Spider Virus – The Monkey Tape

If you’re lucky enough to experience it, you’ll notice that all things come in cycles. Fashion is the easiest to spot but it certainly happens in music as well. The late 80s were filled with hair metal bands, kids loving Led Zeppelin and tie-dyed shirts from Wal-mart. When grunge broke through commercially, it was part of a bubbling movement that had been happening for years as a reaction against that nostalgia. Bands like Green River, The Melvins and Soundgarden created a blend of dissonant, (often) angular and aggressive sounds that carved a path that defined the next decade. When Nirvana broke through to take the crown of the genre, the floodgates opened. Here in 2024 we can see that influence making its rounds again – grunge is all around us! You can buy a Nirvana shirt at Wal-mart no problem. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just part of the cycle of pop culture.

One golden opportunity that arises with this cycle of popularity is that it opens the door to discover old releases that sound like they could be new releases. For instance, fire up The Monkey Tape, a five song cassette release from 1993 and the debut of Jerry Campbell’s band Spider Virus and you’ll find dissonant vibes, angular guitars and aggressive, always-pushing-forward songs. If this popped up on your Spotify “Discover Weekly” playlist, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a modern band influenced by the early grunge movement. Aside from a few tell-tell songs in the production, these songs have a confidence in their presentation that makes them enjoyable across decades of time.

There’s no telling if Spider Virus was directly influenced by Nirvana (or any of their ilk) but The Monkey Tape is an excellent listen even today, 31 years after it’s initial release.