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Hey, hey, they’re the Monkees! Sort of. Or … maybe not.
Let’s backtrack. Thirty years ago, in September 1987, Columbia Pictures Television and Straybert Productions (headed by Steve Blauner, a former partner of original Monkees producers Robert Rafelson and Bert Schneider) monkeyed around with an old showbiz formula. Attempting to capitalize on the nostalgia sparked by MTV’s Monkees marathon the previous year (which had inspired original band members Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork to reunite for a hugely successful tour), Columbia and Straybert controversially decided to a create a new band — specifically, a New Monkees TV show — for the modern age.
A nationwide talent search ensued, and out of 3,000 applicants, casting directors eventually selected 20-year-old pizza boy and part-time VJ Dino Kovas, 19-year-old waiter Jared Chandler, 27-year-old professional musician Marty Ross (whose powerpop band the Wigs had been signed to CBS Records and had appeared in the movie My Chauffeur), and 18-year-old college student Larry Saltis, who had already been working since age 16 with Atlantic Records.
All four New Monkees could sing and play, and their (now long out-of-print) self-titled album featured some big-name producers and songwriters and was surprisingly listenable. (If you’d heard Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance” or anything by Richard Marx or Glass Tiger, then you’ll have some idea of what it sounded like.) All of this should have lent the much-hyped prefab band some cred.
But unfortunately, the New Monkees were doomed from the start.
The slapped-together sitcom was aggressively, obnoxiously ’80s, with the New Monkees trapped inside a garishly neon, Pee-wee’s Playhouse-like cartoon mansion with an eccentric butler, a War Games/Electric Dreams-esque talking computer named Helen, and a perky waitress who worked in the mansion’s ground-floor diner. Guest stars included boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Russell “the Professor” Johnson from Gilligan’s Island, and cult musical trio the Del Rubio Triplets. One episode’s plotline actually involved the band meeting the pope — in the diner, of course. None of it made much sense, and aside from a couple of clever skits that might have gone viral if YouTube or Facebook had existed in 1987, very little of it worked.
Twenty-two New Monkees episodes were slated to run in syndication, but the show was such a bomb — generating a backlash from outraged old-school Monkees fans and even a lawsuit from the original Monkees themselves — that it was yanked after just 13 episodes. As the book The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present points out, the show was on the air for less time than it had taken the producers to find Dino, Marty, Larry, and Jared.
However, three decades later, the show serves as a fascinating late-’80s artifact. While Saltis has left show business and now runs his own construction company, the other three still work in entertainment. (Chandler is a military consultant for movies, TV shows, and video games; Ross is a successful film and television composer; and Kovas is an actor and director who just finished directing his first feature film, Sleeping Dogs Lie, and is currently at work on the sci-fi thriller Road Kill.) The band members have reunited over the years (“I like to call them ‘get-togethers,’ not ‘reunions,’” quips Kovas), much to the delight of their small but devoted cult fan base, and they remain pals.
“We had a real bond, and still do. There was a lot of craziness going on when doing the show and the record because it was such a short period of time, but as cheesy as it sounds, I made a lot of long-lasting friendships,” says Kovas.
“We actually do like each other,” adds Saltis. “Despite everything that’s happened, with everything we’ve been through, we really do respect each other, and we’re glad that we’re here with each other.”
To look back on the New Monkees’ 30th anniversary, Yahoo Music has assembled an oral history featuring new and exclusive conversations with Kovas and Saltis; quotes from Monkees expert Ken Mills’s excellent and in-depth 2014 Ross interview from the Zilch! podcast (which can be heard in its entirety here); and Dolenz’s visit to Yahoo last year.
Micky Dolenz: They asked me to direct the pilot. [The original Monkees] were on the road at the time, in ’86, selling out 10,000-seaters. They said, “You guys should be in it, and you can sort of hand the baton over to [the new guys].” I was like, “Screw you! I ain’t giving the baton to nobody!”
