No doubt John Garcia has one of the most powerful and unique voices in stoner-metal rock. His role as the lead singer and frontman of Kyuss created a pattern and meant a huge influence for many bands and musicians. The legacy left by this band is outstanding and meant the foundings of the style.
Unfortunately at some point, like many bands, members decided to split ways, being Josh Homme the most successful thanks to Queens of the Stone Age, a project whose first album saw the light back in 1998 and has been following a rising career up to the stardom. John Garcia though, throughout these years, has been trying luck with different projects, which were never steady nor constant, and characterized by remaining in a more underground (almost nonexistent) scene.
Many people sure think it’s not fair to compare both artists, but as a fan, in an attempt to understand what’s going on with Garcia, it’s difficult not to do so.
Back in the day, Garcia released with Slo Burn one of the most epic ep’s I can remember, Amusing the Amazing. 4 songs of pure energy and rage, proving there was life after Kyuss, and creating great expectations among fans, who were delighted. Slo Burn kept part of the desert essence of Kyuss, but at the same time it was more metal, and very straight to the face. I missed their last show in London for 2-3 weeks, a pity. I’m sure probably I’d be adding it to my fave shows, but fate didn’t want to favor me this time.
Once the project was over, Garcia set up another band he led named Unida. They only released an album, Coping with the Urban Coyote, which was also terrific. I remember back in Spain, when internet was a modem (not modern) luxury and downloading a song used to take ages, there was a second album rumored which never saw the light, and there were leaked songs circulating, which were pretty good, actually. I never understood what happened. Again, the project didn’t manage to stand for itself, and the band disintegrated.
At the same time, Homme, who had been collaborating with Mark Lanegan among others, finally created QOTSA, a band which has been rising step by step, with no major quality failures except for the weird Era Vulgaris, but lots of changes in the lineup, which didn’t affect the evolution of Homme, who was and still is in control of everything.
Garcia came up to the ring with Hermano, band which released three albums. Only a Suggestion, the debut, was pretty cool, the second, Dare I Say, is expendable and not quite remarkable, and the third, Into the Exam Room wasn’t that bad. And then again, the union failed. Hermano hasn’t officially split, but hiatus has lasted for long time.
In the last years Garcia has been attempting to try luck by resurrecting his old projects, including Kyuss, under the name of Kyuss Lives, with Nick Oliveri and Brant Bjork, which was followed by a lawsuit from Homme and Scott Reeder, for bad use of the trademark. I saw them a couple of times at two festivals, and it was a good exercise of nostalgia, obviously, and the band was tight and solid, but…you know, that wasn’t Kyuss. After this trouble, Vista Chino rose from the ashes of Kyuss Lives as a trio, but frankly speaking, the work sounds repetitive and monotonous, and eventually I’ve finally lost my interest completely.
Last week Unida were confirmed as part of the lineup of a Spanish festival and I just couldn’t believe it. Unida again? WTF? John, man, what the hell is going on?
Trying to be as much respectful as possible, these continuous attempts to succeed through the reunion nostalgic effect are, in my opinion, a way to creep after your legacy in a classless way, and I find this whole decline a bit pathetic. I don’t care whether it’s for the money or the success, I thought Garcia was really taking care of his business, trying to go on with his style avoiding becoming mainstream, but now, I only see a caricature of the powerful leader he used to be, and that makes me really really sad.
John, man, what happened?
* Currently listening to Coping with the Human Coyote