Jim Hiltz hadn’t touched a guitar in 25 years but his son’s orchestra needed a guitar player so he volunteered. There he met guitarist Kyle Reitz and the two decided they wanted to keep playing music together. In 2012 Hiltz and Reitz, both of Eldersburg, formed a band called The Rhythm Surf Monkeys.
The group released its fourth CD “RSM” in November 2017. The CD was named No. 260 of the top 300 rock CDs by Music Through The Times magazine. The band plays at least eight shows a year and has a charity event booked at Fish Head Cantina April 8.
Fan David Salyers said The Rhythm Surf Monkeys have a “complexity to their music.”
“They’ve got a power and presence that you don’t expect,” Salyers said.
“They’re very talented. I like that it’s all original music,” said fan Kellie Griffin. “It has a classic rock feel and it’s great dancing music. They’re really energetic and they get the whole place rockin’.”
The Rhythm Surf Monkeys released “Highway 9” in November 2013. “Reinvented” was released in December 2014 and had three tracks that earned Nashville’s Nashville Songwriters Association International’s Ones to Watch for songwriting.The group has also won Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest Songwriter awards and several Akademia awards. In June 2015, “Reinvented” became a number one single for KXRL Radio in Los Angeles.
Hiltz said he and Reitz decided they wanted to start playing live after they finished their third CD “Roll On.” “RSM” includes lead singer Scott Wilson, singer Sherry V, bassist Dave Prescott, guitarist Jeff Bober, and drummer Tom White.
“It’s a group where everyone is contributing and writing music,” Hiltz said. “Everyone has input. It’s such a great collaboration. I’m with some really great, talented people. As good musicians as they are, they’re even better people. I’m thankful for the camaraderie.”
Reitz said he listens to metal, jazz, fusion, classical, and some punk and thinks it is all reflected in the band’s music.
“With metal, I’ll hear rhythmic concepts and it influences the way I play,” Reitz explained. “Songwriting wise, I use a lot of jazz concepts to make it stand out and make it more challenging for myself.”
Reitz said he subscribes to the philosophy of “if you wouldn’t sing it, don’t play it.”
“I try to do less and make it more melodic,” Reitz said. “I want to play five notes that mean something.”
Hiltz, too, wants to make music that means something. He recalled Liberty High School’s Salute to the Troops event where he played “The Old Soldier,” a song he wrote about his father. After the performance, a man came up to Hiltz and told him it brought a tear to his eye because it reminded him of his father.
“It made me feel awesome because it’s a very personal song and the fact that someone could relate to something so personal meant the world to me,” Hiltz said. “Whether it’s love gone good or love gone wrong or what’s happening in society today … music is an outlet for me. It’s about expressing myself.”