Xenat-Ra

About

XENAT-RA:
Monk Metz: words, electronics
Matt Calkins: sax, effects, percussion
Dave Trenkel: keyboards, laptop, Moog
Page Hundemer: bass
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, Matt, and guitarist Mark France 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. Page relocated to Corvallis from Boston, and quickly established himself as an in-demand force on the electric bass, playing in many projects with drummer/composer Dave Storrs. 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 Science for the Soundman, which was released in October, 2012.

In 2011, Xenat-Ra were deeply honored to have been voted Favorite Local Band by the readers of the Corvallis 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.


In the summer of 2014, Mark France left Xenat-Ra to concentrate on other projects. After rehearsing briefly as a quintet, Page was asked to come into the fold, after having played with Matt, Dave and JD in the jazz/fusion quartet Different Feeder. Currently, Xenat-Ra are playing around the Pacific NW, writing new material, and beginning work on a 2nd studio album.

 

If you’d like more information, here’s a post that goes into much greater depth about the roots and history of Xenat-Ra:

A Personal History of Xenat-Ra, by Dave Trenkel

On the surface, Xenat-Ra is like most bands, a bunch of friends getting together semi-regularly in a practice room to make some noise and have fun. What I think sets us apart is the range of material we draw upon for inspiration, and the collective musicianship of the band. We’ve never really set out to […]

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