Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pheaturing Eli Chartkoff From The Monolators

Hey, kids, how are you? Welcome to a Wednesday entry of the Phile. Well, somebody stole five vintage guitars from Tom Petty right before his concert tour. If the criminals are caught, they ought to be charged with a misdemeanor because it’s a “petty” theft. An 83-year-old woman from England is calling herself the world’s oldest supermodel. I’m just going to keep calling her by her real name, Madonna. President Obama talked about the Secret Service prostitution scandal, saying he’s reserving judgment until all the facts are in, or at least until he figures out a way to blame this on Mitt Romney. So, did you play your taxes? It is your patriotic duty. A painful, annoying patriotic duty. If nobody paid taxes, imagine what the country would be like. America would be flat broke. All right, we'd be more flat broke. This year the government will spend a trillion dollars more than it will take in. Experts say 32 percent of our taxes go to defense. And the rest buys hookers for the Secret Service. According to his tax return, President Obama made $800,000 last year. In fact, the President made so much money that today he endorsed Mitt Romney for President. So, the movie Titanic was rereleased in 3D... blah, blah, blah. You know the routine. Here's the last of the pictures of the changes Cameron made for the rerelease.

So, the movie I am most looking forward to, and most of the world is is The Avengers. Disney and Marvel are coming out with some cool Avengers themed merchandise to tie-in the movie. Check this out.

I would be lying if I said I wouldn't want these. The bottles are just so cool. And there's a Pat Riot one... almost. And now for some very sad news.

Dick Clark
Nov 30, 1929 - Apr 18, 2012
Dick? Dick?

Okay, I wonder how much hate mail I will get about that. I am actually bummed he died. Anyway, moving on... the other day Mitt Romney said that Obama should start packing, or something. That was very rude I thought. And then I wondered what our good friend Patrick Gaspard thought, so I thought I would invite him back on the Phile to talk about it. So once again, here is the Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee... Patrick Gaspard.

Me: Hello, Patrick, welcome back to the Phile. So, did I get it right? Is that what Romney said?

Patrick: Yes, Mitt Romney told President Obama to "start packing," and he's already offering "preferred status" at his inaugural retreat.

Me: That's ride, don't you think. What an ass Romney is.

Patrick: And here's the note one of his supporters sent around: "The [Romney] campaign is asking people who are able to make a $50,000 contribution to do so today and become a 'Founding Member' of Romney Victory. These donors will be invited to a special retreat with Governor Romney in late June in California and will have preferred status at the first Presidential Inaugural retreat..."

Me: Man, that's jumping the gun.

Patrick: Before Romney starts picking out his Oval Office drapes and making a list of presidential favors to big donors for when he's elected, let's stop him in his tracks.

Me: So, what do you think of this, Patrick?

Patrick: Just think, Jason, Romney's high-dollar donors, Karl Rove, and the Koch Brothers sitting around a table at an Inaugural Retreat, planning their first four years in office.

Me: The date's already set, right?

Patrick: Right. We can't take anything for granted this election.

Me: Wow. Thanks, Patrick, for filling us in. Anything else you wanna add?

Patrick: Phile readers, support President Obama and Democrats up and down the ticket... and keep Mitt Romney away from the Oval Office. Thanks, Jason.

Me: Thank you, Patrick.

The 18th book to be pheatured in the P.P.B.C. is...

Jerry Scott will be a guest on the Phile on Sunday.

Todays guest is the lead singer and guitarist for the American rock band The Monolators whose new EP "Silver Cities" is now available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile... Eli Chartkoff.

Me: Hello, Eli, welcome to the Phile. So, how's it going?

Eli: Good, but I kinda broke my guitar a little bit, which I am sad about.

Me: Tell me about the name of the band... The Monolators. Where did that come from?

