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Pinmonkey drives on

By Jeffrey B. Remz, November 2002

Page 3...

Schell, who toured with Chris Knight, Allison Moorer and Steve Earle, was at first paid by the band to play.

But he liked the way things were going and said he'd play when he was in town. After the second gig, Schell asked about taking the high harmony over Reynolds. "They laughed at me," he says. "But they all knew that there was something there."

Schell's connections hooked up Pinmonkey with management and labels. Rick Alter managed the band and took recordings to friends at labels to gain their pulse. "That started the buzz around the industry," Schell says.

They played in town about once or twice a month in between everyone's schedules. "Everything kind of started steamrolling," says Reynolds, adding, "We sat down to lunch one day and said, 'are we going to do this?'"

"We all realized everybody was making a good living on their own," he says. "We knew we had to give that up and make a sacrifice."

Galante eventually checked out the band at the 12th & Porter Club and offered them a contract a few days later.

As for the name, a few years before, a friend who did booking at a Nashville club said they needed to pick a name to get on an advertisement. At the time, Reynolds was watching The Simpsons. Homer's big ambition was to get a job at bowling alley setting the pins. Thus, the name Pinmonkey.

"One of the first things Joe Galante said us was, 'boys I love the name. That was the number one indication we were in the right place. We were surprised. We expected to go through a big thing about changing the name and never did."

"We were different," says Reynolds. "We had realized even at that point that the name got us attention. People remembered it."

At a Country Radio Seminar gathering this past winter, the band did a showcase for the radio industry. "Joe Galante had expected to hear criticism about the name," Reynolds says. "He said not one person criticized our name to him."

Shortly after that, Pinmonkey also proved unique by releasing their own album, "Speak No Evil" on their own and with the label's blessing. The band wanted to tour and without any music behind them, it would have proven more difficult.

The disc mines the same musical turf with only Gwil Owen's "Augusta" repeated for the major label disc. They recorded everything from the Carter's "Lonesome Pine Special" to Joy Lynn White and Duane Jarvis' "Love Sometimes."

"When we started the band, we were just doing it for fun literally," says Reynolds. "Just doing it for our own artistic outlet. We had no...mold. We weren't trying to create any sound or format. We just got together and threw all of our influences into the pot and mixed it all up. Our music came out the way it came out. There's a little bit of everything in there. Whether people classify it as bluegrass or country rock, it all depends what the person hearing latches onto...I have an ear that's bent to bluegrass, so I hear a lot of bluegrass."

Not all has gone so well for Pinmonkey.

Back in mid-April, the band was on a radio promotional tour to excite programmers about their music in the hopes they would play their music. "Barbed Wire and Roses" was released the previous day as the band's first single.

While the band was at their hotel in South Carolina, their tour bus caught fire with Michael Jeffers aboard making coffee. Jeffers got off the bus without any problem.

"There was no danger," says Schell, adding, "It could have been a lot worse. We lost stuff."

"We had a lot of stage clothes I personally bought all over the world," says Schell. "Standing in the parking lot watching it go up was surreal."

"We didn't miss a beat," says Schell. "We had another bus there at 7 a.m. the next morning."

Pinmonkey certainly is on a different path than they were a year ago.

"As 'Barbed Wire' was getting played more and more and more, we were seeing the groundswell in the audience," says Schell. "We were a little surprised. We're more than surprised. We're grateful that it's working the way we were confident it would."

Reynolds says he has "very very little time to think about all of that, but every now and then, it'll hit us at odd little moments. You'll finally be home washing your laundry going to leave the next day and right in the rinse cycle, it hits you - look at what's happened. We all in the band have great work ethic. We knew going into this, this is about work. It isn't about living the glamorous life at work. The other three guys had toured so much, they understood what the road was about. I had to learn quick. I had never been in a band or toured with anybody else. I made my adjustments and got used to us...If this is as hard as ever gets, I'll do okay. I understand it's hard work. That's what we're here for."

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