Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Mighty Zen Guerrilla

Zen Guerrilla isn't for everyone, but if you like aggressive rock 'n roll fused with bluesy garage punk topped off by distorted guitars and mad hatter vocals, you've found your new favorite band. Originally from Delaware, Zen Guerrilla eventually landed in San Francisco and hooked up with punk legend and prankster Jello Biafra to help spread their rock 'n roll gospel across the land. 

Unfortunately they disbanded before a friend gave me their record "Invisible Liftee Pad" - so I never got to see them in person. The music was all over the map, alternating from bone crushing jams, to bluesy crooners, and finally into soulful wailing smudged with a curtain of feedback. While they eventually signed to Sub Pop and released several full lengths, I feel that somehow this band had a greater destiny it never fulfilled. 

Andy Duvall (Drums) - Marcus Durant (Vocals) - Carl Horne (bass) - Rich Millman (guitar)

Seeing video of them live I feel like I got robbed. How did I miss this juggernaut in their prime? Still hoping they'll reunite someday so I can see one of their gigs - but I'm not holding my breath. In my search for more about these guys I was surprised by the dearth of critical information regarding their music and following. I didn't want to believe that a group this good was underrated by the musical establishment.

six foot five inch Marcus Durant gets down with the people

My buddy who turned me on to 'em told be about one of the many Zen Guerrilla shows he saw. During the set an audience member got onstage and flat out clobbered the singer with a haymaker. The assailant was thrown off stage and the show continued. From what I gather, the dazed vocalist didn't miss a beat. Now I don't know about anyone else, but that's the kinda work ethic I want for my entertainment dollar.

Maybe I never saw these dudes in the flesh, but they'll always be a place in my iPod for 'em. What else am I gonna play when I want to run a marathon, drink an eighteen pack of Milwaulkee's Best Light, and derail a train with my noggin? Zen Guerilla -- there is no substitute.

Zen Guerrilla on wax

preparing to unleash hell -

and "Doug" is a big fan too - how's that for street cred?


  1. Being a former Delawarean, I'd love to know what happened to the members of Zen Guerilla, who disappeared from my radar when I left Delaware and went east. Their shows in Newark were some of the best things I'd ever seen. I can't remember the name of the Black Sabbath listening art student, down in the basement when the art department at Delaware was still cool, Jeff someone who did their covers and T shirts-if you've got any info about any sort of new music, I'd love to know about it.
    I've actually never run to their music, but I have to admit, I'd probably improve my time.

  2. Thanks for being probably the sole Zen Guerrillist on the web zone.

    I was able see them several times in the Northwest. No joke, some of the most delicious music I've ever seen live; the delta blues meets gospel town meets Creedence meets the unknown.

    Marcus Durant was probably 6 foot 3- he just had that mop on his head.

    That great sound that came of the last 2 albums...Jack Endino of Nirvana Bleach fame.

    As much as Marcus pre-amped his vocals, the man had some pipes. He was a show-man.

    But you can't discount Carl, Rich and Andy.

    Where is that Marcus guy now?

    Just feel great that you appreciate.

    BTW, Rich and Andy are in a band called Carleton Melton.

  3. Still one of my favorite bands ever! They moved out to SF a bit after I did - East Coast exodus. They stayed at Wavy Gravy's Hog Farm for a bit I think. I was bummed when they didn't really keep it together out there & wish I knew what happened to Marcus. Andy & Carl still play in bands. Last time I saw Carl was with Browtown West.

  4. Saw Zen Guerrilla a half dozen times in SF during their heyday; still the best live band experience ever. The disappearance of Marcus is one of rock n rolls great mysteries but who knows, maybe the other guys (now in Carlton Melton) can shed light if asked...