Among the many antics it shouldn't surprise you to see the members of Monotonix engaging in at one of their shows: emptying trash cans on each other, playing and jumping off the venue bar, passing their instruments through the crowd and setting themselves on fire only to put it out with your beer. All this happens right in the middle of the audience, as the band never sets up on a proper stage. But even if you go in with these expectations, you'll still be shocked. Natives of Tel Aviv, Israel, Monotonix left their homeland to bring their take on American garage-rock to the world, and over the course of 600 dates they've managed to forge a reputation for putting on one of the most visceral performances in contemporary rock. Guitarist Yonatan Gat talked to the Scene about the band and their rowdy live show.
Nashville Scene: How would you describe the show to someone who's never seen it?
Yonatan Gat: I think it's three Israeli people...trying to play rock 'n' roll...inside the audience...and doing the things that they feel like doing at any given moment. I don't know—it's really hard to describe. What I like about our show is that we do it on the floor and it's really like eye-level, and the band and audience are the same unit in a way. It's very unifying and liberating and fun.
Scene: At Exit/In last year, your singer grabbed my beer and poured it down his shorts. I thought it was funny, but I guess I could see how it would anger some people. Have you ever been confronted by audience members who get upset by the band being physically mixed in with the audience?
Gat: You would think so, but not really. Maybe once every 100 shows, somebody complains. I got a person once who really wanted to be refunded for his beer, so I gave a drink ticket, I think, and he bought a record anyway, so it didn't really matter. I don't know how Ami does it—I guess maybe people like having their beers spilled over them. Maybe they need it.
Scene: What's the scariest thing that you've had happen at one of these shows?
Gat: We played, like, the second floor in Toronto once, and I was sure that the show was going to end up in the restaurant downstairs because I just felt like the floor was going to collapse. Sometimes it gets really crazy and trash cans are flying in the air and cymbals are flying in the air. One show in Providence, one guy grabbed a cymbal and was going to throw it as a Frisbee and we stopped him. A lot of things where danger almost happened, but nothing really bad except for, like, minor injuries.
Scene: Well, what kind of injuries?
Gat: Just bruises and scars.
Scene: Have you been banned from any clubs in the U.S. yet?
Gat: Yeah, a little bit. We got banned out of many clubs in Austin because we used to play a lot of shows every South by Southwest.... I think that if a club books us, they usually know what to expect and they know we're respectful of the venue, because we are. I mean, because we've played so many shows here. Our thing is not trashing rooms, it's more about having a good time and I think people trust us. They trust us with their beers, they know we will do the right thing with their beers, and they know we will do the right thing with their venues.
Scene: Are there any antics that you've pulled off live that you'll never try again?
Gat: Some things I tell myself I'll never do again because it was so close to something happening, but when the right moment comes I just end up doing them again. I guess not—I guess if we tried anything and survived it then we're liable to do it again one day. As long as we're not dead, then the answer to this question is "No."
Read a complete transcript at nashvillecream.com.
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