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Songs in the chimpanzee of life

Temporarily quitting their LA abode for a rare homeward trip Saucy Monky reveal that the Viper Room isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and explain how they’ve conquered US television.

Colm O'Hare, 25 Jul 2006

The last time we caught up with Saucy Monky, they were busy flying between their LA base and Ireland for a slew of tour dates and festival appearances, including slots at Oxegen and O2 in the Park.

That was back in the heady summer of 2004 when the Irish/American indie guitar pop outfit were riding high on the success of their second album, Turbulence and the Irish radio hit, the effervescent ‘Disco Ball – Boulevard Remix’. Since then, Saucy Monky, fronted by Dubliner Annemarie Cullen and American Cynthia Catania, have been concentrating on things Stateside with growing success. But with a new rhythm section in tow and a new album on the way, they’re due to hit our shores again for a handful of dates including a slot at Castlepalooza.

“We were asked to do it and thought why not?,” says Annmarie on the blower from LA. “Festivals have always been great for us - you get exposed to so so many people who may not be aware of your band. I know that Oxegen worked for us in a big way. Even the rain helped - we were in the big tent and everyone piled in to see us during a shower. A few months later we played O2 In The Park with Westlife which was kind of strange for us. But we seem to be the kind of band that can squeeze ourselves into any situation between rock and pop.”

Meanwhile, their star continues to rise in the US albeit in a gradual rather than spectacular way as Annmarie explains.

“We play about once a month in Hollywood just to keep the band tight. We’re lucky that we’ve found a scene that is very receptive to us. We’ve played places like the Viper Room which is kinda cool but a little bit too Hollywood for my liking. But last year we travelled to tons of places all around the States. And we’ve recently got a college agent so we’re going to be doing tons of college gigs in the near future. We do well on college radio so that should be good.”

In another strange twist, Saucy Monky have found their songs in demand for high profile US TV shows including the teen-soap Zoey 101 (featuring Britney Spears’ sister Jamie Lynn) and other popular series such as Drake & Josh and Veronica Mars.

“We’re completely baffled by it all,” Annemarie proffers. “If someone said to me a while ago that we’d be on the soundtrack to a popular children’s TV show, I’d say they were mad. It just didn’t seem to be the most obvious demographic for our songs. But because these shows are broadcast worldwide and we own our own publishing it’s been quite lucrative and helps to pay the rent. We did have offers to sell the songs outright and even though the money upfront would be nice we thought ‘screw it we’re going to get residuals for a long time to come’, especially if they continually re-run the shows, which they tend to do. It was a rare display of business savvy on our part (laughs). We don’t even have a manager but we have a booking agent, an attorney and use a publicist when we need one!"

Meanwhile, the band are working hard on their third album which Annmarie says will be more cohesive and organic.

"I don’t think it’ll be as diverse in terms of the overall sound as our last one and it’s more Americana sounding – we’ve even recorded the drums in Nashville. The new line-up has given us a different approach – we changed the rhythm section and got this amazing Israeli drummer who's played with Shawn Colvin and we got a new bass player too.”

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