MUST OWN: The Jesus Lizard Book
|Photo Whitney O'Keefe|
|The Jesus Lizard|
Meanwhile, Steve Albini, who produced all of the Jesus Lizard's Touch and Go albums, contributes a conflicted piece that praises the quartet as "the greatest band I've ever seen" and the "best musicians I've ever worked with," but characterizes their jump to Capitol Records as "a betrayal. . . . They were so far ahead of the pack that dismissing it all to be a fourth-tier specialty act on a mainstream label seemed oblivious and destined for failure."
"I thought [Albini] was honest. We let people say what they wanted to say, whether we agreed with it or not, and then we had our say," says Denison.
Indeed, most of the band, and various associates, defend the deal with Capitol while also admitting the toll it took, in Book's later pages. There are funnier bits, too, such as Yow writing how he once, while performing in Holland after opening band Boss Hog, wore singer Cristina Martinez's sweat-soaked dress and panties onstage (yes, there are accompanying photos).
One of Book's more fascinating inclusions is Sims's frank, track-by-track breakdown of every Jesus Lizard album — from technical, song-nerd analysis to some of the thematic backstory — that are at turns funny, insightful, and poignant.
"When all that stuff came in to me, it exceeded my expectations," says Temple. "It's got a lot more depth than I was initially expecting. I think most people who are serious fans of the band understand that, for example, David Yow is not just some drunk guy stumbling around onstage. But I think anyone who reads [Book] will come away with a lot of information they didn't know about their music and their personal histories."
Or their twisted sense of humor. To that end, there are the excerpts from the infamous, near-mythic sketchbooks the band kept on the road; rudimentary, hilariously disturbing drawings with plainly descriptive captions like "Duane giving head to an Eskimo while jacking himself off wearing rubber gloves."
The lengthy process of creating Book has brought the band much closer as friends, Yow says. "I hadn't talked to Mac in 12 years before we did [the reunion and the book], and now it's been a common occurrence to talk on the phone or email, and David and Duane, I talk to those guys all the time," he says.
Still, Yow — who's all but given up music in favor of his burgeoning acting career — says he has no interest in touring or recording with the Jesus Lizard again.
For his part, Denison doesn't know if Book represents the Jesus Lizard's final chapter. "I mean, we never foresaw that reunion happening, so you never really can tell for sure," he says. "But maybe this book is a nice capper on it all, and if it works out that way, I'm fine with that."
Members of the Jesus Lizard appear at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square at 7 on March 25 for a book signing and Q&A moderated by music critic Sasha Frere-Jones, and at WORD Brooklyn at 7 on March 26 for a book signing and Q&A moderated by Johnny Temple.