SAN DIEGO -- The roller coaster ride of Saucy Monky is on the upswing again, and the lesbian-helmed indie band is heading to America's Finest City this week for a date at the House of Blues in the historic Gaslamp Quarter.
Saucy Monky is hoping to get a big turnout from the LGBT community at the free concert at 10 pm Wednesday, Nov. 28, at the House of Blues, 1055 Fifth Ave. The band will join Kitten with a Whip, RDG and Jesse Nova in a Listenlocalsd.com Showcase event that runs from 8 pm to midnight.
Also, Saucy Monky will be signing five CDs as a give-away to SDGLN readers. Contest details are listed below.
The Los Angeles-based band is the brainchild of Annmarie Cullen, who was born in Dublin, Ireland, and East Coast singer Cynthia Catania. Both women, now ex-lovers, play vocals and guitars. Steve Giles (bass) and Megan Jane (drums) comprise the rhythm section of the band.
Over the past decade, Saucy Monky's discography includes "8 Song Sampler" (2002), "Celebrity Trash" (2003), "Turbulence" (2004) and "Between The Bars" (2008). The band has toured with The Black Eyes Peas, P!nk, Wilco and PJ Harvey.
Annmarie Cullan speaks with San Diego Gay & Lesbian News about the resurgence of the indie band, how her breakup with her girlfriend Cynthia Catania nearly doomed the band, and how they picked up the pieces with the support and encouragement of the two other band members.
SDGLN: The band will be playing Nov. 28 at House of Blues in San Diego. Saucy Monky also performed at the 2008 San Diego Indie Music Fest. What are your thoughts about the music scene here in San Diego?
ANNMARIE: Our drummer Megan Jane is from San Diego and has introduced us to so many cool people and venues. We love playing there. The audience is always really attentive and the music community in general are so supportive of one another. Our “No One’s Here Anymore” music video was filmed and edited around a day at the 2009 San Diego Indie Fest. We love that festival (and the organizers!)
SDGLN: Can you describe the new EP, “Trophy Girl Part 1,” and its theme?
ANNMARIE: “Trophy Girl Part 1” is part of a three-part series of EPs. The theme is life in general, dressed up in our indie rock/lush harmony production. We discuss breakups, desire, running into your ex with their new GF (and how that kicks you in the gut), loss. ... It’s all in there. Jump on board people!
SDLGN: What will “Trophy Girl Part 2” and “Trophy Girl Part 3” be about, and when will they be released?
ANNMARIE: They will be released in 2013. We are very proud of our lyrics with these EPs. One person described our lyrics as “breaking into my room in the middle of the night and stealing my journal.” I think we discuss relatable themes. One of the songs on our next EP is called “My Girlfriend Is Alcohol.” That will give you an idea. There’s another called “Sleepwalking” about the pain and haze of the aftermath of a break-up.
SDGLN: The new single “Awkward” is generating a lot of buzz, especially the risqué video. What is the thinking behind this? Is it autobiographical?
ANNMARIE: It’s definitely based on our real life experience. I think most people can relate to it. You’re still hung up on your ex, you see them at a party with their new, hot person, you try to make them jealous, you feel like an idiot ... then you end up hooking up with them again … the mess gets messier.
SDGLN: What was it like working with twin brothers and video directors Dave and James Codeglia?
ANNMARIE: Dave and James from Ghostlight were truly amazing! I really think that in a few years they will be THE filmmakers in Hollywood. They made our small-budget video look like a $100,000 video. I’m not going to lie, we were a tiny bit nervous having two straight boys deal with a lesbian theme, but man, they kicked it out of the park. Dave’s treatment was spot on, James the cinematographer made everything so beautiful and expensive looking. It’s not easy dealing with a bunch of chicks and they did it with ease and made everyone feel comfortable. (-:
SDGLN: How did the well-known breakup of you and Cynthia as a couple affect the band?
ANNMARIE: If I may be completely honest (and this is embarrassing), but we were really in the closet when we were together. It was only after we broke up that everything came out in the open and we came out. I finally told my parents (Irish Catholic) about my gayness. It was a really heavy time for me personally and for us professionally. We were even in the closet with our band members at the time (although, I know they knew). Cynthia and I didn’t have time to heal, we had a record (“Turbulence”) out that was just released in Europe and we had to soldier on for the sake of the band/music. It was so hard to be around each other without any time or distance to heal. It almost broke up the band, but we believed in the music so much that we just forced ourselves to work it out and get over the break-up. It took a few years, but we did heal and we are stronger than ever. There is an added layer to our relationship now; she’s one of my best friends, my business partner, my ex. We’ve seen the best of times and the worst of times and she remains one of my favorite people on the planet.
