Mano a Mono

Call it crusty garage rock, or high-octane, drag-race punk. Dave Crider, founder/owner of Estrus Records and front man for the Monomen, doesn't care what label you slap on his record company, or his band. He "just wants to rock."

Since 1987, Crider and his wife, Becky, have been pressing records by such indie luminaries as Man . . . or Astroman?, Southern Culture on the Skids, the Phantom Surfers, and the Makers, all from their home-office label in the small, Pacific Northwest town of Bellingham, Washington.

When the keyboard player for Crider's former band the Roofdogs joined the Peace Corps in 1989 and was dispatched to Costa Rica, boredom inspired the remaining members to re-form as the Monomen. During the past seven years, the Monomen (the current incarnation is Crider [guitar and vocals], Aaron Roeder [drums] and Dave Morrissette [bass]) have cranked out 56 releases on a slew of labels (including Estrus) and toured like madmen throughout Europe and the U.S.

Somehow, the band has never performed in the Valley--a situation that's about to be rectified. The Monomen are booked to play with Swedish punk legends the Nomads at Hollywood Alley on Monday, hot on the heels of their latest album, Ten Cool Ones, released last week on Scat Records.

Not to put too light a touch on it, Ten Cool Ones rips shit up. Crider and Company took ten songs by ten of their favorite bands into the studio and cut a stupendous recording of greasy, raw, drunk-as-hell rock 'n' roll. For openers, the Monomen drop-kick a bloodied version of the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams," followed by covers of songs by the Nomads, the Saints, guitar legend Link Wray, and the Troggs, among others. The album ends with a suitably hyper version of the Wipers classic "Return of the Rat."

We called Crider in Bellingham earlier this month for a brief, pretour Q&A. Here's what we got:

New Times: So is your bass player any relation to Alanis?
Dave Crider: I don't think so, but, shit, that'd probably be good for another hundred people a show if he was. Maybe we'll start putting it on our fliers really big--"The Monomen, featuring Dave Morrissette"--and see what happens.

NT: What's the common denominator for Estrus bands?
DC: I'll let other people label the sound. I just put out the stuff I like. I think there's a tremendous difference between the Phantom Surfers and us, but it's all pretty raw, drunk, guitar-based rock 'n' roll with a little bit of punk attitude.

NT: So what's preferable--putting out the Monomen on your own label or someone else's?

DC: Doing it myself, definitely. I like having complete control and say over everything--that way, when it comes out right, we know we did it right, and if it's not right, then we're the ones who fucked it up.

NT: What one record are you most proud of having on your label?
DC: I don't really have favorites, but it would probably be that Nomads record [Raw 'n' Rare, a recent compilation of rare '80s tracks by the Nomads]. I was into the Nomads way before I started the label or was in the Monomen, and we covered a Nomads song on our very first single. They're one of my all-time favorite bands.

NT: Among your contemporaries, what bands seem to be on your wavelength?
DC: That's a tough call. People compare us to the Nomads, obviously, and the Supersuckers and the Reverend Horton Heat, but I think that's more because it's all sloppy, drunk rock 'n' roll. I don't think we sound a whole lot like any of those bands, except the Nomads, who we steal from liberally.

I don't necessarily feel a big kinship toward any band--we just sort of do what we do, for better or worse. We're pretty far removed from the whole Pacific Northwest scene or whatever. Seattle's an hour and a half away from here. In Europe, that's a whole country.

The Monomen are scheduled to perform on Monday, September 23, at Hollywood Alley in Mesa, with Nomads. Showtime is 8 p.m.


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