By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
Pink Floyd is in that upper echelon of iconic classic-rock bands that's always popular, regardless of pop-culture trends or musical fads. (Doesn't Dark Side of the Moon still sell, like, 20 million copies every year or something?). But St. Louis takes its classic rock a bit more seriously than most cities — and we're not just satisfied getting our Floydian education from a bunch of Aussies. We have El Monstero, and since 1999 this local tribute has ballooned into a holiday tradition that brings out thousands of fans and spans multiple nights at the Pageant. The RFT spoke with Monstero founding member, show organizer and bassist Kevin Gagnepain over the phone as he took a break from his day job.
B-Sides: So how are things looking for this year's string of shows? You just added a sixth night, right?
Kevin Gagnepain: This is the earliest we've had sellouts, and it's also the most shows we've ever done. We added a fifth show last year, and that was kind of risky at the time, but then tickets sold so well out of the box this year that we decided to add a sixth. It's going to be great.
When you started doing this in way back in 1999, did you ever think about it growing to these proportions?
Not even close.
You were in the band Stir at the time and making records for a major label. What made you want to start a tribute band in the first place?
El Monstero originated as just a bar cover band while myself and the two other guys in Stir were waiting for the label to put out our record. We got Mark Quinn to sing, to try to separate it from Stir, but it was really just us keeping our chops up by playing as much as possible. We would end every night with "Dark Side of the Moon," and at some point during that year we decided to put together a whole night of Pink Floyd, because it's intense music and we all love the band. So we set up the first show at Mississippi Nights and it just grew from there.
When did you make the jump to the Pageant?
I can't remember if we did one or two years at Mississippi Nights. It was the first year the Pageant opened.
Was that kind of a risky move, since you probably had to invest more into lighting and stage production at a bigger venue?
We put that on ourselves. When we moved into the Pageant and started looking at the dollars that the show could potentially generate, we said to ourselves, "OK, what have we always wanted to do in a Stir show that we could never afford to do on our own dime?" So we added lasers and some moving lights that year. But of course, you pay for all of that stuff way before the show, and you don't know how many tickets you're going to sell, but it ended up working out, and over the years we've been able to keep adding nights. It's a little bit easier now, but there's always a risk because we try to push the show bigger and bigger every year.
What's changed about the show? What can you do now that you couldn't in the early years?
Just the size of it. The last three years we've added pyro and that's something I never really thought I'd be able to do in a band. But I gotta tell you, one of the best feelings in the world is to be able to blow stuff up. [Laughs] You never lose that little kid inside of you who likes to light a firecracker, and these are gigantic ones.
What do you have in store for this year's string of shows?
This year's light show is the biggest we've ever used, more pyro than we've ever used, multiple lasers and a few other surprises that I'm afraid I can't give away.