The First Release
Monkey Killer Records is what could be described as a boutique record label. Only interested in releasing vinyl and only releasing interesting underground bands from New Zealand, it is apparent that there is a only going to be a limited scope for sales, but the people that are the intended customers are those that themselves are committed to the process of producing and enjoying musical artefacts, and that is good enough.
The original idea for Monkey Killer Records was to be a 7” singles club, much like Sub Pop and Too Pure are running except, by necessity, on a smaller scale. The intention was to gather four New Zealand bands in Dunedin to record in the same location over a four day period to reduce costs, then release each band on their own 7” at three month intervals, hopefully to a significant core of subscribers. However the logistics involved, the painful reality of the amount of time and money that an effectively part time operation would need just to try and recover costs, and a lack of enthusiasm from a few quarters meant the idea was shelved.
Luckily, soon after that in December 2007 Onanon recorded their second long player off their own bat with their own money at Dunedin’s Albany Street studios, recording an impressive fourteen complete songs in two days. Their long term collaborator in sound engineering, Tom Bell, particularly excelled himself on the recording front, and with the band producing their best recorded performances to date on a variety of songs, whose gestation covered the range from years old to weeks old, the opportunity to do something different with the release was gladly taken up by the band. Simultaneously an old friend of the band was working on a remix version of Possibilities, a song originally released on the Sneepy EP. This remix was to make up the final track on the album, and continue a tradition of weird surprises at the conclusion of any Onanon release.
Onanon have released the CD version of Home Baking themselves on their own label, Madfishwish. They kindly offered to finance extra CDs that could be sold with each copy of the vinyl version, in order to make the purchase even more attractive.
The Mountaineater record was just as fortuitous, having just recorded with Dale Cotton they were up for putting out two of the songs as an introduction to the band before heading off on a tour of New Zealand. Given the lineage from High Dependency Unit, there was a healthy interest in the new band and sales were brisk, to say the least.
The inspiration for the name of Monkey Killer Records comes from the first band the label owner was in, a band called Monkey Knife Fight that existed in 2002 and 2003. That band gleaned its name from an episode of The Simpsons, and with a signature tune by the name of Monkey Man Loose in Port Chalmers a theme was starting to develop. In a similar fashion, Monkey Killer Records is a slightly oblique reference to an episode of Flight of the Conchords, as well as being deliberately ambiguous. The stark monkey logo was a creation of Donald Ferns, singer/guitarist/song writer in Onanon, and was culled from a poster he created advertising a joint Monkey Knife Fight and Onanon gig many years ago.
Given the history that the label owner shares with Onanon, it was a natural process that lead to them being the first release, and an enjoyable process at that. Advice was sought from other vinyl releasing labels in New Zealand, and the received wisdom from both Midium Records and the Kingsland Vinyl Association Society made the problems of tracking down pressing plants and getting ideas for distribution a lot simpler to solve.
For those interested, the first two records were pressed at the Vinyl Factory in Sydney, Australia. They were extremely professional to deal with and conducted themselves in such a manner as to give their customers full confidence. Whilst not the cheapest cost, they are probably the closest to New Zealand, have no minimum run, get their masters cut at Abbey Road in England and delivery of the final product is (unbelievably) overnight.
Monkey Killer Records is based in Dunedin, New Zealand, and has the aim of making some great recordings from incredible bands available on vinyl. Where once Dunedin was the spiritual home to Flying Nun and the actual home to Xpressway (well, Port Chalmers was the home of Xpressway, to be more accurate), Monkey Killer Records hopes to evoke shades of those charming institutions, but probably on a smaller scale.