SDGLN: How did you and Catania put aside their differences in their new roles as exes, and how did other band members cope with the new dynamics?
ANNMARIE: We put aside our differences because we LOVED the music we created within Saucy Monky. We tried so hard to keep any negativity away from our band members at the time, but there was the occasional tantrum on stage (when Cynthia and I were so angry at each other for one reason or another), and the band were just sweet and supportive and would lend an ear. Sometimes it just needs to run through your body. Steve and Megan joined our band post break up, so they avoided the worst of it and entered when we were on the road to recovery (well timed guys!) Adam Marcello and Carson Cohen (our former band members) are now world class touring musicians, working with Katy Perry and Meiko respectively. We still keep in touch with them and are so proud of them.
SDGLN: Speaking of new dynamics, what direction is Saucy Monky heading with the trilogy of EPs? How has the band changed since the break-up?
ANNMARIE; Well, for one thing, we can now go to each other for relationship advice without either one getting jealous (-: We have good insight into each other because we have experienced first-hand how it is to date each other. I think the band is healthier than ever now. We also have the coolest band members in the world (Megan Jane and Steve Giles), who bring such balance and stability to the project. As I mentioned, they joined after the sh*t hit the fan. I think the music and the production are evolving. It still sounds like Saucy Monky, but it’s slightly different. Lyrically, we have more life experience under our belt which makes for more honest and relatable songs.
SDGLN: How has the indie music scene changed since your debut album Celebrity Trash come out in 2003?
ANNMARIE: I think it’s changed in that more and more bands are indie now by necessity. Even in 2003, people were still chasing the whole RECORD DEAL thing, and that barely exists now. Social Media wasn’t as important in 2003. The whole landscape is different now. It’s more of a digital world. It’s also a SPOTIFY world these days. It’s harder to make money, but man, were we really ever in this crazy business to make money?
SDGLN: What is ahead for Saucy Monky after the trilogy is fully released? Any touring plans?
ANNMARIE: The rough game plan is to tour the Pacific Northwest and hopefully make it back to Europe. It’s expensive to tour (unless you’re the Rolling Stones), however, it’s our most favorite thing to do. Tell Metric or Tegan and Sara to take us on the road with them, would ya? That’s on our wish list (-:
SDGLN: Does it help, hurt or make any difference that the band is identified with the LGBT community? Is this your most loyal group of supporters?
ANNMARIE: To be honest, I don’t think we are very well known in the LGBTQ community. We are trying to change that because 1. We are gay and 2. They are usually very loyal. In that way, it can only help. I know that some people think there is a danger of “pigeon holing” yourself if you align yourself too much with one community, but I’m not worried about that in the slightest. Music has no borders and is universal. All are welcome to the Saucy Monky experience (but we'll start with the gay community because we know where to find them!)
SDGLN: Who are your idols and inspirations?
ANNMARIE: Ani is my business idol for doing it her way all along (and Michelle Shocked who is also an indie pioneer but who is generally overlooked in that realm). Metric for their music (such a good band). U2 for their longevity. Bruce Springsteen for always being true to himself.
SDGLN: What is playing on your MP3 player?
ANNMARIE: Lana Del Ray. Ellie Goulding. Metric. Kathleen Edwards and Norah Jones.
SDGLN: If you could have the ultimate dinner party and invite three guests (living or dead), who would be there and why?
ANNMARIE: Ani Di Franco because I find her fascinating. Angelina Jolie because I still can’t shake off my GIA crush. My Mum; she’s been dead seven years but boy do I miss her and I would trade anything in the world for one more hang with her (although, I’m not sure how she’d get along with Angelina and Ani!) (-:
Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at [email protected], @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.
To enter a random drawing to win one of five signed CDs and to get a photo taken with the band, please send an email to [email protected]. In the subject area, write: SAUCY MONKY. List your name, hometown and phone number. SDGLN and Saucy Monky will not share your information with third parties to protect your privacy. Deadline to enter the contest is 8 am Nov. 28. Winners can pick up their signed CD at the House of Blues on Nov. 28 and get their photo taken with the band!