Rex Monday, 36, was out for a predawn walk when he took a misstep and fell into a storm drain–only a short distance, but he fell wrong. He lay there motionless for several hours until a woman, walking her dog, chanced by and called the paramedics. The next three months Monday spent as a newborn C-7 quad in rehab at Rancho Los Amigos. That was 14 years ago. Now his Beatle-esque band–The Warm Guns–has issued its first album, Blown Away. We caught up with him at his office in Ojai, Calif.
NM: Tell us about what happened after you got out of rehab.
RM: As soon as I got out of the hospital I went right back to recording an album I had been working on before. I got on with my life.
NM: Are you different now than before the accident?
RM: I’m more reflective, less egotistical. Also, I’ve learned you don’t need to be a fully functioning human being to be productive and conscientious and able.
NM: Did you ever get into the drug and alcohol thing? Was that a problem for you?
RM: I’ve gone down that road–had chronic urinary infection, so pills were easy to get.
NM: Serious depression?
RM: Yeah, I’ve had times of incredible depression and hopelessness. Waking up at three in the morning with diarrhea, shit all over the bed and the chair and the floor. I get frustrated, angry, and I weep. And then I clean it up and I feel better.
NM:Do you find yourself getting angry with those around you?
RM: I don’t get angry with other people, I get angry at myself.
NM: And how do you handle that?
RM: When I feel down I’ll not want to be around other people. I’ll write, I’ll read, isolate for a couple of days. The last time it happened I went out to Los Padres National Forest, camping by myself in the middle of nowhere, bears growling all around me.
NM: Are there other ways you think you’ve changed?
RM: In my relationships with women. I’m more sensitive now. I don’t have the pleasure receptors, so now my pleasure is all about giving pleasure to women instead of myself. And I seem to date a lot more women now than before.
NM: Has your music changed since your accident?
RM: It used to be more heady, art for art’s sake. Now it’s more emotional, more spiritual, more humanist.
NM: Where did the name The Warm Guns come from?
RM: “Happiness is a Warm Gun” was a song by the Beatles. What Lennon and McCartney are alluding to was not guns but heroin. “Bang bang shoot shoot” is the syringe. But I think of a “Warm Gun” as a place where people can go to be happy. Everyone has a warm place, whether it’s drugs, lovers, a roller coaster, spirituality.
NM: There’s an element of cynicism, perhaps despair, in your music. For instance, there’s a line, “Do you remember a time when we weren’t blowing each other away?”
RM: It’s true, isn’t it? Do you remember a time when we weren’t “blowing each other away?”
NM: There are also references to Eastern religion. One of the titles is “The Taoist Wheel.” Where does that come from?
RM: In 1992 I came across Chogyam Trungpa’s “Cutting through Spiritual Materialism.” That got me into Buddhism.
NM: Do you meditate?
RM: I spent three months at the Amaravati ashram in England, doing intense meditation from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.
NM: Do you see your accident as a form of karma?
RM: The accident happened for some reason, and it gave me a wonderful opportunity to be in this body. I consider myself very lucky that I had this accident. If I had to choose between me from before, walking around, and who I am in the chair, I think I like the one in the chair better. Being in the chair gave me insights into my mind. Instead of acting out physically, I was forced to look at my behavior.
NM: The liner notes of Blown Away show you sitting naked, with a guitar against your body, and your legs around it. Why did you choose that pose?
RM: This is me. This is what you get. This is my body. If the legs look a little skinny and weird, well, that’s me. The album is about truth and honesty … and when one is completely naked, one is being honest.
NM: Your future plans?
RM: I’ll be making more albums, with more truth.