Monastic fantastic

You couldn’t really be a rock band in the 1960s without matching outfits and, ideally, identical haircuts. The Monks, a German-based band made up of American ex-GIs, fulfilled both requirements and then some: their outfits were a pop take on the robes and rope-belts worn by Franciscan friars, and their heads were shaved in the traditional anti-fashion tonsure. Their music was a sparse, hard-driving, tamborine-infused proto-punk (dig the banjo in the second song they play in this clip) that was, in the way of amazing obscure bands, influential for cutting-edge like Radiohead, Nirvana, the Beastie Boys, and the Stooges. Whether or not their world-rejecting affectations were serious (apparently an outraged fan at a Hamburg concert tried to strangle Monks vocalist Gary Burger with his noose-necktie, presumably for blasphemy), more recent parallels between hardcore music and hardcore monasticism abound: in the late ’90s re:generation quarterly covered the California Russian Orthodox Punk Zine “Death to the World”; more recently an Italian Capuchin monk has released two heavy metal albums.

from “Punk rock starts here,” Very Short List, 9 April 2009, with help from wikipedia

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