Everyone loves The Monkees, the 1960’s TV band composed of Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith. To many they were considered to be American’s answer to The Beatles, only funnier, and their TV show ran on NBC from 1966 to 1968.
The band may have been a footnote in history if not for something magical called “syndication,” which led to The Monkees being shown on TV for decades after their initial two-season run. Reruns of the show appeared everywhere, including on Saturday morning TV, a time normally reserved for cartoons. That is where generation after generation discovered (and fell in love) with their kooky antics and amazing songs (many penned by Boyce & Hart) for the first time, including “Stepping Stone,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “I’m a Believer” and “Day Dream Believer.”
The decades since have seen several successful reunion tours, but after Jones’ unexpected death in 2012, long-estranged Monkee Mr. Nesmith returned to the band for several sold-out tours.
To mark the band’s half-century mark, surviving members Mr. Dolenz, Mr. Tork and Mr. Nesmith have released a new CD backed by a superstar collective of modern rock songwriters including Noel Gallagher (Oasis,) Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) and Rivers Cuomo of Weezer. The band will play the District’s Warner Theatre Thursday evening.
Mr. Dolenz discussed his love of The Beach Boys and all things Monkees.
Question: What do The Beach Boys mean to you?
Answer: You know, surf and sand and girls. [laughs] I was a big fan. And over the years I got to meet everybody from the band. They started out a couple years before us, but over the years we got to know each other. Our paths have crossed on many occasions.
Q: Favorite memories of working with them?
A: Doing show together. That was always fun. And I remember Brian [Wilson]coming over to my house in the early days just to hang out.
Q: Can you believe that The Monkees are still making music 50 years later?
A: It’s 50 years?
Q: It has been 50 years.
A: You’re kidding me.
Q: No. That’s what I know. Five decades of The Monkees. That’s what it says online.
A: No. Online? Well then it must be true. [laughs] Wait, I gotta look at my birthdate on my driver’s license to see if what you are saying is true. [laughs]
It’s weird to think about it. Who does something for this long? Fifty years. But I’m thankful.
Q: Will Mike Nesmith have a part in the tour?
A: He’s on the new album, and hopefully he will join us on the road. Show up and sing a few songs with us. Not sure of the whole tour. Mike and Peter are good guys, talented and fun to work with.
Q: Did Davy’s death bring Mike back to tour with The Monkees?
A: We all got together for a private memorial for David. Mike, Peter and I started talking. People wanted us to do a memorial concert. Mike said, “Yeah, I’d love to do that.” That quickly turned into several shows, a little minitour, followed by more shows. It was nice to play with Mike. I hope to do it again soon.
Q: The new album, “Good Times?,” features a lot of great modern rock guest and songwriters. How did you get everyone involved?
A: We just put the word out, and a lot of people I guess were influenced by what we did, what we do. That whole indie rock thing is sort of happening. It’s all about recapturing that 1960s jangly guitar sound of our era. It’s similar pop sensibilities to what we do and we got lucky.
There’s no accounting for taste. [laughs]
The Monkees play The Warner Theatre Thursday. For tickets go to Ticketmaster.com.