Music Features
May 21, 2008, 20:03


The Lee Harvey Oswald Band - Blastronaut

Lee Harvey Oswald Band drummer Jimmy Meat can't talk about who he really is. Nor is he allowed to talk about who guitarist Zowie Fenderblast is or bassist Dredge's real identity. That mystique, the shroud of secrecy, is an integral part of the band's non-presence.

And when the band's attorney, Mike Bennett, called from Chicago shortly after Meat called Your Flesh and conversed with garrulity for an hour, the entire interview was in jeopardy.

“What did Meat tell you?” he inquired in a nasal command. “Did he divulge anything that could identify the band?”

Naw. Mr. Meat was the perfect spy, albeit a captured agent.

There are some things the public already know about the Touch and Go band, easily one of the most enigmatic bands in rock right now. And they work at it.

“We don't talk about that,” Meat responded flatly to an inquiry as to who the fuck the band really was.

Some have said Albini. A few have ventured Al Jourgenson. Others Gibby. Still others say the leader of the rock outfit is the Didjits' Rick Sims.

“There are just some legal problems that we have to work out before we can divulge who we are,” Meat continued. “We've had a rule that we don't discuss background information. It's on the advice of our lawyers.”

“We've been in some sticky legal situations.”

Maybe, considering the sizable cop of Spider-era David Bowie the band embraces on any of their three Touch and Go releases. Which is really okay, because the guitar buzz is the defining, shining vehicle for LHOB; a grinding, impermeable rip that carries on relentlessly as vocalist Fenderblast purrs velvety like he was Richard Butler/David Bowie with a healthy drug problem.

It's an ancient stance but to its credit, the Lee Harvey Oswald Band, like its namesake, clearly came to take no prisoners. The music is purely acid-tinged rawk with a giant head bob to the glitter era, when Sweet and Slade were really good, even without the doofy faux-drag gitups.

Indeed, LHOB have taken the wild ride, one where even tokens aren't accepted and just the prospect of an interview is cause for some kind of problem. The drummer weaves tales without any provocation. Some make sense, some don't. Like a high school shop dropout, he often loses his train of thought.

Through this roundabout manner of question/answer, it is discovered that the guitarist in the Lee Harvey Oswald band used to play with a British band (“Not a very good one”), the band enjoys pita bread and hummus on its rider (“The food has to jive with your system while you're jumping up and down and inhaling smoke bombs”) and has a new album out, Blastronaut, that they think is pretty cool (“I don't think there has ever been a band that is more intent on pleasing themselves than Lee Harvey”...?).

“We had an interviewer from Spin ask us what our goals were,” Meat blurts out without any prompting. “The interviewer asked us what our goals were. So our bass player said he'd like to be in the interviewer's pants in about a half an hour. I don't blame him—she was hot. But she threw a lava lamp at him.”

“I don't know if it was her boss or whoever, but some guy walking by the office saw it, freaked out and gets in our face. I was seriously afraid we were gonna have to kick his ass. Finally we were able to explain what happened and he fired the chick on the spot.”

He chuckled with a snort.

“Who cares? She was an intern.”

LHOB has been sometimes labeled, via their well-derived music, as '70s rock rips; taking the searing riffs that Mick Ronson or Steve Hunter used and turning up the fuzz.

Meat agreed to an extent, but drew the line at being lumped in with walking clichés Redd Kross.

“I mean, we take pop icons and glue them to ourselves,” James said. “And when you think about it, a cliché is something that started out really good [and] has been turned into something bad through repetition.”

He stopped and let out a sigh. Long silence.

“Where was I?”

Finally, the talk turns to touring and the low profile that LHOB has been forced to take regarding that vital promotional tool. Some have said the band opened for Sonic Youth during an early '90s European tour, but nobody has come forth and said they actually saw LHOB play a single gig. It would be fair to say that shows have been few and maybe nonexistent. But Meat insists the band has been well traveled.

“The best place to play is Indiana... I mean the whole state is void of anything. When you are watching a sitcom and somebody wants to come up with a nowhere place... I mean, Idaho is cool compared to Indiana.”

He's clearly on a roll, warming up quickly to travel tales. But just as quickly, he is speaking of culture and his dismay with any kind of punk rock formality.

“Everybody wants to play to mohawks, people with tattoos and piercings,” he rants breathlessly. “But we could care less. We would rather broad-side people. Everybody is so jaded now. I mean, you meet a girl with a pierced nipple or something.”

“After you talk about the hole in her nipple, where do you go with it? You've got nothing.”


This article originally appeared in Your Flesh #34

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