Behind the scenes with Flash Monkey
The life and times of a fledgling Durango band

Tyson Writtenmeyer and Mitch Blystone ferry instruments and amplifiers across College Avenue prior to the first solo Flash Monkey show on Oct. 10./Photo by Ole Bye

Flash Monkey includes: Mitch “Rhythm Sideburns” Blystone (bass), Jason “Hollywood Jay” Kearney (keyboards), Charlie “Chaz McFlash” Raish (vocals), Ryan “The Black Noodle” Shriver (drums), and Tyson “Lead Sideburns” Writtenmeyer (guitar). This story is excerpted from Flash Monkey interviews conducted over the past month, between rehearsals and shows.

Bassist Mitch Blystone in The Summit./Photo
by Ole Bye.

Somebody describe your music.

Jason: I’d say we try to hit off every different thing possible. A lot of funk and jazz incorporated as far as the sound and the texture. Basically we’re just trying to rock every house we come to.

Tyson: It’s like ultra-sexual revival funk.

Jason: It’s music that makes you want to shake your ass.

When did you guys form?

Jason: In May we got together. (The first time we played publicly) was at Steamworks, in June. We opened for Freewill Recovery. We had a really good respone, too.

How do you write your songs?

Jason: I just mess around. I get things in my head, when I’m in school, bored in class, I just make up melodies.

How do you communicate them to the band?

Jason: I play it here and we work on it, you know. Get an idea of how it works ...

Do you write everyone’s parts or does everyone write their own?

Jason: Everyone writes their own parts.

Ryan: Someone just brings an idea to the table that’s just like a general concept, and then someone will get the precise notes and melody. Basically it just starts as a simple idea.

Flashmonkey: We cover a lot of different realms; there’s jazz, funk, reggae, pop, Latin, motown, boy bands. That’s what we should do, is get matching jackets with microphones that go to our mouths like that. Matching vinyl windbreaker jackets. Tight black shirts. Yeah, we’ll wear muscle shirts! ... You know what I think you should be for Halloween, Mitch? I think you should be David Byrne, in the “Stop Making Sense” video, with the giant suit. I wanted to go with the old Englishman with the wig and have the socks pulled up to here with the pants tucked in. Like Amadeus.

From the top: Mitch Blystone leans into
the music during a sound check/Lead
singer Charlie Raish reacts to his own
image/Mitch and keyboardist Jason
Kearney battle it/Jason lights one
up./Photos by Ole Bye.

Tyson: Dude, Freewill’s not playing anywhere. I think most of the venues are taken.

Mitch: Storyville is, by Dialogue.

Jason: Dialogue?

Mitch: Brand new band.

Jason: Psh. And they got it?

Mitch: They’ve played one more show than we have.

Jason: Oh they have?

Mitch: I say we just get the Durango Arts Center, and screw all those bars.

Kate (friend): What about house parties?

Tyson: Yeah, what about house parties?

Mitch: Don’t look at me man.

Tyson: Your ideas suck! Strike two. You’re on probation. If I wanted to hear your ideas I’d go stick my head up a cow’s ass. Where’s a house party? We need a big house party with like 10 kegs!

Kate: Do you know Peter and Brandon and Jordan and all those kids that live over in the brothel house? It’s the house that used to be a brothel, and it’s haunted with old whores.

Tyson: You wake up and you’re naked and you’re like, “AAAAHH!” But they’re old whores, so they’re like, “Where’s my dentures? Have you seen my foot?”

Mitch (in growling voice): “Hey cutie, how ya doing?”

Tyson: The house is haunted by old whores!!!

What is your dog’s name?

Charlie: Green. It’s short for Green Hooded Sweatshirt. I have lots of them. That’s my favorite article of clothing.

Isn’t that Charlie’s dog?

Tyson: Yeah. He totally left him here! He’s done that before. That time when we were out at Ska, I drove him all the way home and right as we were pulling into the driveway, he’s like, “Oh, shit, I forgot Green!”

Why can’t you get the band together to practice?

Charlie (to Tyson): Be nice.

From the top: Drummer Ryan Shriver
and Charlie discuss the setlist/A fan
tunes into the Flash Monkey
vibes/Guitarist Tyson Writtenmeyer
during a practice sesh/Charlie on the
mic./Photos by Ole Bye.

Tyson: I play every day! We’re so bloody busy, working full time. Yeah, I work full time, and I have other things to attend to. But actually, I’ve been trying to organize this shit for quite a while now. Yo, they’re blowing me off man! We’ve just got too many parties to go to, basically. The drummer played for Freewill on Friday. Cross-modulation, heavy cross-band modulation.

Charlie: We’ve got our mojos crossed. It increases crowd stimulation. I met a girl named Liz, she gave me a ride hitchhiking, and she has an amazing voice, and I want to find her. But I don’t know anything about her, except her name’s Liz.

How did you know she had a great voice?

Charlie: This U2 song came on, she started belting out the lyrics, and it sounded really soulful. Someday I’ll find her, and she’ll sing with Flash Monkey. We’re definitely always looking for a good female vocalist.

Tell me how you got into singing.

Charlie: I found my dad’s guitar when I was, like, 8 years old, it was like stashed away, and I brought it out, and I was like, “What is this?” I was all fascinated by it, and I wanted to sound like the Beatles, so I practiced singing songs and playing the guitar, and found it really hard, so I just devoted tons of time to getting syncopations down and stuff. And in high school, we’d always go camping and just be singing around the fire. I always kind of had stage fright, but just recently with Flash Monkey I’ve broken through the wall of stage fright, and now the river of passion is flowing, and flooding the valley of success. Yeah our first show was rough – I was pacing before the show. I was scared.

Would you someday want to make all your income from being in a band?

Tyson: I would love that to be my job! If somebody wants to pay me like, $3,000 a night for a gig, I am totally game. Bring it on! I would totally do that over anything. I just don’t feel like it’s realistic. Nobody’s going to come to Durango and be like, “You guys are kick-ass!” Maybe, you know. We might at least get a show in Boulder.

Have you made a demo?

Tyson: No, we don’t really have any plans right now.

Charlie: We just want to work on our stage act.

Tyson: We have this impending deadline, though. Ryan’s going to Tasmania in August. He’s going to go study philosophy in Tasmania.

Charlie: So it kind of sucks – we know the band’s going to end. But no one’s going to stop playing music.

Tyson: It’s kind of like our livelihood right now, but like, soon, I don’t know. I’m leaving Durango too. I’ve been here quite a while, and it’s time to go somewhere and do something.

Charlie: I’m going to go be a surf bum in Bali, no, I mean New Zealand. But I’m going to Bali just to party. I’m going to be an apple farmer. I’m going to be a surfer, apple farmer, emu rancher, maybe gnus.

Tyson: You can’t raise gnus!

Don’t those live in the Arctic?

Charlie: Yeah, that’s going to be my winter house, then. I’m going to have a house on stilts, and I’ll have a giant egg elevator, made out of... nevermind, this is getting too weird. But I want to say one thing: I think traveling is important to one’s musical education, because whenever I go somewhere, people say something to me, and I might throw that in a song, or just stuff that happens to you can be a huge inspiration. It’s kind of hard to write a song when you’re sitting in your room trying to write a song.

Flashmonkey plans to rock Durango on a regular basis through next summer. Catch the band at The Summit on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

Tyson says: As far as Halloween goes, we’re kind of (expletive). We’re not going to play, unless someone offers up their house. I can’t believe we haven’t heard of anything yet. There’s got to be a house party. Band, wanting to play house party, Friday, October 31!








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