Marty Ross: [Micky] told me to my face, “Yeah, I was supposed to direct the pilot.” They offered him to direct the pilot. I immediately thought about how that would have been great for us, but what’s in it for him? And the other guys would probably just castrate him for it.
Dino Kovas: At the time, it was like 1986, I was playing in a band called Snakeout in Detroit, and I was also doing a cable TV show called Back Porch Video. So I felt comfortable in front of the camera. My friend told me that she heard that they were auditioning for “New Monkees,” because The Monkees marathon had been playing on MTV.
Ross: I’m a great admirer of The Monkees. Anybody that’d want to be part of The New Monkees would probably be somebody that was in love and had great admiration for the original Monkees!
Kovas: I’d always loved the Monkees. My childhood heroes were Lou Costello and Micky Dolenz. And I thought, “I can do this.” So I decided to go out to New York and audition.
Larry Saltis: I actually think I saw the ad for the auditions on MTV. I mentioned it to my mother and father at the time, but didn’t think much of it. The old story, which has become a cliché, is that I came home one day and next thing I knew, I’m flying out three days later for the audition. My parents thought it was a great opportunity for me. I don’t think they thought I was going to make it. I think it was more like, “Hey, put the kid out there. Get a cheap plane ticket. Get him there. It’ll be good experience for him.”
Ross: I was invited to go audition in Los Angeles. … I walked in there and the person before me, I remember, I heard the “cheer up sleepy Jean” [the chorus of the Monkees’ “Daydream Believer”]. … I said, “I’ve got to change my plan. I can sing, but that’s probably not what they’re looking for at this point.”
Saltis: A lot of people thought that you were supposed to audition with the old [Monkees] songs. I think I was one of the only people that played a modern song. I did INXS’s “This Time.”
Ross: I thought it was kind of strange. …. You walked up [to the audition] and I saw the logo of the Monkees on the side of the door with a marker above it that said “New.” They said, “What makes you want to be a New Monkee?” And I said, “Who said I did? I was asked to come here by my manager. … I don’t think you guys are really serious about calling this The New Monkees.”
Kovas: Even Steve Blauner, who was our executive producer, didn’t want to call it The New Monkees. He actually wanted the band to have a different name.
Ross: They said, “We don’t think it’s going to be called The New Monkees. We’re going to try to call it something else. We’re just doing this for the auditions, and we’re going to try to make it something copacetic for the American public later on. But for now, yes, it’s called The New Monkees, because that way it has identity.” I went, “Oh, OK. I get that.”
Saltis: You know, the original concept of the show was to be in a mansion because we were supposed the Monkees’ kids! … And I do know that [original Monkee Michael Nesmith’s son] Jason [Nesmith] auditioned in L.A. I was shocked that he did that. That probably would have been a smart business decision, to cast him, wouldn’t it? But I don’t know if Michael Nesmith would’ve been happy with it, because he had such a vehemence toward the whole project.
Kovas: The point was to have something for the kids of our generation, as opposed to watching 40-year-old men on reruns, having 13-year-old girls of the ’80s swoon over now-40-year-old men [in the original Monkees]. It was to have something for a younger generation.
Saltis: I think it was Jeff Schneider, Bert Schneider’s son, who suggested the idea — he said, “Hey, Dad, why don’t we have a new Monkees? Like, our own Monkees?” That’s how it came up.
Ross: [Later] they called me up and said I was one of nine [final prospects]. And then I was one of five. But they had a problem: They weren’t looking for five, they were looking for four. I said, “What does that mean?” They said, “We have to do kind of a talent thing on the set of The New Gidget.”
Kovas: You’ve got to understand that this was the regurgitation period of television, when you had The New Gidget, The New Leave It to Beaver, The New Munsters.
Ross: So we did a free-for-all improv thing [on the New Gidget set] in front of cameras and lights. And that was when I was told I was the fourth pick. They had the other three down. They didn’t have me down. But what’s interesting is that the guy that was in the final five or seven that got turned down for it. … That guy turned out to be one of the founders of the Blue Man Group. So I think he did OK.
