The Monolators

Husband and wife duo Eli and Mary Chartkoff of seasoned rock group The Monolators join us at Eagle Rock, CA cafe Zweet to discuss the rich history of their band, their unique productivity tactics, and the deep appreciation they have for being able to keep music in their lives.

The Monolators is comprised of:

Eli Chartkoff – vocals and guitar

Mary Chartkoff – drums

Ashley Jex – bass

Ray Gurrola – lead guitar

Jillinda Palmer – keyboards

Photo Courtesy of The Monolators Facebook

So to get to know you guys a little bit, everybody loves the good ‘how we met’ story. How did The Monolators come to be and how did you decide on your name for the project? 

Mary Chartkoff: I’ll talk about how we met, *turns to Eli* and then you can talk about the name.

Eli Chartkoff: That works!

Mary: So for Eli and I, our first date was playing music. We were just playing around, and back then, I had already been playing with our first guitarist, Mike. So then I said to Eli, ‘Why don’t you and me start playing with Mike?’ and then the three of us started playing together. When we first started the band, we were just playing little house shows.

You’ve gotta start somewhere! 

Mary: Yeah! So with those shows, we had it sort of split with Mike singing and Eli singing some of his songs, but Mike wasn’t super comfortable in being lead singer, and so we decided to kind of re-group the group, and then Mike decided to just play the guitar so Eli would in turn do the singing. After that, then we started to play some actual shows, and once we made it past three shows we were like, ‘Oh wow, we survived!’ *all laugh* Eli has a three show curse…

Eli: I really do though! *laughs*

Mary:…so the fact that we made it past the third show, we knew were on our way. 

Eli: Yeah. It was a real band. I played in so many bands when I was younger, and I’d actually given up on playing in bands because every band I was in, we would play three shows and then we would fall apart or we would break up or something would happen. You never got past three shows. I thought, ‘Well, obviously I’m not meant to be in a band because we take it past three shows,’ but with this we actually made it past three shows! 

Photo Courtesy of YouTube

It was a sign from the universe! 

Mary: It was!

Eli: Yeah, I was shocked, just so shocked! *all laugh* So that was great. And then the name. We were called Lonely 451, and there’s a story behind that, but we decided that we didn’t like that name. 

Mary: There were too many number bands! 

Eli: Yeah! There was Blink-182 and Matchbox Twenty

Sum 41…

Eli: Yeah! We didn’t want to be another number band. But it ended up coming down to me to name it, and I couldn’t think of anything. *laughs* I was thinking about the word ‘modulator,’ which I thought, ‘That’s a good word,’ so I started changing around letters and I came up with ‘Monolator.’ At the time I thought, ‘Oh, this is great because that’s not a real word. It won’t be easy to find on the internet or easy to Google.’ 

Mary: It also had to do with our sound because at the time we were a lot more lo-fi.

Eli: Yeah, it was more of a lo-fi garage band at that time. This is when The White Stripes were really big, and at that time in L.A, especially at Mr. T’s Bowl where we played a lot, there was sort of a garage rock scene. We sort of belonged to that, and the name sounded like a garage rock band name. I remember going up to this one guy who we kind of looked up to who had a band called Kennedy, and I remember saying that we named our band The Monolators, and he was like, ‘That’s a good name!’ We were like, ‘Alright, sweet!’ *all laugh* Later on, I got sick of it almost immediately, but it stuck. Later on, we found out that it actually it is a word, but I was looking in the wrong places, like, I found it in a religious dictionary, which it didn’t occur to me to look into, and it means something like a ‘monotheist,’ or somebody who only worships one God instead of a polytheistic society. I had no idea that that’s what it meant at all! We got a bunch of Christian kids following us because they thought we were a Christian band. It was fine, but it was definitely unintended. 

That’s one way to taint them! *all laugh*

Mary: Totally! 

