The History of MunkyDust

By Matt Kennedy

 
     MunkyDust is a band/group of friends comprised, technically, of the four following

members... Ryan Tripp, Matt Carpenter, Brady Willard and myself. However, MunkyDust does

have an unofficial sixth man, or as the case me be with our situation, the unofficial fifth man.

That unofficial fifth man is the fans and friends we have aquired along the way. Such people as

Trent and Devin Tanner, Nicole Nelson, Mike Heuschele, Sarah Hatch, Erikka Miller, Dexter

Flansburgh, and the list goes on and on.  MunkyDust is not only a musical experience, but a life

experience full of mostly ups with a few big downs. This story is about the history of

MunkyDust, and although it is a short history, it is filled with enough events to fill an entire

decade.

     MunkyDust formed in the summer of 1997, after I had a falling out with some of my

long-time friends; friends who I thought I would spend my life with. I had known Ryan Tripp

from Human Biology, back as a freshman in Mrs. Mcspadden's class. Ryan emailed me one day

and asked if I would ever want to get together and play drums for him. Little did we know, we

were about to embark on one of the most amazing experiences of our life. I went over to Ryan's

that day, when he had picked me up in his van. We packed my amazingly heavy drum set into

the van, and we discussed music along the way. Ryan seemed to have similar musical interests

to mine, and we both seemed to laugh at one another's sense of humor. Little did we know then

that our similarities in personality would cause some conflict with one another late on in the

band. Ryan play me some songs he had written over the past months, and I layed down the

drum tracks for what would be the MunkyDust anthem... Meatwagon/Unconscious. Ryan liked

what he heard, and we set up another time to meet at Udall Park, which would become home to

MunkyDust over the next year.

     Ryan arrived at my house a couple days after our first session, and we took the drums

down to Udall Park under a ramada by the volleyball courts. Ryan plugged in his guitar, but it

wasn't until I sat down at my drum throne to realize that I had no drum sticks. Ryan said he

would go back to my house and ask my sisters to get them, and he left me in charge of watching

the stuff. It had been over 15 minutes, and my house was only about 2 minutes from the park. I

was getting worried, until Ryan pulled up with some drum sticks. They weren't mine, but ones

he had gotten from his house. I asked him where my sticks were, and he said that no one

answered the door. Later, I had come to find out that when Ryan knocked on my door, my dogs

went crazy and started attacking the door by jumping on it and barking loudly. This scared my

sisters, and in the process, the dogs hit the door handle, making them think someone was trying

to break into the house. They called the cops, but luckily Ryan made it away from our house

before the cops could arrest him for "trying to breaking into the house". It was then that I knew

we might be in for some fun times.

     We yet again set up a day to play at Udall, only this time with the entire band. I had

already been planning on playing there with another band by the name of Bluesplotation, who

were friends of mine from church. It ended up being a big symphony of about 9 musicians all

playing together. However, I was the only drummer so I had to keep playing for all of the

musicial entourage. It was then that the MunkyDust/Bluesplotation association was formed.

Bluesplotation opened every MunkyDust show from April 1998 to September 1998, and

eventually the MunkyDust All Star Show in March of 1999. It was also the first time I had met

Brady Willard and Matt Carpenter. Thus, it was the first day of MunkyDust, or MunkyDust's

birthdate, if you will. It was August 30, 1997.

     Being an optimist and very positive of my own skills, I had wanted MunkyDust to be

the biggest thing since the Beatles. I talked about having big shows with lots of people, making

cds, and making all kinds of music. Eventually the term, "MD4LIFE" was coined by one of us, I

don't remember who. It was in reference to pro-wrestling's nWo, who claimed to be "for life",

or together for life. It started out as a joke, but the term is still used by all of us today, and is

taken much more seriously.

     Our first big show was at Sabino High School, obviously the one we were attending at

the time. I was a junior, the other three guys were seniors, making me the youngest of the band.

