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Sea Monster

Although not terribly well-known nationally, Sea Monster is a New York City institution and has enjoyed an enthusiastic cult following in and around the Big Apple since the mid-'80s. Sea Monster's forte is a loud, rowdy, hell-raising, boisterous style of hard rock that contains elements of rockabilly and blues as well as punk; Sea Monster is very much a party band, and their recordings sound like they were tailor-made for a sweaty biker bar -- if director Dennis Hopper wanted to make a 21st century sequel to his 1969 film Easy Rider, Sea Monster would have no problem coming up with a soundtrack. Arthur Lee Stevenson, Sea Monster's leader and lead vocalist, brings a long list of hard rock, punk, rock & roll, blues-rock, and rockabilly influences to the table; the people who have affected Sea Monster's sound range from the Doors, the Velvet Underground, Steppenwolf and the MC5, to the Cramps, Iggy & the Stooges, the New York Dolls and the Ramones. Sea Monster's work owes something to Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and other rock & roll pioneers; there are also traces of classic Chess Records and '50s Chicago blues in their material. Sea Monster's beer-soaked music is delivered with a big dose of humor and irony -- and despite Stevenson's biker-from-hell image, anyone who has had a conversation with the tattooed singer knows that he is actually a highly intelligent, learned individual who has no problem carrying on a conversation about politics, art, history, or books. Stevenson admires the post-modernist paintings of Robert Rauschenberg; he listens to the European classical compositions of Richard Wagner.

Stevenson, who grew up in New York City's Long Island suburbs, became part of the Big Apple club scene in the late '70s. It was in 1978 that Stevenson met guitarist Frederick J. Wagner and his bass-playing brother, Barney Wagner, who encouraged him to sing and write; together, the three of them formed a band called Flak, which reflected their interest in punk and played Manhattan venues like Danceteria and the famous CBGB. After Flak's breakup, Stevenson went on to form Sea Monster in 1985 and employed both of the Wagner brothers in his band; Barney Wagner died of drug-related AIDS in 1990, although Frederick J. Wagner was still a part of Sea Monster in the early 2000s. Despite enjoying a passionate East Coast following all these years, the members of Sea Monster have had "day gigs" outside of music. Stevenson is a house painter who owns his own business, while Fred Wagner has been a cab driver and guitarist Mike Rock has worked in retail. Bassist Adolph Marcellino has worked for New York City's sewage department, and drummer Phil Fellner has been employed in airline operations. In 1992, Sea Monster's first full-length album, Enduro Bizarro Intacto, was released on the Burn-It label; subsequent releases have included 1996's Death, Taxes and Sea Monster and 2000s Psychotronic Roller Boogie Disco Queen Sock It to Me, both of which came out on Winged Disk Records. ~ Alex Henderson
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