The Brian Jonestown Massacre is an American eclectic musical group led by Anton Newcombe, whose music spans multiple genres including psychedelia, electronica, folk music, blues, experimental music, and many others.
The group was founded by Newcombe, Matt Hollywood, Ricky Rene Maymi, Patrick Straczek and Travis Threlkel in the early 1990s in San Francisco.
The name "Brian Jonestown Massacre" is a portmanteau of The Rolling Stones' founder and guitarist Brian Jones and the infamous mass cult suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.
Anton Newcombe has been the band's only constant member; other key members have been Matt Hollywood, Joel Gion, Ricky Maymi and Jeff Davies. Newcombe and Hollywood have served as the group's primary songwriters.
1995's Methodrone approximates the UK shoegazing sound of the time. Their Satanic Majesties' Second Request, one of three new albums released by the group in 1996, reflects a pastiche of 1960s psychedelia that continues to characterize the BJM sound to the present day. Newcombe defines the term 'psychedelic' as "mind-expanding," and BJM's output is generally referred to as such because of the revivalist nature of the music. Elements of Middle Eastern and Brazilian music are also apparent, along with influences by 1960s artists such as The Beatles, Os Mutantes, The Velvet Underground, Donovan, Love Band, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones. In fact, Their Satanic Majesties' Second Request is an homage to the Rolling Stones' 1967 album, Their Satanic Majesties Request. The second album they released in 1996, Take It from the Man!, was recorded in the Rolling Stones' mid-1960s style of rock rooted in rhythm and blues.
Thank God for Mental Illness, their third record released in 1996, displays a country and rhythm and blues oeuvre with voice and acoustic guitar dominating the overall sound. This is a format that Newcombe occasionally resorts to when presenting live material during times of transition in the band. A further country/folk approach was applied to the Bringing It All Back Home - Again, the title itself an homage to Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home.
Electronic music crept into 2003's And This Is Our Music, evidencing more contemporary influences as well as name-checking the identically-titled albums This Is Our Music, each by the artists Galaxie 500 and Ornette Coleman. In 2005 the band released the EP We Are the Radio on Newcombe's label The Committee to Keep Music Evil, which featured a close collaboration with indie singer-songwriter Sara Beth Tuceck.
My Bloody Underground was released on Cargo Records in 2008, and demos were available since September 2007 from the band's website. The title has been interpreted[by whom?] to be a name-check to the bands My Bloody Valentine, and The Velvet Underground as well as referencing BJM's endless procession of bandmates and the "scene" they collectively created.[original research?] Newcombe has down-played such interpretations, however. Music videos of the songs on the album have also been released, including a music video compilation DVD entitled 'Book of Days'.
As of 2008, Newcombe has become increasingly interested in pastiches. The percussion featured in the song "Amazing Electronic Talking Cave" from the Just Like Kicking Jesus EP for example, was derived from The Rolling Stones' "Jumping Jack Flash". "Þungur Hnífur" was adapted from Goldfrapp's "Ooh La La". The percussion for "Feel It" was based on that of Anita Ward's song "Ring My Bell". "This Is the One Thing We Did Not Want to Have Happen" draws elements from Joy Division, combining the percussion on "She's Lost Control" with the lyrics to "I Remember Nothing" (both of which are featured on Joy Division's 1979 album Unknown Pleasures), as well as fashioning grating guitar-effects reminiscent of the anarchist-punk band Crass, which, for example, are found on the latter's "Mother-Earth" (from their 1979 album Stations of the Crass). "This Is the First of Your Last Warning" loosely derives its percussion from Michael Jackson's "Rock With You" (or Public Image Ltd.'s "Albatross" from their 1979 album Metal Box).
The Brian Jonestown Massacre recorded both One EP and Who Killed Sgt. Pepper? in Iceland and Berlin in 2009. The One EP was released in November 2009. It features the songs "One" and "This Is the First of Your Last Warning" (which would also appear on Sgt. Pepper), an English version of "This Is The First Of Your Last Warning", and an exclusive track "Bruttermania". Who Killed Sgt. Pepper? was released in February 2010. The album features musicians such as Unnur Andrea Einarsdottir (who recorded vocals on the previous BJM album) and Felix Bondareff from the Russian band Amazing Electronic Talking Cave, as well as other musicians from France, Germany, and Iceland. Will Carruthers also appeared on the album. Soon after the album's release, it was confirmed that Matt Hollywood had returned to the band after an eleven year absence. According to Anton Newcombe, he will feature on their next album and is currently touring with the band. The group was scheduled to play the ATP New York 2010 music festival in Monticello, New York in September 2010, in support of the album, but canceled the appearance.
Newcombe's interest in cults like that of Jim Jones and Charles Manson is well known (and made apparent by the band's name), and songs such as "The Ballad of Jim Jones" (from Thank God for Mental Illness) and "Arkansas Revisited" (from Bringing It All Back Home – Again), which is a rework of Charles Manson's song "Arkansas" (which appeared on the album Lie: The Love & Terror Cult). Similar interests include a fascination with the Freemasons, Aleister Crowley, and Sufi mysticism