One of Los Angeles’s finest punk-era ensembles, The Flesh Eaters, have existed, on-again/off-again, in various configurations since 1977, always with singer/actor/writer/filmmaker Chris Desjardins at the helm alongside various fellow participants in the L.A. scene. Arguably their finest moment (certainly the most heralded) was 1981’s A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die, a hoodoo/horror/noir-infused wallop of snakefire that boasted Dave Alvin (The Blasters), John Doe (X), DJ Bonebrake (X), Steve Berlin (The Plugz, The Blasters, Los Lobos) and Bill Bateman (The Blasters) in the lineup.
That dream ensemble reunited in 2006 for an appearance at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in the UK and a handful of West Coast appearances. Another brief regrouping followed in 2015. And now, along with some more shows earlier this year, their scattered schedules have opened enough for them to convene to record a new album.
Out Jan. 18 via Yep Roc, I Used to Be Pretty juggles a few choice cover versions (The Gun Club’s “She’s Like Heroin to Me,” The Sonics’ “Cinderella” and Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green-era “The Green Manalishi”) along with six reworkings of past Flesh Eaters songs recorded by other lineups of the group. The album also opens and closes with two brand new original songs, one of which, “Ghost Cave Lament,” is a 13-minute sprawler that Desjardins says brings to mind some of The Doors’ early extended pieces. Julie Christensen, Desjardins’ former wife and vocal partner in the mid ‘80s Flesh Eaters successor Divine Horsemen, can be heard on five of I Used to Be Pretty’s 11 tracks.
To answer the question you’ve been screaming since you started reading this: yes, the band is touring the US, even venturing to the Midwest and East Coast for the first time ever. But no, the announced dates – which begin in January and run through March – do not include Atlanta. ’Cuz we a rap town, yo!
Photo by Frank Lee Drennen.