Kovas: There were nine of us that could be New Monkees, and one of them was — do you remember a movie called Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo? Well, Boogaloo Shrimp was one of the nine, and he and I hit it off. We did a screen test together, because everybody was working with everybody in sets to see who played well against each other and all that. One day, all of a sudden I fell this tapping on my shoulder, and I look up and it’s this tall man, with sunglasses and a pipe. He taps my shoulder, and then he walks away. And Boogaloo goes, “Do you know who that was? That was the man. You’re in. You’re in!” Boogaloo was the one who actually got excited for me, and he was right. It was Steve Blauner who’d walked past me and tapped me.
Ross: My gut [initially] told me something was wrong when my mother said, “Which [Monkee] are you going to be?” When my mother said that, I said, “OK, it’s a sunken ship.”
Kovas: I knew the first thing right off the bat was going to be, “You’re the Micky Dolenz!” — because I’m the drummer, and I was perceived to be “the funny one.” And I was like, “No, no, no, no!”
Saltis: I do know Davy Jones was not happy about somebody saying that there was going to be “another Davy Jones.” I admit, the word heartthrob came up a lot about me, in all the magazine articles — that Larry was [“the new Davy”].
Kovas: So yeah, we weren’t very happy about being called the New Monkees — but who am I? I’m like a 20 year-old kid that went from delivering pizzas to doing a television show. Like I’m going to tell Columbia Pictures what they’re supposed to do?
Ross: We all went out later on after that first day, and we said, “What are we going to do about this name?”
Saltis: We just didn’t understand why you’d have to call it that.
Ross: But it appeared to be OK. From where we were sitting, it seemed like everybody loved the idea. … Little did we know that there was going to be this storm surrounding us, of which they tried to prevent us from seeing for the longest time — until we finally found out from mail bags, later on, that were filled with hate mail.
Kovas: People were writing in very nasty letters.
Ross: They’d say something like, “Go to hell. I’m going to watch you. I’ll be on your every step. Don’t turn around, there’ll be a knife in your neck.” Stuff like that. … “The Bastard New Monkees.” “To: Idiot New Monkees.” “Death to the New Monkees!” Literally, written all over it with pictures of knives and guns and all this stuff.
Kovas: It got to the point where I started going out and making phone calls [to angry Monkees fans], trying to appease them.
Ross: I would sit there and look at the other guys and just off the cuff would say, “You know, maybe we’d get less hate mail if we were the ‘New Beatles.’” … There was some real viable and palpable death threats against us. We had to have a police escort from New York to Philly. It was a little bit weird.
Kovas: I remember one time I went to the president of the Monkees fan club. I went to her house because I was trying to be, for lack of a better term, an ambassador. I actually went to this woman’s house. She had every picture in her living room of Monkees. It was insane, like, “Oh my God, I just walked into the lion’s den!” But we talked. I was like, “No, ma’am. We’re not trying to take their place. That’s not what we want to be called. But I’m not going to deny a job.” And actually, she was nice about it.
Ross: I was aware of the lawsuit that [the original Monkees] were threatening, was aware of this whole thing. That’s their deal. That’s their livelihood. That’s theirs. When somebody comes in and says, “Look, for all intents and purposes, we’re going to try to put you guys out the front to the farm,” if you feel that, you’re going to defend what you feel you need to defend. I have no problem, and I never had a problem with them trying to defend it. … I don’t hold any grudge against those guys. I never wanted to take the place of the Monkees, and I don’t even have the talent to do that. Not even close.
Kovas: Because there was no communication between us, there was miscommunication. And I sometimes thought that Steve Blauner should have been like, “Hey, guys, why don’t you sit down, have a drink together?” But nobody ever did that.
Saltis: I think we all would’ve said, “Hey, get us out there. Get us to talk to them. Do what you can to help them to understand that we’re not here to take anything from them. We just found ourselves in this situation.” I just don’t think we could ever have the platform for that at the time.
