The Flesh Eaters Return
Enigmatic '70s punk band is back with a revised line-up, new album and an ambitious national tour
Perhaps the coolest and least commercial supergroup of the punk era, The Flesh Eaters were formed in Los Angeles in 1977. Over the years, the line-up has been in almost constant upheaval, with the sole constant being founder / punk poet / film historian Chris Desjardins, better known as Chris D.
The revolving door personnel continues to include members of the most famous bands of the original L.A. punk scene, including Dave Alvin of The Blasters, John Doe of X and Steve Berlin of Los Lobos. The latest incarnation will release I Used To Be Pretty this month. As usual, Chris D's howling vocals and musical ideas carry the project and the record is easily the band's best since 1981's A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die.
Insite spoke with Chris D as he finalized plans for the band's first quarter of 2019 including a national tour and the international release of the new record.
Two albums I've been listening to on repeat lately are the advance disc of the Flesh Eaters and Downy to Lubbock - both with Dave Alvin but both very different projects.
I think that really speaks to Dave's versatility. He really embraces so many styles and genres. He's really great that way. But everybody in the band is kind of like that, we can all fit into a number of musical genres without too much of a problem and get equal enjoyment from it.
How did you decide to do another record?
It's kind of fascinating to me how easily everything fell into place. For a few years, I'd just let sleeping dogs lie. Then in 2014, I was at loose ends, I was jobless for the first time in 15 years, I'd recently gone through a break-up and I was just trying to keep my sanity. I got in touch with everybody and said, 'Do you want to do this again?' Fortuitously, everybody had their schedule open and we decided to do a few shows in January 2015.
Must've been great shows.
We had so much fun we wanted to do it again a lot sooner than later. So we made a kind of a pact, a verbal pact to do it again within two years, and we did some January 2018 shows. We added a few more and did eight shows this time. Dave's manager Nancy has been our de facto manager for the last year, even though she didn't start getting her percentage until the last month or so.
That's rock and roll!
Well she's been doing it really for the love of it as we all have. The two of us have really held it together while the guys are our doing their separate things. But we're still keeping in touch with them, making sure everyone's on the same page and there are no schedule conflicts at the last minute.
You have a lot of busy people to juggle.
Yeah. But it was all working so well last January, we were sounding so tight during those live shows, about halfway through the dates, I said to the guys, 'We've really got to go into the studio and document this.' They were pretty open to the idea and to working it out. I said, 'We can go in there within a couple months, take a week to all get on the same page so we're rehearsed enough so we don't have to do a lot of woodshedding.' That's what we ended up doing.
How'd it go?
Within the first days of recording, Dave talked to the guys at Yep Roc which has been his label for his last couple of records. They were very enthusiastic without even hearing anything. When they heard the record in July, they were just over the moon about it. They really got behind it and there was kind of a mandate that we really needed to play outside of the west coast. We figured out a kind of a synchronized schedule between everybody where we could take a week and a half each month for the first three months of 2019, and hit the west coast in January, Texas in February and the mid-west and some of the east in March.
From last summer when the label first heard the album, to now with a pretty ambitious tour, it must be an exciting time for you.
Yeah, I'm very excited about it and there's a lot of attention being given to it. And we're going on tour, definitely the first time for this line up. The band I had in '82, '83, for the third and fourth albums, we did a pretty extensive tour. All over, even in Atlanta. I think we played a place called The Metroplex. My other band Divine Horsemen also toured quite a bit in the '80s. Now, a lot of younger people know those band names, even if they've never seen us play a live show. Actually we're planning another Divine Horsemen album for sometime this year as well.
You're playing to people who may have only heard of the band indirectly, like a myth.
Yeah, it's funny, the combination of this particular group seems to fascinate a lot of people. I think the people who really know the band, the people who are getting up there in senior status, who know the history, appreciate that we're coming back together. It's certainly not for the money. And I've definitely noticed a lot of people who may have been only four or five or maybe not even born yet when our other stuff was new. I'm seeing a lot of people in their 20s and 30s, who really embrace the music. I think that's the real litmus test for us.
The Flesh Eaters' I Used To Be Pretty is available at most major music retailers this month.