Eli: Yeah, so that’s where the name came from, and if I had a choice, I would have changed it, but it stuck, so it was too late. *laughs*

I mean, it’s definitely easy to remember and it’s catchy! It is kind of funny that you got mistaken for having religious undertones because of your name. *laughs*

Eli: And it was totally unintentional too! 

Mary: We don’t want to deceive anybody! 

Just have a disclaimer that you are not a Christian rock band. *laughs* 

Mary: We’re a super clean band so I can see where they can perpetuate the idea. 

Eli: We’re a married couple. Our lyrics are pretty clean. Well, we swear a little, but not a lot. 

Eh, it’s good for them. *all laugh*

Mary: You know, I actually don’t think we have any swearing in Monolators. *turns to Eli* Maybe in some of your solo work. 

Eli: Yes, definitely more there. *laughs* But overall it’s very clean. It’s safe for kids. *turns to Mary* Remember back when MySpace was a thing before Facebook became big?

Mary: Oh yeah! 

Eli: When it came out, it was great because we would book all of our tours through MySpace. It was just so awesome! On your MySpace profile, everybody had a quote on their under their picture, like, a quote that meant something to them. We realized that a bunch of people would add us, or you know, follow us, and we realized that a bunch of people following us had Bible verses for their quotes. We were like, ‘What’s going on here?’ 

Mary: That’s kind of how we figured out what our appeal was. We were like, ‘Ok, well, this is cool I guess. Better than nothing.’ *laughs* 

To be fair, you do now have these Instagram girls in their bikinis also having Christian quotes in their bio. *laughs*

Mary: Oh gosh, yes! It’s crazy! 

Eli: This is awful, but like, hilarious at the same time. There was this one girl who added us, and she had all this Bible stuff all over her profile, and her quote was, ‘I either have a smile on my face, or Steve. Ha ha ha ha.’ 

Mary: Oh my. Poor girl. 

Eli: I couldn’t help but laugh though! I was like, ‘Oh, ok. I hope she’s totally clueless on what she put on her profile.’ *laughs* Anyway, that’s where that came from.

Photo Courtesy of The Monolators Instagram

And it’s a great story too! So Which artists and bands would you say have influenced your style of work, whether instrumentally or lyrically? 

Eli: I feel like we went through phases because we’ve been around for so long. When we started off, it definitely was The White Stripes influencing us. 

Mary: Yeah, and partially because it was like, ‘Well, they can do it. Why can’t we?’ kind of thing.

Eli: Yeah. It was like our version of The Sex Pistols. Like, when The Sex Pistols came out, all these people who never thought about being in a band were like, ‘We can do that.’ For us it was The White Stripes who made us feel like we could do it because they were a couple and it was a two-piece. That was inspiring.

Mary: Yeah. I mean, we ended up being a three-piece…

Eli: For a while we were a two-piece… 

Mary: Yeah, when we first started off. But anyways, for us, it’s always been about the songwriting and just writing good songs, which is Eli’s thing. 

Eli: *turns to Mary* Oh come on! You write songs too! But yeah, it’s very simple and easy to do since neither of us are really technically inclined. We do ok I guess, but we really do go through phases. We would try to sort of sound like what we were listening to, but it would never quite come out right, like, we went through an ABBA phase. *turns to Mary* What other phases have we had?

Mary: Pulp was a big one, and we always listened to a lot of [David] Bowie

Eli: Yeah, it’s been in our house a lot. 

Mary: I feel like we’re missing a bunch, hmm, there’s also Bryan Ferry.

Eli: Yeah, Roxy Music

Mary: Yeah, we listened to that for awhile. 

Eli: See, Mary’s always been into dance music, like Madonna

Mary: Yeah, I’m into electronic music. 

The best works definitely came out of the eighties!

Mary: Yeah! 

Eli: Gosh, what even got us into ABBA? I don’t even remember? 

Mary: I have no idea! *laughs* I also remember us definitely going through a big Bee Gees phase for awhile. So a lot of the disco, and then we were also really into Dutch-pop and Euro-pop, and basically anything that was on that festival, *turns to Eli* what’s that European festival again?

