Say Goodbye To The Mono Men

Band architect Dave Crider will carry on with new combo.

Could it be that going out on top has become a certifiable artistic trend?

Jawbox recently hung up their guitar straps citing such considerations, and

the papers have been filled with stories about Jerry Seinfeld turning down

a behemoth salary in favor of keeping his integrity.

Now we get word that the Bellingham, Wash.'s Mono Men --

the greatest garage rock band of the '90s -- have decided to call it a day,

only a few months after the release of their hardest hitting album, Have A Nice Day,

Motherfucker. The band played

their final gigs in Chicago in December.

"Things have to move on," said guitarist and founder Dave Crider on

Tuesday. "It basically was time. When we started, we started to play for

beer. We never intended to do any of the things we did. And we said, when

it stopped being fun, we would stop. It was time to quit rather than drag

it out. We were happy with where we were, and the new album is really,

really good."

Crider has already formed an as-yet-unnamed successor band with Mono Men

drummer Aaron Roeder. Additional musicians for the group have not yet been

shored up, and the new combo has yet to go in the studio or perform live.

Still, Crider said he hopes to have a tour and a release set to go before the

end of 1998.

"It's not to a point where I'm talking about it yet," the guitarist said.

"But I'm more excited about playing than I ever have been. I don't know

how much the new band is going to be a stretch from what we've done before

-- but it is going to be a hell of a lot of fun."

One fan looking forward to the future rather than mourning the past is

Frank Kozik, owner of Man's Ruin Records and designer of several Mono Men

concert posters. "As far as I'm concerned as a music fan, there's a

million Mono Men records

and they're great and they'll always be great," Kozik said. "Now

Dave says he's working on a different approach to music, so how cool is

that?"

Crider and Roeder formed the Mono Men with guitarist John Mortensen and

bassist Ledge Mortensen 10 years ago, at the same time Crider was founding

Estrus Records. During their decade-long run, the band developed a

reputation as one of America's premier garage outfits, releasing nine

albums and a host of fiery singles, most on Estrus. On records such as

Sin & Tonic, Live at Tom's Strip n' Bowl and their most

recent release, Have A Nice Day, Motherfucker, the Mono Men wed their

love of greasy rock-riffs to an appreciation not only for garage and

proto-punk but also early psychedelic music and R&B as well.

Kozik gives Crider, the Mono Men and Estrus the lion's share of the credit

for kick-starting the garage-rock scene that exploded during the '90s.

"They are a major player in revitalizing post-punk music for older fucks

who wanted to go out," Kozik said. "They gave extended life to formerly

punk venues and fans, and they upped the quality of indie releases in terms

of style and design. A lot of graphic artists like myself and Coop and

Art Chantry did early work for Estrus. Dave did a good job popularizing

certain forms

of music and a whole aesthetic."

Now that the Mono Men have ended their run, the question that pops in the

minds of many fans is where the band found the fortitude to keep them from

packing it in sooner. A year ago this week, Estrus sustained a $300,000

loss when a warehouse full of mail-order stock and Mono Men equipment went

up in flames. Then John Mortensen left the band for the second time before the Mono Men

recorded Have A Nice Day, Motherfucker.

"They'd pretty much used up the trip," Kozik said. "Dave wants to try

different material with a different lineup. I don't see it as being

negative. Maybe the new material will be even more interesting 'cause it will

be different. If it's what they wanted to do and they'll keep doing

music, I can only say, 'Cool.' " [Tues., Jan. 13, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]