The Flesh Eaters - Biography
The Flesh Eaters were one of LA’s great punk bands, led by Chris D., a brilliant poet, film scholar and screamer who wrote for Slash Magazine. D. founded the Flesh Eaters in 1977, and the band played its first show at the Masque on December 21 of that year. Though it is not clear who was in the band at the first show, Tito Larriva of the Plugz, most of the Eyes, half of X, three Blasters and some of Wall of Voodoo all passed through the Flesh Eaters during the band’s first years. Chris D. got LA band the Flyboys to back him on the Flesh Eaters’ first 7-inch EP, “Disintegration Nation” (1978), released on his own Upsetter Records. The Flesh Eaters next appeared on D.’s classic California punk compilation Tooth And Nail (1979 Upsetter), which brought together the Germs, Negative Trend, Middle Class, U.X.A, and the Controllers. On their first album No Questions Asked (1980 Upsetter), the Flesh Eaters included X’s rhythm section, John Doe and DJ Bonebrake, as well as guitarists Joe Ramirez of the Eyes and Pat Garrett of the Randoms and Dangerhouse Records.
Doe and Bonebrake returned for the second album, joined by three of the Blasters: guitarist Dave Alvin, drummer Bill Bateman, and saxophonist Steve Berlin (later of Los Lobos). Bateman’s drumming freed Bonebrake to play marimba on The Flesh Eaters’ masterpiece, A Minute To Pray A Second To Die (1981 Ruby). It was the first release on Ruby, Chris D.’s own Slash Records subsidiary, and stands as writer Byron Coley’s all-time favorite album by his all-time favorite band. The following year, Ruby released the Misfits’ Walk Among Us and the Dream Syndicate’s The Days of Wine and Roses; Chris D. remixed the former and produced the latter.
Chris D. put together a new band for Forever Came Today (1982 Ruby): guitarist Don Kirk, bassist Robyn Jameson and drummer Chris Wahl. This lineup returned on A Hard Road To Follow (1983 Upsetter), after which the Flesh Eaters broke up. D. then formed Divine Horsemen (a/k/a Divine Horseman), whose first album was Time Stands Still (1984 Enigma). A series of Flesh Eaters retrospectives came out toward the end of the ‘80s, starting with the greatest hits album Destroyed By Fire (1987 SST), followed by Flesh Eaters Live (1988 Homestead) and another best-of collection, Prehistoric Fits Vol. 2 (1990 SST). In 1990, after releasing a new album with Stone by Stone called I Pass For Human (1989 SST), D. assembled a new Flesh Eaters and recorded the double-album Dragstrip Riot (1991 SST ). Of the band on Riot, only D. and bass player Glen Hayes returned for the follow-up Sex diary of Mr. Vampire (1992 SST).
After the release of the Crucified Lovers in Woman Hell EP (1993 SST), the Flesh Eaters fell silent until 1997, when D. assembled another new lineup. Bassist Robyn Jameson from the ’81-’83 lineup returned, joining guitarists Larry Schemel and Jeff Vengeance and drummer Johnny Ray. The album Ashes Of Time (1999 Upsetter) documents this lineup. Schemel left in 1999 and later formed Midnight Movies; guitarist Bobby Bones took his place. Chris D. then wrote and directed a horror movie, I Pass For Human (2004), which included songs from the new Flesh Eaters album Miss Muerte (2004 Atavistic). The following year he published Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film (2005 I.B. Tauris). The 1981 lineup of the Flesh Eaters reunited for several shows in 2006 to mark the 25th anniversary of A Minute To Pray. D. chose and introduced movies at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theater from 2006 to 2009, providing the theater’s most interesting programming to date. The book A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die (2009 New Texture) collects Chris D.’s poetry, lyrics, fiction and other writing from the early ‘70s to the present.