Eli: It started off as a made-up word; I really liked the name "Modulator" but that was already taken, so I started switching letters around until I came up with "Monolators." I checked the dictionary and google and such and didn't find anything, so I figured it was okay. But unfortunately I didn't check a theological dictionary... it basically means "monotheist," which is not very rock and roll. But it stuck, so there we are.

Me: Is there a band called Stereolators? If so, you guys should tour with them.

Eli: Of course Mono is better than Stereo, so we'd have to beat them up.

Me: How about The Seeyoulaters?

Eli: That is actually our side project, and we play nothing but TV jingles. Like the "By Mennen" one, we do that one, except reggae style and really slow. Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Mennnnnnnnnnnnnnneeennnnnnnnnnnnnn..........

Me: You just came back from a tour, guys, was it fun? Where did you kids play?

Eli: It was totally fun and it was too short! I wanted to keep going for a lot longer. We had an enormous tour bus and ate gummi coke bottles. We basically went up to San Francisco and back, not too far, but it was like the fantasy tour. It was perfect. We toured with another LA band called The Parson Redheads and it was wonderful. The only bad thing was that Jillinda, our keyboard player, really really wanted to eat at Sonic Burger... and there weren't any Sonic Burgers where we were. She was really sad. Are there Sonic Burgers out your way?

Me: Yeah, there's one that I know of.

Eli: I've never actually eaten at one. Oh yeah, and two Monolators were seriously injured just prior to the tour... a broken ankle and second-degree burns, respectively. So that was kind of exciting. Anyway, there's lots of gory details on our blog, for the curious.

Me: Ever been out East, say to Florida to play?

Eli: Not Florida, but we played in the South in 2007 (Nashville and Atlanta mostly) and we played in NYC back in... 2005? But we are going to try to make it back East later this year. NYC and Boston, those kinda places.

Me: What's this I hear you have food fights at the shows? Doesn't that mess up your instruments? You guys probably don't get to messy, right?

Eli: We had a food fight at one show, almost exactly a year ago. It was a concept show; we had a couple having a romantic dinner onstage while we played, and at the end they started throwing their dinner at us. But we'll get as messy as we can, mostly blood and sweat. Sometimes tears too. Unfortunately our instruments take a beating, and we really can't afford to fix them, but it is a necessary evil.

Me: I have to ask who is in the band, and who started it, and when?

Eli: Monolators started off as my wife Mary on drums, me on bass and our friend Mike on guitar. This was back in 2002. This lasted until about 2005 when Mike left, and we were a two-piece for a long time with me on guitar. Various other members have come and gone but now we have a stable quintet formation; Mary and I, plus our friends Ashley on bass, Jillinda on keyboards, and Ray on lead guitar. Mary and Ashley and I are also in another band called Cobra Lilies, so we see a lot of each other.

Me: Have you heard of the band Magnuson? They are a band based in LA as well with a husband and wife.

Eli: I have not, actually. Though I will say that I think we get added to lineups solely because of the husband/wife thing. We just were asked to open for the Handsome Furs in a few weeks... again, I suspect because of the husband/wife combo.

Me: I looked for your Christmas song on iTunes but I couldn't find it. It's called "Dave Matthews Vs. Santa Claus", am I right? Who came up with that song?

Eli: Yeah, that's it. That was me, I tried to come up with the most ridiculous sounding title possible and then I wrote a song around it. I like it. We got some hate mail from Dave Matthews fans, but I hope Dave himself takes it in the spirit intended, which is of course love.

Me: Do you kids have any major influences, and have you opened for anybody worthwhile?

Eli: Everyone in the band has different influences, which is good because everyone brings something different to the band. We don't tell anyone how to play or what to play and we ask them to contribute whatever leanings they might have. Mary, for instance, is really into electronic and dance music, and also Madonna. I tend to be into a lot of glammy type stuff like Roxy Music and Pulp. Also, childrens' choirs. I will listen to anything and everything with a childrens' choir; in fact that Langley Schools Music Project was a major, major early influence, if you've heard that. We have opened up for a lot of great, genius bands. A lot. So many that I can't begin to name them all. Probably the biggest so far would be The Airborne Toxic Event, wonderful band... we've opened for them a couple of times. In fact I believe we played at their second ever show. And I mentioned The Handsome Furs, although that hasn't happened yet.
But there's so many truly great bands that we've played with who are probably pretty obscure... undeservedly so.

