Exciting news! We’re going to be in session on Marc Riley’s BBC 6Music show on Monday February 16th. Tune in to hear us play! Speak! Laugh!
Even at Amazon (but try your local record store first!)
“It’s more punk than you, punk. Forget about the other junk. It’s brilliantly realised and, in being brilliantly realised, it puts everything else in perspective. It makes Can sound like Can. It makes The Fall sound like The Fall. It makes The Monks sound like The Monks. It trips me trigger, butters me daisies and sends me out sniffing into the long grass in search of A GOOD TIME. ” Everett True, Collapseboard
Tuff Enuff Records
Review by Eddie Shaw (bass player with The Monks)
I may be the wrong person to convey my impressions about this album because I am surely biased. These songs have a personal significance to me, as the bass player for The Monks, and to see how someone else treats the material (the idea) and expresses it, was a distinct pleasure and joy. I thoroughly enjoyed the album that even looks a bit like the monks’ album. I couldn’t wait to hear it and when I did, I took notes to describe how each song sounded to me. Here they are, starting with Side A.
- Higgle-dy Piggle-dy – Awesome bass; I know that sound and Ye Nuns insist on all the cacophony and mayhem needed to play it – I like the guitar solo! It put a big smile on my face.
- Complication– sounds primitive, which is the way it is supposed to sound – and the energy is very hot – it’s moves. I like the slight off-loading of the organ solo. So this is how nuns do the liturgy! Great ending too.
- Boys Are Boys– moves fast. Again I like it! That’s a good speed! When I hear the guitar it seems to come out of nowhere and catches me off-guard – like it’s a different animal that crept into the song. Yeah, it’s organic!
- Wie Du– Okay we have a good idea here. I have not heard Ye Nuns texture of sounds performed like this by any other group. When the guitar solo comes, it gobbles everything up and I start laughing. Here, I had to check, to make sure the disc was not beginning to smoke or perhaps melt.
- Nun Time– This is the song that causes monks to fight with each other – when does the liturgical interpretation interfere with the spirit? The Vietnam War is over, but there was no problem here – It’s nun time. Debbie’s banjo keeps the head bobbing; and I didn’t know that nuns could be so sassy.
- Drunken Maria– as described by Nuns, tells me this is one tough group. Are the nuns and drunken Maria in the same room? It sounds like it and Maria is in troubbbbble! Again, it put a smile on my face.
- Pretty Suzanne– has a whole different face. A bit of angst – the second go around is interesting – stop and start – it’s good to hear a group put their own mark on songs. And I liked the vocal progression that is different from the original. I don’t like to hear the same sounds over and over and this song – could be one of my favorites – it gives me a whole new impression about the tune and I like to hear how other people interpret messages – something happened when it ended – as if what the hell? Again, it impressed me.
- I Hate You– Short scratching noises on the lead guitar indicate an underlying festering; or tension. Of course it’s that kind of a love song. The vocals ring true. The bass has a very rough voice and it gives a solid underpinning to the sound. I know this song and I like it when the bass wanders off into its own part of the woods. The feedback is a cry of pain followed by an angry but loving sound.
- Oh How To Do– I like the up-tempo pace – and when the lead vocalist sang “I’ve been gone for a long, long time” – for a split second I thought it was Gary. Solid! All these songs make me smile. It’s fun! It’s like eating fast and chewing hard. Take another bite, drink, bite, chew, throw things, and push everyone out of the room.
- Cuckoo – Who’s got it? A voice from inside the closet wants to know, and I suspect this voice does know who’s got it. I like it spoken like that – clunky with interesting instrumental harmony. I can’t find anything wrong with it. That voice in the closet has my cuckoo. I know it!
- Love Came Tumblin’ Down– Interesting beginning. At first I could not think of the title. This sounds more like some song the monks tried to describe, only to have the nuns tell them, “Get out of the way, guys! This is the way it really goes.”
- That’s My Girl– Some outspoken person just came into the room and is making sarcastic remarks about my girl. That’s my girl! Good tempo. I’m trying to hustle my girl out of there. No, no! That’s my girl. You can’t have my girl!
