The San Francisco-born, New York-based Billy Nayer Show formed in 1992 with singer/songwriter/electric autoharpist Cory McAbee, drummer Bobby Lurie, guitarist Yuri Gragonovitch, and bass player Lee Vilensky. Their first gig was opening for the Circle Jerks, where they found themselves covered in human phlegm (not their own) as the PA system caught on fire. They released their self-titled debut album in 1994, which was followed by The Ketchup & Mustard Man (also 1994), a stream-of-consciousness-type radio show. In 1998 an impressive list of guitar players (including Marc Ribot and Adam Levy) replaced Gragonovitch, and the band released The Villain That Love Built, described as their "most sinister and mean-spirited album."
Inspired by the band's new life on the East Coast, the Billy Nayer Show released Return to Brigadoon (1999) with Michael Silverman replacing Vilensky and James Beaudreau coming on board as guitarist. In 2001, the band's feature-length film, a space Western musical entitled The American Astronaut, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. Written, directed, and produced by the Billy Nayer Show, the film also stars the band and features the group's original soundtrack. The American Astronaut has gone on to win numerous awards and participate in every major international film festival. The DVD release is set for early 2005.
The next album release was 2003's Goodbye Straplight Sarentino, I Will Miss You (with the band now featuring Frank Swart on bass). Beaudreau's spot was filled by guitarists Crugie and Alessandro Ricciarelli for the release of Rabbit in 2004, although the band continued touring as a trio of McAbee, Lurie, and Swart. ~ Sean Westergaard