Not only are The Flesh Eaters releasing their first album since Miss Muerte, which came out on Atavistic Records in 2004, but they are reuniting their classic lineup from 1981, which also played the band’s recent reunion shows in 2006 and 2015. Chris Desjardins–better known as Chris D.–, Dave Alvin, John Doe, Bill Bateman, Steve Berlin, and DJ Bonebrake have come together to record I Used to be Pretty. The musicians hail from The Blasters, X, and Los Lobos, leading many journalists to refer to The Flesh Eaters as a “supergroup,” but I don’t think they have enough ego to do more than roll their eyes at that moniker.
Although The Flesh Eaters is a project with a constantly revolving musical lineup, the musicians on their sophomore album, A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die, is considered the classic lineup. They only played a few gigs before going their separate ways to rejoin their primary bands, but in 2006, when Mudhoney was curating the bands for All Tomorrow’s Parties in England, it was the Minute to Pray lineup that was specifically requested. I was lucky enough to be there, and also at their LA warmup gig. They came back together again in 2015 and just recently in January of 2018. And every show has been awesome.
I Used to be Pretty drops on January 18, 2019, on Yep Roc Records in single-CD and double-LP configurations. This album looks to be as intense and spooky as we have come to expect from Chris D., with song titles like “Black Temptation,” and the 13-minute “Ghost Cave Lament,” which was inspired by a flamenco guitarist. Although I tend to put the Flesh Eaters in The Cramps category, Chris D. reported that “Ghost Cave Lament” feels like one of The Doors longer tracks, which have kind of a spooky vibe too.
Six tracks on I Used to Be Pretty are re-recordings of previously released Flesh Eaters songs recorded for the first time by the powerhouse Minute to Pray lineup. The songs are “Pony Dress” from the compilation album Tooth and Nail, “My Life to Live” and “The Wedding Dice” from Forever Came Today (1982), “Youngest Profession” from Dragstrip Riot (1991); “House Amid the Thickets,” which debuted on Ashes of Time (1999); and “Miss Muerte,” the title track of the most recent Flesh Eaters album.
The rest of the album consists of three covers, including Peter Green’s “The Green Manalishi,” and the Gun Club’s “She’s Like Heroin to Me,” both of which have been on the setlist for their recent live shows. After the death of Gun Club’s Jeffrey Lee Pierce in 1996, the song was added to the band’s setlist.
Dejardins said in a press release, “Some of Jeffrey’s songs could have been Flesh Eaters songs so easily. Some of his phrasing and his lyric images I really feel a kinship with.” The final cover is a longtime crowd favorite, the Sonic’s 1965 single “Cinderella,” which has never before been recorded.
These guys may all be in their 60’s now, but they are more vital and energetic than most bands half their age. Hell, Steve Berlin can bench press 300. OK, I made that up, but you get the idea. They will be bringing all of that energy to America when they tour this album from January until March, 201 9. The tour will kick off in Phoenix and hit the big cities like Seattle, Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, and Washington DC before wrapping it up in New York City. The LA dates are Friday, January 18, 2019, at Pappy & Harriet’s Place in Pioneertown, and Saturday, January 19, 2019, at the Echoplex. How much would you pay for that? But wait! There’s more! For no extra charge, for the LA shows only, they are throwing in Mudhoney! That is going to be one show you can’t miss!
FLESH EATERS 2019 TOUR
Wed., Jan. 16 PHOENIX, AZ Crescent Ballroom
Thurs., Jan. 17 TUCSON, AZ 191 Toole
Fri., Jan. 18 PIONEERTOWN, CA Pappy & Harriet’s Place, w/Mudhoney
Sat., Jan. 19 LOS ANGELES, CA Echoplex, w/ Mudhoney
Sun., Jan. 20 SAN FRANCISCO, CA Independent
Tues., Jan. 22 PORTLAND, OR The Star Theater
Wed., Jan. 23 SEATTLE, WA The Crocodile
Thurs., Feb. 21 HOUSTON, TX Continental Club
Fri.-Sat., Feb. 22-23 AUSTIN, TX Continental Club
Sun., Feb. 24 DALLAS, TX Club Dada
Sat., March 9 SAINT PAUL, MN Turf Club
Sun., March 10 CHICAGO, IL Lincoln Hall
Mon., March 11 GRAND RAPIDS, MI The Pyramid Scheme
Tues., March 12 DETROIT, MI El Club
Thurs., March 14 BOSTON, MA City Winery Boston
Fri., March 15 PHILADELPHIA, PA Johnny Brenda’s
Sat., March 16 WASHINGTON, DC Union Stage Sun. March 17 NYC The Bowery Ballroom.