The Reigning Monarchs: Call It Dad Ska

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Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 3:45 AM
click to enlarge Greg Behrendt and Michael Eisenstein are men in black sweaters
  • Greg Behrendt and Michael Eisenstein are men in black sweaters

Greg Behrendt started guitar lessons at 44; the He's Just Not That Into You author and comedian, now 50, cashed in on lessons with professional guitarist Michael Eisenstein, a birthday present from his wife.

For Behrendt, the road to middle-aged surf-rocker has been paved in good advice and failed experiments. At his lowest point, right around the time the movie version of his famous work hit theaters and his talk show Greg Behrendt's Wake Up Call fell off the air, Behrendt almost had a nervous breakdown onstage.

See also: Going to a Ska Show? Here's What to Wear

The downward trajectory didn't really end until he got out of rehab.

"I couldn't figure out how to get back to me," he says now. "What about the things that I liked while I was growing up? Why can't I do that? Of course, that's a very selfish though to have when you're the parent of two girls and you have a wife and responsibilities."

But even at the half-century mark he's making it happen, and he's got the mohawk to go with it. In 2007, his lessons with Eisenstein turned into a one-off song, and they formed the Reigning Monarchs, a North Hollywood-based band that toes a punk line between surf and ska.

click to enlarge Reigning Monarchs' second full-length release , Black Sweater Massacre, came out on September 24.
  • Reigning Monarchs' second full-length release , Black Sweater Massacre, came out on September 24.

Eisenstein rose to popularity in the late '90s as a member of power-pop band Letters to Cleo, and he continues to tour as a backing musician with acts like Melissa Etheridge. And though Behrendt spent the better part of 25 years on and off the stage as a comic, he originally moved to L.A. in 1994 with the hope of landing a record deal with his own pop group, The New Sheridans.

He gave the band two years before getting sober and moving on, only to find himself back in the recording studio decades later. "I had the biggest mouth and the least amount of talent," Behrendt jokes. "It's a bad combination."

For Behrendt and Eisenstein, now two full-length albums into their side career as middle-aged rockers with kids, the novelty has yet to completely wear off. Behrendt says: "I'm at a point in my life, though, where I'm just like, 'Let's figure out how this works.'"

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