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Pinmonkey puts 'big shiny cars' to the test

By Dan MacIntosh, March 2006

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Its "Pinmonkey Junkie" fans have played a similar role in keeping this enthusiasm alive and well in between full-length recordings.

"I have been saying for months now that if it weren't for the Pinmonkey Junkies, we probably would not still be around," Reynolds explains. "We took several hard blows this past year, to year and a half. And it's been very hard."

"And there were a lot of times where it just would have been easier to stop and walk away, just do something else now. But the passion of our Pinmonkey Junkies that were, you know, on our fan forum every day, even during the slowest times, they were coming on there talking about waiting for the new music and waiting to see us again playing live. And when we would go on-line and read the forum and see that enthusiasm just day after day that would never wane, it really gave us a sense that now would be the wrong time to stop. There are people out there that do love this music; that still want to hear it. They really are the reason we're still here."

Indeed, this act attracts some special fans, which have varying tastes in music.

"Our fans are pretty hardcore about us, but otherwise they're really kind of across the board," Reynolds explains. "We have fans that are diehard country fans. We have fans that aren't particularly fans of country music at all, but love us. We have fans that are more entrenched in the bluegrass world, who still gravitate to our music because of the bluegrass influences in it. Not that it's full-on bluegrass music, but there's definitely bluegrass influences there."

Some of the group's other "tough blows," if you will, involved a few personnel changes. This transformation has also meant the addition of a little new blood to the lineup.

In addition to Reynolds, Michael Jeffers, the bass player, is still in the band.

But Mike Crouch replaced Rick Schell on drums about two years ago. And Michael's brother, Chad, who played guitar and mandolin, is gone also.

Crouch "was just an immediate great fit. It's actually the three of us that comprise the band right now. But Mike Adams, who used to play with Steve Earle and Mary Chapin Carpenter, has stepped in and started playing guitar for us and has been filling that niche for us quite well. He's been going on the road with us."

The group may be happy to finally have new music out again and a stable lineup, but it sure sounds sad much of the time when performing these latest songs. Broken relationships are addressed with tracks like "Coldest Fire in Town," for instance, while the struggle to keep up a positive attitude - against difficult odds - comes through loud and clear during a cover of Dolly Parton's "Down."

"That's because there are a lot more of my songs," Reynolds jokes, when asked about the high sadness content on this disc.

"That wasn't really in our thought process - if we were going to record a happy album or a sad album. Looking back, it makes me wonder how much of our circumstances and what we were going through at the time lent itself to the songs we gravitated to."

Country radio, in order to be true to country music roots, simply needs to play such sad songs.

"That's one of the things that kind of really got on my nerves is that nobody would put out a sad song," Reynolds complains. "A couple of years ago, every song on the radio had to be positive, had to be upbeat. Even if you were telling a sad story, there had to be some uplifting message at the end. That always bothered me because I think people gravitate to sad songs when they're going through things in their life. They go to those songs, because they find the songs that express what they're feeling at that moment."

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