Junkyard, the veteran East Hollywood rock band whose new album High Water this week cracked Billboard top 25 Hard Rock Album Sales Chart, today announced dates for a US and UK summer tour (full tour dates below).
Over the past two years, the band has been plotting a comeback with its first album since its classic Sixes, Sevens and Nines (Geffen, 1991) which is just now out on the band's new label Acetate Records (Supersuckers, Rhino Bucket, The Hangmen). High Water was produced by the band's guitarist Tim Mosher and engineered by Bruce Witkin (Hollywood Vampires) at Unison Studios with songs co-written by founding member Brain Baker (Bad Religion, Dag Nasty, Minor Threat).
"I was excited to hear that Junkyard was writing new material," Rick Ballard, Acetate's founder, tells Billboard. "I was always a fan of the band and felt like they have more to offer than just the two albums that Geffen released. When I heard the first demos from what finally became High Water I knew it was a project that we had to be involved in."
Junkyard's current line up consists of David Roach, Pat Muzingo, Jimmy James, Todd Muscat and Mosher (full-disclosure: Mosher is a friend and I've had my face melted off by the band many times).
When they formed in 1987, Junkyard was part of an exploding East Hollywood rock scene (i.e. not the Strip) that birthed grittier rock acts with less hairspray and an unwillingness to indulge the Strip's onerous pay-to-play booking policies. The clubs were all east of Crescent Heights Blvd. and included venues like Scream, White Trash A Go Go, Club Lingerie, Raji’s and Anti Club. The band's original line-up consisted of Roach, Muzingo and Baker along with Chris Gates and Clay Anthony,
While the East Hollywood scene's best known purveyors included Guns N' Roses and Jane's Addiction, the sound was much broader and included bands like The Hangmen, Lions and Ghosts, L.A. Guns, The Nymphs, Faster Pussycat, Broken Homes, Burning Tree and Little Ceasar.
Recently the East Hollywood scene has been having something of a resurgence on several fronts. There's a new documentary, Scenesters: Music, Mayhem & Melrose L.A. A Documentary 1985 -1990 producerd and directed by Desi Benjamin, a former A&R exec at Island and SBK/EMI Records. The film documents not only music from that era but also the fashion and lifestyle.
Many of the East Hollywood's musicians worked by day at the then-trendy boutiques that lined Melrose Avenue and played the clubs by night. This included such artists as Taime Downe of Faster Pussycat, for example, who worked at Retail Slut, Mick Cripps of LA Guns who worked at Let It Rock, Junkyard's Mosher and Baker who worked at Flashfeet of London; and Michael Lockwood of Lions and Ghosts who was employed at the iconic Soap Plant.
"We were all broke and had to make some money," says Mosher, who now works as a composer for film and television. "You couldn't walk down Melrose in the late-1980s and early-90s without seeing some long haired rock musician decked out in leather and eye-liner handing out a flyer for that night's show."
Beyond the documentary, LA Rock Review, a magazine from that period, was a key chronicler of the scene and recently promoted two shows featuring The Nymphs, Broken Glass and Funhouse among others at the Viper Room. A full re-launch of the magazine is in the works.
Meanwhile, bands from that time are still actively touring and recording including Little Ceasar who are supporting Junkyard on their east coast dates; Rhino Bucket who have a new album on Acetate; and the Hangmen, Faster Pussycat and LA Guns are all still rocking.
The motivation behind Junkyard's High Water, which marks the band's first album in 27 years (though there's been bootlegs and singles), is more than just nostalgia, says Mosher. "There's a diehard fan base that never stopped digging us," he says. "During our sporadic touring we would always come across fans asking us when we would release a proper full-length. We've been writing new songs for the last couple of years and looked at this as a chance to do a real third Junkyard album."
The new album also includes a track by Charlie Starr of Blackberry Smoke, who as a longtime Junkyard fan contributed the song "Till the Wheels Fall Off" to High Water. "It is exactly the right time for a new Junkyard album," Starr said in a statement, "not just because they are one of my favorite bands ever, but because they are a real rock and roll band and always have been."
With rock's changing demographics, it makes sense that Starr and Blackberry Smoke, who are considered an outlaw country standard bearer, would dovetail with Junkyard. Back in the day, Junkyard opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd at the same time bands like the Black Crowes opened for them. There's a historical and natural affinity between country and rock that of course dates back much further.
In addition to Ballard, Junkyard's team includes the Artists Worldwide Agency whose put the US/UK tour together. A new single and video for "Styrofoam Cup" is also in the offing with more dates being set for fall.
The band is just back from playing the M3 Rock Festival at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland. That show included an appearance by Baker, who most appropriately guested on the band's classic 80s rock anthem "Hollywood."