The Jesus Lizard

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The Jesus Lizard
Jesus-Lizard Panorama1.jpg
The Jesus Lizard in 2009
Background information
Origin Austin, Texas, United States
Genres Noise rock, post-hardcore, alternative rock
Years active1987–1999, 2008–2010, 2017–present
Labels Touch and Go, Capitol
Associated acts The Denison/Kimball Trio, Scratch Acid, Rapeman, Phantom 309, Tomahawk, Qui, Legendary Shack Shakers, U.S.S.A., unFact
Members David Yow
David Wm. Sims
Duane Denison
Mac McNeilly
Past members Jim Kimball
Brendan Murphy

The Jesus Lizard is an American rock band formed in 1987 in Austin, Texas and based in Chicago, Illinois. They were "a leading noise rock band in the American independent underground…[who] turned out a series of independent records filled with scathing, disembowelling, guitar-driven pseudo-industrial noise, all of which received positive reviews in underground music publications and heavy college-radio play." [1]

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Austin, Texas Capital of Texas

Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and the 4th-most populous city in Texas. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States, the second most populous state capital after Phoenix, Arizona, and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2018 estimate, Austin had a population of 964,254 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,168,316 as of July 1, 2018. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.

Noise rock is a noise-oriented style of experimental rock that spun off from punk rock in the 1980s. Drawing on movements such as minimalism, industrial music, and New York hardcore, artists indulge in extreme levels of distortion through the use of electric guitars and, less frequently, electronic instrumentation, either to provide percussive sounds or to contribute to the overall arrangement.

Contents

After a brief run as a recording-only project based in Austin, founding vocalist David Yow, bassist David Wm. Sims, and guitarist Duane Denison relocated to Chicago, Illinois in 1989, where they found kindred spirits in recording engineer Steve Albini and Touch and Go Records. With the addition of drummer Mac McNeilly, they began performing live, eventually attracting an international audience. Drummer Jim Kimball replaced McNeilly late in 1996, and was himself replaced by Brendan Murphy two years later.

David Yow American singer

David Yow is an American musician and actor born in Las Vegas, Nevada and best known as the vocalist for the noise rock bands Scratch Acid and The Jesus Lizard. Yow's debut solo album, Tonight You Look Like a Spider, was released in June 2013 on Joyful Noise Records.

David Wm. Sims American musician

David William Sims is an American musician, best known as the bass guitarist of the bands Scratch Acid, Rapeman, and The Jesus Lizard. In addition, he has recorded or performed with Sparklehorse, Rhys Chatham, Shivaree, Pigface, Flour, and others. Sims currently performs experimental solo electric bass as Unfact.

Duane Denison American musician

Duane Denison is an American guitarist best known for work with the avant-garde, influential rock band The Jesus Lizard. He is also a founding member of super-group Tomahawk.

Despite releasing a split single with leading alt-rockers Nirvana and signing to Capitol Records, the band failed to find commercial success amid the alternative rock explosion of the 1990s and disbanded in 1999. Their reunion tour ten years later garnered positive responses from audiences and critics. The Jesus Lizard performed another reunion tour in 2017.

Nirvana (band) American rock band

Nirvana was an American rock band formed in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1987. It was founded by lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic. Nirvana went through a succession of drummers, the longest-lasting and best-known being Dave Grohl, who joined in 1990. Though the band dissolved in 1994 after the death of Cobain, their music maintains a popular following and continues to influence modern rock and roll culture.

Capitol Records American record label

Capitol Records, Inc. is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group through its Capitol Music Group imprint. It was founded as the first West Coast-based record label "of note" in the United States in 1942 by Johnny Mercer, Buddy DeSylva, and Glenn E. Wallichs. Capitol was acquired by British music conglomerate EMI as its North American subsidiary in 1955. EMI was acquired by Universal Music Group in 2012 and was merged with the company a year later, making Capitol and the Capitol Music Group both a part of UMG. The label's circular headquarter building in Hollywood is a recognized landmark of California.

History

Formation and Touch & Go years (1987–1994)

The band began in Austin, Texas, when guitarist Duane Denison asked David Yow, formerly of Scratch Acid, to play bass on some songs he wanted to record. Yow suggested that he sing and have former Scratch Acid bassist David Wm. Sims play bass instead. The resultant group took its name from a common nickname for the basilisk, a type of lizard that can run on water. The trio rehearsed several times in Austin with a drum machine. Yow and Sims moved to Chicago in 1988, and Denison followed the next year.