Kovas: And it sort of created this sense of animosity that probably wasn’t even there. So how are these 20-year-olds supposed to act when they’re trying to do something and they’re not liked?
Saltis: The producers never really filled us in about how we were supposed to act toward them, given the circumstances. There wasn’t any direction. There was no guidance as to how to handle something like that. We were all so young.
Ross: When the real fact came out to me, that there’s a vast majority of people out there that don’t like us, it hit me kind of in my stomach. … Our whole thing all the time was hoping that the Monkees would give us a blessing.
Saltis: As far as the backlash, I was lucky to be shielded from most of it, me being the youngest one at the time. The other three guys seemed to be more on top of it. I wouldn’t say I was naive, but I really didn’t care as much. And I think that’s just having to do with youth.
Kovas: But get this: The day we recorded [the New Monkees theme song] “Turn It Up,” the [original] Monkees were recording at the same place, right next door — the studio next door.
Saltis: What’s funny is, I happened to go to the bathroom to take a pee right at that moment. So I didn’t get to meet them when they came out. I was the only one that didn’t get to meet the Monkees that day.
Kovas: I was drinking a lot of iced tea then. Lipton iced tea was my s***. I drank so much, it was like I was coked out. And I remember walking out to take a breather and I passed Peter Tork, and I’ve got to admit, we were a**holes. We should have tried to talk to them, but I think they had already set something up that they just didn’t want to talk to us. That’s how I felt, anyway. I remember I wanted to reach out to them, and I couldn’t, so all I did was poke Peter’s tummy and I went, “He he he he!” And I kept walking. And now I’m thinking, What an a**hole move on my part! I thought I was breaking the ice back then, but now, as a 50-year-old guy, I’d be thinking, “That motherf***er, he just poked my belly!”
Saltis: If I would’ve been there, I probably would’ve acted the same way. I would’ve come across as cocky and belligerent, because we’d heard that they hated us so much.
Ross: As a production of its time, [the New Monkees’ album] was one of the better albums. It had topflight production for its day.
Kovas: It’s not a bad little pop record.
Ross: [Larry] was adept at guitar playing, and he had a good voice, there’s no doubt about it. And Dino could really play drums. He was a good, garage band-type, quality drummer — which is to mean that he kept a really good beat, and he had a really good energy to him. We did have the nucleus of a real band that really could play.
Kovas: Marty and Larry had more involvement in the music than me. The only involvement I had musically is playing on it and singing the theme song as a fluke. But I like “Turn It Up,” not because I sang it, but because we had the Tower of Power playing on it. Just watching them was incredible. Those aren’t digital horns on there! It’s Tower of Power!
Ross: I got to play with some of the best people in the business of the day, what was our version of the Brill Building. The best writers of the ’80s were involved with the show. I picked the songs that I wanted to sing. … The three songs that I sing on the album were ones that — well, one of them I had done in the Wigs — that I wanted to do. Another one was from my friends the Elvis Brothers [who were first approached and declined to be cast on the series].
Kovas: It’s not the music that I was necessarily into playing, but did I like some of the New Monkees’ songs. I really liked “Corner of My Eye,” which Larry co-wrote.
Saltis: That was a blessing, to even get a song on the album at the age of 18. The others did not. I had been set up with another writer named Mike Slamer from Columbia Music Group, and we wrote a song. I was granted a meeting with Lenny Waronker at Warner Bros., who was the president at the time. I played him a demo, and he just looked across the table at me after he listened to it and said, “You’re gonna get a song on this record.” It wasn’t like Lenny was thinking that he was going turn it into a hit. He just was kind enough to give me a shot.
Kovas: I loved “Boy Inside the Man.” I thought that was a really, really good song — that was a Tom Cochrane cover.
