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The Jazzus Lizard exists, and it’s exactly what you think it is
05.18.2017
08:16 am
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I have done and still do some quality goofing on tribute bands, but I’ve softened the hardline stance I used to take against them. It used to irk me that tribute bands could be such big moneymakers while the VERY SERIOUS ARTISTS in the original bands I was into could barely afford to replace their broken shoelaces, but I get it—people only have so much going-out money, and while local original bands are exciting to check out, quality can be an unknown. More casual music fans—which is to say most music fans—KNOW their door money’s going to buy them a good time if they opt for the proverbial incredible simulation. And I can fault people even less if those incredible simulators make an extra effort on concept and presentation—any four paunchy, flannely alterkakers with sufficient skill can adequately reproduce Crazy Horse songs, so *yawn*, but Blobbie Williams, the overweight Robbie Williams impersonator? I would go see the shit out of that and I don’t even think I could name a Robbie Williams song if you were dangling me over a cliff. So hail to thee, We Are Not Men, Minikiss, and Mac Sabbath. Tribute bands you may be, but you go the extra mile conceptually, and that, I respect. (Except Dread Zeppelin. Fuck that hippie bro bullshit.)

So all of that was prelude to a band whose existence I have recently been alerted to, though they’ve been around for a while—Jazzus Lizard, the jazz Jesus Lizard tribute. They’ve released two albums digitally, titled Keys and Horn in keeping with their mothership band’s four-letter album titling convention. Those albums came out back in 2008 and 2009, but this is hardly the kind of band that needs to keep up a vigorous release schedule. They hail from the Jesus Lizard’s hometown of Austin, TX, and not only do they have their parent band’s approval, Jesus Lizard singer David Yow has gigged with them.
 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Ron Kretsch
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05.18.2017
08:16 am
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Destroy Before Viewing: The Jesus Lizard, live in Boston, 1994
03.03.2017
11:35 am
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In the early to mid-1990s there were few cultural experiences comparable to a Jesus Lizard show. David Yow’s famous snarl and equally famous willingness to subject his body to abuse as well as the band’s enervating music made all of their shows required viewing for quite a while there.

In October 1994 the Jesus Lizard played the Venus De Milo Club across the street from Fenway Park, and the show was captured on mutli-cam video. In 2007 the footage would be released on DVD as Jesus Lizard Live 1994; that product also included five tracks from JL’s August 29, 1992, show from CBGBs (not to be confused with the 1993 CBGBs gig that was immortalized on the 1994 live album Show).

Michael Azerrad, author of Our Band Could Be Your Life, is blurbed on the back of the DVD as follows:
 

When the Jesus Lizard played one of their mighty shows, it was a carthartic rite. And on October 4, 1994, their temple was the Venus De Milo Club in Boston, the show captured in living color and thoroughly crankable high-fidelity audio. ...

Here is the Jesus Lizard in all their glory—frontman David Yow unleashes bloodcurdling howls while heaving himself into the audience, guitarist Duane Denison chops out riffs like a kung fu master on a chainsaw massacre, and drummer Mac McNeilly and bassist David Wm. Sims groove with the ruthlessness of an automated slaughterhouse.

 
My favorite bit comes right after “One Evening,” when Yow witheringly abuses anyone who will admit to wearing earplugs. In his best “pathetic wimp” voice, he cries, “It’s too loud, it hurts my ears!”
 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Martin Schneider
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03.03.2017
11:35 am
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David Yow and Adam Harding talk to DM about the new Dumb Numbers video ‘Unbury the Hatchet’
09.15.2016
10:43 am
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During exactly none of the at least 20 Jesus Lizard shows I saw over the course of the ‘90s did I ever imagine that their frontman/moaner/howler-monkey-in-chief David Yow would have a career afterlife as Jimmy the simpleton janitor. But life’s weird.

Since the Jesus Lizard’s demise and in between its occasional reactivations (and a sojourn as a member of Qui), Yow has shifted direction to graphic arts and acting. He’s published books and appeared in films and music videos (someone please remake Corrupt and cast Yow in either lead role already please and thank you), and his latest project combines acting with that version of “singing” that’s his and his alone. He’s a guest vocalist for two songs on the new Dumb Numbers album, Dumb Numbers II, and the star of their new video.

