Monks On Fire is a hard band to describe. They are like some weird mutant cross between Captain Beefheart at his most coherent, and Rush.
Ed Wrzesien, Dylan Foley and Ross Peterson all have played with each other in a few other bands before starting M.O.F. They found Michael Richter on craigslist and have been rocking out ever since. Their songs range from 3-to-10 minutes on average, traversing a vivid and dynamic soundscape. These guy’s are in love with the 1970s and they wear it on their sleeves like bleeding hearts.
There is nothing else quite like them in Missoula.
Dylan Foley: Drums
Ross Peterson: Bass/Vocals
Michael Richter: Guitar/Vocals
Ed Wrzesien: Keys
Origins of the Band:
Dylan: After we were done with our last band, At Home In The Cosmos, there was probably about two months where things were up in the air as far as how we were going to approach them.
Ed: I don’t even think we played for a couple of months because we didn’t have a place to play.
Ross: We had this craigslist guitar player that will remain unnamed, but he said one day, direct quote, “I don’t do that chord shit.”
Ed: I think it was at that point that I began advocating not even having a guitar player and just being a three piece.
Dylan: We found Michael (Richter), and really started to solidify a lot of our songwriting and the directions that we take.
Origin of the name:
Dylan: That was actually my ex. She had been reading a lot of books [by David Émile] Dirkheim and she just said on the off-shot: Why don’t you call yourselves Fire Monks, or Monks on Fire, and I thought that was pretty good, so we ran with it. Dirkheim was a sociologist and he said that there was something pretty messed up about a society when the monks are setting themselves on fire.
Desert Island Music Picks:
Ed: Dark Side of the Moon
Ross: I’d have to say Paranoid by Black Sabbath.
Dylan: Songs for the Woods by Jethro Tull.
Favorite Pizza Toppings:
Dylan: Yeah mushrooms.
Ed: I fucking hate mushrooms.
Ross: Artichoke hearts.
Ed: Ok, artichoke hearts.
Dylan: I hate artichoke hearts so we’re even. This band is over! I’d have to put some prosciutto on that bad boy.
Dylan: Yeah, bacon.
Preferred Beer Sponsor:
Dylan: I think we drink so much PBR we almost deserve it.
Ross: Yeah, but that’s like so Portland scene-ster.
Dylan: But it’s so good.
Ed: As I’m drinking a PBR….
Dylan: Ok, maybe one of those Montana micro-brews.
Ed: I’d have to say one of those European Abbey brews, so I could love it and not feel like my morals were compromised, like Hoegarten.
Dylan: Yeah, we’d take it.
Ross: Sure for free beer.
Favorite Cult Leader:
Ed: Who’s that woman we were watching last night?
Ross: Alexis K. Tyler.
Ed: Yeah, her.
Ross: Vagina power.
Dylan: Well, you know I definitely fall under the veins of like Gregory Matthers and Crowley. Those gents. I mean like Crowley would throw these parties and like defecate on a table in front of everyone-
Ed: And that’s why he was totally dismissed as a loon.
Dylan: Yeah, but think about seeing that, and like those people in the audience. Think about their week after that. He totally transgressed their minds for at least a week.
Ross: My favorite cult is Blue Oyster Cult.
Most Bizarre Show Experience:
Ross: I think our weirdest was at the VFW where an “un-named” band comprised of some elderly nameless individuals with a very large turn out played for like three hours. And then we got up on stage, and everyone left. And Michael was in a cow outfit for some reason, I don’t remember why. We start playing, and we were entirely out of tune, and we couldn’t figure out how to get back in tune, and we kept having to tune over and over again. The sound-guy was so drunk, and yeah. It was just weird, and Michael was wearing a cow outfit, and I was wearing a suit. We got all dressed up to suck.
Dylan: We love doing it, and we just want people to come out and see how much we put in to it.
Ross: I’d like to have some cool records to show for it, like things that will be cult classics in 30 years. Something some kid will find in a record store and be like, “Holy Shit, Monks On Fire! Nobody knows these guys.”
This article is part of a partnership between Green Room and Lee Banville's Online Journalism class at the University of Montana.