By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
“When all the bros in the desert were goin‘ to the parties to see Kyuss play, we were listening to jazz,” says Boomer, laughing. “We had immersed ourselves in the real underground music scene in Los Angeles -- playing at places like the Alligator Lounge, with Nels Cline, Joe Baiza, Universal Congress Of. That scene is all about making music; there’s no thought about career, selling records. And when you respect that, it changes the way you think about the music industry and about music.”
In the mid-‘90s, the Sort Of Quartet began to wind down. Simultaneously, Boomer and Larry started yet another band, the more rock-oriented Fatso Jetson, with drummer Tony Tornay.
“I’d come back to appreciate punk rock and rock & roll,” Boomer says. “I‘d got a little bored thinking about what we’re doing and not just getting into the energy of it, which is where it started in the first place.”
After all these years, Boomer and Hernandez were finally releasing studio albums, through SST, which put out four records by the Sort Of Quartet as well as the first two Fatso Jetson albums.
Post-Kyuss, Homme had kept turning the spotlight toward Boomer. In June 1998, he invited the Lallis to one of his Desert Sessions, where artists gather at Fred Drake‘s studio in Joshua Tree and woodshed new material. One of the tracks they recorded at this session was the obscure chestnut “Eccentric Man,” a stormer of defiant differentness by the ’70s British prog-blues band the Groundhogs. When you listen to Boomer sing, “Call me an eccentric manBut I don‘t believe I amThe people think I’m crazyBut I know I‘m wiser than all the sages,” the connection deepens. To have someone like Boomer Lalli -- a 6-plus-foot-high mountain in thick-rimmed glasses, driving a hot-rodded purple ’67 Cadillac hearse and happily laboring in obscurity for two decades -- you see the conceptual maneuver Homme is pulling. Boomer doesn‘t just sing the song -- he embodies it.
The same Desert Session resulted in the recording of Homme and Lalli’s “Monster in the Parasol,” which would be re-recorded for Queens of the Stone Age‘s major-label debut, 2000’s Rated R. The next session saw the debut of the best Lalli-Homme collaboration yet, “You Think I Ain‘t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire,” which was re-recorded by Queens for the lead-off amp-destroyer on the band’s Songs for the Deaf, released this past summer.
Eventually SST stopped issuing new albums from any artist on its roster. An Indio music club the Lallis founded -- Rhythm & Brews -- didn‘t pan out. Fatso released two more albums -- one on the late Bong Load, one on the now-defunct Man’s Ruin. Sort Of Quartet ended. And the Lallis moved with the family restaurant to its new Pasadena setting this past summer. They‘re optimistic that their relative proximity to L.A.’s club scene will allow them to perform more often and with less burden on the players.
Boomer has reactivated Yawning Man with Hernandez and Arce. And in September, Homme released Fatso‘s fifth album, Cruel & Delicious, on his new Rekords Rekords label. It’s a cranking Fatso affair that weaves psychedelia, punk, blues, Dick Dale and heavier metal with prog unison diddles, jams and vocals that will remind some listeners of D. Boon. And then there‘re the lyrics and song titles . . .
“No one’s better with titles than Boomer,” says Homme. “And his lyrics are so good. There‘s a song called ’Vatos on the Astral Plane,‘ about a guy who’s a friend of ours who went to jail for dealing speed. If you don‘t know the guy, it’s a great song that conveys something to you. But if you do know the guy, it‘s a real tearjerker.”
“We’ve been accused of being an in-joke band,” says Boomer. “But everyone takes themselves so seriously in this ‘human drama.’ Life is so whimsical, most of the time. You‘re always gonna be in a battle between your brains and your nuts.”
Where other people might become dispirited due to the lack of commercial or critical reaction to their work, the Lallis see nothing but success: a few disappointments, sure, but how does that stack up against a zillion successful parties and club shows, a positive impact on a younger generation of musicians, nine album releases . . . ?
“And we did all of that without touring,” says Boomer. “It’s always been the creative outlet that was important to us. Selling records isn‘t important to us. Honestly, it’s . . . what we do. It‘s the only thing where you feel like, ’I‘m really doing something here with my life.’”
Fatso Jetson‘s Cruel & Delicious is available at www.rekordsrekords.com.
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