Star Scene: Martin Bland of The Monkeywrench

Martin Bland’s scene is a hectic one. The ex-Aussie and drummer from The Monkeywrench and Lubricated Goat states that: “Children pulling me in all directions, trying to get out to play the drums, a lot of pushing and pulling.”

Bland possesses a laconic wit and quick witted humour, and though he moved to Seattle from Adelaide about 25 years ago, Bland still speaks with a distinctive Australian accent, jokingly stating that his “wife would leave me if I lost it; for some reason she finds it kind of charming”. As for how he started in music,  Bland states: “I sort of started following punk rock fairly early on. I started hearing about it in the mid 70s and I started seeing it on television and one of the first concerts I saw was Radio Birdman, when I was 14 years old; I snuck into a pub.  I remember it was two bucks to get in and me and my friends kinda stuck to the shadows cause we were scared we were going to get thrown out. But yeah, so I saw those guys, and the punk rock thing, I think was a big turning point for me, probably for the worse. Probably a little bit after that, probably around 1978 when I was 16, I got a drum kit. I was kind of interested in it because I when I was a little kid I saw a navy band playing a shopping mall, around 1968 or 69. And I think they were playing something like Dixieland jazz.  But to me, the drums just sounded like the most incredible things; they could get many different sounds out of the drums – there was smashing and crashing, and crashing and smashing. And I just thought there’s the thing to do right there. And I’ve never regretted it.”

Formed in 1991, The Monkeywrench are a supergroup of sorts and are set to tour Australian shores for the first time ever. As for being called a supergroup, Bland unassumingly states: “I don’t know. It sounds good to me. You know I’m not a super drummer. I’m I think my presence sort of brings the superness down a little. I think the other guys are pretty super. “ he continues to explain about the origins of The Monkeywrench: “I met Mark here in Seattle when Lubricated Goat came through Seattle and we finished that tour, and I went back and I was pretty much just wandering around thinking ‘what the hell am I going to do next’ because the band is split up.  And out of the blue Mark got a hold of me and said would you like to do this thing with me and this guy from Poison 13, Tim Kerr. And I didn’t know who Poison 13 were. I thought it was Poison Idea, this punk metal band full of huge fat guys and I thought that’s who Tim was going to be. So I thought ‘Oh God, I’m going to be playing punk metal’ but I was very relieved to show up and find out that Tim was this little Texas leprechaun.”

From there, The Monkeywrench recorded three LPs; “Clean As A Broken Dick Dog” (1992), “Electric Children” (2000) & “Gabriel’s Horn” (2008). Bland states: “ It’s very different than recording with Lubricated Goat; it’s much more of a democrat thing with The Monkeywrench. I don’t think Tim can. It seems kind of the fulcrum of the band. He’s got an incredible sense of swing you by. He can’t help but play blues based music in some way. Lubricated Goat was more noise based. There’s definitely some sort of tradition with Monkeywrench. if you dig down deep enough, you will find the blues, Tim can’t help himself.” Bland, at times, contributes to lyric writing as well. He states: “I have done a few things here and there. I have a quote which is in the song called ‘The Weasel’s In The Barn’. Mark always says if anybody can help me with the lyrics, please do. I said, ‘Oh yeah I can’. But then when the crunch came, I had nothing. So I went over to the bar across the street from the studios and got totally hammered, and tried to write something.” Bland continues: “You know it’s funny because we get together every eight years or so. It’s like we go into hibernation for eight years at a time, like some kind of insects or something that.  We never get a chance to really get sick of a song. And every time we do get together, we seem to play them a little bit better. I’m really loving playing in the band again. We’re all so busy with one thing or another so this is our chance to see each other. Though Mark and Steve are in town, we don’t actually get to see each other much. Actually with Mudhoney, they’re always on tour.”

Finally The Monkeywrench are touring Australia. Bland explains: “There’s an element of truth in me wanting to tour Australia before I die but actually the impetus was Tim and Mark really wanted to go surfing. So when we get to Adelaide, we’ll go surfing. And I think there might be some little bit of time off in Melbourne since Tim has got an art show one day.”

Catch The Monkeywrench in between surf expeditions and art shows.

Formed in 1991, The Monkeywrench are a super group of sorts and are set to tour Australian shores for the first time ever.  Press Play who are presenting the tour are excited to announce that the supports for the Canberra show are Grinding Eyes and The Dunhill Blues. The Monkeywrench perform at The Basement on Thursday 24th November and tickets are on sale now and selling fast via Oztix.

Founded by members of the classic Seattle band Mudhoney, Mark Arm & Steve Turner with guitarist for bands such as the Big Boys and Poison 13, Tim Kerr, The Monkeywrench was intended to be a sort of one time, one LP band.
Along with Tom Price from the U-Men & Gas Huffer plus Martin Bland from Australian noise rockers Lubricated Goat they ended up recording three LPs; “Clean As A Broken Dick Dog” (1992), “Electric Children” (2000) & “Gabriel’s Horn” (2008).
Earlier this year, the band reunited to play ATP Festival in the UK plus shows in Seattle & London. With another performance at Sound on Sound Festival in Austin this November, the band decided to add Australia to their schedule making this the very first time The Monkeywrench have come to our shores.
With another reformation unlikely in the foreseeable future this could be the only time to see these legendary players on the one stage together as The Monkeywrench.
Supports : St. Morris Sinners & Colonised
Tix via Moshtix
Tix via venue website
Supports : Kim Salmon & Whipper
Supports : The Roobs & The Dreggs
Tix via Oztix
Supports : Grinding Eyes & The Dunhill Blues
Tix via Oztix
Supports : Grinding Eyes & The Holy Soul
Tickets via venue website

About Mary Boukouvalas 1576 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos,,,, She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.