With one foot in Toledo and the other in Detroit, BadMonkey is ready to break out.
The pop-rock group has spent the last two years writing, recording, and producing its self-titled debut disc and will celebrate its release tonight with a concert at Mickey Finn's Pub.
Led by singer-songwriter-guitarist Rick Nease, a Toledo artist who works in Detroit, the quintet features Richard Lange on guitar, Bill Lenhart on drums, Jim Foltz on bass, and Dan Schroeder on keyboards.
Nease had played in several Toledo bands, including L.A. Rumor, Duo Rio, and the Brennans, but was working as a solo artist when BadMonkey sort of jumped up and bit him.
He took a demo disc of his songs to famed Harmony Park Studio in Detroit, where Anita Baker, Eminem, the Black Crowes, and Shawn “Puffy” Combs had done some recordings, and studio officials liked what they heard. They suggested Jason “Jay” Kuehn produce Nease's disc.
“I didn't have a band at the time and Jay wanted to hook me up with all kinds of players in Detroit,” Nease said. “I told him I didn't think I had to do that; there's some fantastic talent in Toledo and a lot of them are my friends.”
Nease approached Lenhart, a pal who was playing in the band Chaser.
“I said, `Let's put this project together. Help me out with it and see what happens. You'll get to go to a Detroit studio to record it, and we'll have some fun.'”
Things clicked and pretty soon the rest of Chaser joined Nease and Lenhart, leading to the birth of BadMonkey.
The 11 tunes on the disc offer a melodic mix of blues, rock, and pop, reflecting the stylistic diversity of Nease and company. BadMonkey has only played a few live shows up 'til now, including a spot on The Mitch Albom Show on Detroit's WJR-AM, but now that the disc is done, more concerts are planned.
“It didn't seem like anyone took us seriously until we had a CD,” Nease said.
“I think every musician, especially songwriters, would like to have the maximum number of people listening to your songs and hope they enjoy it and get something out it. This has been a dream of mine since I first started playing guitar.”
BadMonkey plays tonight at Mickey Finn's Pub, 602 Lagrange St., with Ron Nisch and Steve Mockensturm opening. Cover charge is $4.