Notoriously reckless… occasionally violent: The Jesus Lizard

Abrasive and atonal

“their music… a scathing mix of piercing guitar, machine-like drums, propulsive bass guitar, and psychotic vocals,”

the Jesus Lizard during the early 1990’s

“turned out a series of independent records filled with scathing, disembowelling, guitar-driven pseudo-industrial noise,”

and in the process generated enough “positive reviews in underground music publications and heavy college-radio play” that with their increasingly large fan base major label Capitol Records took a chance and signed the band.

Formed as a trio in Chicago in 1987 the Jesus Lizard consisted of former Cargo Cult guitarist Duane Denison, bassist David Wm. Sims and and vocalist David Yow who were both former members of Austin Texas post-hardcore noise group Scratch Acid. For their earliest performances and recordings the band would use a drum machine.

Signing with Touch and Go Records they released the Steve Albini produced Pure EP in 1989. Later that year they added drummer Mac McNeilly who appeared on the band’s first full-length album, 1990’s Head.

Released in 1991 their second full-length Goat received positive reviews in main stream music magazines like Spin ; while the group continued to cultivate a large following among the American indie rock underground

“based on both their records and their notoriously reckless, occasionally violent and vulgar, live performances.”

In 1992, the Jesus Lizard joined with Nirvana, who had just broken into the rock & roll mainstream with their second album, Nevermind, to release the split single “Puss” [Jesus Lizard]/“Oh the Guilt” [Nirvana].

1994 saw the group release the one off album Show on major label Giant Records. The fact that they had released an album on a major label caused tension between them and their long time producer, the notoriously indie-centric, Steve Albini. He would produce the group’s final Touch & Go album, Down, but by the time of it’s fall 1994 release he had severed his ties to the band.

The Jesus Lizard signed with Capitol Records and also toured with Lollapalooza in 1995, but at one of the stops on the tour David Yow was arrested for exposing himself on-stage. The group’s major label debut, Shot, was produced by GGGarth in 1995 and was released in the spring of 1996.

Drummer “Mac McNeilly left the band in 1997 for personal reasons and was replaced by Jim Kimball”, who appeared on the Andy Gill (Gang of Four), John Cale, and Jim O’Rourke engineered and produced Jesus Lizard’s self-titled EP.

Recorded by Andy Gill the band released Blue in 1998. During the resulting tour Jim Kimball was replaced by Brendan Murphy. Announcing that they were breaking up the band’s final gig was at the Umeå Open festival in Umeå, Sweden, on March 27, 1999.

Even with the group’s break-up most of the group’s members have remained active musically. Duane Denison plays with Tomahawk, and continues to play with Jim Kimball in the Denison Kimball Trio, besides backing up Hank Williams III on a couple of tours. Along with ex-Ministry bassist Paul Barker he formed U.S.S.A. in 2006.

Yow and Sims, along with Rey Washam (Rapeman, Ministry) and Brett Bradford, reformed Scratch Acid in 2006 for the Touch and Go Records 25th Anniversary Festival in Chicago. Yow moved to Los Angeles where he works in graphic design for an advertising agency, and also performs with the Los Angeles band Qui.

Following his stint with the Jesus Lizard drummer Mac McNeilly played drums in P.W. Long’s Reelfoot and also continued to play along with his wife in their band Mouse.

According to Billboard Magazine the band’s original line-up will re-unite and play All Tomorrow’s Parties’ the Fans Strike Back in Minehead, England, on May 9-10, 2009. A limited number of as-yet-unannounced dates are being considered, concluding with a November 2009 show in Chicago.

Touch & Go, with Shellac’s Bob Weston and Steve Albini supervising, are currently in the process of re-mastering and re-issuing the group’s first four studio albums, Head, Goat, Liar and Down.


The Jesus Lizard

Singles, EPs and Full-length

Chrome (7″) (Touch and Go) 1989
Pure EP (Touch and Go) 1989
Head (Touch and Go) 1990
Mouthbreather (7″) (Touch And Go) 1990
Goat (Touch and Go) 1991
Gladiator (7″) (Touch And Go) 1992

Gladiator / Boilermaker (7″) (Insipid Vinyl) 1992
Liar (Touch and Go) 1992

Head/Pure (Touch and Go) 1992
Lash (Touch and Go) 1993
Lash (3×7″) (Touch And Go) 1993

(Fly) On (The Wall) (CD, Maxi) (Touch And Go) 1993
(Fly) On (The Wall) (7″) (Touch And Go) 1993

