Meet monkeybeau // Jonathan Jeremiah
Upon finishing university, this Brit boy decided to become a graphic designer, working for magazines such as Men’s Health before quitting his job for a career in music. He now tours the world, playing gigs in front of 20.000 people. While calling himself a reserved Englishman, Mr Jeremiah doesn’ t fail to surprise…
You seem to be having some tour – bus crash, getting stuck in an elevator….what else is to come?
The trouble starts the minute you get eight musicians together on a tour bus having spent the previous twelve months penned up in the studio. Throw in the fact we have a bus that is wider than a lot of Europe’s streets, that’s where the crashes begin, the police being involved, the twelve hour binge drinking and then, press repeat. Still, it beats being in an office for us.
All that jazz – which city offers the best party after a gig?
Cologne stands out. Waking up outside the Kulturkirche to find out the showers and backstage area are in a kid’s nursery, well, it was always going to be a different kind of day. It’s always great to sell out a show so when you throw in the whole audience dancing in the pews of the church it makes it extra special. After that, I really wanted to take the band out so we found a loud, dirty trance club in an old derelict building, kind of something taken from an old Max Mad movie, and overlooking a twelve floor brothel next door. By the end of that night, us reserved Englishmen were all dancing around each other needing the guy beside us to prop us up. But hey, that’s Wednesday night in Cologne. Imagine a Friday.
Are you playing any festivals this year?
I just always preferred the more intimate gigs, but hey, when Pinkpop called up I couldn’t say no: 20,000 people in the sun singing your words back to you is quite a high.
When did you start playing music and what was your breakthrough moment?
At school I had the option of learning a language or a musical instrument. My two older sisters chose French so I guess I wanted to be different.
If you hadn’t become a musician, what would you be doing now?
I used to design magazines when I left University. Growing up I was always into the style and the music of the sixties and so was naturally drawn to its graphic design. But it never grabbed me in the same way as playing music. I remember I was working at Mens Health magazine one morning, a four page swimming trunks feature and then receiving a phone call that I had been offered a major recording deal. I quit the freelance job that afternoon and I never did see that issue of the mag.
What does a normal day in your life look like?
I work from 8pm through to about 3am most evenings. I’ve just always been more productive at night. Like an owl. Or a bat. There’s something that happens to me when flicking through the TV channels and finding an old Burt Reynolds movie on Channel 5 that just messes with my mind, in a good way.
And while in tour?
On tour it’s a random as random can be. I’d always look to find a radio station on the morning of the show as it gets me out and I guess I like the idea of meeting the DJs and other that are as obsessed with music as I.
If you were to write a song about monkeys, how would it start?
The first line of the song is the toughest line to write and can often be the last line I write.
What would the chorus be?
My mind keeps taking me to George Michael lyrics when I visualize monkeys “Dont look now there’s a monkey on your back”.
What’s your favourite on stage attire?
I have a different belt for every album, kind of like how a super hero might change something up every new series. Wonderwoman, series 3 with the all-in-one underwater outfit. Spiderman 3 with the black latex. Every album requires a new introduction. Like of like Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2, but made from leather.
You live in London, what are your top hangouts there?
Walking the dog in the local parks, rehearsing in the studios down Hackney Road, recording records in Hornsey and Dollis Hill.
Which are your favourite musicians and why?
The list would change weekly. Last night I was obsessing over early Guns N Roses, the night before was Sinatra. I fire in multiple directions.
If you could meet someone dead or alive, who would that be and why?
Today I would opt for John Barry, the guy that wrote the James Bond music and Midnight Cowboy soundtrack. He wrote in a style that was so unique I’d have a hatful of questions for him.
If you were to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
I couldn’t because I have memories of having to answer that at a job interview once. I was stumped then and I am stumped now.
What was the last thing you dreamt?
Normally dark, anxious nonsense. Running with no shoes, no t-shirt and no superhero belt.
What is the weirdest thing a fan ever did?
Buy me a mango. Every gig.
Music-wise, what can we expect for next year?
A slight departure from where I have been before. I feel like exploring a little more and finding out where I could go.
Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
Asking you for a job.