Teenage Jesus and the Jerks

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Teenage Jesus and the Jerks
Teenage Jesus and the Jerks (2584307444).jpg
Jim Sclavunos and Lydia Lunch performing with Teenage Jesus and the Jerks in 2008
Background information
Also known as Teenage Jesus & the Jerks
Origin New York, United States
Genres No wave
Years active 1976–1979
Labels Migraine, ZE, Celluloid
Associated acts 8 Eyed Spy, Beirut Slump, Lydia Lunch, James Chance and the Contortions
Past members Lydia Lunch
James Chance
Bradley Field
Gordon Stevenson
Jim Sclavunos

Teenage Jesus and the Jerks were an influential American no wave band, based in New York City, who formed part of the city's no wave movement.[1]


Founded by vocalist Lydia Lunch, saxophonist James Chance, bassist Reck and drummer Bradley Field, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks was active from 1976, releasing only a handful of singles.

Infamous for playing ten-minute sets filled with thirty-second songs, they sought to take music beyond what Lunch saw as the traditionalism of punk rock.

Featured on the seminal No New York LP, a showcase of the early no wave scene, compiled and produced by Brian Eno, the group left behind little more than a dozen complete recorded songs. Most of the surviving titles were collected on the eighteen-minute career retrospective compilation Everything, released in 1995 through Atavistic Records. However, other studio versions of several songs exist, alongside a few live recordings.

The group disbanded at the end of 1979.[1]

Musical style and philosophy[edit]

In his book Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984, Simon Reynolds identifies Teenage Jesus and the Jerks as an exercise in rock sacrilege:

Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, and their comrade bands Mars, Contortions and DNA, defined radicalism not as a return to roots but as deracination. Curiously, the no wave groups staged their revolt against rock tradition by using the standard rock format of guitars, bass and drums. It was as if they felt the easy electronic route to making post-rock noise was too easy. Instead, they used rock's tools against itself. Which is why no wave music irresistibly invites metaphors of dismemberment, desecration, defiling rock's corpse.[2]

Lydia Lunch has voiced her disdain for contemporary rock, claiming in Rip It Up: "I hated almost the entirety of punk rock. I don't think that no wave had anything to do with it. Who wanted chords, all these progressions that had been used to death in rock? To play slide guitar I'd use a knife, a beer bottle... glass gave the best sound. To this day I still don't know a single chord on the guitar."[2]

Singles and EPs[edit]

Date Title Label Format
May 1978 "Orphans"/"Less of Me" Migraine Records 7" vinyl CC-334
April 1979 "Baby Doll" Migraine Records 7" vinyl CC-334
1979 Teenage Jesus and the Jerks Migraine Records 12" vinyl CC-336
1979 Pre Teenage Jesus and the Jerks ZE Records 12" vinyl ZE12011


External links[edit]