Who is the quintessential Iowa band? You don't immediately know, do you? Well, maybe it's The River Monks. Some music scribes have suggested as much. Find out what the buzz is about when these harmonizing Iowans make their way down to the Jackpot on Wednesday for a lovely, folky evening. And, yes, scenesters, the Jackpot IS open on other nights besides the frequent I Heart Local Music Showcases!
Check out the River Monks' media page here via Temp Agency, give them a "like" on FB here, and listen to a track from the soon-to-be-released album Home is the House via Bandcamp.
Enjoy the interview with vocalist/guitarist Ryan Stier in which we discuss ukuleles, whistling, and the "wealthiest city in America."
Chip: First off, are any of you actual monks?
Ryan: No! Fair question though. Des Moines means "The Monks" - evidently some French bros observed monks trapping fish/partying in a river, and named it (ehem) "La Rivière Des Moines" (River of the Monks). The city that formed around the river became Des Moines.
Richard: I like the Tiny Mix Tapes description of your sound: "The River Monks might just BE Iowa." But what does that mean to you exactly? IS there a discernible Iowa sound or aesthetic? And do you feel like you embody it?
Chip: I think of myself as a terrific singer, though the folks at Burger Stand's Wednesday night karaoke often disagree. But I'm always impressed by sophisticated harmonies, which I've never mastered. Tell us about the band's harmonies and the difficulties associated with them.
Chip: Well, good luck at the Jackpot, whose former name was actually The Stinky Mic, I believe. But actually I hear the sound is better there lately.
Richard: And in addition to the harmonies, there's some damn fine whistling going on in "Pelica," which I was just listening to. Who's the whistler of the band? Sometimes I can whistle and sometimes I can't. Does it ever fail on stage?
Ryan: We all take part in the whistling. It's good to be well hydrated and have some lip balm on hand, otherwise your whistle can quickly turn into spit-rain and unhappy front-rowers.
Chip: I'm gonna be honest here. I sometimes have a hard time taking ukuleles seriously. Tell us about the role of the ukulele in your sound. And why do you think they're so prominent in the indie-folk scene these days?
Richard: Leave our readers with a blurb to convince them that they REALLY need to get down to the Jackpot on a Wednesday night to party with The River Monks. (because, being honest again, it ain't easy getting people to the Jackpot on a fucking Wednesday night).
Ryan: We're releasing a new album.... Which ya can't get on the internet til May..... We're also pretty sexy....... For music nerds from Iowa.
Chip: Oh, oh, one more thing. Since you all hail from Des Moines, which the Today show just called "the wealthiest city in America," do you think you could buy me a bunch of PBR at this show?
Here are the River Monks about to embark on a river adventure: