On November 18, 2007 an email from Dr. Robert’s self-contained record label Fencat, sent out a missive to the Dr. Robert/Blow Monkeys mailing list. The subject line didn’t mince words: “The Blow Monkeys Are Back!” After an 18 year layoff, the band had decided to reunite and see how things would go. Dr. Robert had been playing solo shows, including a stint in the 1996 Phoenix Festival in 1996. Mid billed on The Guardian Stage. At a festival where Mr. Bowie was a headliner. Nothing to sneeze at, but maybe nearly 20 years later The Blow Monkeys name would have even more recognition? There was one way to find out.
When they split up in 1990, it was for the most prosaic of reasons: radio interest and sales were diminishing. It seemed like it had run its course. There had been some successes, but nothing earth moving. It was relevant that the band didn’t have personality clashes or dramas behind their split up. So getting back together to see what would happen had a certain allure at that stage of the game. Here is the announcement email:
|THE BLOW MONKEYS ARE BACK!|
The rumours are true! The rumblings were right! A mere 18 years after their last album all four original members of The Blow Monkeys are back and ready to do it all over again.! Gigs are being booked, new songs written , suits are being fitted!…all bets are off and its time to get busy.
Only this time things are different. This time there will be no monolithic, multinational middle man coming between you dear listener, and the music. Nobody corporate sucking the life out of it all. There has been a musical revolution and we are all the benefactors. Together we can make this happen…
The Blow Monkeys need your valuable help.
We want to make an album free of record company executives and PR spin.
An album for the fans. Raw and funky. Essential Blow Monkey music. Simian Soul. Primate Punk. Delicious melodic Glam Jazz that only Blow Monkeys know how…but this time with your input and backing.
How? It’s easy…
We need you to pledge £15 (+ P&P) towards the cost of recording, producing, manufacturing and marketing our new album.
If we can get 1000 pledges, we will record the new album in January and in return promise you the following;
1. A signed, numbered brand new album delivered directly to your door.
2. Your name incorporated into the album’s artwork as a thank you from the band.
3. A personal thank you letter signed by all of us.
4. Your name in a draw to win 4 tickets to one of our live shows in 2008.
5. Regular video updates of the recording process via the website so you can see the album taking shape.
This has been a long time coming but with your help we can truly achieve something extraordinary. Putting you the “fans” at the heart of it all. Helping us achieve our musical vision…together.
Robert, Mick, Tony and Nev
The Blow Monkeys
Dr. Robert had been making solo albums of varying complexity over that period. Some were 8-track, low-fi, intimate affairs. Others were albums as large in scope as Blow Monkeys albums, using different musicians. For his part, he said that he was interested in being in a band again; specifically this band. There’s no denying that The Blow Monkeys had a vibe and it was one that carried the band through an awful lot of stylistic change over their five studio albums.
Of course, I was all in! This would be my first contribution to a crowdsourcing project, but certainly not my last. I’d heard of Shriekback crowdsourcing projects in the dawn of the ‘oughts, but that was a time where I was desperately seeking employment and reigned in all unnecessary spending. By 2007 I had long stabilized my employment situation and would be kicking in my £15 via the handy PayPal link they would send interested parties who responded to that email.
Over the course of the campaign, which was just run via email, the band would send out various perks that made for higher levels of buy-in than £15. No crowdsourcing platform was yet part of the process for the band. It was strictly D.I.Y. Anyone who pledged to the album would get their name in the booklet for their troubles, and looking today at it, I can see several names that are familiar in the comments of PPM, so that’s comforting to know that like minds would eventually find a place together here.
Going forward, crowdsourcing would be a factor in most of The Blow Monkeys albums to come, and most of the time, I’ve been able to participate. I do enjoy the thought that I can help an album directly get made and then, many months later, it shows up in my mailbox and I didn’t have to do my usual fretting about how I still need to buy something. The latter is common because my desires far outpace my budget for entertainment. The fans took receipt of the “Devil’s Tavern” album in 2008, and we’ll cast our critical eye in its direction in 2022 as we move to the still current second phase of The Blow Monkeys career.
Next: …Add Your Voice To The Sound Of The Crowd