Dumb Numbers is a recording project of Australian (now Los Angelean) filmmaker Adam Harding, who uses a Delaney-and-Bonnie-ish heavy friends approach to music making, recruiting his many, many collaborators from the ranks of the musicians with whom he’s made connections as a videographer. This includes not only Yow, but members of Sebadoh, Cows, Warpaint, Melvins, Dinosaur Jr., Best Coast, and Einstürzende Neubauten. Harding neatly avoids a too-many-cooks scenario, and the music coheres really well. It’s difficult to pigeonhole his sound, though certainly ‘90s underground rock figures heavily in the mix. Stoner rock, doom, post-metal, and shoegaze are all clear influences, but Harding goes in more for hooks and pop structures than those genres, occupying the huge sonic space of a band like Isis while avoiding the ponderousness that can sometimes submerge that sort of music.

Which brings us back to Jimmy the janitor. David Yow starred as the character in 2012 for a Harding-directed video by the band Useless Children. The following year, Yow would direct the first Dumb Numbers video, “Redrum,” from the band’s eponymous debut album. And now, Yow has, as mentioned above, joined Dumb Numbers as a guest vocalist on two songs from the band’s second album, and in the new video, released just yesterday, “Unbury the Hatchet.” It follows Jimmy through his surreal daylong failed attempt to go to work—with a wonderful derail to a veterinary clinic waiting room populated with grown men in animal costumes.

Yow and Harding were kind enough to take some time to talk with Dangerous Minds about the video and their collaboration.

DM: OK, I know both of you have directed videos before, which one of you directed “Unbury the Hatchet?”

Adam Harding: I did, I directed, shot and edited it. I had directed a video for a band in Melbourne called Useless Children back in 2012. That was the first thing that David and I ever worked on together, and we just had such a blast making that video, and it was the first appearance of the character “Jimmy.” Jimmy is based on a real person. When I lived in Australia I worked at a printing factory, and Jimmy was the janitor there. He was a simple fellow, and he wasn’t the best janitor in the world but he was a really lovely guy. He didn’t talk much but we bonded over music—I had a boombox and he would kind of get into whatever music I was playing. This was in the mid-‘90s. I played the first Folk Implosion record a lot, and he would dance with his broom and shake his butt. He’d headbang to Sepultura.

David Yow: [laughing] How old was Jimmy?

Harding: He would have been in his early to mid-50s then. So this character is based on Jimmy, and we did this Useless Children video with David doing the character. And over the last four years, often David would do something Jimmy-like to make us laugh, so we had a long time to come up with ideas for Jimmy. It was really really fun to be able to do that finally.

DM: OK, so David, this is obviously not someone you’ve had an opportunity to meet, so how did you develop the character, and what does performing the character mean to you?

Yow: Adam has explained to me about Jimmy. When we shot the Useless Children video, I had done some acting job earlier that day where I’d put grey in my temples, and we just kept that in there, and that became part of it to me. Also he wears a coverall uniform with a badge with his name on it, and just putting on the coverall was helpful in becoming someone else. Adam had described that Jimmy was affable, a really nice guy, not a bad bone in his body, very simple. He doesn’t worry about too much. He might be sort of mentally retarded, and with both of these videos we’ve done, he doesn’t say a word except to talk to his mother in the morning, and you don’t hear him. I’ve been doing a lot of acting in the last few years, and it was really easy to slip into that simple place where Jimmy lives.

Harding: And you put the coveralls on and your belly comes out.

Yow: I’m fat now!
 

Harding and Yow in “Unbury the Hatchet”

DM: Is the narrative based on anything about the actual Jimmy? Where did that come from?

Harding: It really wasn’t. I can’t remember which ideas came first. At all. I wanted my buddy Bobb from Best Coast to be in it, and he has this kind of bunny-tough persona he does, he has this old dirty bunny costume that he wears when he does solo shows. I wanted Bobb to be in the video, and from there came the gorilla costume, trying to incorporate those. I knew I wanted Jimmy to be going to work and never getting there.

