What do Twilight vampires do during the day? Play in rock bands, of course.
Twilight’s Jasper (aka Jackson Rathbone) is bringing his LA-based group 100 Monkeys to the Hard Rock Café on the Strip for two shows Jan. 30 — an all-ages noon gig and a 21-and-over 10 p.m. performance.
We caught up with singer Ben Graupner as the Monkeys barreled down the road out of San Louis Obispo, California.
Do you ever get sick of being cooped-up all day in the bus while you’ve been on tour?
We’ve found ourselves more often than not hanging out in the car in front of a hotel cause we like it in here. It’s like, Ben’s [Johnson] sitting behind me right now, he’s got the bass plugged into an amp so he can play, just jamming while you’re driving. It’s like a living room on wheels, and there’re monkeys everywhere because people keep giving us monkeys — everywhere you look there’s a monkey.
I hope you mean the stuffed kind...
Yeah we’ve yet to get a live monkey. I don’t think we’re responsible enough. Maybe we’ll start with a goldfish.
What’s the story behind the name 100 Monkeys?
Have you heard of the idea of the 100 monkeys affect before? The idea is basically that once a large enough group of people start doing something it spreads extremely fast to the rest of the people and becomes sort of common knowledge. That’s the way we sort of hope this takes off with people, where it inspires them to create their own artwork and do things like that. Once people get involved it’ll just spread like wildfire.
How would you describe a 100 Monkey’s live show in a couple words?
It’s a very humorous, interactive, rock show. It’s not just a bunch of people standing on stage you know? There’s giant stuffed animals and people coming dressed up as things, a dancing banana, people are having a really good time and people are shouting things and you’re turning it into songs, yeah that jumble of words right there.
You have a man in a banana costume that travels on the road with you, what’s his deal?
The Bananagment. He does just about everything from driving, to setting up equipment with us, to getting us out of jail. ... That was an exaggeration. Hopefully, that won’t happen.
Will he be making an appearance at the Vegas shows?
Oh yeah, definitely.
There are videos up on the band’s Web site of him doing interviews with other bands and fans outside of the various shows. Is that something you plan to have him do at every show you play?
Yeah, BananaVision is something we’re really trying to take off. Have you ever met Nardwuar or seen an interview with Nardwuar? He’s a Canadian music reviewer and we did an interview with him, and he’s just incredibly cool. He’s got his own style, and BananaVision is sort of being fashioned loosely after the way he does his interviews and trying to meet up with as many bands and kind of set something that we can record from every show.
You guys recently played here in town, how was that experience?
We played New Year’s Day. We were driving in New Year’s Eve and we almost got to do New Year’s twice, because of the time zone. But we pulled over and drank champagne at a truck stop, it was fun. … We were at the Beauty Bar last time and it was an absolute blast. … But I’m really looking forward to playing at Hard Rock because that’s down on the Strip, right? Pretty awesome.
Did you do any gambling?
Gambled one dollar last time I was there. Lost it pretty fast. [laughs.] I’m not much of a gambler. But honestly, just walking around Vegas is really nice, going and seeing all the lights and the fountains and the crazy people. I could wander around a casino and just look at what’s happening inside it all day long. Sort of feels like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or something, you know?
I have to ask the Twilight question: You guys were a band before the movies came out; have you noticed a big change in audience since?
There have been a lot of people who have come and seen our show because of that movie. It has been really fantastic. ... We met a family the other day that came out [because of] that kind of thing, and I thought it was cool that the kids — who I think were 9 and 12 — were listening to Grape, and they would read the liner notes and follow who’s playing the different instruments. They were identifying different bass lines and the different vocal parts and really digesting the music. ... Once people do start really appreciating it, that’s sort of the greatest honor you can get.
Last question: You named your album Grape - why not banana?
That’s why we named it Grape, so we could say, “Orange you glad we didn’t call it ‘Banana’?”


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