Named in tribute to the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist and his influence in introducing Eastern culture and music into the world of Western rock & roll, the Brian Jonestown Massacre formed in San Francisco, California in 1990. Some 40 different members passed through the group's ranks over the next half-decade, but the focal point always remained singer/guitarist Anton Newcombe, who, along with bassist Matt Hollywood, guitarist Dean Taylor, organist Mara Regal, accordionist Dawn Thomas, drummer Brian Glaze, and "Spokesman for the Revolution" Joel Gion, recorded the Massacre's 1995 shoegaze-influenced debut LP, Methodrone. A collection of early recordings, Spacegirl and Other Favorites, followed on the band's own Tangible label in early 1996, and was the first of four Brian Jonestown Massacre LPs to appear that year; next up was the brilliant Their Satanic Majesties' Second Request, a full-blown homage to the Stones' glorious psychedelic-era excesses. Recorded live in the studio, the grittier Take It from the Man! found the band exploring even broader territory. Finally, the year ended with the release of Thank God for Mental Illness, a showcase for their strong country and blues leanings.
In 1997, the BJM -- now consisting of Newcombe, Hollywood, Gion, Taylor, guitarists Jeff Davies and Peter Hayes, and drummer Brad Artley -- resurfaced with Give It Back! After signing to TVT, they released Strung Out in Heaven the following year, but the band and Newcombe's own eccentricities kept them from staying on the label. After a few scattered EPs, they resurfaced in 2001 with Bravery Repetition and Noise, distributed by Bomp. And This Is Our Music followed in 2003. Despite a continued lack of major distribution, the Brian Jonestown Massacre earned the largest profile of their career in 2004, when the band became the unlikely focus of an award-winning documentary, DIG!, which charted the trials of Newcombe and those of his rival, Courtney Taylor, leader of the Dandy Warhols. The We Are the Radio EP followed in August 2005. Three years later, the band reinvented itself with My Bloody Underground, featuring yet another lineup and a hint of shoegaze and noise pop. Who Killed Sgt Pepper? followed shortly thereafter, being made available in streaming format at the end of 2009 and receiving an official release on January 1, 2010.
By this time, DIG! was fast becoming a cult classic, and even though the lineup had changed many times over since the movie premiere, Brian Jonestown were as popular as ever. In 2012, Newcombe announced that he and Matt Hollywood would be teaming up again to record what he considered his most cinematic record, Aufheben, scheduled for release that May. In 2014, the project's 14th full-length album, Revelation, materialized, featuring tracks toiled over in Newcombe's Berlin studio between 2012 and 2014. In 2015, Newcombe returned to the themes of Aufheben with Musique de Film Imaginé, a collection of soundtrack cues for a nonexistent movie, inspired by his love of classic French cinema. A seven-song collection of new, more rock-based material arrived later that year under the amusing title of Mini Album Thingy Wingy. Ever prolific, Newcombe and his collaborators returned in October 2016 with the full-length Third World Pyramid, a lush psych-rock set with shoegaze undertones. ~ Jason Ankeny