Me to Benjamin Leatherman: I'm interviewing a band.
Benjamin Leatherman: What band?
Me: Local punk dudes called Christian Science Monitor Lizard.
Leatherman: That's one of the best names I've heard in years.
Indeed, Christian Science Monitor Lizard, the punk rock trio of Kevin Koenig, Ben Kraftwerk, and AC Grüns, boast a clever name. But speaking with the guys via phone, they inform me that Christian Science is a shared "ancestral connection" between the three members, whom have bummed around the local scene for years in bands like Trapper Keeper, and Caviar and Cigarettes.
It's hard to tell exactly where the artifice ends and begins with CSML, but more enjoyable to not try too hard and suss it out. During our interview, the guys describe their sound as "raw, golden energy," and their Facebook description states: Christian Science Monitor Lizard is a three-piece band made up of three reptilian activists/theorists. By embedding hidden messages subliminally into what otherwise sound like normal songs, the members of CSML are able to spread their message.
In general, they've had it "up to here with artsy, soft rock bullshit" in Tempe, and want to bring a little danger to the scene. When I inform them that "Jan Brewer," their debut video isn't with out some post-punk, artistic edge -- not to mention that Sun Hypnotic, the band's label, totes a roster of "krautrock, ambient, punk, noise, psychedelic, folk, electronic, industrial, and free rock" sounds -- they inform me that I'm mistaking amateurism for art.
"We're all still learning our instruments," Koeing says, noting that CSML started when the three members decided it would be fun to switch instruments and try a new configuration.
CSML is readying a debut album, partially inspired by the political climate of Arizona (the band members are natives in their "terrestrial forms"), and tracks like "Sheriff Joe" and "Steven Steagal" demonstrate their attention to New Times political section, though they claim we've missed a real bombshell:
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"Sheriff Joe is actual a reptilian being from another dimension, sent here to enslave humanity. You can actually see it if you watch live news feeds, he can't maintain his form for too long, and he'll briefly shift back," Grüns says.
"Same for President Obama," they add.
Christian Science Monitor Lizard is scheduled to perform Friday, April 13, at The Fixx in Tempe.