Emerging from the Cleveland music scene less than three years ago, the quartet of seasoned players brings a contemporary spin to melodic hard rock with progressive roots. With a symphonic sound that puts meat on the bones of the songs, the Krypton Monkeys produce the kind of music bands made 30 years ago that still gets airplay today.
Lead guitarist Ron Redfield conceived the band after playing on a couple of album tracks for progressive rock keyboardist/producer Erik Norlander of Asia. That inspired him to start going through the material he’d penned over the last 20 years “to see which songs I thought were worthy of doing something with but never got my attention.”
He put together a band to play a gig to take the material out for a spin, recruiting drummer Jim Dudash, keyboardist/vocalist John McLaughlin, and lead vocalist Bobby Huszar.
Something clicked. “After the gig, everybody said, ‘keep it going,’” Redfield recalls. So they did. All four members of the band are experienced veterans who’d known each other a long time, so they meshed quickly. Redfield played with popular Ohio cover band Quick, working in his own tunes when he could, before forming the all-original band Dreamstreet in the ’90s. McLaughlin and Dudash both played in a variety of groups from rock bands to touring lounge acts, honing their impressive chops. Huszar’s roots go back to when he fronted the popular band North River Street Rock Collection. He’s continued to perform over the years, both in rock bands and special occasion groups.
Once they’d decided to make the band an ongoing project, the next step was getting the music recorded. Redfield turned to former Clevelander Mike Farona, producer/engineer and owner of Middle-C Music Studios in Nashville.
“I would record basic tracks at SUMA [in Cleveland, Ohio], and I would send them to Mike in Nashville,” says Redfield. “We would communicate what I was looking for. We’d start with one mix and keep going until we had all the tracks done.”
The result is an album titled Crush, released in August 2013. It features ten tracks, including the two by Norlander that Redfield had played on and used on his own album with Norlander’s OK. Seven tunes were penned by Redfield, several in collaboration with McLaughlin. One track — the instrumental “Defenders Bain” — was written by McLaughlin.
Redfield describes the songs as “rock with a little twist of progressiveness in them.” The solid rhythm section ably supports the full-bodied keyboard textures and lush vocal harmonies, with Redfield’s forceful guitar leads giving the tunes some rock ’n’ roll bite.
“I’ve always been a Foreigner type of guy,” says Redfield. “That’s how I write. I would call it rock with a pop edge. I always make sure there are harmonies; I always make sure there’s a hook in every song. Through the vocals and keyboard textures, it’s melodic but it’s got hard-rocking guitar.” “Working with Erik opened another door to try another genre of music,” he adds, referring to the music’s progressive aura, like the embellishments that expand a pop tune like “Empty Eyes” to nearly seven minutes.