Monkey See, Monkey Do

After years of evolution, Wise Monkey Orchestra is finally in full swing

WMO's national following is clearly the result of a tireless work ethic. The band spent its first five years touring the Southwest, hitting college towns, spring-break festivals and ski resorts. WMO's decision to move to San Diego in '94 -- during the height of the Valley's jangle-pop period -- was in part to get a much-needed fresh start as well as to find a climate more hospitable to the band's esoteric sonic stew.

"The West Coast is exciting and people are really fired up about the music," Geib says. "It's just a little more active. Not to mention the cities are a little closer together. We can go out on a two-week tour and not go any farther than two hours from [our] house."

Still, it appears things may have come full circle. Six months ago, Stodola and the Stewarts made a permanent move back to the Valley to be closer to friends, family and the city they got their start in. But with half the band in San Diego and the other half in Phoenix, where does WMO call home?

WMO brings its eclectic sonic stew back to the Valley 
this week.
WMO brings its eclectic sonic stew back to the Valley this week.

Details

Scheduled to perform on Tuesday, May 29. Showtime is 9 p.m.
Nita's Hideaway in Tempe

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"I don't consider ourselves an Arizona or California band," says Stewart. "We've traveled so much across the country, Canada, and Mexico, that where we live really has nothing to do with it. We lived and played in San Diego for so many years before there was really any recognition at all. With the history Wise Monkey has in Arizona, there are probably a lot of people that remember the old school Wise Monkey and can't really get past that. I've never really claimed either."

As to the future, WMO is set to take the summer off to begin recording a new studio album. After Stewart gives birth in the fall, the band plans a quick return to the road.

"We aren't world famous or anything like that," muses keyboardist Hart. "We are doing well nationally, but I think over the past few years I started to realize that it doesn't really matter. What matters to me is that we brought a lot of joy to a lot of people and had a really good time doing it."

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