Lost Classics: Drive Like Jehu “Yank Crime”

tapem200bThey’re nobody’s buzz bands anymore. But since 1993, MAGNET has discovered and documented more great music than memory will allow. The groups may have broken up or the albums may be out of print, but this time, history is written by the losers. Here are some of the finest albums that time forgot but we remembered in issue #75, plus all-new additions to our list of Lost Classics.

drivelikejehu550:: DRIVE LIKE JEHU
Yank Crime // Interscope, 1994

In 1991, the self-titled debut from Drive Like Jehu was passed around the alt-rock cognoscenti like a talisman. The band’s principals—Rick Froberg and John Reis—hailed from San Diego semi-legends Pitchfork, and Jehu updated that band’s driving, post-Fugazi sound with a more complex approach. Drive Like Jehu struck a nerve and, for a minute or two at least, seemed like the most important band around. Until, of course, Reis’ other band (Rocket From The Crypt) erupted and prompted Interscope Records to offer ridiculous amounts of money to RFTC and Jehu for signing on the dotted line. Yank Crime was the band’s sophomore effort, major-label debut and swan song, an explosive tangle of careening tempo changes, hoarse-throat vocals, barely contained guitar histrionics and mindful aggression. Its appearance on a major label’s roster was as mind-boggling then as it is nostalgically naive now. Of course, Yank Crime, along with RFTC’s three major-label outings, proved to be money pits for Interscope.

Catching Up: Undeterred by label indifference and the demise of Jehu, Reis persevered with Rocket From The Crypt and, in 1999, re-teamed with Froberg in Hot Snakes (a.k.a. The Best Side Project Ever). Froberg moved to New York to work in visual arts; he’s now in Obits, which just released their debut on Sub Pop. Drummer Mark Trombino produces and engineers bands. Bassist Mike Kennedy played in Corrugated. In 2005, Reis disbanded RFTC in order to focus on his record label, Swami; he briefly fronted Sultans and now leads the Night Marchers.


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