Monorchid’s debut, Let Them Eat…, is Chris Thomson’s album. Not that the music provided by the band is mere background, but the group’s wiry, staccato, stun-gun songs are dominated by Thomson’s Johnny Rotten/Mac McCaughan/Mark E. Smith snottiness. (On the new Diet for an Underdog 7-inch EP he even squeals, “Guitar!” before a solo and gets away with it.)
Since the string duties are handled by Chris Hamley and Andys Cone and Coronado, and the drums by Tom Allnut, Thomson is free to concentrate on his delivery. “I like working that way, because the voice becomes an instrument, too,” he says. “In [my previous band], Circus Lupus, the music wasn’t really direct and the vocals were something that tied up all the loose ends to the riffs. To a certain extent I think they work that way in Monorchid, too. [They] add a little direction.”
Many of the words Thomson spews seem to be reactions to his day job as a booker at the Black Cat. “I could see how someone would say that. I have general feelings about the music business and other bands just through being involved in music for a long time. Working at the Black Cat also provides some impressions of things, but I don’t think it provides most of the lyrics at all,” declares Thomson.
Yet he agrees that his lyrics are reactions to the local music scene. “I don’t necessarily want to point fingers, but it’s about getting my own frustrations out of the way about how music is going,” he admits. “I’ve been involved with music here for a long time, and at least when I was younger, having really strong feelings that I was involved in something important, when the last couple years things have fallen apart, and there’s not really that connectedness that there was. And there’s old bands who have gone on to make really big names for themselves and have forgotten where they came from.” Though Thomson doesn’t name names, I shudder to think who he’s talking about.
Let Them Eat…’s tracks scream for themselves. “Oral Fixation Anonymous” uses pedophilia as a metaphor for the behavior of jaded scenesters (“young Frankenstein[s]” and “anorexic vampires”), who Thomson sees as “sapping the energy of the young kids coming in” to the scene. “Controversial Trousers” asks, “Are you feeling controversial in your controversial trousers?,” “Southern Fried Wonton” declares, “I never was allergic to your impostor’s syndicate, but then I had a reaction to your campy diuretic,” and “Diet for an Underdog” is probably the most direct attack on the major-label cash floating into the scene. But now, Thomson sings, all those bands that toyed with the big time have to “say goodbye to the glamorous age, because dancers never wear their work clothes to bed…”Christopher Porter
Monorchid, with Thomson’s spazzy stage presence front and center, plays with Bis and the Cold Cold Hearts Friday, March 7, at the Black Cat.