The Jesus Lizard have hangovers. Big Ones. It's Sunday afternoon and traitional phone interview time for those American bands with attitude, and a day off. First up is David Yow and I decide to break him in gently with the old `so hows the tour going' opener.
`Pretty good, But it's weird `cause with the release of each new LP our audience is growing-but since the double A side with Nirvana- all of a sudden Europe has got a hard on for the Jesus Lizard. Guys and girls are coming to our gigs are loving it. I've never seen so many stage divers."
However, the Jesus Lizards' slither to public recognition has been a painfully slow one. Formed in Chicago by ex-scratch acid members Yow and Simms, They recruited the tastefully named Duane Dennison and release the Steve Albini produced Pure e.p. Albini's involvement and unfortunate use of a drum machine relegated them to the tag of Big Black wanna be's and even with the inclusion of powerhouse drummer Mac McVeilly critics still used staple quotes and put downs.
"I guess we just ignored them and got on with what we wanted to do. Then when Mac joined they still came out with these lazy comparisons. Sure we like working with Albini, he's a great producer and David Simms was in Rapeman so we're friends. But I don't think we ever sounded like Big Black. Of course the influence was there - but so are many other things."
Was getting a drummer a concious move to avoid the Big Black comparisons?
"It was the next step in our evolution as musicians, and as a band. We've always changed with every LP we've done. Tried to experiment and push it a little bit further. Besides you can't get pissed with a drum machine - it's no fun. Mac on the other hand, you can do lots of things with. And he can also carry gear!!"
As it happens Mac McNeily hasn't made it to the interview due to the excessive amounts of the alcohol he consumed last night and is "puking his guts up back at the hotel". But what Mr Yow is saying is echoed by Mr. Simms.
"I think that as a band we've changed. We've become more focused. `Liar' is quite an extreme record, where as Lash or the new LP is clearer.
There are more tangibly tuneful moments and an almost Funky feel to Lash. Was than on purpose or just an be accident?
"Do you think so? I'm glad that people are picking up on that. It's good that we can be more subtle with styles - reflect dfferent things with out music. I don't think I would be happy to be remembers as that band that Nirvana slummed it with. Or as `hardcore exponents'. I hate that expession and people use it all the time. Still the critics love us now, especially Everett True. "
But being the critics favourite brings in its own set of problems. Do you find it annoying to get so much attention from the press and not have it reflected in record sales.
"I think that perhaps people get put off by it. It is boring to get hyped up by a particular journalist or magazine. people switch off and say `Oh, not that band again". But that seems to be the J.L's curse. Whether its Steve Albini, Nirvana or whatever. Like all bands we want people to see us and exposure is a necessary part of the process. We just have to keep in in persepctive and not allow media overkill. This band is not PearlJam."
So with a profile considerably boosted by one thing or another. What the next step for the band?
"Well, we've got this new record `Lash' finished and in the shops at last. And we're touring it endlessly all over the place. Then I guess it's back home to our real lives to write more songs. "
Is touring no fun then?
"We'll it's a lot of fun but I'm really tired right now. The Jesus Lizard is very much a live band. David Yow is a very intense man on the stage and the experience can be very cathartic, and if your being cathartic six nights a week with free beer and hundreds of new friends things can get a little frazzled."
Intense is probably the right word for the Jesus Lizard. From the early days of `Head' and `Goat' to the less industrial more emotional rush of `Liar' and `Lash' the band have always kept the best for their gigs. Crashed melodies and gasoline fuelled tales of bitterness. sit easily in the one testosterone injected set. Endless streams of young kids invade the stage only to use it as their own personal spring board. It looks positively dangerous. David Yow agrees.
"I thrash around a lot when I'm on stage. Its pretty demanding and you really get moving when some poor kidn jumps up in front of you. It's easy to see why they get hurt. But I try really hard not to hit anyone. They're just doing their thing and having fun - plus I'm glad so many people are into what we play."
Do you see the band getting much bigger? Are you going to do huge stadium shows?
"I don't know what's going to happen really. As I said, the audience is constantly growing but only naturally so as more people get to hear our music. But as for the future, who knows, stadium shows would be kind of strange. I don't know what I would make of them. We're doing some festivals in Europe during the summer, so I'll tell you then. You never know we might like it."
The Jesus Lizard, bigger than God?