- Shut Up– Be a liar everywhere and – above all – don’t cry. It is my personal favorite of the original Monk songs. In this version the organ has a scary sound – like it could be the soundtrack of a horror film. The guitar solo is tattered and rough, just like it is supposed to be.
This was fun – I laughed and pranced throughout the whole album. It is such an honor to be able to have a fun part in this opera inside the cloister. Thank you, Ye Nuns!
Tuff Enuff Records have now sold out of our album, Nun More Black, on vinyl but the last remaining copies will be on sale at Nuns gigs and the the following on-line shops still have a small number of copies:
No Hit Records (UK)
Soundflat Records (Germany)
and for those in the London area, in person from
Sounds that Swing,
88 Parkway, London, NW1 7AN
There will be a CD of the album available from February
“Ye Nuns were ace! “- The Spectator
“All female Monks tribute band Ye Nuns are fantastic. Way better than any obsolescent nu-garage rock revolution group I’ve ever seen.” The Quietus
“Ye Nuns serve every note fresh, inspired, urgent and excitable. Not one stitch dropped.” LouderThanWar
“It is a show, a splash of bold in a cold, cruel world; a place you grin with strangers; wriggle hips and twist like someone’s Dad at a wedding. And the reason hipsters allow themselves this uncharacteristic behaviour is this: the music is fine, bad ass garage rock and roll, played with flair, experience and total confidence, and with unexpected psychedelic twists and turns (‘Monk Time’, ‘Complication’), or delicious punk tantrums (‘Cuckoo’, ‘Shut Up’).” The Girls Are
Reviews of Nun More Black
“It’s more punk than you, punk. Forget about the other junk. It’s brilliantly realised and, in being brilliantly realised, it puts everything else in perspective. It makes Can sound like Can. It makes The Fall sound like The Fall. It makes The Monks sound like The Monks. It trips me trigger, butters me daisies and sends me out sniffing into the long grass in search of A GOOD TIME. ” Everett True,Collapseboard
“If you buy one record by a tribute band this lifetime, best make it this one eh?” Kev Nickells Freq
“You should already know the songs; the Nuns bless them with a fiery passion and electric mayhem, and even an anarchic riot grrrl sassiness. They’re not real nuns, but this record is an honest-to-god miracle.” SoundsXP
“Okay, this ain’t as riot crude as Pussy Galore’s-Exile-On-Main-Street-as executed-by-the-Ronettes as we’d hoped, but it’s a great stab all the same: guitars are buzzing and the snare crackles. Nice bottom end fuzz everywhere too, especially where it counts (like on ”I Hate You”)”Fuckinrecordreviews
On Seeing Ye Nuns perform at Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden Town
By Eddie Shaw (bass player for the Monks)
As explained by our taxi driver, the nightclub, Fiddler’s Elbow, is located in a district that contains a number of rock and roll clubs. As he drove us there, he pointed out a couple of the clubs, along the way, before dropping us off. When we entered the club, I told the man, taking tickets at the front door that I was on the guest list. We were there to see a female rock group who performed covers of the Monks. For the record, I was the bass player and co-songwriter in this group that recorded with Polydor Records in the 1960s.
And now, approximately forty-seven years later, here I will see and hear a group, called Ye Nuns, who play the same songs we monks had written and recorded. In order to explain how any dedicated order works – It’s interesting to reflect on how one gets to become a monk – or a nun. In some cases – or according to Buddist practice; there are three stages or steps to achieve ordination. The initial stage is to reduce attachments toward life. The second stage is the elimination of desire and attachment to this samsara or cycle of life. And then in the third state, self-cherishing is eliminated.
But wait a minute! I was not in that kind of order. No! I belonged to a group of monks who played pre-punk music, pounding drums and banjos on stage. We were arses and elbows on our way down to heaven, if you know what I mean. It’s a serious business because becoming a monk or nun is a meaningful and worthwhile way to spend your life and to be of benefit to others – especially those who have the sentiments – Be a liar everywhere. Shut up! Don’t cry!