Eli: Eurovision.

Mary: Yeah! So whatever bands are winning that we were finding and listening to those bands. When we first started out, I used to drive around with my truck with the flames on the hood, and I don’t know, it just felt right to listen to classic rock. 

Eli: The Clash and Modern Lovers were other big influences at that time too. 

Mary: Yeah, totally. I still listen to that! *laughs*

Eli: I mean, The Monolators started in 2002, and then we kind of went on hiatus in 2012, but we’ve continued to do other stuff since then. This is actually kind of the first time we’ve become active for a couple of years now, and a lot has happened. The stuff we listen to now isn’t necessarily the stuff we were listening to then, so it’s kind of a little hazy.

Photo Courtesy of The Monolators Facebook

It’s always good to hear that you are having an evolution in your music taste that can in turn influence how your music sounds. 

Mary: Right! You need to grow!

Eli: I think both of us really appreciate when people develop and push themselves and try new things, and not just famous musicians, but also local musicians. We always get really fed up with the sort of the ‘flavor of the month’ bands, where you go see these bands and every song sounds exactly the same throughout the whole set. And then you go to see them again months, or even years, later, and it’s exactly the same! We always wanted to try new things. I mean, people find their people find their niche and they find what works, and I totally understand wanting to like work with work with what works, but for us, we’re just always looking for somebody who’s willing to take risks in the music we listen to. 

You want to hear the challenge! 

Eli: Yeah! For sure! 

Mary: I mean, I don’t know how successful we were with changing our style over the time, but we tried. 

Trying is better than nothing!

Mary: Yeah! I mean, there’s definitely people that I’ve noticed that like certain parts or phases of our group. There’s a few people who only like our early stuff, like our very first record, and then there’s other people that only like our Tears On Wings record, but then you have people who only like our dope dance record. I hope that that means we somehow changed over time. *laughs*

Hey! It shows that you’re appealing to different types of audiences! I mean, you want to grow your audience and your fans. 

Eli: Yeah! Like, with some of the music that we’ve done after Monolators, like, we never said The Monolators was done, but it was just more that different people in that band stopped being able to do it regularly, so we said, ‘Well, we’ll just do something else.’ But I think we do have some kind of similarities that carry on between the different eras of The Monolators, maybe not in the way we planned it, but that’s fine. 

Does life ever go exactly as planned? 

Eli: Absolutely not!

Mary: That’s so right! 

You can plan all you want, but then it gets there and it’s like, ‘Nah, not gonna happen. 

Mary: Yep, that’s right! Just gotta change direction. You just gotta roll with it.

Photo Courtesy of Bootleg Theater

So what does your typical songwriting, recording and live performance process look like?

Eli: So for Monolators, I wrote almost all of that stuff. We used to have a lot more time to get to it than we do now. *laughs* I’m kind of a procrastinator, so I would always have to have strategies to force myself to be productive. When I first started writing songs, I would do it with friends, like, we would get together.

Songwriting sesh! 

Eli: Yeah! Exactly! We would try to make up songs together, and it didn’t matter if they were stupid or not, but we would just try to make up something.

I’m sure the stupid songs are not nearly as bad as “Baby Shark.” *all laugh* 

Eli: Eh, they might have been. *laughs* They were pretty stupid. 

There have been some pretty dumb viral songs over the years that’s for sure. *laughs* 

Eli: I heard a song from Denmark that I found this website, and it was just a cloud of different little sub-genres, like ‘Bulgarian electro-clash.’ I just randomly picked one of those genres, and I ran across ‘Bubblegum Dance,’ and the song they played was from 1999, and I’d never heard of it before. It was by Toy-Box, and they were from Denmark, and the song was called “Tarzan & Jane.” *all laugh* It is a super catchy song, but it did set a new standard for stupidity. *laughs* I think my old stuff was maybe flying under that range, or maybe we barely cleared that bar. *laughs* But anyways, when we were doing things for Monolators, I would say, ‘Ok. I have a week, and I’m going to write and record my own record.’ I’d make it a little solo record, and then Mary can pick whatever songs she likes from that record and that would be for The Monolators. So yeah, I would do this little challenge like, ‘I have a week or two weeks or a month to make an album.’ 

Mary: Or we’re going into the studio next week. *laughs* 

Eli: Oh gosh, right?!? *laughs* So yeah, I would set up these self-imposed deadlines and would just make structures for myself that would force me to be productive. And even now, we started a songwriting club for all of our friends who write songs, or just anybody can come to. It’s not a judgment or critique kind of situation, but it’s a scheduled incentive to get people to finish whatever they’re working on. People come and they play their song, or two songs, and that’s all it is. 

Mary: Originally it was with two songs, and we called it A-B Club for the A side and B side of a single.

Ahh! That’s so clever! I love it!  

Eli: Yeah. And we still do it from time to time. I feel like our lives are so full, and we’re so busy and harried all the time, and running around everywhere, that with trying to finish things, like, the only way we can actually be productive is by creating these structures to push us. Otherwise, there’s a hundred other things that have to happen first, and we just don’t really have time anymore. This has been this way for years, like we don’t really have leisure time just to do everything we want to do. We do have a date night where we force ourselves to just do something fun, but usually we’re so exhausted all the time that that can mean watching Charlie’s Angels or something like that, you know?

I mean, that’s not a bad idea. I love Charlie’s Angels. *laughs* 

Mary: Yeah! 

Eli: For us, we just don’t have as much free time like other musicians do. I’ll hear other people say, ‘Oh, I went out to a cabin for a week just by myself, and I wrote all these songs.’ 

Mary: That would never happen! 

Eli: We just can’t do it.

Mary: Maybe in a different part of our lives that could happen, but yeah, we won’t be in that position for quite a while. *laughs* 

Eli: Yeah. We’re happy with what we have going for us, we just don’t get to relax. I know that sounds super whiny, but we have kids, we have jobs, and we also do a lot of different projects that it’s just going, going, going, going all the time. 

Mary: But going back to the songwriting, like, what Eli would always do is he would write the song, and then he would bring it to the band, and we would do the arrangements together. Everyone would be able to come up with a little something from their hearts that way. That was always a really big part of The Monolators, that everyone would be able to put their stamp on it. 

Eli: We have friends who have bands where there’s one person who writes all the material and arranges everything and tells everybody what to play, and that’s totally fine and cool, like, they have a sound and it’s their vision. And then we have friends where what they want is to be told what to play. But we found that it just was more interesting and came out better if people were bringing in their own ideas and their own background. Our bass player, Andy, likes a lot of metal, and we were trying to work out a drum part for one of our songs for him. Mary and I have almost zero metal influence at all, and he started saying, like, ‘I know this beat from Slayer,’ and you know what, it worked great! It taught us a lesson. 

Mary: Yeah. I just really love when people bring their little piece, their little touch. 

Eli: It makes us stronger.

Sometimes you don’t even realize that you needed someone else’s input until you’re actually there and in the moment.

Eli: I think everybody has ruts that they fall into because they get frustrated when everything sounds the same. But then having somebody else saying like, ‘Wait a minute, why don’t you try this thing?’ It’s hugely helpful, and you know, I think if I was left to my own devices a lot of stuff would kind of sound the same. So yeah, we’re always really open to other people’s suggestions, and it’s really important to us. In terms of just writing the songs, I’m always looking for little phrases that would make a hook. I’m very hook oriented, and I always want the catchy part. That’s what I like, and so I’m always looking for those phrases where I’ll be like, ‘Oh! That could be a song!’ I have a little notebook that I write them down in, and then when I think I might have a musical idea, I’ll look through it and sit what’ll fit. I feel like if I have the hook, that’s the little idea that gets it going. If I just sit down saying, ‘I’ve gotta write a song now,’ I’ll get nowhere. I have to have a little idea to push it forward. And Mary writes stuff for our other band. 