Scratch Acid was an Austin, Texas noise rock group formed in 1982. One of the pioneers of noise rock in the 1980s, the band is best remembered as a stepping stone for its front man David Yow, and bass player David Wm. Sims, both later of The Jesus Lizard.

Their first EP, Pure , was recorded by Albini and released by Touch & Go in 1989. It is the only record by the band that uses a drum machine. Drummer Mac McNeilly, formerly of Phantom 309, was recruited and the band played its first live show on July 1, 1989. Albini recorded the band's next four albums – Head , Goat , Liar , and Down . During this era the group also released a live record, Show , and a split single with Nirvana, Puss/Oh, the Guilt .

Mac McNeilly is an American musician, best known as the drummer for The Jesus Lizard. He also played drums in bands P.W. Long's Reelfoot, 86, Mouse, Mule, Come, and played bass in Phantom 309. He is known for his very powerful, solid and hard-hitting style. McNeilly first appeared with The Jesus Lizard on the album Head, the band having previously used a drum machine. He was replaced by Jim Kimball late in 1996. He rejoined the Jesus Lizard for their 2009 reunion.

Phantom 309 was a noise rock band formed in Atlanta, Georgia by Gary Held, John Forbes and Mac McNeilly. They existed for a brief amount of time and recorded one full-length album, titled A Sinister Alphabet, in 1989.

<i>Head</i> (The Jesus Lizard album) 1990 studio album by The Jesus Lizard

Head is the first full album by The Jesus Lizard. It was released on Touch and Go Records in 1990. It is their first release to feature a drummer, Mac McNeilly.

Capitol years and breakup (1995–1999)

The Jesus Lizard performing at The Garage at London circa 1998 Jesus Lizard.jpg
The Jesus Lizard performing at The Garage at London circa 1998

The band signed to Capitol Records in 1995, recording the song "Panic in Cicero" for the Clerks soundtrack and making appearances at Lollapalooza shortly thereafter. Impressed by his work on The Melvins' Stoner Witch album, the band hired producer Garth Richardson to record their next record, Shot , the following year. While rumors that Albini refused to work with the band due to their involvement with a major label persisted, both Albini and the group have stated this to be false. [2]

<i>Clerks</i> 1994 American comedy film directed by Kevin Smith

Clerks is a 1994 American comedy film written, directed and co-produced by Kevin Smith. Starring Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson, it presents a day in the lives of titular store clerks Dante Hicks (O'Halloran) and Randal Graves (Anderson), along with their acquaintances. Clerks is the first of Smith's View Askewniverse films, and introduces several recurring characters, notably Jay and Silent Bob.

Lollapalooza music festival in the United States

Lollapalooza is an annual 4-day music festival based in Chicago, Illinois at Grant Park. Performances include but are not limited to alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock, hip hop, and electronic music. Lollapalooza has also provided a platform for non-profit and political groups and various visual artists. The music festival hosts more than 160,000 people each year.

<i>Stoner Witch</i> 1994 studio album by Melvins

Stoner Witch is the seventh studio album by Melvins, which was released in 1994 through Atlantic Records.

McNeilly left the band in late 1996, [3] citing exhaustion from touring and the desire to spend more time with his family. [4] He was replaced by Jim Kimball, of Mule and Denison's side project, The Denison/Kimball Trio.

After more heavy touring the following year, this lineup recorded 1998's self-titled EP, their only record whose title is not a four-letter word, on Jetset Records. The EP featured production and engineering by Andy Gill of Gang of Four, John Cale, and Jim O'Rourke. Later that year, the band released the album Blue , also recorded by Gill. A departure, the record explored their experimental instincts previously hinted at on earlier songs like "Happy Bunny Goes Fluff-Fluff Along" and "White Hole".

In August 1998 Kimball left the group [5] and was replaced by Chicago-based drummer Brendan Murphy, formerly of the Wesley Willis Fiasco. They embarked on several more months of heavy touring, playing the final gig of their initial career at the Umeå Open festival in Umeå, Sweden, on March 27, 1999. After being dropped from Capitol Records mid-contract, the band announced its split the following June.

Post-breakup (2000–2007)

In 2000, Touch & Go issued Bang , a CD of 7" tracks and rarities. The members remained musically active: Denison began performing with Tomahawk, continued to play with Kimball in The Denison/Kimball Trio, and backed Hank Williams III on tour. He also formed U.S.S.A. with ex-Ministry bassist Paul Barker in 2006. McNeilly played drums in P.W. Long's Reelfoot recording "Push Me Again", and continued to play along with his wife in their band Mouse. He recorded with Steve Albini in February 2007 for Denison's Fuzz label mate Greg Garing.

