Darlings of the festival scene all over Europe, they always deliver a stunning set that defies you not to dance. Their album 'Hubbadillia' ('A Cornish word meaning a loud raucous noise emanating from a party-type situation'), has a range of finely crafted songs that combine rythm and emotion. To date Hubbadillia has sold over 5,000 copies purely through word of mouth, without any distribution or label deal.
In 2007 they released a long overdue live album 'Gibbon It Live & Dreckley' - we get a whistle stop tour of their career, songs from Oomim, Broohaha and Hubbadillia - which must incidentally be the best album titles ever, nestle down with two new tracks and a couple that they've never got round to recording.
Deeming music ‘playful’, or even more perilous ‘fun’, is a journalistic nightmare. It immediately discredits any form of musical integrity. But with 3 Daft Monkeys, there’s no other way. The music is fun: better, it’s celebratory, carnival. And Social Vertigo, the band’s latest offering, has the ability to protest and party. Opening with self-explanatory ‘Paranoid Big Brother’, strong messages are conveyed through mischievous fiddle riffs.
And no wonder 3 Daft Monkeys are such a popular festival band – with the ability to nod to many different cultures, artistic heritages and genres, they’re a pretty inclusive choice. Social Vertigo demonstrates this in a highly polished fashion. ‘Eyes of Gaia’ strays from dub breakdowns to Greek plate smashing. Album highlight ‘Human Nature’ begins with a fiddle meander that somehow invokes the middle east and eastern Europe, launching in to a frenzied, cavorting, riotous affair. There’s room for traditionally structured songs, too: ‘One Fine Day’ is pared down Levellers, with defiant lyrics and English folk inspired fiddle that wallows in its own world. It’s not all happy-go-lucky though, as the title track is a sinister Victorian circus, complete with monkey screeches and audience laughter.
The musicianship – the virtuosity, the songcraft, the arrangement – is simply astonishing. With the employment of so many varied sounds, Social Vertigo could be a cacophonous racket. However, it is accomplished and dynamic, with the capability to accentuate something new and curious on each listen.
3 Daft Monkeys are a lively and infectiously joyous live act, their guitar and fiddle driven mix of folk and world music never fails to get their audience leaping about. After seven years and three studio albums the monkeys have at last got round to releasing a live album.
We get a whistle stop tour of their career, songs from Oomim, Broohaha and Hubbadillia - which must incidentally be the best album titles ever, nestle down with two new tracks and a couple that they've never got round to recording.
The songs were recorded in a variety of venues, from the Wickerman Festival to the Cadgwith Cove Inn in their native Cornwall. 3DM have the knack of making a large venue feel like a small intimate space that you can share with them. The fact that they are lovely people and visibly enjoy what they are doing is a huge factor in that, but I reckon the biggest factor is that they manage to express the hopes and desires so many of us have in our hearts.
One of the new songs One Fine Day expresses this empathy so well, wouldn't it be good to sail away to a land where money don't count and we can give value to what we really amount to? Tim Ashton, Athene Roberts and Jamie Waters prove that songs can rail against injustice or inequality whilst being upbeat lively and soulful.
That they deliver all this without any record company backing never ceases to amaze me, it also comforts me; there's a healthy alternative scene that exists on its considerable merits without the hype of a corporation behind them.
Gibbon It Live & Dreckly is a great snapshot of 3 Daft Monkeys. A new studio album later in 2007 is eagerly awaited.
A big smile... That's the first emotion that anyone who has heard the Monkeys music comes out with when their name is mentioned. This, their third album, is a distillation of everything that makes them so popular and engaging live.
The title track is an upbeat footstomper driven by guitar and Athene's superb fiddle playing. a song about a party, 'hubbadillia' being a cornish word describing such a situation (it says here on the liner notes anyways). It's Folk music, but not as we know it Jim... Actually it is folk music, new, contemporary and original folk music, no finger in the ear laments here for the clearances or the poor farmworker run over by a runaway carthorse. Perhaps this is why the folk community can't quite get to grips with them.
The following songs have a lot to live up to after such a belter of an album opener, luckily they all do. As well as great musicianship and vocal performance there are some crackingly observational and incisive lyrics -
'Step out of life and look back in
See what a state we're getting in
Take in the bigger picture
See if reality hits you...'
- Tres Cervezas
The three members of the band, Tim on vocals and guitar, Athene on violin and vocals, and Jamie on Bass clearly enjoy what they are doing, these songs were all largely recorded live in the studio. They clearly ride on the energy they get from interacting with each other, nothing here is contrived, guitar and violin flow around one another in spirals of of invention. Vocals ride on it all with mirth and joy.
Then there's a song like 'The Man', a song in memory of Tim's father who died in 2004... as much a testimony to a father/son relationship as a reflection on a life and a character. You realise that music can express so much more than the words on a page. the next song, 'Stop', carries the more serious tone on in a tirade against the state of our world. So all human life is here, it's an album that looks at the stae of our world on every level and draws some scary conclusions... Oh come on, move the tables out of the way and let's have a dance.
We thought that we would like to give you an insight into the world of the 3 Daft Monkeys this week, and at the same time introduce you to our new songs from the CD. We have interview footage taken while we were at the Borderline in London last week, where we talk about the new album, exploring lots of different aspects of our lifestyle and our music, and also answering questions sent in by our audiences.
There’s a track-by track description of the new songs, how they were written and the influences behind them.
We also talk about how we have remained a small and independent cottage industry, and how we maintain this ethos. We also thought you might like to meet the team, the friends in Cornwall who use their own special talents to help us manage all the different aspects of the music business. We therefore interviewed our own team, which we hope will give you a fresh insight into the way we work, our history and our influences.
We’ve just finished the first 8 dates of our 20-date tour, and I’ve written a tour diary for this week, to let you into the deep and dark secrets of life on the road (wait ‘til we reveal the shocking truth about how many cups of tea we drink, and how many charity shops we may have visited in a week!) It’s all fresh in my mind as I literally got home an hour ago, and we leave again tomorrow, back on the road for another 13 dates.
A short interview with Athene and Tim