The Iowa Idea: Chris Bernat
“Let’s make art!”
In this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I sit down with Chris Bernat. Chris is the lead singer and sometimes rhythm guitarist for the bands Tripmaster Monkey and Chrash. Over the past 20-plus years, I’ve been able to catch Tripmaster Monkey – Chris, Jamie Toal, Wes Haas, and Marty Reyhons. They’ve always put on great shows and have been fun guys to hangout with off stage. So, it was a joy to have Chris talk about creativity and collaboration.
Chris and I discuss his journey from high school talent show – saying he had a band, before he had a band; to being signed to a major label, to creating and collaborating and finding joy in creating music and art for over 30 years. We discussed how the music industry has changed along the way and how that impacts the creative process. I appreciated Chris highlighting the power of collaboration as an essential part of the creative process.
It was an honor having Chris on the podcast. I’d like to thank him for joining me. I hope you enjoy the episode.
Lead singer & sometimes rhythm guitarist Chris Bernat took what he gleaned from the 10 years spent in TM — and what equipment he had acquired in the amicable dissolution — and began doing experimental recordings under the ever-changing moniker “Chrash.” His first release, the 1999 EP The Comedian, featured contributions from ex-Monkeys Jamie Toal and Marty Reyhons. During this time, Bernat created a performance art character/mockery, the legendary straw comic (and literally made-of-straw), Fiesta Dummy.
Chrash continued, releasing The Party LP in 2003 (once again featuring Jamie and Marty), with TM bassist Wes Haas co-arranging, producing, and appearing on nearly every track. Audio Feng Shui followed in 2006 — the first record with the current lineup of Paul Blomquist (The Winter Blanket) on drums and Kim Murray (Darling, The Winter Blanket) on bass.
The band remained prolific, releasing the EP See Through Music* in 2011, and LPs The Name They Change in 2013, Things My Friends Say in 2015, and 2017: The Music on the night of the 2019 Primary Elections.
“I’ve always kept at my pursuit — to write the perfect song and album — while maintaining a full-time sales job. Chrash performs regularly and is always working on new material. It’s an extremely satisfying endeavor of three friends who love to work on and perform weird art rock, but Tripmaster Monkey will always be my first musical romance.”
*The 2011 EP See Through Music, saw Eric Stone (The Multiple Cat) join the lineup on guitars, keys, and backing vocals, a role he reprised on the following release The Name They Change. Eric departed Chrash in 2012, but lent guitar, keyboard, and backing vocals to several TM reunion shows in the ensuing years. He officially joined the TM lineup in the same capacity in early 2018 for My East Is Your West.
The Iowa Idea Podcast music written and performed by Paisley Bible (https://paisleybible.bandcamp.com/).