It’s alive: KYUSS returns from the grave 15 years later as KYUSS LIVES!
By Joe Kovack
Bands come and go. And when they go, sometimes they leave behind a legend that grows behind them and usurps the band itself. After 15 years, the legend of Kyuss has returned.
Touring under the moniker “Kyuss Lives!,” the Palm Desert, California stoner rock heroes have returned to meet the demands of longtime fans that never got to see the iconic band live. Well, three-quarters of the band, at least. With original guitarist Josh Homme, now playing a starring role in Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures, unwilling and unable to join, the band recruited Bruno Fevery to take the reins.
It’s been 15 years since Kyuss has played on any stage together. In its short tenure as a band, Kyuss built a heavy following in the deserts of California, playing generator parties in secret locations, sometimes drawing more than 600 people. It was something that helped the band get noticed in the late ’80s and something they would continue until their breakup.
“It was kind of like a festival without us even knowing we were doing something similar to a festival,” original drummer Brant Bjork said in a recent interview with The Marquee. “It was just us trying to create a situation to give people out in the middle of the desert something to do. Someone would take care of the beer, someone would take care of the lights and generators; it was the epitome of DIY. And for us as musicians, there was no better atmosphere to showcase our band and do our thing.”
Kyuss became known for their out of the ordinary sound — a combination of intense blues-laden rock, heavy metal and mystic jamming anchored by Bjork and Hommes’ special musical partnership. “Our goal was less to sound like another band, and more to create a sound we felt we heard in our head but didn’t necessarily hear out in the world,” Bjork remembered. “We just had to create our own style to express what we were feeling. It was more of a vibe, an energy, a heaviness and an emotion we were trying to create.”
They created their own niche in the late ’80s–early ’90s in a time when the Seattle grunge scene was taking off and Metallica was killing it in the metal scene. Little did they know that in their short time playing they would help to create the now well-known stoner rock genre, which was coined after Kyuss’ breakup.
“Kyuss just didn’t fit into any of those scenes. And the stoner rock genre hadn’t really been created or that term hadn’t been coined yet,” Bjork said. “I mean it’s pretty obvious we smoked a lot of marijuana, but we never thought to incorporate that to what we were doing. We just thought everyone smoked,” laughed Bjork.
As the band garnered more attention in the rock world the foundation began to crumble, with Bjork leaving in ’93 after the highly successful Welcome to Sky Valley. It was a mix of sentiments, with Bjork and Homme disagreeing on philosophies of business and the band’s future; it would be the beginning of the end. After Bjork left, the band recorded one more album, …And the Circus Leaves Town, to little commercial success, and in ’95 soon disbanded after playing its last generator party.
The offers for regrouping began almost instantly. But with Homme focusing on his new venture of QOSTA and clearly stating he would not be interested in a reunion, the other members went on their musical ways and it wouldn’t be until 2010 that a reunion began to take form. “Immediately after the band broke up there were offers for the band to reform. And it was certainly something that continued until now. There were always requests from fans and promoters,” Bjork said.
With lead singer John Garcia touring in Europe last year under the name Garcia Plays Kyuss to promote his solo effort, he eventually met up with Bjork and original bassist Nick Oliveri and began to play Green Machine live, and before long, a Kyuss reunion was organically taking shape with new guitarist Bruno Fevery from Belgium.
Now, in 2011, they are no longer Kyuss but Kyuss Lives! Part legal hurdles and part reincarnation, the new name symbolizes the return of a band that created a legend among its fans but died before almost anyone could see them live. “It was more important to us to get out and play the songs and bring the music to the people than it is to call it Kyuss,” Bjork said. “People know it’s Kyuss. I think the name is cool and appropriate. It’s just saying, ‘Kyuss is back, Kyuss lives.’” And with a new album slated for 2012, Kyuss Lives! hopes to continue their legacy.
But as they take the stage this fall, fans will be transported back to a time when only the lucky were able to see Kyuss perform. Hearing a set of iconic songs from their short but prolific career, fans will be able to envision being back in the desert in a time when the band was in their prime and ahead of the game. “For a lot of people — the majority of people — it’s the first time they’re seeing Kyuss, so we want to make sure they hear a lot of songs that they want to hear, it’s a celebration, so it should be cool for everybody,” said Bjork.
:: Summit Music Hall :: October 4 ::
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