Interview with Jim Hiltz, JH, Jeff Bober, JB and Steve Hancock, SH of Rhythm Surf Monkeys and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: How would you describe yourself as an artist or your band?
JH: 70’s guitar rock meets 80’s guitar rock. 130 beats per minute in your face, get your foot tapping and head bobbing kind of rock. New Classic Rock
JB: The best description for this band is probably ‘New Classic Rock”
SH: Melodic Rock and Roll
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background where you are from and how you came to make music?
JB: The band actually started out as a studio project. A place where our primary songwriter, Jim Hiltz, could bring in the best local people to record his music. The current live band is mostly made up of players from other successful local bands.
SH: From Baltimore. My Father encouraged it.
JH: Hail from Catonsville, Md originally, got educated on some great rock as a youth by my older siblings. Music came to me early but performing came late, I could play a little guitar but was asked if I had ever written any songs, I laughed. But somehow that question and the need to tell some stories has turned into 5 albums, playing with some very talented folks and appreciative of anyone who will give us a listen.
PD: Who inspires you to make music both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
JB: 3) Well, we’ve all heard “write what you know”, so there are definitely songs based on personal experience, but sometimes you want to write a short story, being a reflection of life, or just pure fantasy, so we do that too.
JH: I am inspired by the subject matter of our songs. There are still stories to tell and some are harder than others to tell, but you have to stay fresh. My one true musical influence I fell into on my own was Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band…Love all the hits, don’t get me wrong, but give me his Live Bullet CD any day of the week. That is a pure live rock album that still resonates with energy…I Like to write about things that matter in life. Regardless, no matter what happens in life, you have to move forward with kindness.
PD What are your aspirations as an artist?
JH: simply to watch someone dancing and singing to your music. Watch that connection happen live and see it pierce someone’s soul and be relatable
JB: 4) Regarding aspirations, we’d just like to get the music heard and appreciated… and having a song chosen for a soundtrack would be pretty cool too!
PD What is the proudest moment in your musical career?
JH: This CD, tSPeak No Evil, the perseverance it took to get it done. To put the work we did into it and change our line –up completely and still put out what we feel is our best work to date. This album was a lesson in moving forward for so many of us. At the end of the day it was mastered by a grammy winner and gold record producer. That’s just cool in my book!
JB: 5) Our proudest moment would be the release of our newest endeavor, titled “Speak No Evil”
SH: The music created on Speak No Evil
PD: How is your music going today?
JH: Music is a beautiful thing, folks are bonded by music and the fact so many artists can express themselves, good for you. How is it going? It is a second full time job, but there are avenues to get your music heard. The fact that people want to listen is just a blessing. Hometown radio stations don’t play their homegrown bands anymore, so we are making more and more friends through our music reaching indie stations and that is cool to watch grow, but it is fleeting because so many people can do it now. The market is saturated with tremendous music and talent, that sadly won’t get heard, I realize that, I am not writing music to be famous, I write it because it just comes out of me.
SH: When you have Gene Simmons in your band, I Mean Jim Hiltz, LOL, it’s great
PD How do you book and promote your live shows? Any upcoming shows.
JH: We are an original concert band in a largely cover band scene, so booking doesn’t come easy. We are a 90 minute to 2 hour concert band. We promote via social media. We have made in roads over the years. We just completed our CD release Show at Historic Club 66, We are Slated to play a Sunrise 9 Production coming up and The Maryland State Fair amongst some of our shows.
JB 7) Since just about everyone in the band is also in at least one other band or project, we’re really not looking to tour this release. We did just have a great CD release show and we do have a few more local shows this year.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? Streaming services like Spotify?
JH: I don’t download usually I have Alexa play me music. I don’t care for Spotify paying us .01 cents.
JB: I’m sure this is a touchy subject for all but a few uber-successful performers. We’ll leave it at that!
SH: Purchasing music online is great, streaming it, not so much.
PD: What song do you wish you had written and why?
JB: Wishing you’d written something that already exists is a futile waste of time and energy. The only thing you should wish is that you’ve not written your best song yet.
JH: I wish to write a song that would be as successful as the one I wish I wrote but didn’t LOL
SH: Jelly Fish Glutton of Sympathy, it is musical perfection
PD: Is there anything you do not like about the music scene? What would you change?
JB: I’ll refer you back to your question regarding streaming and downloading.
JH: I would like to see the tide change and see people discover new music, I would like to see rock return in its purest sense and maybe be a televised Grammy category again.
SH: Albums only be available to download
PD: So What are you working on at the moment?
JH: Marketing Marketing Marketing! LOL! There are some discussions about new music. But only kick the tires kind of thing It was suggested at our last show to make a live CD, but Our New CD, Speak No Evil, deserves to be heard and right now we are just trying to find a wider audience for that. But I always have a song in my back pocket.
JB: Since we just recently finished recording and releasing “Speak No Evil”, which tok the better part of two years, Thank You Covid, we’re currently just taking a break before the writing starts again.
SH: A Song titled “Different”. Speaks of how being different is awesome
PD: What can we learn from you and buy your merch online?
JH: When you look at our website, FB page, YouTube page, I hope everyone sees a quality, businesslike product, professional and well presented. I hope they see that they will be rocked and no apologies for that will be offered. Our merch is growing online on our website as we speak. www.rhythmsurfmonkeys.com FB search Rhythm Surf Monkeys and YouTube become a subscriber to Rhythm Surf Monkeys and see content released first.
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