King Missile

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This article is about the band. For their eponymous sixth album, see King Missile (album).
King Missile
Origin New York City, USA
Genres Experimental rock, spoken word, surreal humor, avant-garde jazz, anti-folk, neo-psychedelia, alternative rock, pop rock, dark ambient
Years active 1986-present
Labels Shimmy, Atlantic, Instinct, Important
Associated acts John S. Hall
Dogbowl
Kramer
Bongwater
Hypnolovewheel
Website King Missile MySpace
Members Sasha Forte
John S. Hall
Bradford Reed
Past members Dogbowl
Alex DeLaszlo
R.B. Korbet
George O'Malley
Steve Dansiger
Dave Rick
Chris Xefos
David Ramirez
Roger Murdock
Charles Curtis
Jane Scarpantoni

King Missile is an American avant-garde band that has been led in various disparate incarnations by poet/singer John S. Hall since 1986.

History[edit]

King Missile (Dog Fly Religion)[edit]

In 1985, writer John S. Hall began presenting his work at open mike poetry readings. After three shows, Hall became a "featured" poet at the Backfence, a performance venue in Manhattan's Greenwich Village.[1] In 1986, feeling that "20 minutes of me reading poetry would be totally boring,"[2] Hall asked his guitarist friend Dogbowl (Stephen Tunney) to augment his performances with original music.[1][2] Dogbowl agreed, and with the addition of bassist Alex DeLaszlo, drummer R.B. Korbet, and xylophonist George O'Malley, King Missile (Dog Fly Religion) was born.

In 1987, the band went to the Noise New York studio and in just ten hours recorded and mixed its debut album, Fluting on the Hump.[1] The producer/engineer, Kramer, released the album on his then-fledgling label, Shimmy Disc.[1] The label sent the album to every college radio station that reported to College Media Journal, and the album subsequently performed well on the CMJ charts.[1]

In 1988, Hall and Dogbowl, along with cellist Charles Curtis and new drummer Steve Dansiger, recorded the second King Missile (Dog Fly Religion) album, the longer, more experimental, less "jokey"[1] They. Like its predecessor, the album was produced by Kramer and released on Shimmy Disc. According to Hall, "[the album] wasn't well received. Dogbowl was itching to make his own records, so we went our separate ways."[2] Dogbowl went on to record several albums for Shimmy Disc.

King Missile[edit]

After Dogbowl's departure, Hall asked Bongwater guitarist Dave Rick to help him put together a new band.[1] Rick recruited multi-instrumentalist Chris Xefos, and Hall retained Dansiger on drums.[1] Hall dubbed the new lineup King Missile, dropping the parenthetical "Dog Fly Religion" subtitle "since that was [Dogbowl's] idea."[2] In late 1989 and early 1990, the band recorded the album Mystical Shit, and in 1990 released it on Shimmy Disc.[1] On the strength of the single "Jesus Was Way Cool," the album hit No. 1 on the CMJ charts, and the band was signed by a major label, Atlantic Records.[1] This series of events led Hall to make a habit of joking, "'Jesus' got me signed to Atlantic Records."[2] Around this time, King Missile was featured in the 1990 documentary CutTime which chronicled the East Village music scene of 1990.[3][4]

Another lineup change occurred before the recording of King Missile's major-label debut, as Dansiger left the band and was replaced on drums by Hypnolovewheel member David Ramirez. The subsequent album, The Way to Salvation, was released on April 16, 1991, and reached No. 2 on the CMJ charts.[1] Atlantic promoted the album with the release of a single, "My Heart Is a Flower," and accompanying video.

After Ramirez left the group and was replaced by yet another drummer, Roger Murdock, the band recorded its second major-label album, Happy Hour, released on December 15, 1992. The album debuted at No. 1 on the CMJ charts,[1] and its accompanying first single, "Detachable Penis," became a modest hit, reaching No. 25 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.[5] Atlantic released videos for "Detachable Penis" and the subsequent singles "(Why Are We) Trapped?" and "Martin Scorsese," but neither follow-up single achieved the chart success of "Detachable Penis." According to Hall, the band realized that its hit song had drawn in many casual fans who didn't care about the rest of the group's material; thus, the band began to play the song "early in the set, so that the people who didn't like us could leave, and we could play for the people who cared. That worked out well. People did leave."[1]

