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During the mid-'60s, a time when musicians were pushing rock & roll into a number of new directions, the Monks were one of the most radical groups of their day.
Comprised of Gary Burger, Larry Clark, Dave Day, Roger Johnston, and Eddie Shaw, five American GI's stationed in Hamburg, Germany, during the height of the Cold War, the Monks started out as a cover band called the Torquays, playing the hits of the day to blow off steam while they waited out their commitments to the Army. However, the band members had some more ambitious ideas, and when they met Karl-H. Remy and Walther Nieman, a pair of Germans with an interest in music and contemporary art interested in managing a rock band, they reinvented themselves as the Monks.
Wearing all-black clothing, bits of rope as neckties, and sporting tonsures shaved into their scalps, the Monks played noisy, stripped-down rock with a fierce, propulsive beat, fuzzy guitars, an amplified banjo, and lyrics that were openly critical of the military and the standard social order.While the Monks developed a small but loyal following and appeared occasionally on German television, the group was simply too unconventional to attract a large audience, and after the commercial failure of their album Black Monk Time, the group split up in 1967. However, the band's reputation lived on, and the album became a cult favorite among record collectors and fans of pre-punk garage rock.
The album was belatedly released in the United States in 1997, and the group reformed to play a reunion show at New York City's Cavestomp Festival in 1999. Filmmakers Dietmar Post and Lucía Palacios recount the strange journey of this most unusual band in Monks: The Transatlantic Feedback, a documentary which features interview with the original members of the band, their friends and associates, and some of their better-known fans, including Jon Spencer, Peter Zaremba, and Genesis P-Orridge.