Updated: 07/08/01

Sprung Monkey have been around for a lot longer than most people realize and have always been on the verge of massive success. Based out of San Diego, fate has found the band gaining popularity in other parts of the world while only finding modest recognition here in the States. With their latest recording Get A Taste, this could all change. Constantly on tour, we were able to pin one of the Sprung Monkey dudes down long enough to ask a few questions. Get A Taste of the monkey starting now…

Highwire Daze: Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Sprung Monkey, and how long the band has been together.

Steve Summers: My name is Steve Summers and I sing for Sprung Monkey. And the band has been together for probably 11 years.

HD: With the band being around for 11 years, what changes have you seen in the San Diego music scene?

Steve: First off, 11 years seems really weird in just how it sounds. It seems like 11 years could have been one night - it's gone by so fast. Changes in the music scene that I've seen - it's more on a personal level - is that there are not any bands that were around when we first started. There's not that many quality places for bands starting out to play at as their use to be. Other than that, I don't think a whole lot has changed - there's still a lot of bands that have the rock and roll dream in their hearts. The chances of making it are still as slim as they were back in the day - but the hopes and dreams stay alive because there are still a lot of bands in San Diego doing well for themselves. We're doing fairly well and are hopefully going to the next level.

HD: What was it like to see yourself on MTV for the first time?

Steve: Well, I didn't see myself on there as much as I would have liked to. It's awkward at first, but once you have time after it's over and you get the chance to sit and think about what happened, it's pretty awesome - and spooky. Like when you work so hard for something and to see it manifest itself and it's there - it's always different than how you thought it would be. In some ways a lot better, and in some ways not as good. But as far as seeing ourselves on TV - it's more awkward when you're shooting for TV. Like when we did some of the stuff for Buffy The Vampire Slayer - that was an awkward moment. When we did the Conan O'Brien show - that's probably the most petrified I've ever been in my whole life.

HD: How did you wind up on Conan O'Brien and what was he like?

Steve: To tell you the truth, I don't know how we wound up on the show. We just got a phone call one day, just because I think the song Get Em Out Of Here was doing fairly well for us. It was one of those situations where "We need you to fly to New York right now. You're gonna do the Conan O'Brien show!" We were driving in the van at the time when we got the call. I got off the phone and said "Holy shit!" I turned around and told the guys and it wasn't a thing of "YEAH!" and ultimate hoorays! It was more like a unanimous "Holy Shit!" But everybody was way stoked. Then we went there and sat in the dressing room and did the whole little make up thing and getting you ready to go. Beforehand, Conan came in and talked to us and he was really a nice guy! Just that he took the time to come and see us was way really cool. And while we were doing the sound check and then messing around and doing some other stuff, Max Weinberg came over. He said, "I wanna tell you guys. There's a lot of bands that come through here and play. But you guys are a really good band." And that was kind of a little highlight there. But when we went on to play and once that red light went on - I'm just happy that I did as well as I did cuz I wasn't even there! I had to watch it again on TV to see what happened. But it was a memory - one of so many that we've had with this band.

HD: Tell me about your experience with Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Steve: That was a really weird situation too, because we were actually on the first ever Buffy The Vampire Slayer. All I knew of it was the movie. So we weren't thinking too much of it. Who knew at the time that it was going to be the huge hit that it is. It's really funny, especially now, to see all the performers on the show now from where they were way back then - these just regular people and now they're these overblown movie star people. It was really cool - it was a good vibe. The thing that was awkward about that - we were playing at this club they were at. They start the tape and we're faking it to the tape and everybody in the club is dancing. And then they cut out all the sound, but we need to act like we're still playing and the club had to act like they were still hearing the music. That was the weird thing, because they actually just had it all micked up for dialogue and they put the music in later. That was a trip! They had to cut the scene a few times because we were making too much noise, jumping up and down and they were hearing our footsteps. But it's amazing, every time that show goes into syndication in different countries, we're always getting residuals from that show. A lot of good things have happened from that. It was a learning experience but a good one nonetheless.

HD: So why are you guys so huge in Australia compared to here?

Steve: Australia was kind of a weird thing. Our first CD we put out on our own was called Situation Life. At that time, we had been a band for about four years. Things had happened so fast here in San Diego, that we never knew about anything more. We never had a bunch of friends in bands or didn't know about the record business, about trying to get a record deal and that whole bit. We just made our tapes and played around here and had great success and had people at all our shows. We were living off of being local heroes, kind of. Then this guy named Taylor Steele came out to one of our shows and said, "Hey, I would like to use your music for my surf film that I'm making." And we were like, "Sure, go ahead. Whatever." And it was like dumb luck that his video just becomes the premiere end all for surfing videos and it just goes huge. And since then, he's gone huge and has made four and five films since then. And we've been in every one and he's gone big time. That first video has become like a cult classic in the surfing world and of course, some of the hottest surfing spots are in Australia.

HD: And you've done several tours in Australia since?

Steve: I don't know how it happened, but a promoter down there said, "You have an incredible buzz here and I'd like to bring you down." So we wound up touring down there and hitting surf markets. To our amazement, we got down there and on the airplane over, kids were saying "You guys are Sprung Monkey? No way!" That was really weird. And we get down there, and we're playing to like 500 kids at every show. And how people knew about us was all through this video. After that, everything just parlayed itself. We started getting on tours with other bands in the same genre like Pennywise - they're heavy into the skate and surf scene. It just kept growing, and that's when Dave Kaplan from Surfdog heard about us and paid for us to record. So we wound up doing our second record on Surfdog which is called Swirl. And these ten years have just flown by.

HD: Where do you get the ideas for some of your lyrics?

Steve: Everything is something really close to me, whether it's tongue and cheek or of a serious nature. So Get A Taste or Party Like A Rock Star - they're lighthearted songs so I put lighthearted tongue and cheek song lyrics there that flow with the music. But if it's more of a serious sounding song, like What's That You Say, then I'll write the lyrics to fit that. But it's usually about something I've went through or usually I write vicariously through friends - like how it feels to be inside their heads and the situations they're living in. For the most part, I try to keep a very open end to the lyrics. I'm not too specific - I'm not too factual - I'm not too political. Even though it is something that I understand what I'm talking about, you could equate it to something totally different in your life and have it make sense.

HD: Tell me about the first song on the album, What's That You Say.

Steve: What's That You Say is about a friend who was really close to me. He was going through some problems in his own relationships. He was pondering whether he wanted to get divorced or even be with his wife anymore and his spiritual beliefs. He actually went over to Jerusalem through the whole thing. Although I'm not preaching about God per say, it is a song inspired by talking to him and trying to understand what he might be feeling - and also my own spirituality. And also with the things that are going on in the news right now - like kids shooting up the schools and all that stuff. It's basically a song about faith in whatever level you want to connect it at. It could be God or anything you want - worship the stars or trees or whatever - but something that gives you hope, because without faith you have no hope. And that's kind of what I see around me - a lot of hopeless kids nowadays. And what the song says is it's time to look at things different and grasp on to something positive.

HD: If there was one thing you'd like a listener to get out of hearing your music, what would it be?

Steve: Probably that they could tell through our music that we're nice, modest, down to earth people. We're not arrogant. We're not a flamboyant band - we're just a band that tries to make good songs. Hopefully they can look into the band enough to know that we've been doing this for a long time, so it's not like we're some overnight success. We are truly the people that have worked hard, paid our dues - and if good things come our way, we deserve it.

Get A Taste by Sprung Monkey is now available from Surfdog Records.


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