Drive Like Jehu
|Drive Like Jehu|
Rick Froberg (left) and John Reis (right) performing in Drive Like Jehu
|Origin||San Diego, California, United States|
|Genres||Post-hardcore, alternative rock, emo|
|Labels||Cargo, Headhunter, Merge, Interscope, Swami|
|Associated acts||Pitchfork, Rocket from the Crypt, Back Off Cupids, Hot Snakes, Sultans, Obits, The Night Marchers|
|Past members||Rick Froberg
Drive Like Jehu was an American post-hardcore and alternative rock band from San Diego active from 1990 to 1995. Formed by rhythm guitarist and vocalist Rick Froberg and lead guitarist John Reis following the breakup of their band Pitchfork, the band's lineup also included bassist Mike Kennedy and drummer Mark Trombino. Their music was characterized by multisectioned compositions, interlocking guitar patterns, orchestrated builds and releases, and elliptical melodies that produced a distinctive sound amongst other post-hardcore acts and impacted the evolution of hardcore punk into emo.
After releasing their eponymously titled debut album in 1991 through local record labels Cargo Music and Headhunter Records, Drive Like Jehu signed to major label Interscope Records along with Reis' other band Rocket from the Crypt. Their second album, 1994's Yank Crime, gained a cult following, but the group disbanded shortly after its release. Reis continued with Rocket from the Crypt and Trombino became a successful record producer and audio engineer, while Froberg and Kennedy pursued careers outside of music. From 1999 to 2005 Reis and Froberg reunited in Hot Snakes, and Reis re-released Yank Crime through his Swami Records label.
Formation and debut album
Prior to forming Drive Like Jehu, vocalist Rick Froberg and guitarist John Reis had played together in Pitchfork from 1986 to 1990. Pitchfork's breakup led to the formation of two new bands: Reis launched Rocket from the Crypt while he and Froberg simultaneously recruited bassist Mike Kennedy and drummer Mark Trombino, both formerly of Night Soil Man, to form Drive Like Jehu in August 1990. The band's name was derived from the biblical story of Jehu in the Books of Kings:
|“||And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and cometh not again: and the driving [is] like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously.||”|
While Froberg had sung in Pitchfork, in Drive Like Jehu he also played guitar, adding a rhythm guitar to Reis' lead. The band's debut album, Drive Like Jehu, was released in 1991 through Cargo Music and Headhunter Records, simultaneous with Rocket from the Crypt's debut Paint as a Fragrance. Produced by Donnell Cameron and with artwork by Froberg, it was praised as "a quantum leap forward" from Reis and Froberg's work in Pitchfork. In 1992 Drive Like Jehu released the single "Hand Over Fist" / "Bullet Train to Vegas" through Merge Records and the song "Sinews" on the Cargo/Headhunter compilation album Head Start to Purgatory.
Yank Crime and breakup
In 1994 both Rocket from the Crypt and Drive Like Jehu were signed to major label Interscope Records. According to some accounts, Reis insisted that Drive Like Jehu be signed along with Rocket from the Crypt in a package deal. Drive Like Jehu released an album first, putting out Yank Crime that year. Engineered and mixed by Trombino, and again with artwork by Froberg, it had some longer, more complex songs and was described by critics as an "uncompromising maelstrom of technically intricate fury" and "as worthy and awesome as its predecessor".
In 1995 Drive Like Jehu disbanded, partly so that Reis could concentrate on Rocket from the Crypt, who put out three releases that year and continued until 2005. Drive Like Jehu never officially announced a breakup, but simply stopped playing together. Trombino became a successful record producer and audio engineer, working with bands such as Blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World, while Kennedy left music to become a chemist. Froberg briefly played in Thingy before moving to New York City to pursue a career as a visual artist and illustrator, later reuniting with Reis in the Hot Snakes from 1999 to 2005. In November 2002 Reis re-released Yank Crime through his Swami Records label, including on it the tracks from "Hand Over Fist" / "Bullet Train to Vegas" and "Sinews" from Head Start to Purgatory. Reis currently performs in The Night Marchers and Froberg in Obits.
