Interview: Duane Denison Recalls The Jesus Lizard’s Glory Days of Creation and Demolition
The Jesus Lizard guitarist Duane Denison recalls the band's glory days of creation and demolition.
Was there a particular incident that led to the band’s decision to break up?
No. By that time we had been together for 10 years and we had worked our way up, enjoyed a nice plateau and it seemed like things were starting to work their way back down. We could have ridden it out a little while longer, but we just didn’t want to. Like, why? We did it. We said everything we wanted to say and did what we wanted to do, so the decision to give it up was pretty amicable and mutual.
Why did you decide to do the reunion tour?
Touch & Go were talking about re-mastering and reissuing the back catalog. That coincided with fact that it would have been 10 years since we broke up and 20 years from the time we started. It just seemed like everything was falling into place. We were all in pretty good health and had been playing. I have a practice space in Nashville that was centrally located for everyone. And the offers [from promoters] were seriously good. So it all seemed to fall into place and add up and we said, “Look, if we’re ever going to do this, we should do it now.” And we’d been getting offers all along, but to me, if you’re a band of any note, you can’t do a reunion tour after five years; you haven’t been broken up long enough. That’s not a reunion, it’s a continuance. Ten years is a good amount.
The tour was amazing, as the DVD attests. Did that inspire you guys to wrote more songs together and play more tours?
No. We wanted to avoid that cliché as well. We didn’t want to do the endless reunion tour.
Are you still active with Tomahawk?
Yes. I have about a full album’s worth of instrumental demos that have been circulating and I just got an email from Mike Patton (Faith No More, Fantomas) today. And we’re talking all the time. And I’ve been talking with John Stanier (ex-Helmet) and Trevor Dunn (ex-Mr. Bungle, Fantomas). And we will most likely be recording a new album in January.
You worked with ex-Ministry bassist Paul Barker in the band U.S.S.A. in 2007. Will there be a second album released?
I don’t think so. There’s a second album that we did and it just got held up. The company we were working with went out of business. All the labels seemed to crash around that time. When you’re doing a group that’s spread out across the country, if you’re not making money it’s hard to keep it going. I liked the record we did together and I felt it was overlooked. There were a number of songs on there that came out exactly as we wanted them to, and just seemed to get thrown into the ocean. It disappeared. It came out and did nothing. We toured. And I got a hernia on that tour. I spent the last two weeks hobbling around, so it was an all around miserable experience?
How did you get the hernia?
I was lifting a 4X12 cabinet up a very steep flight of stairs. I had done it literally thousands of times, but this one time I was twisted at an odd angle. An hour later I was walking in an alley behind this club and it just didn’t feel right.
Is your new band rockabilly/Dixieland punk band The Legendary Shack Shakers a big priority for you?
Yeah, it has been for about three years. I put a lot of time into it touring and there’s a pretty good amount of me on their last album, Aggridustrial. They took time off to let me do that reunion tours, but we still played about 100 shows last year. And we’ll be doing some more U.S. touring in the fall. I really enjoy playing with them. Part of the time, it’s more traditional. I play more bluesy riffs and more vintage sound like slapback, tremolo, heavy reverb, slide guitar. And on some of the recent stuff, we did more sonic things with non-traditional weird noises, so I do a fair amount of that with them as well.
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