Friday, November 6, 2009

Destroy All Monsters Began in 1974

DAM: Michael Davis Ron Asheton Rob King and Niagara

Destroy All Monsters began in 1974 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. They were an experimental and radical noise/arts collective inspired by Dadaism, Futurism, psychedelia, Jack Smith, science fiction soundtracks, big bands, krautrock, Detroit high energy bands, Warhol, thrift stores, camp and bad movies.

Founding members were artists Mike Kelley, Cary Loren, Niagara and Jim Shaw. Their only releases were cassette recordings distributed through Lightworks Magazine. They also released six issues of Destroy All Monsters Magazine, and produced many films, collages, drawings, paintings and photographs.

In 1976, Shaw and Kelley left for graduate school in Southern California. Loren and Niagara continued the band bringing in brothers Ben and Lawrence Miller and later Ron Asheton, Michael Davis and Rob King.

This phase saw a marriage of experimental psych rock and Detroit heavy metal but lasted a couple years. A series of three 7" records were released on IDBI records (1977-1979) with Niagara's cover artwork and a live EP on Loren's Black Hole Records label was released in 1978.The group continued as a punk rock outfit led by Asheton and Niagara until about 1985, which later evolved into Dark Carnival.

Loren left the group in 1977 and the Miller brothers left in 1979. They produced one EP together: Blackout in the City under the name Xanadu, considered one of the best releases of 1979 and featured in the book Lost Grooves. The Miller's continued to work in many solo and band projects and are active musicians today.

Loren began the Nightcrawlerz collective with artist/poet Barry Roth in 1979, and began the acid-folk group Monster Island in 1995, which is still active. Niagara and Ron Asheton began Dark Carnival, around 1985 and recorded two CDs in the punk/rock mode.

In 1994, Kelley, Loren and Shaw released the 3-D boxed set Destroy All Monsters 1974-1976, on Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace! label. The acclaimed CD set ("the original primal stew"--Rolling Stone) led to a series of reunion shows in Detroit, Los Angeles and San Diego in 1995. These live shows were collected on the "Silver Wedding Anniversary" CD released on the Sympathy for the Record Industry label in 1996.

Mike Kelley began The Poetics, in the late 1970s with artist Tony Oursler as students at CAL ARTS, Jim Shaw also performed with the The Poetics, he recorded a 7" under the name the Dogz, and is a founder of the group The Perfect Me. Mike Kelley also formed the group Gobbler in the late 1990s with artists Paul McCarthy and Cameron Jamie.

Kelley, Loren and Shaw continue to perform and record as Destroy All Monsters on the bands label's Compound Annex Records and The End Is Here. They have performed in Tokyo and Osaka Japan, Rotterdam Holland, Vienna, London UK (All Tomorrow's Parties), Los Angeles (All Tomorrow's Parties) and Seattle, WA.


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