Mary: Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of the same. Really, the thing is I have to have a theme that I want to write about, because I have a theme that I want to write about, then I can usually come up with a phrase, and then I can build all the verses. I mean, I’m not as good as Eli. *laughs*

Eli: *points to Mary* I love her songs. Some of my favorite songs that I’ve ever done are her songs.

Mary: *turns to Eli* Ok, now you’re sounding goofy. *all laugh* 

Eli: *turns to Mary* You didn’t write anything for Monolators, but you do for other bands and stuff. 

Mary: Yeah. And then for our show, basically or just a show where we’re going to play that material that we’ve already got in our library, we’ll just get people together a few weeks before, or a couple weekends before, and run through the songs. 

Eli: A lot or hanging out, a lot of chit chat, that’s always a big part of practice because we’re friends with everybody who’s been in our band. 

Mary: Oh definitely! It definitely feels like an extended family for sure. I’ve always been so sad whenever someone couldn’t be in the band anymore, but anybody that’s ever been in The Monolators has just been so much fun. 

Eli: Yeah. Music and our friends’ bands, that’s our social life right there. Those are the people that we hang out with and are good friends with.

Mary: And the thing as a husband and wife doing this is that for us, the band has also been a time for us to do something together. We do have these kind of hectic lives, and so we see this as an opportunity to spend time with each other. 

Eli: Nowadays, usually one of us has to stay home with the kids or one of us has to stay home and work, and so only one of us can really go out to see shows or do other things. 

Mary: Hopefully that’ll change as our kids get older, but that’s why we’re big on making structures for ourselves in order to do the positive things in life, whether it be writing a song or going somewhere fun. That’s one of the things that I miss about doing the band on a regular basis is that it gave us a lot of structure to spend time with one another as a couple. 

Photo Courtesy of Carl Pocket

So a question for Mary, it’s pretty rare to see women not only in a group setting like a band, whether they’re a singer, instrumentalist or even like a co-partner of the band. Why do you think that women feel more inclined to do solo work as opposed to being a part of a group setting?

Mary: So when I think about this question, I’m actually a little disturbed because I do feel a little bit that maybe Eli and I are in a little bit of a bubble. I think in the scenes that we’ve played in, we’ve actually been fortunate that I haven’t been the only person who’s a woman in a band. Now, when we got started back in 2002, I will say that there weren’t a lot of female drummers out there. I’m not saying that there weren’t female drummers for me to model after, but there were definitely less on the scene. Back when we got stuff started, I definitely had sound guys that would act like be all surprised that I could play something, or try to show me how to play, or how to set up the drums, just stupid things like that.

They were trying to mansplain pretty much.

Mary: Yes! Luckily it has changed a lot over the past seventeen years since we started, especially in terms of venues and the people working them. That’s gotten a lot better, and I feel like there’s more female musicians than ever. But do I feel like we’re sometimes in a bubble because I really have seen female players a lot of the various places that we’ve played. I mean, I was going through my Instagram at one point, after and I did notice that there’s more and more females fronted bands, which is absolutely awesome.

It’s definitely better than nothing that’s for sure. 

Mary: Oh yeah, totally! But getting back to your question, I also noticed that there were less female instrumentalists, however, I do feel like we are moving forward. With every younger generation that comes along, it’s not even a question whether or not they’re going to either play in a band or play whatever the heck they want. So I think that that itself is an improvement, but there is always still room for improvement. I see it slowly, and it does make me happy that I’m not quite as rare as I previously was. *laughs* I don’t want to be a rare occurrence. It shouldn’t be like that. I mean, with both of our kids, it’s very important for us to let them know that they don’t feel like they need to be pigeonholed because of their gender or interests. 

Luckily, it seems like society is a little bit better now. At least it’s slowly getting there.

Eli: Yeah, a little bit.