Ross: That was presented to me by Matt Fassberg, one of the producers of the show, the Tom Cochrane song which I loved already. On the Tom Cochrane song, I got to work with Steve Barri. Now, Steve Barri was a hero of mine; he was one of like the underground guys of the ’60s, who played with this guy, was a partner with P.F. Sloan. P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri wrote tons of songs — I mean, from “Eve of Destruction” to “Secret Agent Man,” a ton of great material from the ’60s for many stars. And Steve Barri is producing me? I found that to be just awesome.
Kovas: I think we could have had more freedom in terms of the music, but I think when you’re doing a show, and when you’re on Warner Bros., well, Warner Bros. wants hits, right? So they’re going to go to the songwriters that they have that they know that they can kick out a hit.
Saltis: I remember WMMS in Cleveland at that time was the No. 1 radio station in the country, and they broke a lot of hits. WMMS gave “What I Want” a spin. But there weren’t enough [request] calls for WMMS to say, “This is going to be a hit!” And that’s all Lenny Waronker called about. After that, everything just started to unravel. Warner Bros. Records was depending on Columbia Pictures to make the TV show a hit first. Columbia Pictures was depending on Warner Bros. to make the album a hit. And that was the business philosophy that basically caused the entire thing to go under.
Kovas: So then, of course, nothing happened.
Saltis: I think Lenny Waronker wanted it to be a really good album. I think everybody involved at Warner Bros. wanted that, and they did the best they could. But I think, when you want talk about the music, you have to unfortunately talk about the TV show at the same time.
Ross: The show wasn’t very funny.
Kovas: The writing was pretty bad.
Saltis: Also, I think I stunk as an actor. That was pretty obvious! I was just a musician, doing the best I could.
Ross: They wanted to be kind of a modern college-type show. Literally, a college-type show. The average script price at that point was somewhere between $8,500 and $12,000 for one half-hour script, a comedy script. I believe that show was offering $2,000 for a half-hour script. The only people that were really answering were people from USC film school and UCLA. We were getting those kinds of scripts, and it reflects in the quality. You get what you pay for.
Saltis: The original concept was we were supposed to walk through the long hallways of the mansion, and behind every door would be a different episode, like a different adventure. That was a great concept. Except for the fact that things changed when the show was taken non-union. I think, conceptually, things got a little bit torn apart and thinned out. It just sort of lost its way.
Kovas: Now, the cool thing was the producers were young enough to call in on some cool young filmmakers. So, like the guy who did “Mr. Bill” on Saturday Night Live [Walter Williams], he came in and he shot four individual short films with the New Monkees. So to me, the cool part of the show wasn’t the episodic part, it was the short thingies that we did. That’s what I felt made The New Monkees unique to the time. So I think they missed an opportunity to actually do something cool.
Saltis: Conceptually and visually, I think the show was trendsetting. I believe USA Today even wrote it was one of the most innovative TV shows to come out. But the show was very quick; you didn’t have time to even laugh sometimes. You went from scene to scene, story to story. Maybe that was the problem. Maybe people’s attention spans back then were a little longer than they are now.
Ross: It got pretty dark toward the last few episodes when we were filming. The show wasn’t very good, and it just felt unfunny. And it was unfunny. It wasn’t well written. It wasn’t well done. There were bright moments, but the bright moments were not worth going to search out for in a lot of ways. If you are a New Monkees fan and you want to find the funny stuff, that’s fine, but there was nothing for [old-school] Monkees fans to find appealing about watching that show.
Kovas: It was all pretty weird. It came fast and it went fast, and I think we were so busy churning out music videos and recording and doing the episode, working like 16 hours a day, that we didn’t even realize it wasn’t working.
Saltis: I think we did 33 music videos, for 13 episodes. That’s pretty crazy.
Kovas: But when we didn’t get picked up for the [final nine episodes], we were slightly surprised, because we figured, “But come on, it’s just nine more!”
