After a lawsuit filed by ex-Kyuss members Josh Homme and Scott Reeder prohibited the band’s original vocalist John Garcia and drummer Brant Bjork from continuing to use the name Kyuss Lives!, in September 2013 the pair’s newly branded Vista Chino released their debut LP,Peace. However, less than a year on from the album’s release, Vista Chino have rolled down their shutters.
“Vista Chino’s officially on hiatus,” says Bjork. “John Garcia decided he wanted to go pursue his solo career. I was a bit surprised, to be honest.”
Far from being an impasse, the band’s abrupt halt lets Bjork resume the singing and guitar-slinging post that kept him busy for the decade prior to the Kyuss Lives! reunion in 2010. Starting with his 1999 debut Jalamanta, Bjork has released seven solo LPs, as well as two credited to Brant Bjork and the Bros.
“As much as I love Vista Chino I’m always itching to get back to my solo work,” he says. “Once I knew Vista Chino was on hiatus I went to work and started writing new shit. This is all fresh stuff, clearly representing where I’m at right now.”
After exiting Kyuss in 1994, Bjork lent his distinctive drumming facility to Californian kinsmen Fu Manchu. Fu Manchu was still an active entity when Bjork released his first solo LP, and he wasn’t expecting the solo work to become his primary focus.
“I was just purely responding to my need to make my own music, my own way,” he explains. “I didn’t know I was going to call it Brant Bjork – I’d have never thought in a million years I’d have a formal solo career. It just unravelled its own nature and as the years rolled on I just never stopped.”
For those unfamiliar, Bjork’s solo work isn’t conventional singer-songwriter fare. It propagates the driving stoner rock style he helped make famous with Kyuss (and later Fu Manchu). Despite the music’s rocking nature, a large portion of Bjork’s output during that aforementioned prolific ten-year period was actually recorded alone.
“I was taking care of all the creative work and all the logistics,” he says. “It was a tremendous amount of work, but it’s not easy to put together a band. To get four dudes on the same page is really difficult.”
While Bjork has now resumed frontman duties, he didn’t want to revert to solitary operation. “I quickly put together a fucking great band and we’re in the middle of recording our new record,” he reveals. “I called the band Low Desert Punk. I like playing with a band and I like bouncing ideas off of one another and jiving and developing our own chemistry.
“I grew up on rock bands: the Ramones, Black Sabbath, The Beatles, Black Flag. All these bands were bands of brothers; they were like a team. That’s what I experienced in Fu Manchu. It was a great team of guys all on the same page playing rock music. I missed that when I was working on my solo music.”
Bjork brings his Low Desert Punk project down to Australia this week to co-headline the inaugural Sydney instalment of CherryRock. Although the future of Vista Chino remains uncertain, Bjork is appreciative of the last three years playing with the band.
“The Kyuss reunion was great because it really did have me reflecting on who I was and what I did in that band at that age. And I was able to see how much I’ve evolved and departed from that trip. Also, it really showed me how, in a lot of ways, I’m still the same. I still have the same fundamental approaches to my craft and my songwriting and my inspirations.”