Photo Courtesy of Los Angeles Loves You

So going into a bit of social media talk. With its prominent role in modern marketing tactics, I feel that it makes it easier or harder for independent artists to make a name for themselves? 

Mary: I think harder. I guess ‘harder’ in the sense that I mean, like, the people that do it well do it as a full time job. 

Eli: It’s definitely a full time job.

That’s why there are careers in social media now.

Mary: The thing is that while it does give an opportunity for us to get our stuff out there, it also gives an opportunity for anyone as long as they put in the time to do their own marketing. There is a technique to it, and you just have to devote a ton of work to it, and that’s one of the things that we definitely realized over time. The reason why you’re doing music is because you hopefully like doing music, and if you spend all of your time doing promoting and social media, that means you’re not really doing what you love. We ourselves are not very good at the social media because at the end of the day, we’re doing music because we love doing it. That aspect of our lives was always first and foremost. But now because of our time limitations, we want to make our music count. And it’s the same thing with audio and recording, like, recording music takes a whole other skill set, and we’ve tried recording ourselves, but that is crazy time consuming as well, because once again, you end up not doing what you love because you’re trying to learn how to engineer everything. I feel like that’s how a lot of people end up doing engineering. 

Eli: Yeah, I mean, they probably do like that aspect of the industry, but they probably started off wanting to record themselves and then the engineering just took over their lives, and so they stopped making their own music. 

Mary: Yeah, you really have to know what you’re doing, and that’s why whenever we can afford to go into a studio we’re so incredibly grateful to be able to go in there. We appreciate everything that an audio engineer does. And I totally understand why people hire like social media people because that’s a whole thing in and of itself. The internet moves so fast that you end up as a needle in a haystack, so you really do have to do all the social media stuff in order to bring yourself up to the top.

Eli: I feel that since the record industry kind of collapsed in the early 2000s, like, if you were signed to a record label, all these things that would have been the responsibility of the record label, like promotion and management, booking, radio, making videos, paying for studio time, all of those things would have been the label’s responsibility, but it’s all been pushed off to the artists now. Unless you are very young and have a lot of friends who are willing to help you out, or if you have a lot of money, there’s just no way to do it. 

Mary: It’s much more difficult. 

Eli: Yeah. We’ve seen a lot of people who we thought for sure were going to become successful, and they just couldn’t go anywhere because they didn’t have the kind of support and means to do what they needed to do to become successful. For us, we just try to do an extremely limited basis and not worry so much. I used to sort of anguish a lot about what a bad job we were doing to promote ourselves, and now we just don’t have the time. 

Mary: Yeah. We just can’t worry about it. We have to just let it be. It’s going to be what it’s going to be, you know.

Yeah, life is too short to try to do everything you think you have to do all at one time. You’ve got to pick your battles sometimes. 

Mary: Absolutely!

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Koga

Yeah! And with living and performing in an area where there’s practically music on every corner, do you feel like there’s some sort of unpublicized competition within the local music scene? 

Mary: I mean, it’s obviously hard if there’s a lot of good shows happening on one night, yeah, everyone’s going to get split up. Whereas, if it’s a night where there’s not so many shows happening, then people tend to go to that one particular show. That’s really hard to control. But I don’t think anybody begrudges anybody else for having to play like on the same night. Often times our friends’ bands are playing on the same night as us, and nobody is like, ‘How dare you book a show on the same night that I’m booking a show!’ Everyone’s in the same boat, like, there’s just not a lot of choice as far as when and where you play. With Monolators, we are making choices and saying ‘no’ to certain shows, because we don’t really feel like we need to play every show. We really just want to do it when we can and stuff. 

Eli: I don’t think the competition is so much between bands so much as it is with other types of entertainment. When you hit a certain age, people just don’t go out as much because they’re watching Netflix or they’re video gaming or they’re just doing other stuff. I put a lot of thought into why adults don’t go out anymore, you know, and like, a lot of people are just too tired. 

