With everything there’s always a starting point. Abrasive non-conformists and proto punks running wild in Hamburg, The Monks are that point. The beat group that would be the anti-Beatles, the first Krautrockers and they’re were all American GIs. It’s the 60’s, it’s Germany and it’s The Monks.
They started they’re band whilst serving in the US Army and stationed in Germany. They were The 5 Torquays, playing songs by Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles. A year spent experimenting with their sound would produce something new and raw, a sound they where happy with. “It’s Monks time, it’s beat time” The Monks version of beat time was unconventional and cutting edge, banjo, drums and bass forging a steady driving trimmed down sound. All this was influenced by two oddball characters who would push The Monks in a direction that perhaps they hadn’t intended, Walther Niemann and Karl-H.-Remy. Walter was studying at Folkwang Arts Academy in Essen and Karl a design student in Ulm, together they had a vision of The Monks as the anti-Beatles. A new look was introduced, black clothes, ropes and short hair shaved on top like an traditional christian monks (tonsures). Black Monk Time was on them and their new habits bought new attitude, provocative and comical. Audiences were confused by what they had seen and heard. “What is this that stands before for me?” At one outing one angry punter was so maddened by the Monks performance he tried to strangle the front man Gary.
The fact that The Monks music has lasted and their influence is still strong is a testament to their single minded attitude towards creating a new sound and an attitude to match. Many bands acknowledge them, The Beasie Boys, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, The White Stripes, Jello Biafra, Henry Rollins, Julian Cope and The Fall. They play Monks music, there is no comparison and it is born out of a need to make something original. I’m a Monk. You’re a Monk. We’re all Monks.