When Chris Desjardins first convened the Flesh Eaters lineup commandeering the Continental Club this weekend, its limited shelf life was inherent. He’d already recorded and performed with several ad hoc aggregates bearing the name, always composed of L.A. punk luminaries, so no one batted an eye when 1981’s A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die boasted half of X (John Doe, DJ Bonebrake) and three-fifths of the Blasters (Dave Alvin, Steve Berlin, Bill Bateman). Ears may have done a double-take at the free jazz/swamp R&B/garage punk backing Desjardins’ yowled beat verse.
“I’d been listening to a lot of African music,” recalls Desjardins of the album’s inspirations. “A lot of African pop music and tribal chants, and drumming records. I’d gotten a lot of ideas for songs from that, so I wanted to take those indigenous African ideas and transpose them to garage punk as an experiment, to see what kind of rhythms I would get.
“Like, I was listening to a lot of Bo Diddley during that period, and a lot of Link Wray.”
All songs were written via Desjardins singing into a tape recorder, with either Doe or Alvin creating musical beds from cassettes of the singer’s mordant, Rimbaud-at-midnight, creature-feature lyricism. Much of the same methodology is employed on the first Flesh Eaters disc in 14 years, new Yep Roc release I Used to Be Pretty. The triumvirate that created L.A. punk’s songwriting template – literary, bohemian, poetic – remains front and center.
“Even though we all have egos, we’re pretty deferential to each other,” says the bandleader. “I don’t know if that give-and-take would have been so prevalent when we were younger.”
Fri., Feb. 22