Mary: Yeah. We’re all tired out, and everyone’s a workaholic here so everybody works so hard that it’s like by the time you get home you’re so exhausted that you don’t want to go out, especially once you get to a certain age. The older you get, like, people just want to be in bed by ten or eleven because they’re working some job where they have to get up at five o’clock in the morning to get out the door so they can beat the traffic. 

Eli: Yeah, the work culture in the United States is really unhealthy. Years and years ago, it was a thing for people to spend leisure time going out to dance, and that’s something that adults did commonly as recreation. But now, there’s just too little time and too many other things that people want to do for someone to have a regular activity. So I don’t feel in competition with any of our friends or any other bands at all, I feel like there’s just too much other stuff in people’s lives. 

Mary: Life is our competition. 

Eli: Absolutely! It’s people’s lives, people being exhausted, and you know, people just not wanting to go out, that’s what it is. 

Mary: Yeah, getting out the door is just really hard to do nowadays, and especially when you get older. 

Eli: Gosh, when we started playing, we would go out four or five shows every week, partially because that was a fun thing to do, but also partially because that was how we met everybody and how we were able to get our support. 

Mary: Yeah, and it’s important to support your friends. We’re all in this together. 

Eli: Yeah, and that’s also how you get shows! Like, you go out to watch and support somebody else, and they could say, ‘Would you like to play with us?’ That’s how we were able to play bigger venues! It wasn’t because we were able to go up to the booker. 

Mary: And we also put shows together because we feel like it’s important to support your music scene.

Photo Courtesy of The Monolators Instagram

And since we’ve already been talking about balancing life and work, how do you balance your personal life with your professional life? 

Eli: Badly. We both work too much. *laughs*

Mary: It’s basically we do our work and do what we have to do to make ends meet. Sometimes that just takes up a lot of your time, and that just takes up a lot of your personal time. Hopefully that won’t last forever though.

Eli: I do try as much as possible to separate out my work life from my personal life. People are always saying, like, ‘Don’t you want to do more social activities with your co-workers? 

It’s like, ‘Why? I see you guys everyday.’ *laughs*

Eli: I mean, it’s not that I’m opposed to hanging out, and some of my co-workers are my friends, but I want to see and spend time with my family, and my friends outside of work.

It’s totally understandable. 

Mary: Yeah we try our best. 

Trying is better than not trying. 

Eli: Absolutely.

If you guys could give your younger selves any advice in regards to what you’ve learned in music or in life in general, what advice would you give them? 

Eli: Good luck kid! *all laugh* I kind of feel I’d want to tell him, you know, stick to your guns and do what’s important to you, and just not worry so much about whether other people are gonna like it. 

Mary: Luckily we’ve always just done what we wanted to do. *laughs* 

Eli: We’ve had a lot of well-meaning people give us advice on how to become more popular, and we realized that it’s just not us. 

Mary: Some of the stuff we would try, but the problem is that we would always fail miserably at it. At the end of the day you can only be you, and I know, if that isn’t met with huge commercial success, it is what it is because we can only do what we can do.

Eli: I think we would always also say to make sure you follow through on your goals, and to, like, actually meet your goals. Don’t let yourself be discouraged by indifference from other people. 

Mary: Yeah, if you love doing it, keep doing it. I mean, I still think we accomplished a ton considering we were older than everybody else when we started. We already had kids when we started our band, and we never became nationally known, but we did pretty well and we did way better than we thought. We’re very grateful to have everything that’s happened in our careers. 

Eli: Yeah. I feel like if we can if we can go away for years and come back, and people will still come to the shows, then that’s awesome. 

Mary: With our kids, they’re teenagers now, and we’ve tried to encourage them to if they want to pursue music to do it now. 

Eli: Yeah. We were able to do everything we wanted to except touring. We just couldn’t tour as much as we wanted to because we have kids and we have jobs. We did tour with our son when he was very young, but we couldn’t just crash on somebody’s couch, which is what you would do when you’re on tour. You couldn’t sleep in your car. And we couldn’t go off to play a show and leave him somewhere. Back then we were playing until like one o’clock in the morning, so we would have to bring a babysitter with us and we would have to get hotel rooms.

