How difficult could it be to capture lightning in a bottle a second time? That was the reasoning behind “I Used to Be Pretty,” the new album by The Flesh Eaters, headed by Los Angeles musician Chris D. (aka Chris Desjardins). The recording features the classic lineup of the shape-shifting 1980s punk outfit, which has been playing live over the past few years. First heard on the 1981’s “A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die,” the stellar assembly includes X members John Doe and D.J. Bonebrake; Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin; The Blasters’ Dave Alvin and Bill Bateman; and Julie Christensen, D’s ex-wife (and partner in spinoff band The Divine Horsemen, also recording new material this year). “It’s just been very fortuitous that everyone has been so enthusiastic about this project,” he says, “because we’ve been wanting to record again since 2008, but our schedules just couldn’t match.”
It’s just amazing that The Flesh Eaters stars all aligned, for this album and its tour, too.
I know! I had always been busy with my day jobs. I was a film programmer at the American Cinematheque in Hollywood between 1999 and 2009, and I was going up to San Francisco to teach classes on film noir, the history of the horror film and other contemporary cinema. But in 2014, I found myself unemployed for the first time in years, and I thought, “You know what? I’m going to call the guys and see if they want to do Flesh Eaters again, and we’ll get some shows together.” During the eight shows that we did last year, I thought, “We’ve got to go into the studio and preserve this.”
It was that easy?
Everybody concerned was so into it. And we certainly had enough material for an album. We had songs that were Flesh Eaters songs, but not ones that this lineup had played on, and we had covers, like “Cinderella” by The Sonics, “The Green Manalishi” by Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac, and “She’s Like Heroin to Me” by The Gun Club. Then Dave Alvin and I worked up two new songs, “Black Temptation” and “Ghost Cave Lament.” And there’s your album!
Especially after the recent death of Jimmy Wilsey, it’s great that everyone’s not only still friends, but still here.
Mortality really came home to roost in a big way last year. Our collaborator Robyn Jameson — who played bass with us and The Divine Horsemen — passed away after trying to rescue a woman from a man who was assaulting her. He got hit in the head, went into a coma and never came out. That was a huge cold shower to get thrust under.
IF YOU GO
The Flesh Eaters
Where: Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Jan. 20
Tickets: $29.50 to $30
Contact: (415) 771-1421, www.ticketfly.com