount of tunes that had just been sitting there all these years, some written especially for a Krewe gig, like "Fountains of Neptune," (for the Snafu gang), and some that we'd been doing since just about the beginning, like "First Snow." And there was a thing the band had only played one time, at our first reunion run at Tips in 2013, "Ride Ride She Cried," that Frank brought up while we were rehearsing the tunes we'd actually prepped.
And, damn, if that sucker didn't turn out to be a groovin' keeper!
It took a little coordinating and timing to get all the ducks in a row (despite blow-outs on the highway out of Minnesota), but soon we were underway. And Jake Eckert's little studio, Rhythm Shack, tucked away in an uptown backyard, was the perfect place to
accomplish this absolutely mad dash of a recording. It was a stone pleasure working with Jake and Jeff Watkins, and while the Rads made the music, they really helped craft the sonic vibrations of it all to bring this rambunctious baby to life.
John Parker contributed his magic to the graphics (while somehow dodging the wildfires in California) and before you know it, we actually had a new studio CD in our quivering paws.
Personally, I wanted to call the thing "Songs From the Ancient Freaks," but given the preponderance of monkey tunes, "Welcome To The Monkey House" was positively the natural way to go. And while I'm at it, I best give a nod to a bit of creative larceny – the title of the recording and its opening song are borrowed form a short story I read ages ago (all that quality leisure time the education system offered us back in high school). It was by Kurt Vonnegut, entitled, (you guessed it), "Welcome To The Monkey House."