Street theater is one of the oldest forms of theater, commonly seen in the 19th century. Actors and singers had to be loud in order to gain the attention of the crowd. Sometimes they included animals in the acts, such as street performing monkeys, who would collect coins dropped into a hat by the audience. Spokane’s local band, Quarter Monkey, was inspired to name their group after this classic novelty. The progressive rock band is known for its live performances. Like the street performers of the past, Quarter Monkey uses vocals and musical abilities to amplify the acoustics into a unique sound. All four band members grew up in the local area. Although none of them have any familial connections to each other, they consider themselves brothers. Ty Pfundheller is the lead vocalist and guitar player. Tony Brickner plays the bass and sings. Jereme Riccelli plays the guitar and sings as well. And Shane DelForge, also known as Sir Janus Vincent, plays the drums.
Pfundheller and DelForge met at Washington State University in Pullman, and started a band in 2002 called Some Day Roskilla. Two years later they called themselves The Swamp Donkee’s, and later, Quarter Monkey. Pfundheller and DelForge recruited the other band members, Brickner and Riccelli, in 2005 in Seattle at open mics and frequent jam sessions. Quarter Monkey performed for the first time as a fully formed band in Spokane at The Blue Spark in 2007. The following year they released their first album called “Lucy.”
Lucy is neither the name of an ex-girlfriend nor a current lover; she is in fact the oldest fossil skeleton of a human ancestor.
“The idea behind that was to start up a band bringing together four individuals to form one entity greater than the parts that make it up, creating the beginning of an innovative and influential being,” Pfundheller said.
Pfundheller said the recording process was a team effort. The album was recorded by Jimmy Hill, owner of Amplified Wax Recording Studio in Spokane. The band helped build the studio in exchange for recording time. Hill’s wife, Mandy, designed the graphics for the album.
Song inspiration is also something Quarter Monkey develops together. Each band member brings something new to the table during jam sessions. They build the lyrics around the instrumentals.
“We all contribute something,” Pfundheller said. “It’s like we have a collective consciousness.”
In the song “Lucy,” the guitar whammy bar gives the song a vintage sound; the tensions on the strings are comparable to Duane Eddy and Jimi Hendrix. Similarly the song “Steady Livin” incorporates the electric guitar with a beat that makes listeners want to clap their hands along with the rhythm.
The band went on its first tour in 2009, where it had the chance to play in places as far as the Colorado Rockies. The band has its own tour bus with a customized exterior done themselves, displaying the band’s logo. There is also an attached trailer to carry all of the equipment; this is most beneficial to DelForge who has 13 different types of percussion. But he claimed it is well worth the effort.
“I want to see people get up on the dance floor and move a little,” DelForge said.
Quarter Monkey has been on a few other regional tours and has spent time outside of the city on long weekend trips back and forth to Seattle.
Currently the band is working on new material and has already begun recording at Hill’s recording studio.
“Our new album sounds more like a live show,” Pfundheller said. “It’s true to our sound.”
Live performances are something every band member in Quarter Monkey agrees is one of their favorite things about being musicians. Bass player Brickner looks forward to “being on stage, in the moment, letting everything go.”
Pfundheller also enjoys live shows. He said he enjoys connecting with the audience.
“Whether they speak the same language or not, there’s this communication that’s above and beyond all that,” Pfundheller said. “And it’s a gift being able to share it with other people, being able to influence someone with what you do, the melody and the words you write.”
Quarter Monkey is playing at the A Club Thursday, Oct. 14. Tickets can be purchased online at: www.aclubspokane.com. This concert is 21 and over, and starts at 8 p.m.
By Brianna Anderson
Album Designer: Mandy Hill