Saturday, May 28, 2011

Understanding Kyuss

I was miles behind you in understanding Kyuss.
You said put your preconceptions aside, all your politically correct diatribes
And just get in to the music, forget the fact that they're probably losers
You live in a Datsun? I don't understand the words on the album.
But I don't need a lyric sheet. Doug, doctor and Terry.
There's a bond that we all share if you don't understand then I don't care
Then I don't care.

Understanding Kyuss
Understand me understand me understand everybody needs a sense of irony

Camped by a river somewhere, car stereo still night air
Crank it up I really like this bit, fuck that riff sounds really sick
Fat fat with the strings tuned low, understanding isn't just what you know
We know nothing but we understand plenty you're never getting back those records you lent me.

Understanding Kyuss
Understand me understand me understand everybody needs a sense of irony

Understanding Kyuss, The Fauves, 1996

Did I miss a meeting? Why is it every person on the planet now knows who Kyuss are because no one seemed to have heard of them when they were actually playing. The reason I bring this up is because an old uni buddy contacted me a few weeks ago and sent me the following message:

Hey you need to get to kyuss lives. They were pretty fucking awesome last night at coolangatta. Just a heads up.

We were both big Kyuss fans in the 90's and amongst our friendship group, their albums were passed around like sacred documents. Now I had intended on seeing the reunion show but the problem was they had originally booked the Metro (a room that takes about 600-800 people). Figuring no one really knows Kyuss, I'd just get a ticket at my leisure. The show sold out in about an hour. They then moved the show to Luna Park, a MUCH bigger venue and the place where I last saw Queens. So no problem getting a ticket now except that sold out as well. In the end, I resigned myself that I had missed the show.

When I first heard they were doing the Kyuss Lives shows, I was a bit hesitant considering Josh Homme wasn't on board but in the end I decided it's probably the closest I'd get to seeing them live. Matt recently pointed out two things: a) in his post about Wire, sometimes a band can exist in spirit when a member is absent (I'm not sure if this applies to Kyuss but I was willing to be forgiving) and b) in his comments on Truckfighters, he pointed out all the bands that have come in their wake but none of them have really reached the heights standard that Kyuss set. I'm a little more skeptical about talk of recording a Kyuss Lives album. No doubt I'll buy it though - sucker.

What surprised me is that they sold out so quickly. I really had no idea that Kyuss or even a Kyuss knock off band would be so popular. But as I type this I'm listening to Welcome to Sky Valley which just sounds superb. Now I'm here I know that I'm probably going on a Kyuss bender for a few days.

The reason I put that Fauves song up the top is that it perfectly captures my memories of being a Kyuss fan - it was a secret bond between friends and I remember long car trips where everyone was singing along to Thumb or trying to learn Space Cadet on guitar. I'm actually glad that they've reached a bigger audience posthumously.

As I said recently I've explored many bands in this genre but none of them are really a patch on Kyuss. While they are unrelentingly heavy with a low end that is subterranean, the music is driven by a dark psychedelic groove. It is the devil's music that you can dance to and as the Fauves points out 'Fuck that riff sounds really sick.' Just listening to Blues for the Red Sun now - fuck, it does sound great. What is also surprising is that it doesn't sound dated in the least, it just sounds heavy and cool as fuck.

Sorry for the self indulgent post but my lord, Kyuss are amazing. Just a reminder.


1 comment:

  1. Understand Kyuss? I think I do. Saw 'em repeatedly, and for what it's worth, they were anything but Josh Homme's back up band. Garcia is a hell of a front man, with one of the top ten rocknroll voices, ever. Also, a goodly percentage of that low-end muck was generated by how loud they mix the bass. If people have only read reviews, and heard the records they might think it was all guitar- no way. That bass was LOUD and mixed equal to the guitar, if not louder. Kyuss also was an atmosphere- like taking magic mushrooms after a three day bender, with strangers that you're not entirely comfortable with. The redneck stance wasn't entirely ironic, there was a little backwoods danger to them, which is why Josh went away from that in QOTSA. And why he kicked Oliveri out. And why he did the Ironic thing with Eagles, and so on- Josh is a big, big guy who's trying to be a nobler savage than Kyuss would allow. So, my advice- go see Kyuss- regardless of what they've had to do to get past the legality of the name.