The Jesus Lizard

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The Jesus Lizard was a noise rock band who existed from 1987 until 1999. They primarily recorded for Touch and Go Records. They were very popular in the alternative rock underground in the 1990s. Both Touch and Go boss Corey Rusk and producer Steve Albini have cited the Jesus Lizard as one of the greatest live bands they've ever seen.


The Jesus Lizard was formed in Austin, Texas by guitarist Duane Denison, vocalist David Yow, and bassist David Wm. Sims. Sims and Yow had previously been in the band Scratch Acid while Denison had performed with Cargo Cult. Sims and Yow soon moved to Chicago when Sims joined Rapeman, which featured Big Black's Steve Albini and former Scratch Acid drummer Rey Washam. Denison soon joined Sims and Yow in Chicago. Rapeman split in 1989 and the Jesus Lizard would release their first EP, Pure, on Touch and Go Records that same year.

After the release of Pure, the band contacted Atlanta-based drummer Mac McNeilly (previously of the band 86) to join them (Pure had been completed with a drum machine). This line-up became the definitive Jesus Lizard line-up. The band built a reputation for their intense live shows and ended up releasing four LPs and string of singles (including a split 7" with Nirvana) for Touch and Go before signing a three album deal with Capitol Records in the mid '90s. Their deal with a major label caused a rift between the band and Steve Albini, who had, to that point, produced the bulk of the band's recordings. Their major label debut, 1996's Shot received mixed reviews and was the last to feature Mac McNeilly, who decided to leave the band to spend more time with his family. McNeilly suggested Jim Kimball to be his replacement. Kimball, at the time, was playing with Denison in their jazz project The Denison-Kimball Trio (actually a duo) and had previously been a member of the Michigan-based bands Laughing Hyenas and Mule, (both members of the Touch and Go/Quarterstick roster). Kimball was featured on what would ultimately be the band's final record, Blue, which was released in 1998 and was produced by Andy Gill (of Gang of Four). Kimball was fired after the release for personal reasons (in interviews years after the fact, Yow frequently referred to Kimball as "an asshole") and was replaced by Brendan Murphy. Neither Shot nor Blue found large audiences and Capitol released the Jesus Lizard from their contract sometime in 1999. The band called it quits shortly afterwards.

Following the split, the band members went their separate ways, relocating to different cities (Yow to Los Angeles and, later, Seattle, Sims to New York, Denison to Nashville) and different musical acts. The most prominent, musically, was Duane Denison, who toured as guitarist for Hank Williams III and formed Tomahawk with Faith No More singer Mike Patton. The Jesus Lizard turned down offers to reunite, including an appearance at Touch and Go Records' 2006 25th Anniversary, citing the fact that they would not reunite without McNeilly, with whom the other members had apparently lost touch. The situation was clearly rectified because by 2008 the band, including McNeilly, started playing a series of live shows. This continued until 2010.

Band Members

  • David Yow - Vocals (1987-1999, 2008-2010)
  • Duane Denison - Guitar (1987-1999, 2008-2010)
  • David Wm. Sims - Bass (1987-1999, 2008-2010)
  • Mac McNeilly - Drums (1989-1996, 2008-2010)
  • Jim Kimball - Drums (1996-1998)
  • Brendan Murphy - Drums (1998-1999)


  • Chrome 7" (Touch and Go, 1989)
  • Head LP (Touch and Go, 1990) - The CD version contains the Pure EP
  • Mouthbreather 7" (Touch and Go, 1990)
  • Goat LP (Touch and Go, 1991)
  • Wheelchair Epidemic 7" (Touch and Go, 1992)
  • Gladiator 7" (Touch and Go, 1992)
  • Liar LP (Touch and Go, 1992)
  • Lash EP (Touch and Go, 1993)
  • Puss/Oh, The Guilt split 7" with Nirvana (Touch and Go, 1993)
  • Down LP (Touch and Go, 1994)
  • (Fly) On (The Wall) 7" (Touch and Go, 1994)
  • Show live LP (Collision Arts/Giant Records, 1994)
  • Shot LP (Capitol Records, 1996)
  • The Jesus Lizard EP (JetSet, 1998)
  • Blue LP (Capitol Records, 1998)
  • Bang CD (Touch and Go, 2000) - compilation of singles and EPs
  • Inch 9x7" (Touch and Go, 2009) - Record Store Day collection of the band's Touch and Go 7"s and Lash EP (Nirvana's song from their split is excluded)
  • Club live LP (Chunklet, 2011)

External links