Yow: And just so you and the rest of the world know, the Gorilla is Matt Cronk from Qui.

Continues after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Ron Kretsch
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09.15.2016
10:43 am
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Take guitar lessons from the Jesus Lizard’s Duane Denison
01.21.2015
11:40 am
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Though guitarist Duane Denison has been an effective player across genres, credibly pulling off jazz in the Denison/Kimball Trio, prog-metal in Tomahawk, industrial in Unsemble, and country with Hank Williams III, he’s still best known for the distinctively splattery guitar texture and warped riffs that heralded the songs of the Jesus Lizard and have influenced generations of post-hardcore bands. Given his longevity and versatility, he has the makings of a fine instructor, and in fact, you can get guitar lessons from him online. He’s been teaching online classes since last spring, and his next session, “The Art of the Riff,” starts tomorrow, January 22, 2015.

The Art of the Riff is a 3 session workshop exploring the nature of guitar “riffs”—riffs, defined as recurring patterns that act as structural material (as opposed to decorative “licks”) in rock songs. Illustrated with original examples of new material, songs in progress, etc. The student participants will be encouraged to contribute and play their own riffs in the 3rd session.

These are live classes that are taught from Duane’s studio in Nashville, Tennessee. Students attend over the Lessonface high performing video conference platform. Students can connect to the online platform using a tablet or computer with reliable internet. To actively participate students also need a webcam. The live sessions are recorded so that all enrolled students and auditors can review the class sessions following the live class. Class recordings will be available for viewing within 48 hours of the live class.

Private lessons with Denison are available as an add-on to enrollment in the live classes. Neither prior guitar experience nor the ability to read music are necessary. Here’s a sample lesson—an exploration of prepared guitar.
 

 
AAAAANNNNNNDDDDD here’s the hot stuff… Cool shirt, Mr. Yow.

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
David Yow talks to Dangerous Minds about ‘The Jesus Lizard: Book’

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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01.21.2015
11:40 am
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‘Shellac Pistols’: Shellac and David Yow do the Sex Pistols, 1998

Shellac / Sex Pistols
 
On Halloween night of 1998, Shellac and David Yow of Scratch Acid/Jesus Lizard fame indulged their silly side, pretending to be The Sex Pistols for a set of scorching music. The location was Lounge Ax, the legendary venue on 2438 North Lincoln Avenue in Chicago that had been pummeling audiences with awesome music since 1987. (It closed in 2000; you might remember it as the venue in High Fidelity where John Cusack first meets Lisa Bonet.)

The first performers were Ms. Fits, an all-female Misfits cover band. During their set, Shellac’s Steve Albini stood right in the middle of the audience “to loudly support” the openers, who were facing “a tough crowd.” The middler, Sixto, featured members from Seam and Dis—they’re still active, at least judging by their bandcamp page.

When the crew put up three microphones for the final set, a rumor briefly flared up that this was going to be a Big Black reunion. What the audience got was a lot more special than that: Shellac with David Yow as a spot-on Johnny Rotten doing most of the songs off of Never Mind the Bollocks. Bob Weston was Sid Vicious, Todd Trainer was Paul Cook on drums, and Albini was Steve Jones.
 
David Yow as Johnny Rotten
 
An attendee of the show submitted the following account:
 

David Yow stalked onto the stage, in full 1970’s-era Johnny Rotten attire to the letter. Bleached and spiked hair, psychotically glaring at the audience, the whole nine yards. He’d done his homework on this one. He was followed by the three Shellacs, with Steve Albini doing his best Steve Jones in vinyl pants (!) and a red doo-rag on his head. Bob Weston *was* Sid Vicious, in spiked black hair, mesh shirt (with scratches and scars visible underneath), glassy-eyed, and an impressively bloody IV bandage on his arm. Only Todd Trainer seemed to buck the whole Pistols image. I mean, he could have found one of those big sweaters or something. Paul Cook had style too.

