monks - the transatlantic feedback


documentary film | Germany, USA, Spain | 2006 | color & b/w | 100 min | digibeta

The beat is dead, long live the hop!
The Monks want to outstrip the Beatles!

The film opens with the Monks performing live in July of 1966 on the TV show BEAT-CLUB (the German
equivalent to the American Band Stand). TV announcer: “Todays show was opened by the Monks with
the original Boys Are Boys And Girls Are Choice. A few days ago they released their first records with
an unusual, new and surprising sound”. Jochen Irmler, founding member of the avant-garde krautrock
band FAUST was 15 when he eye witnessed the Monks on that particular show, which had an
astonishing audience of 6 million youngsters: “In retrospect I dont see a difference between James Last
and the Beatles. Not to mention the unutterable Rolling Stones. It was a shock to see the Monks
perform among all the other harmless bands. The vitality and minimalism that fascinated me, and the
hardness. There wasnt anything like it.” Later in the film Jochen Irmler will describe the difference
between old-fashioned sweet pop music and the new wild monk music. When we see the monks
attacking the guitar not only all hell breaks loose but it is the first clear art manifesto of detaching oneself
from regular pop music. Mike Leckebusch, founder and producer of the first TV show (Beat-Club) for
teenagers called the monks record “black monk time” the record of the year in 1966.

The Monks as former US servicemen dare to sing against the American involvement in Vietnam.
They dont play sweet melodies about how terrible the war is. Adorno called 60s protest music by Dylan
and Baez sweet and unbearable. The monk music is what Samuel Beckett does in theatre: stripped
down and minimalist, crude, harsh, to the point.
It is the first spoken/screamed word pop music. Instead of rhymes the monks use dada/rap attacks:

Alright, my name's Gary.
Let's go, it's beat time, it's hop time, it's monk time now!
You know we don't like the army.
What army?
Who cares what army?
Why do you kill all those kids over there in Vietnam?
Mad Viet Cong.
My brother died in Vietnam!
James Bond, who was he?
Stop it, stop it, I don't like it!
It's too loud for my ears.

Pussy galore's comin' down and we like it.
We dont like the atomic bomb.
Stop it, stop it, I don't like it . . . stop it!
What's your meaning Larry?
Ahh, you think like I think!
You're a monk, I'm a monk, we're all monks!
Dave, Larry, Eddie, Roger, everybody, let's go!
It's beat time, it's hop time, it's monk time now!


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