Nuclear Monkey is taking the stage, or rather the dorm room. Cramped into one room, the seven- member band plays their original music for lucky passersby students and their growing online audience.
The band Nuclear Monkey has become well-known for what they call their tiny dorm concerts. What started in the Stanford dorms last year, has now gone viral on Instagram reels, with nearly 750,000 views on their most popular video.
Last year, drummer Tyler Pons and lead singer Nate Neuwirth were having difficulty finding practice space in Frost and started rehearsing in Stanford. Some of their friends would come and sit in on these practices.
“I think at one point, Tyler was like ‘We should just have a show here in the room and have everyone on the floor come from the adjacent floors and we can film it,” Neuwirth said.
The tiny dorm concerts are all filmed, so that the band can generate content for Instagram.
“We filmed a bunch of videos and had a ton lined up so we could just every other day release one,” Neuwirth said. “Before we were posting like maybe once a week, if that.”
In December 2023, the band gained 20,000 followers in three weeks. The views on Nuclear Monkey’s reels grew slowly and have left them with a new group of listeners on all streaming platforms.
“I think sometimes bands blow up because they’re posting something funny and they get a lot of followers, but they don’t get a lot of listeners on their music because the music isn’t related to the post that blew up,” Neuwirth said. “We got 20,000 Instagram followers and then that grew to 70,000 monthly listeners, so people liked it just because of the music and that shows.”
The recent increase in listeners has been especially exciting for Neuwirth, who started Nuclear Monkey in high school. It wasn’t until his roommate and current band member Pons encouraged Neuwirth to start Nuclear Monkey back up at UM, that the current group came to be.
Today the band includes: Neuwirth as the lead singer, Pons on drums, Max Melo on bass, Eli Katz on piano, Andreas Kellepouris on saxophone, Joel Newell on trumpet and Julie Giulimachado as background vocals and percussion.
“We’re all just really good friends,” Pons said. “Outside of the band, we hang out every day.”
Their chemistry carries through to their onstage presence, where they find a cohesive, harmonious sound among so many students.
“It’s a big band, it’s a lot of people on stage,” Pons said. “It’s a lot of different sounds you can draw from.”
The band combines a variety of genres including indie rock, jazz, pop, samba, R&B and bossa nova.
“Everyone in the band is really a good musician,” Pons said. “Everyone is studying jazz here, so anything we can think of, we can do.”
Nuclear Monkey currently has 10 songs out on an album called, “What Wild Ecstasy!,” which Neuwirth released in September 2022. After many months of trial and error, the band is excited to release their second album this April.
Nuclear Monkey was working on the second album at the end of last May, but decided to scrap it, as it did not fit the vision that the group had in mind.
“It was just like we worked so hard at this and this just isn’t it,” Neuwirth said. “It was just obvious. If I were to say ‘Oh I like this,’ I would just be lying to myself. It’s tough.”
The upcoming album was recorded on a cassette recorder, giving the music a unique, vintage sound.
“The cassette creates a really cool vibe, a really cool sound like a vintage Lo-fi sound that you can’t replicate digitally,” Neuwirth said. “I’m super excited, but we still have a long way to go in terms of recording.”
Between finishing an album, playing gigs and keeping up with social media content, Nuclear Monkey has been busy. However, the traction they are gaining has motivated them to book a small summer tour.
Nuclear Monkey is going to Richmond, Virginia on May 19, New York City on May 26 and to-be-determined dates in Washington D.C. and Boston.
“There’s never any stress or nerves,” Neuwirth said. “I really just am excited and hoping that we will be playing for some big crowds soon.”
Be sure to follow Nuclear Monkey on Instagram @nuclear.monkey to stay up-to-date with future performances and content. Also, make sure to check out their next performance on Feb. 29 at the Titanic Brewery & Restaurant.