Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Joey Plunkett's voice diffuses over Vince Johnston's repetitive, infectious guitar strokes and Ryan Rogers' strong, directive beat as a haunting echo that creeps into your senses without warning or thought of industry. "Listen to it twice; the first time the music seems catchy but hopefully by the second or third time you will pick up on the lyrics," Plunkett tells me.
"last autumn was on the news/with her voice burnt out and bruised/from all the chemicals/but I've expected it all along/so don't waste your nerves on me/your miracles, cigarettes or anything else/cause I feel like I've been drugged/like I just fell in love/and I can't sleep it off"
Plunkett, Johnston and Rogers make up the revamped trio of Geronimo Rex. Started by Jimmy Johnson and Johnston in 1998, Geronimo Rex accumulated considerable acclaim in its five-year run as one of Mississippi's most popular bands. Having played more than 130 shows since January 1999, they have opened for Brother Cane, Gov't Mule, Valejo and Smash Mouth, among others. Previously a six-man band made up of the current three plus long-haired guitar player Jimmy Johnson and brothers Jeremy and Richie Lister, Geronimo Rex took a year off to gain their bearings as a three-piece and as Plunkett put it, "to see what we wanted to do and what we wanted to say."
Without Jeremy Lister's vocals and extreme performances and minus his brother's keyboard, they are now armed with Plunkett's approachable but harrowing vocalizations. The band has kept their dark but wildly emotional lyrics and rhythms that were featured on their prior album, "Absolute Zero."
IUMA.com, the site for the International Underground Music Archive, says, "If you catch Vince on a good night, his solos will make you cry." Johnston, poignantly nicknamed "the Master," has been playing guitar since his childhood years in Brazil. Brazil was formative for him; while he was there he listened to American music. But, when he moved back to the states, he realized the Brazilian music he had missed. Plunkett, Johnston's cousin, says of him, "He can't get enough Brazilian music." Brazilian influences such as Lenine and American bands such as King's X, Robert Palmer and Isaac fuel Geronimo Rex's unique sound.
Plunkett, the youngest, 24, Rogers, and Johnston, both 26, sit in a row, casually, with the ease of old pros in their Fondren house where they live, practice and record, Rogers' drums gleaming in the light from the window in the next room. The passionate lyrics of the new Geronimo Rex may border eloquence, but certainly proves that this band has something to say: "every thought is a car crash/every one I resurrect just burns out/and you slow down to watch as you go by"
Geronimo Rex's music is thoroughly human, chronicling the ongoing journey of finding yourself. "Our music is about trying to figure things out; it's about understanding how to deal with having a hard time in life," Johnston says.
The band is recording a new album on the Esperanza Plantation label. They will play their first show in a year this Saturday, July 24, at Hal & Mal's. Their demo will introduce the songs, "a digital afternoon" and "car crash." The album, "I love I lose," will be sold at the show. Listen to it twice.
"tomorrow never knows me/but we meet like yesterday/i'm always sleeping/through the suicides, traffic lights/,while I memorize the signs/to use their lies on you/but you don't believe in words/they just disappear after they hurt"