Me: What about celebrity fans? You must have some.

Eli: Being in Los Angeles, you'd think so, but sadly celebrities stay away in droves. Well, once I played banjo in front of the guy who played the dad in "Alf." That's all I got.

Me: What else is next for The Monolators? Any new music planned? What about a live CD?

Eli: We don't have a live record per se, although we just did a series of live recordings and videos at a local studio called Hunters Hollow... basically we went in and played a live set, and it was recorded. I would love to put that out all official-like, but we are trying to save our money for touring! But you can watch the videos on our blog. They are here: We're planning on putting out a split 7" single with another local (well, LA/Fresno) band called Rademacher sometime in the summer... and there's a longer Christmas record in the works for the holiday season. There's some other stuff too but I've been ordered to keep it under wraps until the Autumn.

Me: Eli, you guys just released a new EP a few months ago called "Silver Cities" which I purchased from iTunes. Are you planning on releasing anew full-length album?

Eli: We are talking about releasing a new full-length of some kind, yes, and I think we have enough,or nearly enough, new songs for one. But we'd need to raise money for that and I want to leave about a year between Kickstarter campaigns, so... I feel like we need to give our funders a bit of a break before going to them with hat in hand again. I'm confident that there will be a new record of some kind for 2012, though.

Me: You guys are big fans of 50 and 70's punk, is that right? What bands do you like?

Eli: I do love 50's rock and roll and 70's punk, yeah, among lots and lots of other kinds of music. From the 50's I especially love Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Johnny Burnette and the Rock and Roll Trio. There's also a guy from the UK circa the 50's that I'm obsessed with named Lonnie Donegan--he took American folk and blues songs and played them like rock and roll songs. They called it Skiffle... he was a big influence on the Beatles, for example. I love old folk music, but I get bored with super-pretty or super-traditional interpretations, so skiffle is perfect. From the 70's UK punk bands I will always love Wire, the Clash, and The Jam. But there's music from every decade and in every genre that I love. From the 70's I also love krautrock bands like La Dusseldorf, glam bands like Roxy Music, a bunch of disco bands, and, most of all, ABBA. I think we got pegged with the "50's rock meets '70's punk" tag a few years back, and I still love that music, but we've also tried to incorporate other kinds of influences into our stuff. We try very hard to keep developing with every new record.

Me: One o fhe first punk bands in the UK was The Gonad's. Have you heard of them?

I have heard of them but I'm embarrassed to say I have not actually heard them. I'll have to fix that.

Me: What do you think of Green Day and Social Distortion?

Eli: I've never really listened to either of them at all in any serious way, or at least I don't have any of their records, so... I don't really have an opinion on them! A lotta my friends are into Social Distortion, though, so that's cool. For more recent punk rock I was more into Sleater-Kinney. I still love them.

Me: Alright, Eli, I wish you lots of luck. Go ahead and mention your website and thanks for doing this interview. Good luck, okay? Thanks again.

Eli: You're welcome, and thanks for having us, Jason. Probably it's best for people to visit us at: It's got links to our Facebook page, our blog, our record store, etc. etc.

Well, that about does it for another entry of the Phile. Thanks to my guests Patrick Gaspard and Eli Chartkoff. The Phile will be back on Sunday with Jerry Scott, writer and creator of the comic strip "Zits". There's not gonna be an entry on Monday as I have to work... thanks a lot Disney. Next Wednesday though it's musician Pete RG and next Sunday it's Alumni Chris Nelson. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye. I will leave you with some LEGo artwork Logan designed.

1 comment:

Eli said...

Wow--when did we do this interview? 2008? Something like that?