I know this – and being the kind of monks and, in this case, nuns that we are, I know very well that self-cherishing is a very important factor of this brother/sisterhood. Yes, tonight I was going to watch and listen to the sisterhood.
The big guy at the front door of Fiddler’s Green looked up my name on the guest list. When he found it, he stamped the mark of belonging on my wrist and the wrist of my wife. The place was packed, while a group of young performers performed onstage, pounding out loud rock music and people crowded around the stage, bobbing their heads and moving with the rhythm. As soon as Sherrie and I entered the club, someone recognized us and led us downstairs to the nuns’ dressing room, where they were getting ready to do their performance.
“Hi Eddie!” Enthusiastic females jumped up to give hugs, and introductions were made all around the room. In the hubbub, my voice had become weak from a suddenly acquired cold. I could only speak with a rasp, so I did my best to make it sound intentional.
Taking in the scene, I sensed that my appearance might be an important endorsement to these girls – an original monk showing up at their gig, to give benediction. It made me feel like I had been promoted to bishophood. And as the girls were finally ready for the stage, I was shocked when I glanced at one of them – suddenly startled, as if I were looking at a nun from the convent. My reaction to the image was automatic. When Delia Sparrow returned my gaze, I felt the impulse to look down and avoid direct eye contact. It’s not good to be impertinent in such company – but common sense returned. She is one of us! That’s what I told myself, in order to regain my composure and smile at her.
Ye Nuns mounted the stage and the audience cheered. Their first song was Monk Time, just as it would be if the monks were playing the concert. “Why do you kill all those kids in Vietnam. I’m a monk. You’re a monk. We’re all monks! “
Normally Andrea Croce would be playing the organ, but even as she was in the audience, she had the seventh nun, Charley Stone, doing her part on this night. Lolo Woods sang the vocals and she did it as a nun possessed by the powers of total pursuasian. Her vocals convinced me! Delia Sparrow played the guitar with chaotic enthusiasm. At times she would raise her eyes to the ceiling as if waiting for a blessing from a leering rock god – as if she were the subject of a fourteenth century painter. Debbie Greensmith sat in the back pounding on the drums. She was solid and forthright – no dabbling around with rhythmetic dogmas. She beats! Debbie Smith pummeled the banjo – and I might add, I think she did as good a job (or even better) that any original Monk – forgive me brothers for being so honest; I know a competent monk is supposed to lie at least once a day. Everyone does, you know. And as a monk bass player, I watched in astonishment while Kate Hodges demonstrated a nun’s obssession with hell’s own bass. It was no dream!
And I was surrounded, of course, by their most dedicated supporters – the people in the audience as well as Ian Greensmith (husband of a nun) and Geoff, Ye Nuns driver and roadie.
Monks and Nuns believe everything is possible. They give everything and they demand everything. Here on this stage, every song Ye Nuns played was a Monks song – as if we Monks might be doing it. I knew the routine, and it felt odd to be standing there in front of the stage, lookiing at these girls dressed in black and white habits, pounding out songs I performed many years ago. When they performed I Hate You But Call Me, the audience sang the lyrics along with the performers. In contrast: When we played it, in 1966, people became angry and in some towns, even attacked the stage. I did try to describe this, later, to someone who asked me what I thought about the performance – and how it was different now.
“People didn’t respond like this, except maybe in Hamburg,” I responded. I felt a rush of emotion and fought to avoid an unexpected display of affection (I think that’s what it was) – perhaps failing just a bit. I was trying to act cool, trying to show no emotion. Looking around, standing in the middle of the crowd, I often glimpsed some person pointing a camera at me, between people, taking snapshots of my behavior and expressions. Yes, it was a Monks concert at a different time and in a different place. I was absorbed and astounded.
Standing next to me was Austin Vince and his wife, Lois Pryce. Austin was the M.C. who introduced the Monks in our first reunion performance, in 1999, in New York’s Westbeth Theater. Beside being an M.C. for rock concerts, Austin is known for his long distance, motorcycle expeditions: twice round the world as part of the Mondo Enduro and Terra Circa trips; both adventures were produced as TV documentaries. In fact, he was featured in this month’s English motorcycle magazine, Bike. In it was an article about his and six other motorcyclists’ adventures on an expedition from Spain, down through the Sahara Desert. And here he is, now, standing next to me, singing along with Ye Nuns – “Higgle-dy Piggle-dy. Way down to heaven! Yeah!”
