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Music / Kyuss

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The Stoner Rock band.

What, you want more than that? OK. Kyuss were a highly influential American stoner/desert rock band from Palm Desert, California. They were the pioneers of their genre, which is vaguely a subgenre of Doom Metal but often has very little to do with doom. Its characteristics include heavily detuned guitars, low-end-heavy sound (Josh Homme would plug his guitar into a bass amp for this very reason), massive Black Sabbath influence, hallucinogenic themes and an overall insanely deep and heavy sound.

However, they didn't have nearly as much commercial success or recognition as Queens of the Stone Age, a band you've probably heard of that is fronted by Josh Homme, former guitarist for Kyuss.

They formed in 1987 as Katzenjammer, then later changed their name to Sons of Kyuss in 1989 and released an EP under that name in 1990, before shortening their name to "Kyuss" in 1991 (Kyuss is an evil demigod of worms and corruption from the Dungeons & Dragons game, and Son of Kyuss was an undead monster described in the 1st Edition D&D Fiend Folio). Over the next few years, the band released four full-length albums before splitting up in 1995. Their only constant members were vocalist John Garcia (known for his very recognisable voice, which is often said to be synonymous with the genre) and guitarist Josh Homme, who you already know of.

Former members:

  • John Garcia, vocals (1987-1995)
  • Josh Homme, guitar (1987-1995)
  • Nick Oliveri, guitar (1987-1988), bass (1991-1992) [he has also been in Queens of the Stone Age; he's the shirtless bald guy in their video for "No One Knows" and the shirtless long-haired dude in the one for Kyuss' "Thong Song"]
  • Chris Cockrell, bass (1987-1991)
  • Brant Bjork, drums (1987-1994)
  • Scott Reeder, bass (1992-1995)
  • Alfredo Hernández, drums (1994-1995)

Discography (as Kyuss):

  • Wretch, 1991
  • Blues for the Red Sun, 1992
  • Sky Valley (commonly known as Welcome to Sky Valley), 1994
  • ...And the Circus Leaves Town, 1995

Tropes that apply to Kyuss:

  • Cover Version: They did a cover of Yawning Man's "Catamaran", a cover of Across the River's "N.O.", and their last release, a Kyuss/QOTSA split EP, had a cover of "Into the Void" by Black Sabbath.
  • Credits Gag: The liner notes of Blues for the Red Sun credit John Garcia with "lyrics" for "Molten Universe", "Apothecaries' Weight", "800" and "Capsized", all of which are instrumentals.
  • Epic Rocking: "Spaceship Landing" is 11 minutes, and there's a good few songs that stretch past 6-7. Played with on Sky Valley, which has 10 songs but on most CD versions smooshes them together into three tunes plus the Hidden Track.
    Josh, asked why the CDs combine the tracks: I just wanted it to be like hell to play on a CD player.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Yeah".
  • Fading into the Next Song: "Hurricane" → "One Inch Man" and "Thee Ol' Boozeroony" → "Gloria Lewis" → "Phototropic" on ...And the Circus Leaves Town.
  • Heavy Mithril: They're named after a Dungeons & Dragons demigod.
  • Hidden Track:
    • "Lick Doo" on Sky Valley, about seven seconds after "Whitewater" ends.
    • ...And the Circus Leaves Town has two after the 11-minute "Spaceship Landing" ends; a short outtake after about three and a half minutes of silence, and "Day One", after about 17 minutes of silence.
  • Iconic Item: Josh Homme's black Ovation Ultra GP guitar, of which only less than 1,000 were made. Good luck trying to get one for a reasonable price.
  • Miniscule Rocking: Blues for the Red Sun ends with the three-second-long "Yeah", consisting of John Garcia saying exactly that.
  • Non-Appearing Title: It's easier to list songs where this doesn't apply; about 55% of their songs have titles that don't appear in the lyrics at all, not counting instrumentals.
  • Self-Titled Album: The aforementioned 1990 EP, back when they were called Sons of Kyuss. Also, Sky Valley was intended to be self-titled, but it was changed at the last minute.
  • Shout-Out: The main "Freedom Run" riff has a slight similarity to Sabbath's "War Pigs". Both are completely awesome.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: Many of their song lyrics are somewhat hard to make out due to John's vocals being overpowered by the sheer amount of low end, though the standout example would have to be "Mondo Generator", sung by Nick Oliveri, whose vocals are so muffled and distorted that the only line in the song that is even remotely intelligible is "what can you do?", at approximately 1:03.
  • Step Up to the Microphone
    • "Mondo Generator" is 'sung' entirely by Nick Oliveri.
    • Likewise, "Shine!" is 'sung' entirely by Scott Reeder.
    • Their cover of The Germs' "Our Way" is sung by Josh Homme, in one of his earliest lead vocal performances.
  • Stoner Metal: Trope Maker along with Sleep.
  • Title Confusion: The band has always said that their third album was meant to be just a self-titled record; the fact that most of the spines for the CD prints label it as just Kyuss was proof of this note . However, because of that "Welcome to Sky Valley" sign on the cover, the album has been nicknamed that by fans, so much that the band eventually referred to it by that name from then on.
  • Title-Only Chorus: FREEDOM RUN! FREEDOM RUN!
  • Word Salad Lyrics: A lot of the stuff they made.
    • Subverted with "Demon Cleaner," where the lyrics seem to mean nothing, but it's actually about brushing your teeth. No really, look:
    "Homme: I have a tooth obsession. I've had everything done to my teeth that you could have done. I used to dream about teeth all the time-I've had nightmares about them since I was a kid, like horrible night terrors. I even went the doctor about it, and that's why I hate going to sleep even to this day. I still always have nightmares. So I'd have this recurring dream where I'm getting my teeth pulled out and then I'd flash forward and I'd be in a giant mouth with these teeth bleeding everywhere. And I'd be cleaning these giant teeth while the blood was coming down and I'd be drowning in a sea of toothbrush foam and blood. So "Demon Cleaner" was this metaphor for, you know, you gotta keep yourself clean, you gotta keep yourself tight."
  • Word Salad Title: "(Beginning of What's About to Happen) Hwy 74", "Apothecaries' Weight", "Molten Universe", "50 Million Year Trip (Downside Up)", "Supa Scoopa and Mighty Scoop", "Un Sandpiper", "Thee Ol' Boozeroony", "Tangy Zizzle", "Mudfly", "Fatso Forgotso". Their other songs tend to be less out there as far as titles go.