But, I knew much more about being in a band and the music business, having a father who

played guitar in many local bands around town, and being able to play the drums since I was six

years old. My dad would even have me get on stage, as young as age 6, to play music with him

in front of, sometimes, hundreds of people. With this background, I became essentially the

manager of the band. I "booked" our first show with the school vice-principal, for December

16, the last Monday before the semester finals. The day finally came and all of us were very

hyped about it. We practiced and practiced for the big show. But the day before the show,

Brady came down with a cold. And because Brady was one of the singers of the band, Ryan had

to cover the singing for Brady's songs. And we didn't even have that many original songs at that

time anyways, so we had to make up for the time loss with cover songs, such as "Wannabe" by

the Spice Girls and "Ice, Ice Baby" by Vanilla Ice. Please note: I had to sing on both of those,

because as everyone knows, all drummers can rap... and dance... and are good looking... and are

the most talented members of any band... oh wait, I'm getting carried away with myself.

Anyways... the band played that first show under much scrunity from the always negative

Sabino High School crowd. What also didn't help is that we weren't very well prepared for that

show, despite all our practice. Another factor that didn't help things was that the school's

audio/visual director used a person that didn't know much about audio equiptment to do our

audio mixing... Thus Matt Carpenter's bass overpowered everything, and the two guitar players

had alot of trouble hearing themselves. It made for nothing but big problems. For some reason,

the school's prinicipal, Mrs. Susan Primesberger, seemed to enjoy us, and even asked us to play

again for the school. Even though at that point I thought the band would never get any better, I

had always wanted to play for the school one more time. I wanted to be famous, to leave a mark

upon Sabino High School that no one could forget. So from December on, I visualized

MunkyDust playing the Spring Assembly in May of 1998. It was my ultimate goal for the year.

 About one week later, MunkyDust was scheduled to play at a private party for Ryan's

dad's company. We had rehearsed a bit more, espeically on our Christmas music material, since

this was a Christmas party. The night of the show came, and although Matt C, the bass player,

could not make the show, we still had three ample musicians... or so we thought. Ryan got very

sick that night, and as Ryan, Brady and I went into McDonalds for some pre-food preparation,

Ryan was very hot at that point from a fever, and when we sat down to eat the food, he started

to twitch and convulse a bit from being so cold. Ryan was sick... plain and simple. However,

Brady and I convinced him that the "show must go on". We got him to take some Tylenol, and

we played the Christmas show. We played "Silent Night", and our fifties sounding original

song, "Super Cool Number 1". People really liked us judging from the compliments we

recieved, and at one point during the night, I spotted Stacy Everett, a girl who I had a crush on

for about a year from my church. She seemed to avoid me from the beginning of the show, but

the next day, she told me how good my band sounded and wanted a tape as soon as we made

one. She had a boyfriend at that time, but all that seemed to be thrown out the window for me

that night. She instantly grew an admiration for me and my band... At that point, I realized how

really bad I wanted to be a rock star.

     Christmas came and went, as did the "MunkyDust Awesome Christmas Break", as I

liked to call it. At that time, I had another crush on a girl named Jenni, who did not have a

boyfriend at the time. Over Christmas Break, I told Jenni that I liked her and she seemed to

kind of like me back. It was later in the break that I discovered it wasn't meant to be. Over

break, MunkyDust acquired a great skill of toliet papering people's houses and cars. Over the

process of two weeks, we used over two hundred rolls of toliet paper to "TP" such people's

houses and cars as some of our teachers and friends. It was great. Plenty of pictures still exist

on the MunkyDust web page... Speaking of the web page, it was about the same time of the

year that I designed what would become my most time-spending task of late. Over winter

break, I had time to design the MunkyDust web page, and over the course of a year and a half,

would recieve almost 6000 hits. I spend countless hours uploading tons of music clips and

pictures of the band. And the site still exists today at... "http://munkydust.tripod.com". The web

page was designed  also for people to find out when our shows were as well. The "MunkyDust

Awesome Christmas Break" was finished with many things accomplished, and with a stronger

unity among the band.

     Janurary through March of 1998 was a period of writing and practicing for the band. It

was also a time to become best friends, which we all remain today. After our two big shows, we

went back to the drawing board to better the band as a whole. Ryan and Brady both churned out

more original songs so we didn't have to cover other band's material as much, and that helped

add to our small setlist. In this time period, I seemed to grow tension with Ryan, who had

always been the closest to me among the 3 other guys, and grow closer to Brady and Matt C.

