Palm Desert Scene
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The Palm Desert Scene is a group of related bands and musicians from Palm Desert in Southern California. Their hard rock sound – which is often described as "desert rock" – contains elements of psychedelia, blues, heavy metal, hardcore, and other genres, as well as distinctive repetitive drum beats; typically performed with electric guitar, bass guitar and a drum kit. The musicians often play in multiple bands simultaneously, and there is a high rate of collaboration between bands. The Palm Desert Scene is also notable for producing stoner rock pioneers Kyuss. The term "stoner rock" is sometimes used interchangeably with "Palm Desert rock." However, not all Palm Desert scene bands are "stoner rock."
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The scene evolved from various Palm Desert bands' (especially Yawning Man's) marijuana-driven instrumental jams in the desert. It is largely known for its heavy, grinding riffs and association with the use of illicit substances, particularly marijuana, peyote, and magic mushrooms. These jam sessions inevitably contained some psychedelic rock influences. Possibly because of the scene's proximity to Mexico and Spanish speaking communities, there is a significant influence of Latin music on Palm Desert rock which is very evident with the El Miradors. Due in part to their roots as smalltime bar bands, many of the Palm Desert bands have strong blues elements in their music as well.
Palm Desert bands built a large local following by frequently performing at bars and parties in and around the isolated towns of Southern California's desert areas. The band Kyuss, specifically, performed shows at desert parties known as "generator parties." These shows consisted of small crowds of people, beer drinking, and the use of gasoline-powered generators to provide electricity for the musical equipment. Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age member Josh Homme commented that playing in the desert "was the shaping factor for [Kyuss]" noting that "there's no clubs here, so you can only play for free. If people don't like you, they'll tell you. You can't suck."
The Desert Sessions
One remarkable project within this scene are the Desert Sessions, in which Josh Homme invites a group of musicians, most of whom are from the Palm Desert scene, to Rancho De La Luna, a studio in the desert, where they write, rehearse and record some 10 songs in one week's time. The Desert Sessions series has now yielded 10 volumes, which have been released in pairs on CD but individually in 10" vinyl EP format. Though the series is commonly associated with the Palm Desert Scene, not all artists in the scene have participated, and there have been other artists to contribute to the project who are clearly not from the scene, such as John McBain of Red Bank, New Jersey's Monster Magnet, Dean Ween of Pennsylvania's Ween and England's PJ Harvey.
Notable bands and musicians with the Desert Scene include the following:
- Scene musicians
- Brant Bjork and the Bros
- Eagles of Death Metal
- Fatso Jetson
- Fu Manchu
- Karma to Burn
- Masters of Reality
- Mondo Generator
- Orquesta del Desierto
- Queens of the Stone Age
- Slo Burn
- Ten East
- The Desert Sessions
- Thin White Rope
- Throw Rag
- Vic du Monte's Persona Non Grata
- Yawning Man
- Fong, Erik (November 4–17, 2003). "One Flew Over the Eagle's Nest". Blender 2 (3). Archived from the original on January 19, 2008.
- Morris, Chris (15 January 1994), "Kyuss lands on its feet and keeps climbing", Billboard: 1
- Billik, Kira L. (14 March 1993), "Confused punk rockers' have an identity crisis", Buffalo News: G3