Noise rock/post-hardcore greats The Jesus Lizard are finally back for the first time in eight years. They're playing Houston's stacked Day For Night festival in December, which will be their first time playing since they last reunited in 2009. (They scheduled and then cancelled a performance at ATP Australia in 2013, so hopefully Day For Night works out better.) At that fest, they'll be joined by Nine Inch Nails, Solange, Thom Yorke, St. Vincent, James Blake, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Laurie Anderson, and more,
In the time that The Jesus Lizard has been away, vocalist David Yow has been anything but inactive. His pre-Jesus Lizard band Scratch Acid reunited, he released a solo album, he filled in on vocals with Flipper, he made live appearances with Girls Against Boys, and found various other ways to keep busy too.
In 2012, guitarist Duane Denison talked to Rolling Stone about why the band had ended their first reunion:
"That reunion tour went so well – we kept it brief, and we didn't extend it – that it just seemed natural to some of us to just go, 'Well, let's do an album. We all can still play, we get along, let's do it,'" Denison says, explaining that "certain members" of the band started dragging their feet and hemming and hawing at how they lived too far apart and didn't want to go the cliché route of a post-reunion LP. "Well, it's a cliché only if you make it a cliché and you put out a shitty album," Denison argues. Eventually, the guitarist gave up on trying to lure his bandmates back to the studio, a prospect for which he had started writing material for after the reunion tour.
"I thought, 'Alright, I'm not gonna twist anyone's arm to make this happen,'" he says. "I was the one that pushed it to get it going in the first place! So I said, "Fine, I'll take my ideas with me," and that turned into other things, and that's just how it works."
I’m calling [David Yow] to figure out how a grimy, aggressively anti-commercial pillar of '90s noise-rock has hardened into the sort of respectable cultural institution given to heralded reunion tours, glowing New Yorker write-ups, and now—published this past spring—a glossy coffee-table book packed nearly 200 pages with appreciations, recollections and photos.
Yow, to his credit, seems to be wondering much the same thing.
“That’s a mystery to me,” he says. “There are a few different mysteries that way. Like the popularity of Slint”—the Louisville math-rock band with which The Jesus Lizard played its first show at a Thai restaurant in Chicago in 1989. “When Slint was a band at the end of the '80s or '90s or whatever, they never played to more than 300 people. Now they’re like gods. I don’t know if that’s attributable to the Internet. I think it’s got to be the Internet.”
When The Jesus Lizard reunited for a reunion tour in 2009, there were far more people interested in making the trek than Yow had ever imagined. “I think it’s got to be the Internet,” he concludes.
For the uninitiated, The Jesus Lizard released a handful of Steve Albini-recorded albums and EPs on Touch & Go in the early '90s (including a split with Nirvana, whose In Utero was also recorded by Albini), before signing to Capitol and working with different producers (including Gang of Four's Andy Gill) for their final two albums and ending their initial run as a band in 1999. The Jesus Lizard's (and Scratch Acid's) influence on Nirvana is undeniable, and you can draw a direct line from TJL to modern bands like Pissed Jeans, KEN mode, METZ, Citizen, and Brand New, who channelled the Goat artwork for their "Jesus Christ" single and showed a noticeable Jesus Lizard influence on the Daisy album.
No word if The Jesus Lizard are planning other shows around Day For Night, but our fingers are crossed! Stream the classic Goat and watch a video of The Jesus Lizard at Irving Plaza during the 2009 reunion below: