|Origin||Palm Desert, California, United States|
Kyuss ( KY-?s) was an American rock band, formed in Palm Desert, California, in 1987 by Josh Homme (guitar), John Garcia (vocals), Brant Bjork (drums) and Chris Cockrell (bass). After releasing an EP under the name Sons of Kyuss in 1990, the band shortened its name to Kyuss and recruited Nick Oliveri, replacing Cockrell as bassist. Over the next five years the band released four full-length albums, and one last split EP in 1997 as Kyuss and the newly formed Queens of the Stone Age. This tied up the loose ends of Kyuss and introduced the new band Queens of the Stone Age, which was initially composed entirely of former Kyuss members.
Oliveri left the band in 1992 and was replaced by Scott Reeder just prior to the release of Blues for the Red Sun. Drummer Bjork decided to leave the band in 1994, citing creative differences and a disdain for touring, and was replaced by Alfredo Hernández, formerly of fellow-Palm Desert band Yawning Man. Garcia and Homme were the band's only continuous members throughout the band's lifetime. Kyuss disbanded in 1996, and since then, members of Kyuss have gone on to form or play in several notable bands including Queens of the Stone Age, Fu Manchu, Dwarves, Eagles of Death Metal, Mondo Generator, Hermano, Unida, Slo Burn and Them Crooked Vultures.
In November 2010, three former members of the band (minus Homme, who declined to participate) reunited under the adapted moniker "Kyuss Lives!" for a world tour with plans to record a new album at some point. A federal lawsuit subsequently filed by Homme resulted in Oliveri leaving the band in March 2012, and five months later a court ruled that Garcia and Bjork were not allowed to release audio recordings under the Kyuss Lives! moniker. As a result, they changed their name to Vista Chino.
The band formed in 1987 jamming under the name Katzenjammer (German slangword for "Hangover" [archaic], literally "moaning of a cat") before eventually deciding upon Sons of Kyuss. Brant Bjork selected the name from the undead monster found in the 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game book Fiend Folio. In 1989 the band recorded their eponymous debut EP, Sons of Kyuss, which was their only release to feature Chris Cockrell on bass. After self-releasing the EP in 1990, the band recruited Nick Oliveri - who had previously played second guitar in Katzenjammer - to replace Cockrell on bass, and shortened their name to Kyuss.
Kyuss' first line-up consisted of vocalist John Garcia, guitarist Josh Homme, bassist Nick Oliveri and drummer Brant Bjork. The band gradually built a local following in Palm Desert, California and frequently performed at parties in and around the isolated towns of Southern California's desert areas. These impromptu and predominantly outdoor shows, referred to locally as "generator parties", consisted of small crowds of people, beer drinking, and the use of gasoline-powered generators to provide electricity for the equipment. Homme commented that playing in the desert "was the shaping factor for the band" noting that "there's no clubs here, so you can only play for free. If people don't like you, they'll tell you. You can't suck."
The band then signed with independent record label Dali, who released their debut album, Wretch, in September 1991. Several songs on the album were re-recorded versions of those that appeared on the Sons of Kyuss EP. Album sales were sluggish, though the band was quickly making a name for itself as a live act. Guitarist Josh Homme soon gained a reputation for his unique downtuned, psychedelic style of guitar playing, and his convention of playing electric guitars through bass guitar amplifiers to create a bass-heavy sound.
In 1992, the band, along with new producer Chris Goss, began work on their next album, Blues for the Red Sun. Goss understood the band, and was able to accurately capture their live sound in the studio. Released in June that year, the album was critically hailed and is today widely regarded as a pioneering stoner rock record. By the end of 1993, they were invited to open nine dates for Metallica touring Australia. Comparisons to stoner rock godfathers Black Sabbath became common, though Homme claimed to have little knowledge of the band at the time but Bjork asserted he and Oliveri were hugely influenced by the British group.
Oliveri left the band following completion of the album and Scott Reeder, who had been approached about joining Kyuss five to six months earlier during a West Coast tour with The Obsessed, made his debut at the release party for Blues for the Red Sun.
Problems playing this file? See media help.
The band then soon found themselves signed with major label Elektra Records after Dali Records hit financial problems and was bought by Elektra. In 1994, they would release their first major label album, self-titled Kyuss. Originally intended to be titled Pools of Mercury, the album commonly came to be known among fans as Welcome to Sky Valley. Between record company shuffling and bandmember shuffling it would take a whole year for the album recorded in 1993 to be released. Once again produced by Chris Goss, it received critical acclaim and, musically, demonstrated a much more psychedelic and mature sound. However, personal problems emerged and drummer Brant Bjork left the band following completion of the recording sessions. Bjork cited his extreme distaste for touring, particularly band relationship problems that develop during long periods on the road. He was replaced by Alfredo Hernández, who had previously played with Reeder in the band Across the River during the mid-80s. In July 1995, they released their fourth and final album, ...And the Circus Leaves Town. A video was made for "One Inch Man", the album's only official single. The album was not as successful commercially as Sky Valley, receiving mixed reviews. Kyuss broke up sometime early in 1996. With the sudden breakup, ...And the Circus Leaves Town received a rejuvenation in appeal and is now considered a strong effort. A compilation EP was later released in 1997 containing singles and b-sides.
