The Story Behind Banana Gun's New Album, Dance Monkey Down in Faux Town

Banana Gun release their new album at Crescent.
Banana Gun release their new album at Crescent. Julie Breslin
Creating an album is difficult, and Banana Gun’s Kyle Parks does not look fondly back on recording the quintet’s last full-length album, Love Instinct. Her description of the effort makes it sound almost hellish.

“Our last album we did live,” Parks recalls. “I think that was because we were in a bad place in our lives. I felt like we trudged through it.”

By contrast, the saxophonist says laying down the 12 songs on the band’s newest release, Dance Monkey Down in Faux Town, felt like a “celebration.” Guitarist Kevin Loyd smiles and politely disagrees with Parks’ word choice — like an older brother remembering a different version of a funny childhood memory. They share a laugh and it’s clear these two share familial love and respect that’s come from seven years of playing together, alongside bassist Ross Troost, drummer Ian Breslin, and guitarist Nic Dehaan.

Whatever internal struggles Banana Gun have gone through in the last few years now seem to be water under the bridge, as they prepare for an album release party at Crescent Ballroom. Between the driving guitars of “Sex, Drugs, Rock ’n’ Roll” and the soul-selling blues riffs on “Hitchhike With the Devil,” Dance Monkey Down in Faux Town pulls together touching, emotional songs that come from a wise, mature place. “With Love” is one of those standout tracks, speaking to the heart and not the head. It doesn’t quite fit in, but it’s welcome nonetheless.

Loyd recalls, “From the moment [Dehaan] played it, we all loved the song, but we couldn’t figure out how to make it work.”

Parks says, “I know it was a cathartic song for [Dehaan]. I think it talks about his past and letting go and moving on to the present.”

With the music industry leaning increasingly toward singles and streaming services, it feels against the grain for a local band like Banana Gun, with their loyal local following and impressive live shows, to put so much effort into a full-length record. Albums seem almost passé despite the resurgence of vinyl, but Loyd knew the group had a cohesive collection of tracks that was worthy of being physically out in the world as opposed to floating in an electronic cloud. Banana Gun set up a page on the crowdfunding site PledgeMusic so fans can choose how they want to listen to their latest work.

“We put a lot of effort and thought into how [the album] is put together, how the songs flow, and the story [we’re telling] as a whole,” Loyd says. “I still love listening to a good album.”

Banana Gun are schedule to play at Crescent Ballroom on Saturday, May 20.
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Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil