Los Kung Fu Monkeys: Energetic ska for the soul

by Jared Curtis

As much as some people don’t enjoy the upbeat anthems, ska music is a crucial component in a variety of beloved genres. Without it, we’d never have experienced iconic bands like The Specials or The Clash. And today, decades after the Third Wave ska explosion of the 90s eventually oversaturated the market, there are a few ska bands out there, still skanking away in a time long forgotten. One of them still touring is easily the most memorable named act — Los Kung Fu Monkeys (an announcer at one of their first shows added Monkeys to the end of the band name and it stuck) — whose roots are strong in both the Mexican and Canadian independent scenes.

“I knew Tarek and Hassan from school, but we weren’t really friends,” said Bernie Leos (vocals) during our interview. “But we all started skateboarding and hanging out together and decided we needed to start a band.”

Although the guys were discovering 2 Tone ska revival groups like The Specials, Madness and The Beat/English Beat, it was seeing the concert of a particular Third Wave ska band that really set the band’s sound in motion.

“Once we saw Rancid live we knew we wanted to be apart of that sound,” Leos said. “We were all listening to different things — metal, reggae, new wave — but ska music made us happy and we wanted to project that feeling live on stage.”

The band has accomplished a lot throughout the years, including sharing the stage with a number of iconic acts including The Misfits, Voodoo Glow Skulls (“We went on our first US tour with them, they are our boys”), Fishbone, Madness, The Toasters, NOFX and Dropkick Murphys. They also became the first independent Mexican band to take part in the Warped Tour in 1995. The band continued to play the festival the following years.

“Being on the Warped Tour without a label or any additional support was an amazing times in our lives,” Leos said. “We’re really proud of being a part of that tour, it really opened a lot of doors for not only us, but also other independent Mexican bands in similar genres.”

The band will be promoting their new record, Rude Boy Rockers, when they stop at The Green Frog on Friday, Nov. 20. The band has been getting rave reviews for the album and is excited to play some of the new tunes live for fans.

“If you listen to our records, each one is very different, from when we were younger and into more of a hardcore sound to now as we have matured and grown as musicians,” Leos said. “I’m very happy with the album and it definitely captures a specific moment in time of the band.”

Rude Boy Rockers was a totally different recording process due to the band bringing in a producer to help them record for the first time.

“We had never used a producer before, so we were kind of hesitant to bring Steve Loree in because we didn’t know what was going to happen,” Leos said. “But we were very happy with the results, Steve got us out of our comfort zone and we tried a lot of new things. He got us to go beyond what we thought we could do and it helped us create the best album we’ve done in my opinion.”

If you’re a fan of ska music or just enjoy crazy, energetic live shows, check out Los Kung Fu Monkeys performing songs of off their best album yet.

“We love surprising fans with a show unlike no other.  We’re not just the usual band standing on stage playing some songs, we offer a very energetic and interactive show with the crowd,” Leos said. “If you want to experience a great show, look no further than Los Kung Fu Monkeys.”

Live Show: See the Los Kung Fu Monkeys at the Green Frog on Friday, Nov. 20. For more info, follow them at facebook.com/LosKungFuMonkeys. 

Published in the November 2015 issue of What’s Up! Magazine