In 2006, Yow and Sims reformed Scratch Acid, along with original members Rey Washam (also of Rapeman, Ministry) and Brett Bradford (also of Sangre de Toro) for the Touch & Go Records 25th Anniversary Festival in Chicago. A week before the Touch & Go Festival, the reunited Scratch Acid played to a sold-out crowd at Emo's in their hometown of Austin. Sims relocated to New York City, began working as an accountant, and maintained his solo project Dangerpuss. Yow moved to Los Angeles, working in graphic design for an advertising agency and joining the band Qui.

Reunion tour (2008–2010)

The Jesus Lizard reformed in 2008 with McNeilly drumming, and began playing concerts the next year. These shows included appearances at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, and All Tomorrow's Parties music festivals in England and New York. [6] [7] On October 6, all of the band's Touch & Go studio albums were re-released with improved sound and bonus tracks. The albums were remastered by Albini and Bob Weston and packaged with new liner notes and gatefold artwork. [8] Following the tour, the individual members returned to other projects and stated that this run of activity was "probably [their] last." [9]

Post-reunion tour (2010–2016)

In August 2011 MVD released Club, a concert DVD and double LP of the band's Nashville performance at Exit/In from the 2009 tour. [10]

In 2013, Yow released Tonight You Look Like a Spider , a solo album that had been in production for almost 15 years on Joyful Noise Recordings. The album was released in a limited edition, where the vinyl album was delivered inside of a concrete monolith, instead of a normal record sleeve. Yow stated that he'd been inspired to do the album by Mike Patton, and described his compositional process by stating, "I rented a saxophone for 2 months, I borrowed some guitars and some drums, I rummaged through the kitchen, I squeezed a fat cat, I poked and prodded and ended up with my very own music." [11]

In October 2013, the Jesus Lizard was set to play at the All Tomorrow's Parties event Release the Bats in Melbourne, Australia. They cancelled this show due to 'unforeseen circumstances'. [12] [13]

Second reunion (2017–present)

In September 2017, The Jesus Lizard announced their second reunion. [14] The band undertook their first tour in eight years that December. [15]

In September 2018, they went on a tour that included stops in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Austin, Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland, Detroit and Boston. They would play Riot Fest 2018 in Chicago that same month.

Sound, influence, and legacy

Their music featured a scathing mix of piercing guitar, machine-like drums, propulsive bass guitar, and psychotic vocals. Denison's stinging guitar often served more as texture or coloring than as a rhythm or lead instrument, while the rhythm section's stops and starts were simultaneously precise and brutal. David Sprague suggests that "Yow's disjointed couplets" are reminiscent of a "preacher speaking in tongues." [16] Albini typically kept vocals "low in the mix," or much less prominent than was typical of rock and roll recordings. In Our Band Could Be Your Life , Michael Azerrad writes that "on the Jesus Lizard albums Albini recorded, singer David Yow sounds like a kidnap victim trying to howl through the duct tape over his mouth; the effect is horrific." [17] Yow doesn't consider himself a singer in the usual sense, but rather, thinks of himself as a vocal stylist. While appreciated as a unique vocalist, Yow was more often cited for his confrontational antics on-stage, often leaping into the crowd or taking off his clothes. He was also known to lick members of the crowd while climbing all over them and sometimes striking up conversation mid-song.

The band have been cited as an influence or as a favorite by Nirvana [18] [19] ,Whores [20] , KEN Mode [21] , Bill Kelliher of Mastodon [21] , Botch [22] , Converge [23] , Gouge Away [24] , METZ [25] , Steve Albini [26] , Alexis S.F. Marshall of Daughters [27] , Sara Lund of Unwound [28] , Jim Suptic of The Get Up Kids [29] , Jawbreaker [30] , Johnny Temple of Girls Against Boys [31] , Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit [32] , Red Fang [33] [34] , Joe Lally of Fugazi [35] , Henry Rollins [35] , Helmet [36] [37] , Lydia Lunch [38] and many others.

Members

Current

Former

Timeline
The Jesus Lizard

Discography

Studio albums
EPs
Singles
Compilations
Live albums
Singles and Official Videos
DVDs

Chart positions

Albums
YearAlbumChartPosition
1996 Shot Heatseekers (US) 28
Singles
YearSingleChartPosition
1993"Puss/Oh, the Guilt" (split single with Nirvana) UK Singles Chart [39] 12

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