There's not much else to say beyond: this is fuggin' rad! The earliest known Brian Jonestown Massacre demo has made its way to the Internet. The tape pre-dates BJM's studio debut by three years. Thank you Internet gods for being all-seeing and all-knowing with the capabilities to free demos byf iconic bands from obscurity at the cost of download time and a mediafire pop-up. We would sacrifice 20 virgins to appease you.
Auricular Records co-founder Alan Herrick shared the story of the origins of the 1990 Brian Jonestown Massacre demo cassette on his Internet Albemuth blog. Which spread like wildfire and even caught the attention of former BJM members. We'll let him tell his story in full:
Living in the Lower Haight of San Francisco in the back of a record store specializing in experimental music in the early 90's came with its own set of odd occurrences, events and individuals. We had quite a few neighborhood regulars who would come in, share a cup of coffee and listen to a few minutes of music to escape the city outside and share their art, ideas, grievances and sometimes just wait for their laundry to finish drying up the block.
One of my very regular visitors during that time period was Anton, my neighbor from across the road. I was never sure if he really lived across the road, above the cafe or was one of the many artists and musicians who hung out across the street, either way it was a regular location for one of the regular people in our not-so-regular neighborhood. I liked Anton, he was clever and quick, well versed in his music and always in an impish mood even when disappointed or angry. I also enjoyed talking to Anton because he had wild ideas, was rather ambitious and was not going to be stopped – he was also quite high, quite often but was harmless.
Anton hung out with musicians and artists- he was a musician and artist and spoke often about “the best band he could ever put together. It would be waaaay out there , bigger than anything – not the manufactured slick British 'babyfood' but something supremely psychedelic and broad but accessible and dangerous”. I didn't doubt Anton or his ability to do this. He had already produced one of my favorite cassette releases at the time entitled “Psalm 93 – Child of 60 Bitches”.
For a homespun release, Psalm 93 had a production value that very few DIY cassettes had at the time…and a vision. Anton understood ambient drone music and had taken it to a level very few people had at the time. He abandoned that project and idea though. He had bigger aspirations I guess and really really liked swirling psychedelic rock.
One afternoon I sat on my stool behind the counter of the record store and Anton came in – a flurry – a serious flurry…dark circles under his eyes, arms moving about like windmills, a single cassette tape in his hand. “This is it – it's big. We have it now and I have the name. All of it came all at once….check it out…Brian Jonestown Masacre”. I smile and laugh – it is a beautiful name, so perfect for where we are at the time, in the world, with music, for everything. He grabs a pen off the counter and scribbles “THE BRIANJONESTOWNE MASACRE ANTON 861-8683” on the front and back label of the cassette and hands it to me to put on the stereo. As the first track starts up he says , “That's it – I am sooooo down with this now and I need to sleep soon”. He disappears out the door. The first Brian Jonestown Masacre demo tape – with no other information accompanying it, other than Anton's phone number – plays itself out and joins the collection of demo tapes on the shelf. It is 1990, three years before any Brian Jonestown Masacre album is released and quite possibly one of the only, or few, recordings of the original lineup.
Anton are you out there? How have you been?
Download the Brian Jonestown Massacre: 1990 Demo Tape here.