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By Tom Murphy
Although hefty art-rock outfit Qui (pronounced 'kwee') has been around since 2000, the Los Angelenos got a turbo-boost late last year when the legendary David Yow joined them for a few songs. After a few one-off gigs, Yow began to contribute ideas to founding duo Paul Christensen and Matt Cronk, and before long, he was a full-fledged member. This might not be so remarkable if Christensen and Cronk hadn't been such longtime adoring fans of Yow's work with both Scratch Acid and the Jesus Lizard. The newly christened trio has just released Love's Miracle, a noisy, melodic, soothing and psychotic record that is more artistically ambitious — and, quite possibly, more artistically successful — than anything with which Yow has previously been associated. Christensen and Cronk's unique, exhilarating vision is only sharpened by the presence of the truly gifted frontman. We recently roused Yow and Christensen from a nap to talk about the new record, the tour and the seductive power of deglazing.
Westword: How did David Yow end up joining a relatively unknown rock duo from L.A.?
Paul Christensen: Matt and I were huge Jesus Lizard fans. When we did "Bells" on our first record, it was kind of an homage to them.
David Yow: They asked me to do "Willy the Pimp" with them, and we used to do a really stupid version of "Black Dog." Then I started doing vocals on "Freeze" and "Bells" and started having input, and we said, "God, it looks like I'm in the band."
Are you at all worried about the persona of David Yow distracting from the music of Qui?
DY: I think we all understand that more people know who I am than know who they are, but I think that will fade as we play. We could have a lot worse things to complain about.
PC: I think once the record comes out and people see us, I don't think it will be a problem.
What's the songwriting process like for the newly formed trio?
PC: I play a big part, because I play guitar and sing. But even if I write an entire song, the three of us piece it together. We're really excited to record with David as a full member of the band. Whenever we write a song, it always ends up weirder than it started. David has such great ideas for arrangement or timbre, and when we think we have a completed song, he comes in and changes it, and that keeps it exciting.
David, you're notorious for your live performances. Has anything changed?
DY: With Jesus Lizard, it got to a point where people expected certain things I didn't necessarily want to do. Like, "Take off your clothes! Get naked!" I won't be doing that with Qui. One of the reasons I didn't want to do bands again is I didn't want to repeat myself. I'm secure that I'm not doing that with Qui.
What are you most looking forward to about this tour?
DY: It's the first tour I will have ever done without a wife or a girlfriend. I've got a really beautiful cat, and I can cook well. Chicks love beautiful cats and men who know what "deglaze" means.