On August 31, 2014, Drive Like Jehu reunited for a performance at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in San Diego's Balboa Park, accompanied by San Diego Civic Organist Dr. Carol Williams. The collaboration was facilitated by Dang Nguyen, who co-owns Bar Pink in San Diego's North Park neighborhood with Reis and sits on the Spreckels Organ Society board of directors. "In February or March , we discussed possibilities and the topic of Jehu came up; that's where it started," said Nguyen. "It was a project they wanted to bring back together. Because, after Hot Snakes and Rocket [from the Crypt] reunited in the last couple of years, I think John and Rick felt that to do something at the organ pavilion was worth getting back together for." Reis expressed enthusiasm for the organ's sound, saying "I especially love the way the low-end sound on the organ is so massive. When I go see organ concerts in the park, I want to collaborate with that sound and with Carol. It's not necessarily a 'good idea,' but it's an idea I feel strongly about, and it's such a San Diego thing." According to Williams, "the point of the concert is to open up the (musical) boundaries, not to be narrow. The organ needs a future and any opportunities like this, I really look forward to."
The novelty of playing with the accompaniment of the organ was a key factor in bringing the band back together. "The weird thing is that we are playing, and that it took something this weird for us to decide to play a couple of songs again," said Reis. "Only two of us live in San Diego; [Rick] lives in New York and [Mark]'s in Los Angeles. [Mark and Mike] pretty much haven't played music since Jehu or since shortly thereafter. Mark didn't even have a drum set until earlier this year, and he bought one specifically for us to play with the organ." The band played a set of five songs: "Do You Compute", "Super Unison", "Sinews", "If It Kills You", and "Luau". Rob Crow, who sang backing vocals on "Luau" on Yank Crime, joined them onstage during the song to sing his parts.
Drive Like Jehu's music is often classified as post-hardcore, alternative rock, and emo. Steve Huey of Allmusic calls them "arguably the most progressive of the leading post-hardcore bands: their lengthy, multisectioned compositions were filled with odd time signatures, orchestrated builds and releases, elliptical melodies, and other twists and turns that built on the innovations of the Dischord label. The result was one of the most distinctive and ferocious sounds in the loosely defined post-hardcore movement." Next to contemporaries such as Fugazi and Quicksand, Drive Like Jehu was sometimes overlooked and their music was sometimes difficult for critics to place in a broader context. According to Huey, the band was influential to the development of emo even though the style's later sound was quite different from Drive Like Jehu's: "The term 'emo' hadn't yet come into wider use, and while Drive Like Jehu didn't much resemble the sound that word would later come to signify, they exerted a powerful pull on its development. Moreover, they did fit the earlier definition of emo: challenging, intricate guitar rock rooted in hardcore and performed with blistering intensity, especially the frenzied vocals." Allmusic's Ned Raggett also commented on the emo connection in his review of Yank Crime: "Perhaps even more than the debut, Yank Crime solidified Drive Like Jehu's reputation as kings of emo. While use of that term rapidly degenerated to apply to sappy miserableness by the decade's end, here the quartet capture its original sense: wired, frenetic, screaming passion, as first semi-created by the likes of Rites of Spring." Brendan Reid of Pitchfork Media also notes that "It's often easy to forget that DLJ were considered emo in their day; Froberg's howls of 'Ready, ready to let you in!' on 'Super Unison' seem like a sick parody of stylish vulnerability. Then the song mutates into a gorgeous, snare-drum rolling open sea, and everything you've ever liked (and still like) about this genre in its purest form comes flooding back."
- Rick Froberg – rhythm guitar, lead vocals
- Mike Kennedy – bass guitar
- John Reis – lead guitar, backing vocals
- Mark Trombino – drums
|1991||Drive Like Jehu|
|1992||"Hand Over Fist" / "Bullet Train to Vegas"|
The following Drive Like Jehu songs were released on compilation albums. This is not an exhaustive list; songs that were first released on the band's albums are not included.
|1992||Head Start to Purgatory||
- Huey, Steve. "Drive Like Jehu biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
- Reid, Brendan (2003-02-14). "Album Review: Drive Like Jehu - Yank Crime". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
- "Drive Like Jehu profile". Swami Records. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
- "King James Bible Online". King James Bible. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
- Raggett, Ned. "Drive Like Jehu". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
- Raggett, Ned. "Yank Crime". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
- Varga, George (2014-08-19). "Drive Like Jehu Reunites After 19 years". U-T San Diego. Retrieved 2014-09-02.
- Sharp, Tyler (2014-09-01). "Watch Footage of Drive Like Jehu's Reunion Show". Alternative Press. Retrieved 2014-09-02.
- Ankeny, Jason. "Hand Over Fist/Bullet Train to Vegas". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
- "Headstart to Purgatory". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
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