This story is featured in CityBeat's Sept. 20 print edition.
In 1990, Anton Newcombe formed The Brian Jonestown Massacre, named after former Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones — who died by “misadventure,” AKA he drowned — and the 1978 cult in which hundreds of people “drank the Kool-Aid” and died. So for a band to be named after two wild incidents, it’s no wonder Newcombe and his bandmates have had a tumultuous career.
In 1996, they released the psych album Their Satanic Majesties' Second Request, a reference to the Stones’ album Their Satanic Majesties Request. The album features a cornucopia of instruments, from sitars to glockenspiels. In the mid-‘90s, just as their career was taking off, they developed a rivalry with the Dandy Warhols. In 1997, the Dandy Warhols released the song “Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth,” supposedly about Newcombe’s drug addiction. In response, Newcombe recorded the diss track “Not If You Were the Last Dandy on Earth.” In 2004, filmmaker Ondi Timoner released the award-winning documentary Dig!, which chronicled the two bands’ seven-year-long rivalry, with an impressive 2,500 hours of footage filmed. Today, the bands are friends again and recently played a show together. Like the Dandy Warhols, Brian Jonestown Massacre wears their influences on their sleeve. In 2008, they released My Bloody Underground, referencing shoegazers My Bloody Valentine and legendary rockers the Velvet Underground. In the early days, the band released the shoegaze-y record Spacegirl and Other Favorites. In February they released their 20th album, The Future Is Your Past. Songs like “Do Rainbows Have End?” and “Nothing Can Stop This Sound” reflects their ‘60s-inspired psych roots, which sounds both futuristic and like the past. Though many fans might still associate the band with their connection to Dandy Warhols, Newcombe has managed to carve his own path and not drink the Kool-Aid.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre plays Madison Theater at 8 p.m. Sept. 26. Info: madisontheater.com.
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