Jux County is playing a rare show this Thursday, July 24th, at 9 p.m. at the Eslinger Gallery for the UMS. Since forming in December 1986, Jux County has become a fixture in the local music scene. Within the first few years of the band's existence it had released its debut, the Word of Bovek cassette, and hard garnered a bit of a following for its wiry, funk and punk and country sound. In 1990, the band opened for Nirvana at The Garage/23 Parish on that group's tour for the album Bleach, it was featured on Channel 12's Teletunes program and it has the distinction of having been the first band to ever play Lion's Lair in 1991.
"They had a cabaret license, but they never used it and they figured out they could have shows," recalls guitarist and singer Andy Monley. "Some other bands said they played there before us but I don't really know."
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Prior to Jux, Monley had been a member of the Joy Division-inspired Church and State as well as the more psychedelic Acid Ranch, with future Jux band mates Mike Serviolo and Jason Smith. But Monley had a new vision for Jux County.
"Back then I was really into William Faulkner and Jux County was supposed to be about juxtaposing the country and the city and putting them side by side, like a juxtaposition," explains Monley. "Which is what Faulkner did all the time. He must have used that word six hundred times in every book--juxtapose. Jux Country was country and punk rock coming together, the urban and the rural."
Current bass player Chris Pearson was an avid fan of the band, having seen the group play at the the Classroom at 1515 Downing, sharing a bill with The Fluid.
"I was a big Minutemen and fIREHOSE fan," says Pearson. "I liked the intricacy of the music and I liked all the changes. It was still funky yet rock and punk at the same time and country a little bit."
After a couple of line-up changes and Monley's temporary re-location to San Francisco from 1991-1992, Jux re-formed with its current membership in 1992 with Monley, Pearson and drummer Ron Smith. Throughout the '90s, Jux could be seen playing at places like 7 South and Rock Island. The outfit played the opening weekend of The Bluebird becoming a music venue in 1992.
In 1994, however, around the time Jux County released its album Simon's Eyes, Pearson formed a band with his friend John Grant that would go on to be known as The Czars. And by '96, with the departure of the project's original guitarist Dave Stringfield, Pearson recruited Monley.
The Czars became something of a local favorite and soon were an internationally known concern. Their 1996 album, The LaBrea Tar Pits of Routine garnered the band some attention well beyond Denver, and their follow-up, 2000's Before...But Longer, brought the Czars to England, where they recorded the songs for Simon Raymonde's label Bella Union. Raymonde, best known for his stint in the Cocteau Twins, found a kindred aesthetic in the Czars and produced the band's final two albums, 2002's The Beautiful People Vs. The Ugly People and the 2004 swan song Goodbye.
During the years 2000-2004, The Czars toured Europe five times and shared stages with David Gray, the Flaming Lips and fellow Denverites Sixteen Horsepower. Then things started to go south within the band.
"I got fired by email," says Pearson about his involuntary departure from The Czars. "That was a bummer."
"I quit," adds Monley with a smile. "I quit by email. No, I didn't quit by email."
Drummer Jeff Linsenmaier quit around the same time as Monley and went on to play with The Fray and Munly & Lee Lewis Harlots. And Ben DeSoto stepped in on drums for six months with Dave Devine standing in on guitar. But by 2005, Grant had an all new line-up before The Czars dissolved for good. But that dissolution left open the option for Monley and Pearson to play together again, even with other projects going on like Sarina Simoom, Quadra-Mess and Andy Monley and the High Horses.
Jux County had broken up in 2001 because Monley and Pearson had simply had no time for the project while focusing on The Czars. But the timing for the break-up was unfortunate. The had scheduled the final show and CD release party for Junk Country on September 14th, 2001. The opportunity presented itself in 2005 to play a proper goodbye show in 2005 with IZ at The Bluebird. The experience proved too fun to just set down for good.
"We kept reuniting," says Monley. "But now we're writing new songs and it feels like we're back together."
"We also all contribute music and there's a lot of collaboration," elaborates Pearson. "We're active and it's just great. There's a lot of variety in the music too so it's a lot of fun to play. I'm more excited to play than I have been in ten years to play original music. It's weird this line-up is twenty-two years because I don't feel old. We play as fast as we ever have."
"I feel old but it's okay to be old," quips Monley. With talk of a new album coming out when the band has enough new material written, Jux County is defying F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous quote, "There are no second acts in American lives."
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