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Macho Monkeys unleashes primal beats on Rutgers basement scene

Chidera Ezetah, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, means monkey business with his one-man band, Macho Monkeys. – Photo by @kenzcat3.jpeg / Instagram

Chidera Ezetah, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, was just 15 years old when he first experimented with making beats using GarageBand on his iPod Touch. At the time, his music wasn’t mixed — it mostly consisted of him "pounding" on the digital drum set and guitars.

Since then, Ezetah has repurposed part of his old material for a new project, Macho Monkeys, a rock n’ roll band swinging into the New Brunswick music scene.

The idea came to him last spring — with classes suspended as a result of the faculty strike at Rutgers, Ezetah had plenty of free time. Instead of catching up on school work, he found a much better use of his time by taking his old songs and pairing them with new artwork. 

Ezetah wanted to see how far he could take Macho Monkeys.

"I follow(ed) all the basement show venue accounts … I could make posts like, ‘Aw, we totally played at this one place,’" he said. "People were gonna be like ‘What? What is this band? I’ve never heard of this band.’"

Ezetah’s plan was ultimately successful — in December 2023, he played at the Crypt’s Public Access Album release show, performing some of the band’s few releases at the time, in addition to covers.

When Macho Monkeys’ set started, though, attendees were confused as to why there was only one guy in a monkey mask performing. Ezetah is actually the sole creative talent behind Macho Monkeys, despite the band’s artwork suggesting there are multiple members.

"I might recruit three other guys," Ezetah said. "But as of right now, it’s just me in the monkey mask."

The art for the band’s debut single, "Dawn of the Apes (Screw You!)," portrays four colorful monkey characters that make up the members of the band. The distinct style is partially inspired by the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books and YouTube animations Ezetah had watched growing up. According to Ezetah, the digitally drawn artwork isn’t meant to be taken seriously — it’s another aspect of the band meant to make listeners laugh.

When asked why he chose monkeys, Ezetah gave a candid response.

"Monkeys are funny. I think it’s as simple as that," he said.

Ezetah cites The Dead Milkmen as one of his biggest conceptual inspirations, particularly in their ability to make songs out of anything. The sound of the Macho Monkeys can also be attributed to 90s pop-punk bands like Green Day and Screeching Weasel.

But what started as a "troll," in the same vein of viral artists like Oliver Tree, has morphed into something Ezetah is truly passionate about.

"I did not know that people actually liked those two songs that I released," he said. "I’m like, 'You want more? I’ll give you more … Maybe.'"

While the first two releases are instrumentals, Macho Monkeys plans to release future songs with vocals. You can catch the band in upcoming shows at Demarest Hall on the College Avenue campus.

“I think I already have like five or six songs that I produced. They’re sitting on my MP3 folder. They just need vocals, that's the thing," Ezetah said.

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