This seemed to be the wrong thing to do as a band... to become at odds with the person who got

you into the band, but I think it had to be done to compensate to make us better as a whole. The

whole time I was at odds with Ryan, he grew closer to the other guys as well. Spring rolled

around, as did big plans for not just practicing at Udall Park, but for a big free show. Being

strong in Christian beliefs, we really didn't want to play for money in run-down bars downtown

or in bad parts of town, so Udall was the ideal place in many aspects. Everyone in the band

hyped our big show at Udall Park, and with 3 of the 4 of us working together at Golf N Stuff,

we knew the employees very well and encouraged and succeeded in getting about 15

employees to show up to the show. Our fan population at Sabino had grown too, and we got

quite a few from school. The rest of the people, which came from flyers posted at music stores,

etc., showed up to compile about 55 people for our first show where we didn't have a set

audience given to us. The show went great... we played all our original songs very well and

even threw in more cover songs, and then in the middle of all of it, had a rap and dance

sequence just for humor. The crowd again loved us. We were becomming the biggest thing on

the East Side of Tucson. People were telling people and our fan base just grew larger and

larger. Soon after that show, we decided on going into the recording studio and making a demo

tape. Just another big step in the way of MunkyDust.

     Ryan and I called around until we discovered Sub-Space Studios, a recording studio on

4th Avenue, by the University of Arizona. We set a date for April 21, which didn't seem to be a

conflict... until Matt Carpenter told us that was the day for prom, and he was going with one of

MunkyDust's number one fans, Sarah Hatch. We didn't go back and change the day for the

studio, though, that would be very "un-Dust"-like. We kept the date the same because at the

time, Matt C was the only one going to prom, and hoped we would get out of the studio in time.

Well, a month rolled by from March, and it was now very near the time to go into the studio.

Ryan and Brady both seemed to find dates for prom, which made me the odd man out, not

being able to go with them. The night before the studio, we all decided to have a camp out on

Matt C's trampoline as a form of unity for the band, and so we could get up early to go to the

studio. No one seemed to mention to me that when you sleep on a trampoline and the sun

comes out, it wakes you up immediately. Brady and I had worked together the night before

until 1 AM, and didn't get much sleep that night. However, we all got up and packed our stuff

up and made it to the studio, very very tired and running on pure addreneline. The studio tech

took about an hour to set up all the equiptment, and used about 8 microphones on my drums. It

took another half-hour just to get the volume mixing right for all my drums. But the moment

did come when we were all ready to go... and the first song we decided to play was that

MunkyDust anthem... "Meatwagon/Unconscious". I couldn't start off the music as usual,

because if I did, it would pick up my voice on the drum mic, so Ryan became the complete

leader of the band for that day. He counted off the music and started us off on "Meatwagon",

which went very well, and instead of stopping, we continued playing straight into

"Unconscious".  The two songs combined for exactly ten minutes of music, which seemed quite

odd, and another odd thing was that it was the most awesome version of those two songs we

had ever played. We were all amazed with one another, until we realized we had 6 more songs

to play. Brady's songs were up next, with "Gotta Smile", "Ice Cream" and "Faked Hitting

Kieko". We made very few mistakes, which saved us a lot of time, and then Ryan was up again

with "Super Cool Number 1", our instrumental song, "Macaroni and Cheese" and our cover of

"Jenny". Looking at the time we had spent in the studio, time was quickly approaching for

prom. We finished recording at 5 pm, at prom started at 7 pm, so I got in my 1981 station

wagon and hauled Ryan all the way from almost downtown to his home on the far North-East

side of town. Fatigued and tired, I took myself home and went to sleep, glad I didn't have to go

to prom.

 The next day, I listened to our tape that we did in the studio. With pressure from my dad

to leave the band, just because he thought I was light years ahead of the other guys in musicial

ability, I sat down and listened to our tape, disgusted with every flaw that any of us had made.

For some reason I really disliked Ryan's singing on the tape at that time, and although I couldn't

have done any better singing-wise, I wrote letters to the other guys describing what I thought

about the tape at that time. The other guys seemed to have just the opposite feelings I was

having, and they thought our tape was great. The normal optimist of the band, myself, had

completely inverted his behavior and became the ultimate pessimist and biggest enemy to the

band. I seemed to have almost mortally wounded my friendships with all three of the guys,

especially with Ryan. It took quite a bit of appologizing, and I seemed to have saved my

friendships with Brady and Matt, but Ryan still seemed to not trust me as much after that

situation. I had delivered a big ego blow that even I don't think I could handle. But I had always

been good at making people mad at me, especially the ones closest to me. MunkyDust avoided

shows for the following few weeks, and we all kind of just sat around and listened to our

recording a lot. May came around, and my dream of us playing at the Spring Assembly was

diminishing.

 I asked the other guys if they still wanted to play the assembly, and they all seemed to

not care. They were all focused graduating and bettering themselves rather than caring about

MunkyDust. I again had to assume the role as manager and optimist of the band. I approached

Student Council, and since I was in Student Council before, the agreed to let us play at the

assembly. The administators gave full approval for us, too, including the somewhat infamous

Mr. Doug Holland, who helped run the assemblies. The day rolled around for the biggest

MunkyDust show to date... Sabino High School, part 2. I made the mistake of sleeping in the

day of the show, and didn't get up to school until about ten minutes before the beginning of the

assembly. All the guys who didn't really care about playing the assembly before were now the

people who cared most about it. The pictures I have seen of the guys that the school newspaper

took before I got there were horrendous. I have never seen such angry faces. But I did make it,

and we played well. We were basically cued up to play by Mr. Holland every time the school

needed some filler music, like when games were being set up, etc. I even got to hit the drums

when my class chanted our numbers, "99, 99, 99, 99." A memorable experience that I will

never forget. We ended the assembly with Macaroni and Cheese, the song that I layed down the

basic idea for. It was a drum driven song, and the crowd excited very excited for the ending of

the school year and the summer to come. It would be one of the last MunkyDust shows, and the

last time MunkyDust ever played at Sabino High School.

 The summer of MunkyDust, the summer of 1998 was upon us, right after graduation.

This was supposed to be a huge period of writing and growth for the band, but it didn't end up

that way. I left for 3 weeks to go on a trip with my church youth group to Washington DC. The

band basically did their own seperate lives for a while, not having a drummer to play for them.

The trip wasn't all that fun either, besides getting to see my cousins. I got a big fever from not

being able to sleep most of the trip and getting roughly 5 hours of sleep every night of the trip. I

came back from the trip feeling ready to play again, and we had a show set up at Udall right

when I returned. I got a few people who I went on the trip with to attend the night show, a first

for us at Udall. The show went well, but at the end there came problems. My dad's involvement

with the band showed up again, and he was playing Ryan's guitar at the end of the show. The

other three guys seemed to show disrespect for him by taking down all the stuff while he was

playing along with me on drums. They didn't shut off the power or anything, but it just seemed

to be disrespectful in my view, especially since my dad was the one who helped us find our PA,

and he was the main reason I took up playing the drums. So I wrote another heated email to the

guys in the band, and it took a good month to one and a half months to patch up our heat with

one another. In the meantime, we were all set to go see the big Pearl Jam show in Phoenix, all

four of the guys in the bands' favorite band.

 With much of the heat between me and Ryan still, I ended up driving myself and Matt

Carpenter to Phoenix while the other members of the band and the Tanner brothers drove up a

few hours earlier. Me and Matt bonded some more with talk of everything on the ride up and

the ride home. Pearl Jam rocked everyone's worlds, and it will most likely be the best concert I

will ever attend. After the show, the heat was dying down between me and Ryan, but it was

July by now. And in the fall, Ryan and Matt C would be leaving for two years to do their

Mormon missions, which would mean the end of the band for the time being. Finally we all

resolved to do a show for the end of July, which became another Udall night show with

Bluesplotation.

