Before there was Edward Scissorhands, there was Thelonious Monster.
Like the wistful movie fantasy character, the Los Angeles band openly wears a sad, impassioned artistic soul. On the other hand, Thelonious Monster, like Edward, often can't restrain itself from acting the cutup.
On the band's two most recent albums, "Next Saturday Afternoon" and "Stormy Weather," the artistic side came out. Led by singer Bob Forrest, Thelonious Monster traced emotional dips and bends with exceptional acuity and impact. Forrest's pinched, emphatic singing and the band's blizzard of distorted, lurching guitars were just right for conveying the extremes of feeling--usually downcast feelings in Forrest's case--that come with growing up.
Formed in 1984, the band developed a reputation for getting sidetracked on stage--sometimes amusingly, and sometimes disastrously. According to Forrest, who spent his high school years in Huntington Beach, the frustration of seeing less worthy Los Angeles bands get big-label record deals while Thelonious Monster bided time in the independent-alternative ranks spilled over into stage antics that could be humorous but sometimes were belligerent.
By late 1989, a dissension-riddled Thelonious Monster had broken up. Forrest then landed a contract with RCA Records as a solo performer. But when Thelonious Monster's bassist, Rob Graves, died last summer from a drug overdose, the surviving members re-formed the band to play in a memorial concert. By that time, Forrest said, he and the other Monster members--drummer Pete Weiss and guitarists Dix Denney, Christopher Handsone and Mike Martt--had brought their own wilder habits in check and were able to mend past differences.
Forrest continues to work on a solo album due out this spring. After he finishes his first solo tour, Forrest said in a recent interview, he would like to make another Thelonious Monster album. At Peppers Golden Bear, guitarist Zander Schloss, formerly of the Circle Jerks and Joe Strummer's band, and new bassist Martyne will round out the Monster lineup.
Who: Thelonious Monster.
When: Thursday, Feb. 7, at 9 p.m. With Big Drill Car and Cadillac Tramps.
Where: Peppers Golden Bear, in the Pierside Pavilion, 300 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach.
Whereabouts: Pacific Coast Highway to Main Street. Pierside Pavilion is on the southeast corner of the intersection.
Wherewithal: $12 ($10 in advance).
Where to call: (714) 374-2327.