Saltis: I found out the show was canceled by happenstance, through the production crew. They were getting ready to do a sale of all the loaned materials, such as guitars, amps, recording stuff — you know, all those things were supposed to be endorsement deals. Well, the show was over, so those things were supposed to go back to the original companies, like Marshall amps. Instead, there was a sale, and I wasn’t even there. The way I found is that one of my personal guitars was sold! But that’s OK. It was like this pink neon see-through thing, so it’s all right. It’s gone.
Ross: This is kind of strange, but they say that if we would have had a scandal in our band, it could have helped us. But we’re not scandalous. … all of us have been married just once, all have children, all have steady jobs, all working within the community. … No divorces, no drug busts, nothing like that.
Kovas: Well, my friend who I was on the video show with in Michigan, I actually got him a job on The New Monkees as a P.A. He was really funny. He and I, we became the “Ecstasy kids.” One time we went to go see the Fabulous Thunderbirds, and we were on ecstasy, and we met [Go-Go’s drummer] Gina Schock there. I told her that I was the drummer for New Monkees, and I remember her going off about the Bangles. She was, “We f***ing play our music!” Maybe she was trying to make a whole connection between the Monkees vs. New Monkees and the Bangles vs. the Go-Go’s. But I didn’t want to have that conversation, not in my state of mind at the time! But really, the only time we were all stoned at the same time was for a video for a song called “Do It Again.”
Saltis: That was of our funniest moments. I remember none of us really wanted to be there. We had all been through pneumonia, like walking pneumonia; we were just overworked and not feeling so good. So here we are, finally doing our last video, and somebody get the idea, “Hey, let’s get stoned!” All four of us were really not all there in that video.
Kovas: We were so high, I don’t even think they made a video out of that shoot. It was just a waste. It was sad.
Dolenz: I met all the kids that did the [New Monkees show], and I felt sorry for them, actually. … One of the producers, years later, was asked, “What do you think was the reason for [the original Monkees’] success?” He said, “We call it lightning in a bottle.”
Kovas: I met Micky back then in Detroit, where we have a big auto show. The Monkeemobile was there, and Micky Dolenz was signing autographs. So I get in line with my little 8-by-10, and I put it in front of him. He goes, “Who should I make this out to?” And I says, “Dino.” And then he does a double-take. He looks up at me, and I was like, “Yeah, yeah, I’m one of the ‘new guys.’ Um, can we talk?” So his assistant found us a room, and I told him, “Look, man, I just want you to know, it’s not like we want to take over. We want to be a part of the whole Monkee lore.” And he’s like, “Yeah, but it’s like taking pointy ears and putting them on somebody and having a new Dr. Spock!” And right there, being the 20-year-old Dino, I was ready to go, “It’s actually Mr. Spock. He wasn’t a doctor. But I get what you’re saying.” However, I kept my mouth shut.
Ross: [Micky] just can’t be friends. It’s really tough. We talked later, and it’s tough for that. He says it’s very tough to be friends. … I understand that completely.
Kovas: I went to that auto show not to change Micky’s mind, but to clear at least the air. I tried to make amends. He didn’t want any of it. And then he started dogging Steve Blauner. I always loved Steve; I was friends with him until the day he passed. Steve became my kind of surrogate father, a father figure, because I grew up without a dad. So Micky starts dogging him, and I’m thinking, Hey, f***er, he’s the guy who green-lit the [original] Monkees!
So we parted that room with Micky going, “Yeah, yeah, we’ll see.” That’s what I got out of it. And I was like, “Really?” I was a huge Monkees fan. The first album that I had, in first grade, was Headquarters. That’s why it kind of broke my heart when Micky acted like that, because there I was meeting an idol, but then the idol thinks that I’m trying to screw him over in some way. I was like, “Dude, no, I’m not screwing you! I really love you!”
