Superunknowns

Superunknowns
Sometimes it is seen that if a band’s career is marred with internal strife, they usually end up becoming a cult figure with timeless tunes. Kyuss started off in 1988 in Palm Desert, California, as Katzenjammer (German slang for hangover) when high school buddies John Garcia (vocals) and Josh Homme (guitars) decided to jam with Brant Bjork on drums and Chris Cockrell on bass. With no immediate availability of clubs or venues in the area, these guys build their reputation and honed their craft by playing generator parties in the desert. Now the stuff of legend, Homme agrees that these drugs addled, unplanned parties held in Southern Californian outdoors with gasoline generators powering the equipment were ‘the shaping factor for the band’.

After forging their sound, the band changed their name to Sons of Kyuss. The recording and release of their eponymous self titled debut EP happened in 1990. Though badly under-produced, the EP had a raw energy and a tight rocking groove that many now identify with the grunge movement. Songs like the opening track, Deadly Kiss, had a tasty, fuzzy vibe to it and the next few tracks– Isolation Desolation, Love Has Passed Me By and Black Widow see the band uniting to take you on psychedelic trips.

Soon afterwards, the band recruited Nick Oliveri as bassist, shortened their name to Kyuss and released the album titled Wretch. Many band members didn’t regard this as their debut album, citing several reasons such as the record being under produced.

Kyuss released their legendary album Blues for the Red Sun in 1992. New producer Chris Goss successfully captured the essence of their live sound in studio. The album left a sizeable amount of dent on mainstream rock radio with songs like Green Machine, 50 Million Year Trip and Freedom Run – that make you want to drive like there’s no tomorrow through sun kissed desert highways.

After the completion of the album, Oliveri left the band and Kyuss recruited Scott Reeder for the next album that came to be known among fans as Welcome to Sky Valley. Tracks like Gardenia, which was a groove-laden masterpiece; Asteroid – a slow, jam based epic and wah wah pedal torturer, 100 degrees, had the fans going wild and critics frothing at the mouth for more. Sky Valley really portrayed Kyuss coming of age as a band.

Not caving in after Brant Bjork left the band soon after the release of Sky Valley, Kyuss came out with their last album, …And the Circus Leaves Town with a new drummer, Alfredo Hernandez in 1995. Even though it didn’t do as well as their previous two albums, it still had its moments with songs such as Hurricane, One Inch Man and Spaceship Landing.

Regarded as one of the most influential underground music phenomena of the 1990s, Kyuss is one of the greatest bands you’ve never heard of. Theirs was the face that launched a thousand ships, especially in stoner rock, a sub genre of rock n’ roll they birthed. Kyuss is to stoner rock what Black Sabbath is to metal. Being pigeonholed early on by critics who often compared the two, Kyuss’ legacy has survived and continues to bloom like a desert cactus.

aazaranis@mydigitalfc.com

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