Anyway, they ripped into “Holidays in the Sun”, and that set the tone for the evening. Yow had Rotten’s nasal Brit accent down pat, even in song. He pulled the whole thing off so well, I tell ya. Weston kept coughing up “blood” and running into things. Steve’s guitar sounded kind of sloppy, but I don’t think Jones could have done it any better. Between songs the band taunted the audience in mock cockney accents, Steve asking if there were “any PAA-ties about”. The audience responded by throwing chunks of a dismembered jack-o-lantern at the band.

The setlist was confined to material from Never Mind the Bollocks, including “Bodies”, “Submission”, “Anarchy in the U.K.”, and closing with “God Save the Queen”. Yow seemed to remember the words to them better than he remembers the words to Jesus Lizard songs.

Yow ended the evening by asking, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” and the band walked offstage, barely an hour after they started. For a long time, nobody left. The house lights came up and nobody left. Todd Trainer started taking his drum set apart and people booed. It finally registered that that was the evening, that they weren’t going to get anymore, and they weren’t getting any Shellac songs.

 
As attendee Andy Larson wrote ten years later to the day, “steve albini said something like ‘does anyone know where there’s a party about?’ in a british accent—and i believe only that. walking up lincoln ave. after the show i passed bob weston (sid vicious) and said ‘hey—great show’ and he said “right” in a british accent.”

There’s no video of the show, and scarcely any pictures—at least on the Internet. The b/w shot above is the only one I could find. There is, however, fairly good audio, which you can download here in flac format.
 

Setlist:
1. Holidays In The Sun
2. Bodies
3. Pretty Vacant
4. Seventeen
5. Sub-mission
6. New York
7. Anarchy In The U.K.
8. God Save The Queen

 
The poster for the show was done by Illinois gig poster legend Jay Ryan of The Bird Machine. The poster run had a limited run of only 100 pressings, which combined with the specialness of the gig makes this an extremely hard-to-get item.

Posted by Martin Schneider
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07.08.2014
12:30 pm
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David Yow talks to Dangerous Minds about ‘The Jesus Lizard: Book’
10.11.2013
11:02 am
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David Yow has been a very productive fellow lately. On the heels of a well-received Jesus Lizard reunion a few years ago, the plainly reinvigorated singer/bassist/actor/designer has released a fantastic solo album, Tonight You Look Like a Spider. The album is difficult to unconditionally recommend to fans of Yow’s past bands (TJL, Scratch Acid and Qui) - not that it’s bad, mind you. To my ears, at least, it’s extremely cool stuff. It just delivers entirely different kicks than Yow’s fans are accustomed to. There are lengthy prog instrumentals, moments reminiscent of Scott Walker’s idiosyncratic later albums, passages of computer-generated speech a la “Fitter Happier,” and some pieces that are just so completely unglued as to exist beyond simple classification, but Yow’s famous torture-victim-screaming-through-a-ball-gag vocal stylings are not to be found in any abundance on Spider. There’s a great deal there to enjoy if you clear your mind of ANY expectation of experiencing the concise, visceral gut-punches the Jesus Lizard delivered.

But fans who still crave the Jesus Lizard thrill machine’s kinetic and oft-imitated signature sound aren’t left in the dark. Yow’s label, Joyful Noise, announced the impending release of a lavish coffee table book/7”/CD/DVD set devoted to the Jesus Lizard. In keeping with the band’s unbroken habit of four-letter titles, the book is called Book. (I asked Yow if the book would have happened at all had “book” not been a four-letter word. His answer was a laugh, followed by a swift and unequivocal “No.”) It’s impossible to properly review, as the release date is months away, so we went straight to the source and spoke to David Yow about what’s in it and how it came to be.

Johnny Temple from Girls Against Boys, who runs a publishing company called Akashic, approached us/me, probably over three years ago. I initially didn’t have much interest in doing a book. I didn’t see much point in it, seeing how long we’d been broken up. But the impetus was just Johnny asking us if we wanted to do it, and the more we talked about it, the more I thought, OK, this could be worthwhile.

One thing that was very important to me was that there have been a few things that have come out since we broke up that I didn’t have much hand in the design on, and with this, I just said “Well, I’m designing the book, I don’t trust anyone else to do it and I won’t like it if they do.” I designed it and had Henry Owings [Chunklet] help with the layout. There are bios, written by all four of us. Mac’s (McNeilly, drums), Duane’s (Denison, guitar) and mine go from childhood up to Jesus Lizard days. David Sims’ (bass) is more informational about the kind of stuff he’s interested in as far as recording. He also wrote a lot of notes about each of the recordings.

