Tripmaster Monkey Returns To Local Stage This Weekend
The group — guitarist and singer Jamie Toal, singer Chris Bernat, drummer Marty Reyhons, and bassist Wes Haas — was formed in 1987 by the then-teenaged core of the group and in 1993 was signed to major label Sire Records. The band’s debut EP, “Faster Than Dwight,” featured the minor hit “Present Tense,” which was included on the soundtrack to the Eric Stolz film “Naked In New York.” The EP also hit the top 20 indie charts in Britain and the group was featured on John Peel’s radio show.
In 1994, they released their first full-length album, “Goodbye Race,” produced by the then-hot indie duo Sean Slade and Paul Kolderie, known for their work with seminal acts Uncle Tupelo, Buffalo Tom and the Pixies. The disc likewise featured a minor hit, “Shutters Closed,” the video for which got airplay on MTV and showcased a number of Quad-Citians, including yours truly, during a shoot at the now-defunct Kimberly Pines skating rink.
In 1995 the band began recording its last major label disc, “Practice Changes,” in the Q-C with producer Pat Stolley at the helm. Coincidentally, part of the label advance from the group would go towards building the local studio and helping to establish Stolley, who would go on to team up with Sean Moeller to kickstart Daytrotter in the next decade, giving the area its next national recognition.
“Practice Changes” was released in 1996 to general critical acclaim but due to various business shakeups which caused the group to be chucked from Sire to Warner Bros. to Elektra Records and receive little to no help or promotion along the way, it was a commercial failure and caused the band to be dropped.
The group broke up shortly after, with Toal going on to move to Chicago and eventually Los Angeles, forming another critically-acclaimed band, Tenki; Haas moving to Portland to play in various musical acts; and Bernat to stay local to form Chrash and Reyhons to go on to become one of the most prolific and respected drummers in area music, playing with popular acts Einstein’s Sister, Jim The Mule, The Dawn and The Velies, among others.
The last time the group hit a local stage was at RIBCO five years ago to benefit longtime friend and “fifth Tripmaster member” Rob Cimmarusti, the producer of “Faster Than Dwight,” who has since passed away from complications due to cancer. The infrequency of the band’s reunions has little to do with any acrimony (they all remain friends) and everything to do with geography (Bernat and Reyhons remain local, but Haas is in Portland, Ore., and Toal in L.A.
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