In Music

John Hauser (second from left) is the sole current and founding member of The LoveMonkeys. (PHOTO: James Conway)

Milwaukee Talks: John Hauser of The LoveMonkeys

It has been 20 years since John Hauser and a few coworkers formed a band for what they thought would be a one-time-only performance at a company party. Two decades later, Hauser – along with a completely new lineup of musicians – plays more than 100 shows a year as The LoveMonkeys.

The current lineup is Hauser (vocals), Jason Koziol (drums, vocals), Nick Grider (bass, vocals), Daryl Muma (guitars, vocals), Carlos Adames (percussion), Andy Palen (guitars, vocals), Dave Adler (guest keyboardist) and JD Rankin' (guest vocalist).

Although the band plays five or six original songs every show, for the most part, The LoveMonkeys are a rock, reggae and country music cover band. This creates a lot of wide-ranging opinions, from devoted fans who love to hear familiar songs to "original" musicians who don't see cover bands as equals.

Hauser understands both sides of this and in this segment of Milwaukee Talks he provides thoughtful insight into the Milwaukee music scene and why cover bands are so popular in this town. So when did the band form? Other than you, is anyone who's currently in the band also an original member?

John Hauser: The band recently celebrated 20 years together, which requires us to facetiously follow up with "we actually started the band when we were 9 years old." I'm the sole original member but many of us have been performing together for 10 years or more.

OMC: So how did it all begin?

JH: The band originated as a group of co-workers who put together some entertainment for our company holiday party. Truth is, it was a young company, there was an open bar and somebody always said something or acted in a way that put them in the doghouse the following Monday morning. We just found a way to not be one of those individuals.

We pulled a selection of rare R&B Christmas songs from Paul Cebar's annual holiday show on WMSE and presented it for our fellow coworkers. Tim Sullivan, our company VP at the time, asked us to perform his wedding the following August. We almost turned the offer down as many of us were unsure if we wanted to commit to learning so much material for another "one-off" show. After much discussion and lineup tweaking, we made the decision to move ahead. That was in late 1991.

OMC: How has the band evolved over the years?

JH: I think the vision has remained the same over the years even though the members have not whereas we try to offer a different cup of tea. We've actually evolved into a more organic band over time.

OMC: Why do you think the LoveMonkeys remained popular all of these years?

JH: That's all subjective. I do feel, as a musician, that it's truly an honor and privilege to perform for people – especially during these difficult economic times. People don't choose to spend their time and money just anywhere. When I consider they are spending it with The LoveMonkeys, that's additional incentive to never mail it in. Our shows are extremely carefree and loose. We may be too loose at times.

OMC: How many gigs a year do you perform? Where are your favorite places to gig?

JH: With rehearsal and shows, we're definitely playing 100-plus nights per year with a busy summer festival season about to kick in. Our families are pretty gracious to us in regards to musical time. We've got some amazing shows in Dubuque, Madison, Milwaukee, Tosa and the Fox Valley. As much as we'd like to favor one, each gig has it's own special feel. Of course, Bastille Days is the first big local event we've ever performed so it's near and dear to our hearts. Summerfest is it's own monster. Every local musician dreams about playing that gig at some point and every Milwaukeean can relate to it. It kind of sets the bar and makes a band feel legitimate so it still feels quite special to us.

OMC: You were just in Jamaica. What were you doing there?

JH: Negril, Jamaica is my "go-to getaway" as I'm addicted to the atmosphere the island has to offer. I usually like to plan annual adventures to Negril to just hang out and deflate. No phones. No computers. No attachment to life back home. There's a great little beach front hotel I stay at named Coco La Palm which allows me to roam as I please, hang with the wonderful Jamaican people and practice my novice photography skills. My wife and I eloped in 2006 and were married beside the Negril Lighthouse. I've got several destinations on my bucket list but Jamaica keeps calling my name.

OMC: What music / musicians are you personally inspired by? What did you grow up listening to?

JH: Currently, I rarely listen to mainstream radio and usually have 88.9 and 91.7 on my dial as well as streaming radio out of New York and L.A..

Being raised on the three-minute pop song that AM radio had to offer back in the day, I still kick myself for letting my old K-Tel albums find their way out of my vinyl collection. I was fortunate enough to have older brothers and sisters who exposed me to so much rock a la the early FM days of WZMF and R&B/Motown that it's allowed me to be musically open minded. But tastes evolve and I found myself getting turned on to Joe Jackson, The English Beat and anything unique that had a great hook.

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