About Xenat-Ra

Monk Metz: words, electronics
Matt Calkins: sax, effects, percussion
Mark France: guitars
Dave Trenkel: keyboards, keyboard bass, laptop, Moog
JD Monroe: drums, turntables, mallets, laptop
Joel Hirsch: percussion, vocals


While many bands claim to be eclectic, Xenat-Ra truly lives it. Based in Corvallis, OR, Xenat-Ra is the result of years of shared musical experiences and a rich sonic vocabulary. Xenat-Ra owes allegiance to no particular genre, borrowing sounds from the fringes of hip hop, jazz, progressive rock, dub, metal and any other style that crosses their path. The sound can be spacious or dense, freely improvised or strictly composed, deeply funky or aggressively atonal, all topped by Monk Metz’ rapid-fire, often surreal, poetry.

All original material is collectively composed and arranged. Xenat-Ra also pays tribute to a wide range of artists by covering and often radically re-arranging their material, treating Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun as a free jazz ballad/samba, covering Kraftwerk as a boogaloo, merging an Old Dirty Bastard hit with a Thelonius Monk jazz standard, or covering John Zorn, Led Zeppelin, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Weather Report, Public Enemy, Sun Ra, and Slayer, among others.


Dave, Mark and Matt first met in the OSU Music Department’s jazz ensembles, studying with trumpeter Rob Blakeslee. Through the mid-1990’s, Mark and Dave, along with drummer Henry Franzoni, played in the jazz/metal trio Minus, eventually releasing 2 CD’s. At the same time, Matt and JD were ripping up the local clubs in the ferociously funky Huzzah. JD began experimenting with turntables and continues to perform as The Turntable Enabler. Meanwhile, Monk Metz and Chris Kennedy were producing and performing alternative hip hop under the name Future Sunz, a collaboration that continues to this day. In the early 2000’s Dave, Matt and JD did several improvised shows together under the name Top Dead Center, while also performing in the Eugene-based jazz-funk sextet Eleven Eyes. In the fall of 2007, Top Dead Center, now with Metz added as a rapper/poet, performed at a benefit for a friend/fan’s medical bills and collectively decided to continue as a band. Finding that a number of other bands shared the TDC name, they settled on the obscure and nearly unpronounceable Xenat-Ra. After playing a number of shows as a quartet, Mark France joined in 2008. In the spring of 2010, Xenat-Ra released Live, a compilation of live tracks recorded at a number shows from the two previous years. Proceeds from sales of the live album, both physical copies and digital downloads, were used to fund sessions for a studio album. Percussionist Joel Hirsch was added to the band as they began work on the album, which is due for a 2012 release.


In 2011, Xenat-Ra were deeply honored to have been voted Favorite Local Band by the readers of the Alchemist Weekly. Additionally, Monk Metz was voted Favorite Poet, and Dave, Matt, Mark and JD were voted best on their respective instruments, JD winning in both the Drummer and DJ categories.


Outside of Xenat-Ra the members stay very busy in a wide range of projects. Dave performs with the Bob Marley tribute band Belly Full of Bob, Dave and Joel perform in the cumbia/chicha ensemble Orquesta Monte Calvo, and Dave and JD play in the Rush tribute band Why Why Zed. JD plays in the Metallica tribute Metallon, JD and Monk Metz perform in the free-improv hip-hop trio Channel Zero. Mark performs with the doom metal band Blood Cobra, and Matt regularly gigs with Eleven Eyes and the Eugene-based salsa ensemble Son Melao.

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