His wife, Lois Pryce stood behind me. She is a pretty, enthusiastic, and humorous woman. She is also noteworthy; having written a couple of world-wide published books regarding her own global adventures on a motorcycle. And not only that, she is a journalist who appears on a program about motorcycle adventure on BBC. Like everyone else, in the room, here we all were, bobbing our heads and shouting “Shut Up! Don’t Cry!”
And in the crowd with us, stood my lovely redheaded wife, Sherrie. She was laughing, singing, dancing and having a good time. We were happy!
And all the while – I was on a yellow brick road journey returning to – and going through a past I remember well. Here I was – listening to the songs I helped write; the spirit still alive as the Eucharist continued to be performed in a twenty-first century translation.
When Ye Nuns finished their last song, Sherrie nudged me, prompting me to get up onstage and take a bow with them. I jumped up on stage. My voice was gone, so I silently made the sign of the cross or some absurd imitation of it. It didn’t make any sense, but a few people did laugh. And the nuns all lined up on both sides of me while the crowd cheered and we all took a deep bow. After all – a monk or a nun carries a deep responsibility for oneself and for others. It’s all there, the show, the responsibility – the important songs like, “Who’s Got My Cuckoo?”
“It’s you hoo!”
And believe me – It was you, you! Ye Nuns who!
And after that, we all ran back down to the dressing room where we happily talked and compared notes about the required irresponsibilities of monks and nuns.
A final note: If any monk, nun, or communion partaker should get offended by my remarks – shut up and don’t cry – and don’t get your panties in a wad. We’re all monks! I don’t know anyone who is perfect, but this evening was as perfect as it gets.
“All female Monks tribute band Ye Nuns are fantastic. Way better than any obsolescent nu-garage rock revolution group I’ve ever seen.” The Quietus
On paper, Ye Nuns are a tribute band. An all-girl celebration of The Monks, proto-krautrock garage punkers formed by a gang of American GIs stationed in Germany who legendarily sported tonsures and nooses on stage. But Ye Nuns are more than a tribute band.
Formed by seven London ladies in 2006, Ye Nuns send witchy, six-part harmonies crashing over scratchy guitars, layer on evil fuzz bass and add pounding drums. Lead vocals screech and soar. Electric banjo hacks relentlessly. Vintage keyboard sounds stab. Yet it’s still music that puts grins on faces and gets feet moving.
In an arena where youth is often prized above talent, a band of seven women north of 40 is virtually unprecedented. Their experience and assured poise shines through on stage. There’s no need for faux-sexy posing or cute apologetic stylings. Members’ other bands include Curve, Mambo Taxi, Thee Headcoatees, Gay Dad, The A-Lines, Echobelly, Joanne Joanne, The Phantom Pregnancies and The Priscillas to name about one tenth.
Debut album Nun More Black grinds, grooves and assaults. Recorded in two days flat on old-fashioned tape at Gizzard studios, there are proper tunes, moments of astonishing avant-garde sonic assault and lashings of righteous ire. Which you can dance to. Again, Ye Nuns are more than a tribute band.
“I love watching Ye Nuns! It was fun watching you guys do this! I love Ye Nuns!” Eddie Shaw (original member of The Monks)
“Conceptually, it’s perfect: an all-female tribute band who play the songs of The Monks while dressed as nuns.” Stool Pigeon
“The music has a simple, visceral effect delivered with such joy that the crowd in the packed tent are in motion from the first banjo twang to the last organ parp. The Monks’ warped genius has passed by musical osmosis to this unholy sisterhood.” SoundsXP
“Bad ass garage rock and roll, played with flair, experience and total confidence, and with unexpected psychedelic twists and turns.” TheGirlsAre.com
Our album, Nun More Black, is out now on Tuff Enuff Records. Buy it on delicious vinyl here. Or buy it from your nearest good record shop.