 We attracted another big crowd, and Matt C and had Ryan had sent their papers away to

their church so the church could decide in what part of the world they would be on for their

missions. We played a great show and showcased two new songs we had written in the

meantime, which were "My Pen" and "Goodbye". People really enjoyed themselves that night,

complete with beach balls being passed through the audience. About a week later, Matt C wrote

me a letter on behalf of the entire band.  The other three guys had gotten together without me

and discussed breaking up the band, due to the fact that all the guys needed time to get ready

for the show. I was devistated. I wrote back to them and asked if we could do one more show.

They seemed to be against the idea, but didn't count it out just yet. I wrote to the fan club and

told them that the band had broken up. But a few weeks later, I wrote another letter. That letter

said that we were going to have one more show. Brady had moved to Thatcher, Arizona by this

time but he was visiting Tucson about every other weekend. Labor Day Weekend was coming

up, and Brady promised to be here for the big three-day weekend. The letter said that we were

having a one year re-union last show. That weekend, we spent our last times as a band together,

and on the last day of the weekend was the show. We played all of our material, despite not

many people coming to see us, and we played our last song together, which ending up being

"My Pen". Matt C had his mission call by then, and he was going to be heading to Romania,

which is where he is at the present moment for one more year. MunkyDust would never be the

same again.

 Matt C had his mission farewell service at his church, with all of MunkyDust there,

despite my dislike for the Mormon church, and the fact that I am Catholic. It showed the unity

that the band had despite religious differences and personal conflicts. I got to see Matt the day

before he left before his mission, and it is the last time I have talked to him face to face or

heard his voice, since. At that time, Brady was in Thatcher and the only members of the band

were Ryan and I. Ryan and I grew closer to one another when he wasn't working and when I

wasn't at school, being that I still had one more year of high school to complete. Brady visited

when he had the time, and we all hung out. Ryan eventually got his mission call to England,

which is where he has been for the past ten months. Time passed, but before Ryan could leave,

the three remaining members of MunkyDust got together to record the material we had left in

the recording studio. We went to Allusion Studios on Halloween of 1998 and made the

"Sentimental Album". We managed to take Trent Tanner with us to the recording studio, and

used him to guest sing on some of the songs. However, we didn't sell this tape like we did with

the last recording tape, which was entitled "Music from the Meatwagon". MFTM sold almost

one hundred copies, which was all that we made. We decided not to release the "Sentimental

Album" from lack of money and possibly lack of interest from the fact that we really didn't

have a band anymore. With that out of the way, Ryan left for his mission in the beginning of

December of 1998. Brady was still in Thatcher, which left me the lone member of MunkyDust

still in Tucson. However, Brady decided not to attend his second semester in Thatcher and

moved back to Tucson with his family. This kept me sane for a little while longer, and we hung

out a lot. However, his parents had to sell there house and move to California so Brady's dad

could save on travel from having to drive out to California every weekend for his movie

special-effects job that he had. Brady stayed in Tucson until March of 1999, when he and his

family left for California.  I had two more months of high school before I graduated, and life

felt hectic. Brady sent me an email one day, which said his mission was going to be only 2

hours from where he was living at the present time, which was in San Bernadino, California.

So, if I ever got the chance, I could probably pay Brady a visit. MunkyDust had ended it's first

run in Tucson, and begun it's world tour, so to speak.

 I graduated high school, and with support from one of the bands who MunkyDust

befriended, Ear Candy, I put together a 9 band show for Udall Park. Being a pioneer of playing

at Udall Park, I was the perfect mastermind to put together such a show. We got about one

hundred people, maybe more, to sit for the 4 hour show, comprised of many of the bands and

friends I had met along the way with MunkyDust. And I even met some new friends.

 That brings us to the status of MunkyDust today. We all agree that we want to play

together again. And in the spring of 2001, we will have the chance again. Matt C has less than a

year left of his mission, and Ryan has a little over a year left. MunkyDust will live again in full,

but to quote Phil Collins, "You will be in my heart". MunkyDust will live forever in the minds

of fans, no matter what happens. It's "MD4Life", to coin a well thought out phrase.