After the band's breakup in 1996, there had been frequent and persistent speculation among fans regarding the possibility of a Kyuss reunion. When asked in late 2004 about whether the band would ever re-unite, Homme replied that this was unlikely to happen in the near future. However, on December 20, 2005, Garcia made a guest appearance onstage with Queens of the Stone Age during their encore at the Wiltern LG in Los Angeles. They performed three Kyuss songs together: "Thumb", "Hurricane" and "Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop". The band has reportedly received numerous offers to re-form, all of which have been turned down:
The offers come in all the time. They're getting more and more expensive, and more and more elaborate. The money is crazy, but I've never been tempted - I don't really care about the money, I never have. That's not what KYUSS was about, so to punctuate the end of our sentence with that would be blasphemy. KYUSS fans are so fuckin' rad, they're fuckin' badass - but to me, reunions are just not necessary. It's not what it was, it's what it is, and KYUSS was a really magical thing - and if you weren't there, well, you weren't. That's just the luck of the draw. I don't feel the urge to do it for somebody who didn't have the opportunity to see us, or just didn't take the opportunity to see us. I'll let other bands alter their great legacies. KYUSS has such a great history that it would be a total error. I like that nobody saw KYUSS, and that it was largely misunderstood. That sounds like a legend forming to me. I'm too proud of it to rub my dick on it.
Scott Reeder also commented on a possible Kyuss reunion in early 2008, saying "I think everyone but Josh would do it in a heartbeat". Reeder also noted that he would "do it for free beer again".
Shortly after the breakup, Homme toured as the rhythm guitarist with Screaming Trees and began work on ongoing The Desert Sessions recording series. In December 1997, a transitional split EP was released, featuring three songs by Kyuss (the Black Sabbath cover "Into the Void," "Fatso Forgotso," and "Flip the Phase") and three songs by Queens of the Stone Age ("If Only Everything", "Born to Hula" and "Spiders & Vinegaroons"). Homme and Hernandez formed Queens of the Stone Age in 1998, and recruited Oliveri as bassist after completion of their debut album.
Hernandez later played with Yawning Man, Che and Orquestra Del Desierto, while Oliveri formed the band Mondo Generator, named after the only Kyuss song credited solely (words and music) to him. Drummer Brant Bjork went on to form the band Brant Bjork and the Bros, recorded and performed with Fu Manchu and Mondo Generator, and has recorded several solo albums.
John Garcia went on to form Slo Burn, although the band was short-lived and released only one EP, Amusing the Amazing, before disbanding in September 1997. He was also briefly associated with the band Karma to Burn. In 1998, he began working with the band Unida, recording one EP, one LP and an unreleased album. At the same time he started working with the band Hermano, having released three LP's and one live album to date. Garcia has more recently been working on a solo album.
In 1997, Homme, Bjork, and Oliveri recorded three songs together ("13th Floor", "Simple Exploding Man", & "Cocaine Rodeo") for Mondo Generator's debut album Cocaine Rodeo, released in 2000. Also featuring Garcia and Chris Goss on one track, the songs are regarded by many fans as the true final Kyuss recordings.
In 2000, a compilation album, Muchas Gracias: The Best of Kyuss, was released. The album is a collection of the band's singles, as well as B-sides and live material.
Although Kyuss left behind some "rarities", many of them were released on Muchas Gracias, and further releases from the band appear unlikely. Singer John Garcia told Billboard.com in a 2005 interview:
There are so many untitled songs that have never been heard, that I have up in my little crawl space up above my bed. I don't see those songs coming out anytime in the near future. Everybody's too busy to do stuff like that. It's a job to go back and listen to it, and then if you want to re-record them.
In 2010, a European "John Garcia plays Kyuss" tour was announced. In June 2010, former Kyuss members Nick Oliveri and Brant Bjork joined Garcia onstage to perform "Green Machine" and "Gardenia" during a headlining appearance by "Garcia Plays Kyuss" at Hellfest in Clisson, France and they also appeared onstage with Garcia in other concerts on the tour.
In November 2010, Garcia, Oliveri and Bjork announced plans to tour under the moniker "Kyuss Lives!" with guitarist Bruno Fevery. In reference to the new band name, Garcia stated that "there is never going to be a Kyuss without Josh Homme" and that "hopefully in the future him and I can get together and do some writing." The band went on to tour Europe, Australasia and North and South America. The band then announced plans to record a new studio album for a summer 2012 release in addition to a live album.
However, in March 2012, it was revealed that Josh Homme, after persuading bassist Scott Reeder to support him, had filed a federal lawsuit against John Garcia and Brant Bjork alleging "trademark infringement and consumer fraud" over the use of the Kyuss name despite the fact Brant Bjork had originally created the name. Nick Oliveri left Kyuss later that month after it was revealed that Garcia and Bjork had tried to take control of the Kyuss trademark.
In August 2012 the courts ruled that Garcia and Bjork could not release any recordings, studio or live, under the Kyuss Lives! moniker. While they were allowed to continue using the moniker for live shows (as long as, unlike the band's current logo, Lives! is written in the same size and next to the word Kyuss to avoid confusion), the judge stated that they may face issues in the future and that "it may be in Defendants' best interest to begin re-branding under a new name". On November 29, 2012, it was announced that Kyuss Lives! had changed their name to Vista Chino.