Puss / Oh, The Guilt (Nirvana) (Split 7″, Pic) (Insipid Vinyl) 1993
Puss / Oh, The Guilt (Nirvana) (Split 7″) (Touch And Go) 1993

Puss / Oh, The Guilt (CD, Cass) (Touch And Go) 1993

Mouthbreather (Touch and Go) 1994
Wheelchair Epidemic (7″) (Touch and Go) 1994

Show [live] (Collision Arts/Giant) 1994
Down (Touch and Go / Toy’s Factory) 1994

CBGB’s 20th Anniversary Sampler (CD) (Giant Records) 1994

Live At Brixton Academy (7″) (Dirter Promotions/ Fear And Loathing) 1994

Shot (CD, LP) (Capitol) 1996

Sho(r)t (VHS, Promo) (Capitol Video) 1996

Thumper (CD) (Capitol Records) 1996

Blue (CD) (Capitol) 1998

Blue (LP) (Jetset Records) 1998

The Jesus Lizard [EP] (Jetset) 1998
Bang (Touch and Go) 2000
Jesus Lizard [DVD] (MVD) 2007

Tracks Appear On:

“Whirl” (Original Version) Volume Five (CD) (Volume) 1992

“Pop Song” Dope, Guns ‘N Fucking In The Streets Vols. 4-7 (Amphetamine Reptile) 1992

“Pop Song” Dope Guns And Fucking In The Streets Volume Seven (7″) (Amphetamine Reptile) 1991

“Nub” Mesomorph Enduros (CD, LP) (Big Cat UK Records) 1992

“Monkey Trick” WMBR Presents: Clear The Room! [Recorded Live] (7″) (No Life Records) 1992

“Gladiator” Altered States Of America (Cass, Album) (Lime Lizard) 1993

“Panic in Cicero” Clerks Soundtrack (Chaos Recordings) 1994

“Fly On The Wall” Cortex (CD) (Cortex) 1994

“Boiler Maker” Gimme 5 (Cass) (Melody Maker) 1994

“Glamorous” RockVideo Monthly – September 1994 – Alternative Edition (VHS, Comp) (Warner Music) 1994

“Then Comes Dudley” Amateur Soundtrack – A Film By Hal Hartley (CD. LP) (Matador, Atlantic) 1995

“Nub” Mind The Gap Volume 8 (CD) (Gonzo Circus) 1996

“Shut Up” Soiled Gold Hits (CD) (EMI Music New Zealand) 1996

“Mailman”, “Good Riddance” Steal This (CD) (Capitol Records) 1996

“Uncommonly Good” The Lounge Ax Defense & Relocation Compact Disc (CD) ( Touch And Go) 1996

“More Beautiful Than Barbie” The Story So Far… (Cass) (Vox Magazine) 1996

“Poscoital Glow” Rock Sound Volume 21 (CD) (Rock Sound) 1998

“Gladiator” Rock Sound Volume 39 (CD) (Rock Sound) 2000

“Blockbuster” The Trilogy (3xLP) (Ipecac Recordings) 2000

Unofficial Releases:

Then Comes Dudley (7″) (Not On Label)

Live At Khyber Pass (7″) (Not On Label) 1991

Live At Bogart’s (7″) (Fan Klub) 1992

John Peel Sessions (7″) (Not On Label) 1994

The Jesus Lizard – Liar (1992)

Playing Time: 34 minutes 14 seconds

jesus lizard-liar cover

1. Boilermaker (2:14)

2. Gladiator (4:00)

3. The Art of Self Defense (2:39)

4. Slave Ship (4:13)

5. Puss (3:19)

6. Whirl (4:20)

7. Rope (2:19)

8. Perk (2:30)

9. Zachariah (5:44)

10. Dancing Naked Ladies (2:56)

Buy Liar from Touch and Go Records

The Jesus Lizard – Lash (1993)

Playing Time: 16 minutes 51 seconds

jesus lizard-lash cover

1. Glamorous (3:07)

2. Deaf as a Bat (1:41)

3. Lady Shoes (2:38)

4. Killer McHann (2:12)

5. Bloody Mary (2:41)

6. Monkey Trick (4:32)

Buy Lash from Touch and Go Records

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2 responses to “Notoriously reckless… occasionally violent: The Jesus Lizard

  1. Pingback: ZapTown » Alternative Indie Rock Music Essays » Jesus Lizard - Lash

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