MUST OWN: The Jesus Lizard Book

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Photo by Steve Gullick
David Yow: Perpetually shirtless.
It began in earnest — as Touch and Go Records co-founder Corey Rusk reminisces at the beginning of the engrossing new Jesus Lizard coffee table book titled (in typical Lizard four-letter-word fashion) Book — with 1989's Pure EP and a debut gig that sizzling Chicago summer, alongside Slint and King Kong, inside a local Thai restaurant that hosted exactly one rock show.

It ended 10 years later. And then the Jesus Lizard jerked back to life briefly, in 2009, for a reunion run of some 40 shows (the "re-enactment tour," as frontman David Yow characterizes it today) before going dark again.

Until now, albeit in literary form. The gorgeously crafted, 176-page hardcover Book — co-designed by Yow and Chunklet's Henry Owings, a long-time friend — dives deep and candidly into the Jesus Lizard's first decade and touches a bit on that 2009 coda, too. Through many thousands of words, hundreds of photos, and collected ephemera, it celebrates the sweat, menace, humor, musicianship, lasting power, and genitals of one of the best bands ever coughed up by the rock underground.

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Q & A: Scratch Acid's David Yow On Reunions, Nirvana And Book, The Jesus Lizard Coffee Table Book

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Niles J. Fuller
Scratch Acid in 1984.
David Yow—the beer-swilling, crowd-surfing, lunging, occasionally dick-waving, shirtless, human sweat-mop frontman of post-punk iconoclasts the Jesus Lizard and Scratch Acid—is quite the congenial dude, despite the juicy belches meted out in my ear as he threw back a couple of cold ones while on the phone from Los Angeles.

During our conversation, Yow doled out props to his ex-Jesus Lizard mates (the influential Chicago minimalist noise-punks are now officially done) and even owned up to crying before their first reunion show; he also praised Nirvana, buddy Henry Owings of Chunklet fame, and Sarah Lipstate of Brooklyn's dreamy drone heroes Noveller.

The aspiring actor admitted he'd rather be delving into his art and film rather than terrorizing audiences onstage. It wasn't all wine and roses with Yow, though. Vitriol-laced moments were reserved for Jim Kimball (ex-drummer for the JL on their final album, 1998's Blue), and Mudhoney and Soundgarden apparently once made his shit list.

Sound of the City caught Yow before he jetted off to Austin to prepare for yet another reunion tour—this time with Scratch Acid, the Texas noise-rock skuzz band he started in the mid-eighties with guitarist Brett Bradford, future JL bassist David Wm. Sims and drummer Rey Washam.

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So You Go to That Vice 15th Anniversary/Halloween Party with Jesus Lizard and Bad Brains. . .

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all photos by Rebecca Smeyne
David Yow, Halloween saviour

Jesus Lizard
Bad Brains
Empty warehouse, North 10th Street
Saturday, October 31

So you go to the much-ballyhooed Vice Halloween Party, the 15th anniversary bash in Williamsburg that the lifestyle brand reportedly dropped $250,000 to throw. You dress up, by the press release's official request, as a cultural cliche from 1994 (the year the magazine began, hence the anniversary, duh), and stand in a frustratingly long line that you would in no other circumstance bother with, because if you wanted to pretend you needed toilet paper in Communist Russia, you'd go to Disneyland, for fuck's sake, this is bullshit.


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