Mary: It just ended up being super expensive, so we kind of just put a hold on touring. 

Eli: Yeah. I think that was really the only thing that made us feel like, ‘I wish we could’ve done this when we were younger.’ And you know, in order to really do anything on a larger scale, you do have to tour a lot. I mean, we did tours, but not as much as we hoped to do. 

Mary: And we really enjoyed touring! It was great! It was super fun! 

Eli: Oh, my gosh. We have great stories from touring but. But yeah, maybe when our kids are grown we can do more. I think that was really the main thing.

Photo Courtesy of The Monolators Facebook

And what do you hope that your audience will take away from your music? 

Mary: Just having a good time. It’s really rewarding to be able to create music that makes you want to have a good time. That’s the whole thing. And even when you come to the show, we want our audience to have a good time and for us to have a good time up there. 

Eli: We want to put on a show. We don’t want to just stand there. We want to put on a big show and have it be an experience. We can’t compete in terms of being great musicians, but what we can do is we can try to put as much intensity into it as we possibly can.

Sometimes that’s all that really matters. I want to go to a show and not be bored, of course. 

Eli: Oh totally! We just want to put that energy out and hope that it’ll mean something to people. 

And to end us off, what other big and exciting things should we be expecting from you guys?

Eli: So I think in terms of playing shows, we’ve kind of settled on the idea of maybe playing once every six months. That’s enough for us right now or I guess that’s all we can really do.

Mary: That’s a good amount for us because I’m currently in school for computer science, and it’s just for me to not do a show during the semester. It ends up being Christmas break and then Summer break. And then we keep on going back and forth on whether we want to do another Monolators record or not. Still debating that one. 

Eli: I think I’m going to do another one of my little solo records and see how that goes. 

Well whatever it decides to come, I’m sure all of us will be excited and it’ll be welcomed with open arms! You can’t rush art, or should you. *laughs* 

Eli: Well, I think under ideal circumstances, I think it’s great to be pushed to be productive. It’s just that our lives are not at that point right now. If you had asked me, like, fifteen years ago about if you should, I’d say ‘You damn well should rush art because otherwise you’ll never finish it!’ *laughs* Now it’s just kind of like, we’ve got to do it when we can do it. 

Mary: Yeah. And the most important thing is to keep doing it, no matter how slow it is, you gotta keep doing it. 

Eli: You have to finish stuff. 

Mary: Oh yeah, you got to finish stuff, and if it’s really important to you, keep doing it! 

Words to live by! The perfect way for us to end!

Check out The Monolators on their Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify!

About Zweet Cafe:

Pinterest and coffee lovers have something to rejoice in the form of Zweet Cafe. A visually appealing blend of industrial and rustic elements are apparent from head to toe, with quirky touches from its giant coffee-themed chalkboard wall to colorful pillows and exterior paintings and topped off with a lovely aquarium being fun scene-stealers. It was clear by the amount of groups popping in and out of the shop that this was a neighborhood stop, and there is absolutely plenty of things to entice someone to want to see what the excitement is about.

Apart from their impressive amount of indoor and outdoor space, they’ve also got an impressive food and drink menu! A rotating food menu, so that means there is plenty of opportunity to get your fill of every recipe comprised of healthy, organic options and homemade ingredients, in which a majority can also be made as alternative gluten-free variation. Beverages include an array of organic loose-leaf teas, classic recipes, and a few hidden gems that’ll pique your interest. I chose to get an iced version of Steph’s Strawberry Mocha, which pretty much was a gloriously decadent liquid chocolate covered strawberry that I have zero shame in still having dreams about. Zweet has many amazing things that will without a doubt provide you with a positive experience. Don’t miss out on visiting this lovely gem next time you’r in Eagle Rock! 

Check out more about Zweet Cafe on their Website, Facebook, and Instagram.


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