There are contributed written pieces by a whole lot of folks - two of them in particular I think make the book worthwhile alone. Mike Watt wrote a piece that is so Dada/Beatnik/Abstract poetry that you can’t even tell exactly what he’s saying. It’s sort of like looking at an abstract painting and saying “I’m not sure I know what that is, but I sort of feel like it’s this.” Also, Alex Haacke from Einstürzende Neubauten wrote a particularly good piece. Albini’s in there. There’s tons of photos, a recipe of mine, and David Sims kept an exhaustive list of every single show we played, so that’s in there, with who was on the bill, the date, the venue, and whether we opened or headlined. That part’s really kind of cool, it’s fairly small type and takes up several pages. It’s a lot of fuckin’ shows!

I would love for Book to be a tombstone, but with the recent Scratch Acid and Jesus Lizard re-enactment tours I’ve learned to never say never. It’s possible that there will be more Jesus Lizard shows. We’ll see.

Book comes with my endorsement. I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t honestly mean it - it’s a worthwhile thing. It’s pretty cheap too, considering how big and heavy it is, I think it’s like $18-$20. [Per Akashik, retail for the regular edition sans pre-order goodies will be $24.95, though it’s a bit less on Amazon - RK] It’s a good book. It’s conceivable to me that somebody who didn’t even give much of a shit about the band could find it worthwhile and interesting.

While the plain old book Book is due out in March, the pre-order version claims a mid-December ship date, and for $80 comes bundled with Yow’s Spider CD, a DVD containing 5 videos for that album’s “Opening Suite” by directors Adam Harding, Tim Rutili, Jared Varava, Todd Adam Phillips, & Jennifer Lynch (yes, David’s daughter), and a 7” signed by all four original band members, featuring never before released recordings of the JL songs “Fly On The Wall” and “Elegy,” recorded by John Loder at Southern Studios.

the jesus lizard: the book: the photo
 
And if you’ve never seen the man in action, good lord, watch some Jesus Lizard where they excelled most - in concert.
 

The Jesus Lizard - Thumbscrews - 2009 from David Yow on Vimeo.

Previous Kretsch-on-Yow action on Dangerous Minds

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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10.11.2013
11:02 am
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You got post-punk in my post-hardcore: check out David Yow and GVSB covering Joy Division
09.18.2013
12:39 pm
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Via Travis Michael Keller at the always illuminating Buddyhead:

Henry Owings (of Chunklet Magazine fame + http://www.chunklet.com) posted this video on Facebook and wrote this along with it… “This bands just sounds like a David Yow fronted Girls Against Boys doing Joy Division”

Nailed it.

Yow is touring with the reconstituted Girls Against Boys (new album next week) to mark the release of his first solo album, Tonight You Look Like a Spider, which has already achieved a level of infamy for having a limited run of its initial pressing released encased in concrete. The notorious ex frontman for Scratch Acid, The Jesus Lizard, and Qui talks about how his album came to be on Joyful Noise Recordings’ blog:

[Faith No More vocalist Mike Patton] is an extremely industrious and good looking man. He grabbed me violently by my dry and flakey shoulders and screamed at the top of his carbon flavored lungs, “YOU’RE MAKING A SOLO RECORD AND I’M PUTTING IT OUT WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!”

So yeah I’ll just shut my damn yap now so you can watch the thing.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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09.18.2013
12:39 pm
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David Yow (Jesus Lizard) solo art show in Los Angeles opens this weekend
08.13.2010
02:29 pm
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image
 
Attention good people of Los Angeles, this weekend marks the opening of David Yow’s solo art exhibit. Yow, best known as the front man for confrontational noise-meisters, The Jesus Lizard (and before that, Scratch Acid) will be showing at the DIY Gallery, 1549 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026. You can see an online selection of his paintings and digital work at his website. I love this one.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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08.13.2010
02:29 pm
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