Ross: [Years later] I was asked to audition for a show that was on a cable outlet. … So I showed up for this thing and sat down and looked to my right, and there’s Peter Tork, sitting next to me. He goes, “Hi!” I go, “Hi.” So we started talking, and we got along fine. He said, “You know what was really cool? Something I do in my blues band is this version of ‘Lady Madonna. ‘It’s a perfect blues song.” I said, “Teach it to me.” So I learned it and then started playing it. He goes, “Yeah, you’ve got it down.” … Somewhere around in Los Angeles, there’s a lady that’s got a video of Peter Tork and Marty Ross doing “Lady Madonna,” which would be an awesome video. It was good.
I met Michael [Nesmith] at a function in Beverly Hills, the BMI Television and Film Awards. He was sitting with Mike Love. So there’s Mike Love, and Mike sitting there. And I just started talking for a while, and talked to both of them, and we got along fine. [Nesmith] said, “Let’s take a picture.” So I took a picture with him. Mike Love was off in the bathroom.
Kovas: But even now, our videos still get s*** on all the time by Monkees fans: “You can’t replace the Monkees, blah, blah, blah, blah!” And it’s like, “Yeah, we’ve heard it all before. We know. This isn’t for you, then. Move on!” That’s just my attitude toward it. There are some people that dug it. So if you want to s*** on it, go s*** somewhere else.
Ross: Any time I’m around a Monkee thing, it’s like it really turns my emotions around. Because I’m so in love with the band, and I love the music, and yet I’m ostracized from it by fans. It’s very difficult to go and try to be a part of it. People say, “We’re going to the Monkees convention!” I can’t go. It’s just that I’m not welcome.
Kovas: Marty is playing on Oct. 21 at the Saban Theatre. And do you know who’s playing after Marty? Good ol’ Micky Dolenz, with the guys from the Rascals. When he booked the gig, I was like, “Does Micky know?” Nobody had said anything. Marty loves playing, so it’s not like he’s going to make it a big thing — but yeah, isn’t that crazy? I’ll be there.
Saltis: I’m looking forward to November this year, when we get together. I know it’ll be just like the old days. I think there’s like 30 or 40 fans that are coming, and we’ll answer a bunch of questions. We did it in 2007 [for the New Monkees’ 20th anniversary], and it was just a lot of fun. They’re trying to combine this event with original Monkees fans, so maybe they can get an overflow of people who are simply interested. Maybe those fans will come. Hopefully there won’t be a fight.
Ross: [The New Monkees fan base] is a very, very small, limited market. It turns out The New Monkees thing turned out to be a big, huge balloon that turned into a little cult item. There are people that are really interested.
Kovas: It’s funny, because we have, like, maybe 15 fans. We know it was important for a few people. I’ll give you an example, and it’s actually a great example: A friend of mine who was working on the video show Back Porch Video, when he got older, he started directing this church television show. It was like a gospel thing. The drummer of the show’s gospel band overheard him talking to me one day, and he was like, “Wait a minute. Dino from the New Monkees? Oh my God, I used to watch them all the time!” And he asked if I would go and have coffee with him the next time I was in town. This kid, he was a black kid from Detroit, a proper jazz drummer. I’m like, “Dude, you are a better drummer than I ever was.” And he goes, “When I was a little kid and I saw you on The New Monkees, I saw you were having fun. That’s when I knew I wanted to play drums.” And that just blew my mind. And then I thought, “Wow, that’s kind of what Micky Dolenz did for me.”
Ross: I got a letter from this girl. This girl was a fan. She said, “I’ve been a fan for a long time. But, admittedly, I’ve been very depressed and I got so in a desperate state that I tried to kill myself. As I was preparing to kill myself, on the television, your television show came on. But then you did a song called ‘Affection.’ And those words spoke to me, and I decided to check myself into a rehab.” Getting letters like that — I still have that letter — getting a letter like that can turn everything around.
Kovas: There’s people that grew up with the New Monkees and got turned on by it. And you know what? I’m not going to s*** on that.
Saltis: I often joke with people: “I started at the top and worked my way to the bottom.” But I shouldn’t even think of it that way, because it was a great opportunity, and I’m glad I got to be part of it. And I’m glad I know the other three guys.