The band's third and final album for Atlantic was the eponymous King Missile, released April 19, 1994. Neither the album nor its lead single, "Love Is...," was a commercial success; consequently, the band was dropped from Atlantic, and broke up shortly thereafter because, according to Hall, "there was no reason to stay together."[6]

King Missile III[edit]

After the collapse of the second incarnation of King Missile, Hall decided to attend law school.[1] He graduated cum laude from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in Manhattan,[7] and after graduation co-founded Heraty Hall, a firm specializing in entertainment law.[1]

In 1996, Hall released a "solo album," The Body Has a Head, on the German label Manifatture Criminali. The album featured considerable input from multi-instrumentalists Sasha Forte, Bradford Reed, and Jane Scarpantoni. With these musicians, as well as They cellist Curtis, Hall formed a new band, King Missile III. On September 15, 1998, the new lineup released its "debut" album, Failure, on Shimmy Disc.

Curtis and Scarpantoni left the band after the release of Failure, and King Missile III continued as a trio, releasing two more albums: The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (Instinct Records, January 21, 2003) and Royal Lunch (Important Records, September 21, 2004).

King Missile (Dog Fly Religion) reunion[edit]

On March 18, 2010, Hall reunited with Dogbowl as King Missile (Dog-Fly Religion) for a one-time performance at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City. Multi-instrumentalist John Kruth, bassist Dave Dreiwitz of Ween, and drummer Billy Ficca of Television joined the duo to round out the lineup.

Musical styles[edit]

The various King Missile lineups have performed many disparate musical styles. King Missile (Dog Fly Religion)'s sound, driven by acoustic guitar and harmonica, was widely dubbed "anti-folk." In King Missile, electric guitars and keyboards were more prominent, and the music contained elements of psychedelic rock, alternative rock, and pop rock. King Missile III's sound is broadly experimental, and features a wide array of instruments, including violin, synthesizers, and the pencilina, a string instrument designed by Reed himself.

The central element of each group's sound has been Hall's lyrics, which vary in format from straightforward narrative to abstract, disjointed free verse. Hall's performance style is also eclectic, his delivery ranging from a deadpan monotone to melodic tenor singing to overwrought screaming.

Studio discography[edit]

King Missile (Dog Fly Religion)[edit]

Album Record Label Release Year
Fluting on the Hump Shimmy Disc 1987
They Shimmy Disc 1988

King Missile[edit]

Album Record Label Release Year
Mystical Shit Shimmy Disc 1990
The Way to Salvation Atlantic Records 1991
Happy 14½ (EP) Atlantic 1992
Happy Hour Atlantic 1992
King Missile Atlantic 1994

King Missile III[edit]

Album Record Label Release Year
Failure Shimmy Disc 1998
The Psychopathology of Everyday Life Instinct Records 2003
Royal Lunch Important Records 2004

Compilation and soundtrack contributions[edit]

Track Album Record Label Release Year
"Doubleback Alley" (Rutles cover) Rutles Highway Revisited Shimmy Disc 1990
"We Can Work It Out" (Beatles cover) Downtown Does the Beatles: Live at the Knitting Factory Knitting Factory Works 1992
"Get Up" (R.E.M. cover) Surprise Your Pig: A Tribute to R.E.M. Staple Gun Records 1992
"Our Jungle" Surf Ninjas: Original Soundtrack Album Atlantic 1993
"Still the One" (Orleans cover) 20 More Explosive Fantastic Rockin' Mega Smash Hit Explosions! Pravda Records 1994

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Prindle, Mark (2003). "Interview with John S. Hall". Prindle Rock and Roll Record Review Site. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Hall, John S. (2004). Album notes. In Mystical Shit & Fluting on the Hump [CD booklet]. New York City: Shimmy Disc.
  3. ^ CutTime on DevlinPix
  4. ^ "CutTime - King Missile, "Life" (3 of 11)". DevlinPix. Retrieved 2013-02-22. 
  5. ^ "King Missile Singles Peak Chart Positions". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  6. ^ "Interview w/ John". Farmboy's King Missile. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  7. ^ "Bios". Heraty Law. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 

External links[edit]