Drive Like Jehu will be at The Showbox on Saturday, August 27.

Drive Like Jehu didn't sell many records during their brief existence, but the band's small, potent canon—1991's Drive Like Jehu, 1992's "Bullet Train to Vegas" 7-inch, and 1994's Yank Crime—had an explosive impact on many of our region's musicians, who are awaiting the San Diego post-hardcore band's reunion tour with a fervor not seen since the 2005 regrouping of Slint. Below, they detail just how much Drive Like Jehu's sound and fury have meant to them.

Alicia Amiri (Nightmare Forest, Lovesick Empire): Drive Like Jehu have been a huge inspiration for me. They [taught me] that it's possible to have a heavy shredding rock band that doesn't have the trappings of über-masculine, flashy cock rock. Rick Froberg was my gateway drug to electric guitar.

Nabil Ayers (4AD Records, Sonic Boom Records, the Long Winters, Alien Crime Syndicate): John Reis is a turn-of-the-century guitar hero. He belonged in Guitar Player magazine in the '90s alongside Tom Morello, Billy Corgan, and Kim Thayil. And he belongs there now next to Annie Clark, Josh Homme, and the guy from Muse. In a band already stacked with one of the best drummers, Reis is the real drummer in Drive Like Jehu. He's transformed the guitar into a percussion instrument that blasts out chunking, gut-bending rhythms with anxious bird chirps and friendly animal squeals. He does it with 100 percent authority and zero percent wankery.


It's fun to ponder what prompted Interscope Records to release Drive Like Jehu's 1994 masterpiece, Yank Crime. At the same time, for the same label, Gwen Stefani stood in a seductive retro ad, gloating, having just picked the perfect orange. And Snoop Dogg straddled a cartoon doghouse, chasing after a sultry, fluffy-tailed cat as other dogs watched from atop a bright brick wall. Drive Like Jehu, on the other hand, delivered a heroically intense, dissonant, pounding album with a hand-illustrated, black-and-white cover image of an ink jar: a testament to the band's ability to harness raw energy and simplicity beyond known musical limits.

Gwen Stubbs (Scared of Chaka, Blood Drugs, Prison, Gibraltar): When I was 18, my friend Ryan Ray made me buy the 1991 self-titled record by Drive Like Jehu. I picked it up on CD, [and it] just said "CDs really fucking blow." This was 1999, when CD art was really important; I knew I had discovered something special. Everything about this album is perfection to me—angular song structure, bratty, screaming, angry vocals, loud bass, complex drums. It was just a really fucking cool record. This album, and later Yank Crime, are a constant background of what can be done in punk and hardcore, and I use them constantly as a reference in songwriting.

Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy (Lesbian, Fungal Abyss, Shitty Person): Right out of high school, I took a job decommissioning an aircraft carrier and was tasked with taking a very slow ride across the Pacific Ocean on the USS Independence with nothing to do but catalog ship parts and listen to music. I was so obsessed with Yank Crime at the time, that it was the only CD I brought. I listened to it on repeat every day for a month. Twenty years later, if I'm not careful, all my drumming still sounds like "Luau" is in my head, because it probably is. Also, Drive Like Jehu's bass player has the same name as my mom (yes, my mom's name is Mike Kennedy).

Afterthought Lung (L.A. Lungs): Tacoma, August 1998: I got turned on to Drive Like Jehu by my pot dealer! Now, I had previously learned the hard way about the perils of trusting a pot dealer's taste in music, but... I had just moved into the basement of one of Tacoma's very few independent record stores. I had an agreement with the owners that I would live under the store and periodically work upstairs in exchange for cheap rent and $3 an hour (seriously) in merchandise. My dealer shows up and hears me blasting Unwound. As he's leaving, he says, "Hey man, you know who REALLY SLAYS? Drive Like Jehu." He leaves (come to think of it, that may have been the last time I saw that guy).

I remember seeing a copy of Yank Crime upstairs at the store. I went upstairs, grabbed it, and put it on. I had recently gotten into Unwound, as well, and both represented everything I really wanted in heavy rock music: powerful and angry (but not macho), tense and tight (without being too mathy), and abstract (without being overly intellectual or artsy). Yank Crime quickly became a feisty little buddy I carried in my Walkman and would accompany me as I walked the Tacoma waterfront to my kitchen job or on bus rides to the bowels of Fife to visit my girlfriend.

Jonah Bergman (Schoolyard Heroes, Vendetta Red): Drive Like Jehu changed my life. When I was in high school, they were the first band I got into that used weird, noisy, "mathy" guitar parts and had songs with strange time signatures. There were no big hooky choruses, no massive power chords, and the songs were sometimes structured in ways that my teenage brain couldn't fully comprehend. The guitars sounded like they were broken and the amps were about to explode. The lyrics had a sardonic wit that immediately drew me in.

The self-titled record and Yank Crime kind of served as a musical Rosetta stone that let me understand and enjoy weirder, less conventional music. Seattle bands like Botch and the Blood Brothers very quickly became my favorites. Almost overnight I was listening to bands that I would have previously deemed "unlistenable." My music collection grew exponentially. Slint and Shellac became major fixtures in my world of music and they remain to this day.

With the Showbox show coming up, I've revisited the Drive Like Jehu catalog quit a bit recently. It still gives me the feels after all these years.


Chris Cunningham (Ravenna Woods): I was first introduced to Drive Like Jehu by my older brother when I was 12. It was about two years after I had started playing music, writing my own (terrible) songs, and of course learning how to imitate other bands' efforts. The first Jehu songs I recall hearing were "Here Come the Rome Plows," "Do You Compute," and "If It Kills You." My good god. The combination of Froberg's feral, tortured caterwauling and the frantic but purposeful interlocking guitar parts immediately introduced a new standard of excellence to my musical world. It was a pivotal moment for me because it was the first time I experienced a band combine the power of great songwriting with advanced technical prowess and innovation (besides Yanni, of course). Not just anybody could pick up a guitar and play these songs... It felt wholly unique, and almost exclusive in a way (especially amid the sea of barre chords that were dominating the pop-punk and grunge-soaked airwaves at the time). There was something about their sound that was altogether threatening, awe-inspiring, adrenaline-squeegeeing, urgent, and honest. A wickedly impressive amalgamation that I've aspired to and pointed people toward for the last 20 years... And I'm sure will do so for the next 20.

Jeff McCollough (Blackpool Astronomy): I remember the first time I ever heard Drive like Jehu. John Reis's guitar ringing feedback, building till an explosion in "Caress" coupled with the frenetic pace of the drums and the bass and Rick Froberg's Fender Telecaster ringing in a way that grabbed you and pulled you in as if the band were some alternate version of Fugazi who had been out drinking till they were physically sick. Then "Spikes to You" starts. You want to pick up your guitar and join in, jumping around your bedroom with your guitar like Reis would, like some crazed kid who seems powered by Yoo-Hoo and the need to feel the guitar push you into a trance where every note is magic. Every scrape of the pick against the strings is more telling, until that point when you finally hear the chord ring, brilliant-sounding, broken, and out of tune in the best way. Then the heavy sound of Reis's Marshall amp cuts through the mix sounding like the San Diego version of Dischord-style mayhem. You quickly realize you are intoxicated with the heavy dissonant notes, and your neighbors can hear you playing along in your bedroom because you cranked your combo way past the point of sanity. recommended