top of page

Catch the Buzzzz. Eccentric Sheffield duo, Dean Honer and Jarrod Gosling, re-emerge into the sunlight after a couple of years alchemizing I Monster’s new album.

BZZZZZZZZZ" A respectable looking gent, in his 40s with a darkish face framed by the nice trim of grey hair that lucky men get - finishes his lunchtime sarnies off while sat on a rare green pedestal next to the mother of all northern meatmarkets Roxy's. A few feet away Chris, our snapper is schoolmarming a couple of popstars into framing themselves within the bright blue sky as the sun blazes away over Parkhill.

The gent wanders off back to work. "Bzzzzzzz" he hums quietly as he walks past us. "Bzzzzzzz"

The hairier of the two popstars responds amiably "Get yer own turd. This is ours. You're not a spider are you?"

I Monster, it has to be said, are fly.

Earlier. In a nice terraced house in Nether Edge, in that part which is more town than city and more green than grey, Dean Honer with his estuary flat Essex English gets a phonecall from his PR man. The first review of 'Neveroddoeven' has appeared in Music Week, the trade magazine which eschews aesthetics for shrewd market appraisal.

"Apparently it's a cult album." He offers to Jarrod Gosling, "That's good, isn't it?" And returns to flicking his guitar. Jarrod ponders and returns, in broad Deepcarr "Dunno."

This house doubles as both family home - two combustible young twins whizz around it - and the recording studio where for the last two years the duo have among other things been slowly putting an album together which, wonderfully carries on where their last single left off.

During the summer of 2001 Sandman was working, flitting up and down the motorways in a 7 1/2 tonne lorry. The banality of daytime radio programming becomes rapidly and excruciatingly obvious when hollow eyed young men start championing Radio 2 with its retro planning as the best a man can get on hot, sticky afternoons. Occasionally the odd track swam above the shit and lodged in the mind. 'Daydreaming in Blue' was one, an odd, pretty slice of pop which, perhaps, reflected the weather better than the zeitgeist.

It was made by one of those almost anonymous outfits. Who were they? Apparently there was some sort of connection with The All-Seeing-I, the Sheffield supergroup who briefly flared up in 1999 with a clutch of brilliantly idiosyncratic pop singles then just as quickly vanished, but other than that there was very little to go on. Perhaps it was a White Town (who sprung a homemade number one with 'Your Woman' back in 96) kind of thing - a one off - because what came next?

Bugger all.
Until now.

The truth is that I Monster go back further than you'd think and have been busier than you'd expect. Dean, a neat, stocky man with a neatly cropped beard and the sort of flash specs that look as if made for slick production duties is one of the many musical exiles who've drifted to Sheffield and stayed.

"I'm from London originaly. I came up in the mid 80s with my girlfriend of the time. It was cheap to live up here and a lot easier to get on the dole. When I arrived I got together with a few people and started playing in these punky type bands. I'd always liked electronic music though - I can remember hearing the first Kraftwerk single then later I was into Fad Gadget and the Human League, that kind of thing - and obviously Sheffield was the place to come to. [Cabaret Voltaire's] Richard H Kirk is the godfather, isn't he?"

“In the early 90s I got a studio together on Charles Street, a few years later I met Jarrod at college and he used to come over once a week or so and we’d do stuff together, mainly electronica stuff since we were both into those early WARP records.”

Listening to I Monster’s music it’s the obvious eclecticism of influence and melodic suss that lifts them above the bulk of what the media tiredly call electroclash. There’s a Trojan Ska CD on the mixing desk and when Jarrod arrives in a scruffy blaze of hair, t shirt, yellow Aviator style specs, and, frankly, metaphorical studded wristbands another less expected era is evoked.

"I AM PROG!" he informs us "I love all those old British prog bands of the 70s. On the album we’ve used some of the sounds you get on those records, there’s a lot of mellotron, Hammond keyboards and we put some of the vocals through a Leslie which is very seventies type of effect.”

But even though I listen to 80% Prog records at home I don't want to be in a prog band because that’s already been done.”

“You want something a bit more eclectic, unless it’s Motorhead,” he says, visibly brightening, “you wouldn’t want them any other way, would you?

While the album, thankfully, bypasses the lands of Pixies and Goblins, Jarrod’s own artwork which adorns the records is definitely that of a slightly perturbed if imaginative prog puppy. There’s the inner gatefold of a psychedelic landscape which would shame neither a Pink Floyd or an Orb cover and the inside paintings of two crows having tea and a girl with a beard are definitely visions from the Hall of some mad mountain King. This, bear in mind, being the artwork for one of the freshest, newest sounding records you’ll hear this year.

The slightly schizoid melange of influences is further emphasized on the record itself where Richard Hawley plays a driving Delta Blues guitar part on Stobarts Blues and The BackSeat Of My Car where the French singer comes acoss all modern Dietrich. (Jarrod reckons Everyone’s A Loser is their own nod to Hot Chocolate)

Their first album, These Are Our Children actually came out in 1999, before Dean was involved in The All-Seeing I.

“We got a grant from the Arts Council and did it in Jarrods studio.” say Dean.

It’s a rarity, only 500 were ever pressed and listening to it is fascinating when laid alongside its succesor. The components are their quirky electronic base with more samples than they use now (“you waste so much time clearing samples,” says Dean, “it’s a pointless way of working”) but the essence is strong, clever, leftfield pop out of electronica. Which is perhaps why the French seem to have taken them to their hearts.

“Pop is a dirty word in France - they equate it with Fame Academy. They really prefer something that bridges the underground and the mainstream.”

A neat summing up of I Monster; pleasurable music that slots into the public consciousness without having to sit up and stick its tongue into the communal arsehole to attract attention.

The attention thing is interesting and perhaps part of the reason why the group seemed to disappear for a while. Apart from being all quiet on the release front you’ll not see Dean and Jarrod’s faces plastered everywhere - even their somewhat dormant website leaves no clue as to the identities of the band.

“Who wants to look at us?” Says Jarrod “Anyway we have got an image. One of us has got hair, the other hasn’t!”

“But,” he gestures at the mixing desk “we haven’t just been sat on us arses.”

Dean has been busy producing a variety of bands, some with Parrott, his fellow All-Seeing I man, including Fat Truckers and Kings Have Long Arms. And the duo seem to do plenty of remixing for the likes of Moby. Producers / slightly reluctant popstars seem to be the order of the day.

I Monster deny Sheffield or the music scene here as a particular influence, "We could be doing this in any city really, we like Sheffield but…." they say.

But on an insanely hot day in the city's ugly, calm centre the duo disrobe, put on suits and massive fly heads and get snapped. A few people turn and idly stare. One girl, an international student, at a guess, holds her head and mimes a scream, "you're so cool" she calls out before breaking off and giggling with her mates." But no crowds gather, no fuss is caused. People aren't passive here, just tolerant. This city allows space and time for people to concentrate on doing what they really want to do away from the pressure of doing what everyone else is doing. Sheffield mixes the humdrum, the routine with the grace and glamour in ways other cities don’t.

Jarrod was working in Record Collector when Daydreaming first came on national radio. “They said come on, you’re on! It was ace.”

They’re an interesting pair, one appatently phlegmatic, the other more extrovert both more three-dimensional than the usual chartfodder puppets. Unlikely to be phased.

The interview ends. They’ve got to fly.

I Monster
I Monster
I Monster
I Monster
I Monster
I Monster
I Monster

I Monster

words: Jack Tractor

pics: Chris Saunders

August 2003


  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
bottom of page