Formed in early 2014, The Drunk Monkeys are out to subvert expectations. “Always Wasted,” the title of the single from their debut eponymous album (out May 29), might conjure up imagery of wild, debaucherous nights. In reality, the picture is broader, and the protagonist, more gently tormented.

“Each verse of the song is told from the perspective of a young kid, an adolescent, and an adult respectively,” reveals Joe Froeber, guitarist/vocalist. “The chorus line, ‘I’ll be just fine’ is something I think we all tell ourselves at any age, but as we get older we may start believing ourselves a little less. There’s truth in that line, but there’s also a lot of doubt.”

Self-doubt is at the center of The Drunk Monkey’s album, bubbled up from mistakes made. Mistreating his girlfriend and subsequently breaking up with her and devolving into a “drunken mess,” Froeber channeled his regret and anger into his music. “It was dealing with a deep sadness I knew I deserved and wrestling with the fact that I would never get closure or forgiveness,” he says.

Froeber, a trained composer, has experimented with different lineups in that time, swapping players in and out before assembling his current lineup (James Clark, Bass, Electronics; Joe Froeber, Vocals, Guitar; Alec Hutson, Saxophone; Jennifer Landi, Vocals; Eddie Scarsella, Drums). But while Froeber’s barrel of drunk monkeys has changed over time, it’s his writing that links one song to the next. “There are times I’ve worked on lyrics for years until I get them right,” says Froeber. “The same goes for the compositional aspects of these songs. I like to let them cook. The band writes their parts, but I construct the skeletons.”

The melodies in “Always Wasted” hang on the exact pin you’d want them. The sax snakes through the song, the backup vocals (Jennifer Landi) fizz lightly behind the verses. “A friend of mine described our music as having an urban melancholy quality,” says Froeber. “We’re raw, navigating through a crisp haze, and not concerned with filling up a lot of space with our parts.”

That lean sound comes from how candid the bandmates are with each other when they’re writing songs.

“We’re always relentlessly seeking vividness when we’re composing, and we’re brutally honest with each other’s musical input. Bad songs are the enemy, not the band members. We live that.”

Catch The Drunk Monkeys play live at Thunder Road on Tuesday, May 29th, 2018. 

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