Featuring: Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, Decon, The Hellions, Dali’s Llama

By Jason Hall

This Saturday, August 12, Pappy & Harriet’s will be hosting an incredible birthday party. Local punk legend Brian Maloney and his good friend Eric Edgar will be celebrating their 50th birthday. You may be asking yourself, “why would I care about Brian and Eric’s birthday?” The answer is two-fold. First, Brian is an extremely important part of our music scene. He has been part of several legendary desert punk bands including Unsound and Decon, and has been a guest on some albums too (The Hellions’ Hymns From The Other Side). His good friend Eric has been a strong supporter for as long as Brian has been playing. Second, Brian and Eric’s birthday party features an amazing lineup of bands from every genre our desert has to offer.

The Hellions will start the night off. They are a straight up rock and roll band. Perhaps one of the best the desert has to offer. These guys have been a hit since they started nearly 20 years ago. They’ve shared the stage with tons of bands including The Dwarves and Supersuckers. Angel (vocals and guitar), Bob (drums), Travis (bass), and Jamie (lead guitar) were last year’s CVMA ‘Trailblazer Award’ recipients.

The legendary Decon will be playing their second show in 20 years following The Hellions’ set. This band is an all-star punk band, a desert ‘super group.’ Herb Lienau (Dead Issue, Half Astro, and Herbert), guitarist Brian Maloney (our birthday man), bassist Billy Cordell (Half Astro, and The Whizards), and drummer Brant Bjork (Kyuss, Brant and The Bros) formed Decon in 1995. After releasing the rare and sought after Balls For Days, they broke up just as fast as they started. After 20 years, they decided it was time to perform again and see how it went. This time around, with Brant Bjork’s blessing, Rob Peterson (another legendary desert drummer) took over on drums. Luckily, they decided things went well and decided to play some more shows. Herb Lienau was the 2017 recipient of the CV Music Awards ‘Trailblazer Award’, Brant Bjork the 2015 recipient of the ‘Trailblazer Award’, Sean Wheeler the 2015 recipient of the ‘Pioneer Award’ and Brian Maloney’s band Unsound was the 2014 recipient of the ‘Trailblazer Award’.

Next up is Fatso Jetson. Fatso Jetson are in many ways the Godfathers of desert rock. Mario Lalli fronts a stellar lineup of Dino Lalli on guitar (Mario’s son and member of BigPig and Yawning Man), Larry Lalli on bass, and Tony Tornay (also in amazing up and coming L.A. band All Souls) on the drums. Fatso Jetson formed in 1994 and have been rocking non-stop since. They have several albums and international tours under their belt. Mario was an integral part of the earliest days of our scene, being the man behind the generator in the ‘generator parties.’ Mario was the recipient of the ‘Pioneer Award’ at the CV Music Awards in 2014.

Following Fatso Jetson is Yawning Man. Yawning Man is the oldest band in the lineup. They were formed in 1986 by Gary Arce and Alfredo Hernandez (QOTSA, Kyuss), shortly after Gary and Alfredo started jamming, Mario Lalli and Larry Lalli joined them. They quickly became an important part of the generator parties. They were known for their amazing jam sessions sometimes lasting over an hour. In the 90s, the band changed musical directions and changed their name to The Sort Of Quartet. After a pretty successful run on SST records, the band switched up drummers (Alfredo left and Rob Peterson stepped in), the band started heading back towards the original Yawning Man sound and ended up reforming Yawning Man, finally releasing their first album in 2005, nearly 20 years after their formation.

Finishing the night out is long standing desert band Dali’s Llama. Zach Huskey has been part of the desert scene since the 80s. He was in The Sciotics with Sean Wheeler and several other bands with Tony Brown of Unsound. He moved to L.A. for a few years. Upon his return in 1993, he and his wife Erica formed Dali’s Llama. The band has been releasing albums on their own label, Dali’s Llama Records, since. Zach and Erica with a semi revolving lineup have released 12 albums with no sign of stopping. Zach and Erica received the CV Music Awards ‘Trailblazer Award’ in 2014.

Interview with Mario Lalli and Tony Tornay of Fatso Jetson:

CVW: Can you tell me a bit about how you became a musician?

Mario Lalli: “I come from a very musical family…Opera singers, but an early obsession with my brother and sister’s vinyl collection gave me the passion for rock n roll. Once I discovered punk rock that was it. I got my first guitar at 12 and it was my sword, the great equalizer… I never looked back.”

Tony Tornay: “My pops was a drummer. When he was a younger he played in a band called The Premiers. They played shows around Philadelphia. Both of my parents were really into music and rock ‘n’ roll, so I grew up around it. One night, when I was about 5, I started banging on the kitchen table waiting for dinner to be served and my mom looked at my pops and told him it was probably about time to pull out his old set and get me going on it!”

CVW: You have a very unique guitar sound, was guitar your first instrument?

ML: “Yes … I never did the piano lessons, which is strange given my family’s background of classical music. But when it comes to my sound I guess it’s just that I’ve always been influenced by expressive players, so, hopefully that’s what’s coming out when I’m playing.”

CVW: Fatso Jetson are legends in our community. How did Fatso Jetson form?

ML: “Fatso came together at my club Rhythm & Brews … me, my Cousin Larry, and Tony Tornay spent all our time at the club, so we just started playing after hours … it was great… very organic … hell it’s lasted 23 years.”

TT: “I mean, we had a guitar player, a bass player, and a drummer. Why not play some music instead of the small stakes pool hustling we were running on each other.”

CVW: Fatso Jetson is probably the longest surviving desert band. How have you guys kept it going for so long?

ML: “I’ve been playing with Gary Arce and Larry Lalli, my cousin, for 30+ years and 23 years with Tony Tornay. I played for many years with Alfredo Hernandez as well. For me, speaking for myself, I just try to always remember making music with friends is the best. It’s not always easy, or smooth, but if you can keep it cool, it’s really rewarding. The guys I’ve played with are my best friends in my life period.”

TT: “We just play. It’s one of the only things we know how to do.”

CVW: Mario, your son, Dino, has in recent years become a part of Fatso Jetson and another band your known for and are playing with, Yawning Man. How did he become such an integral part of your musical career?

ML: “It’s such an amazing blessing. I absolutely love it, and I planned it from the day he was born… my master plan is unfolding. This year I’m letting him have more time to do his band BigPig and pursue his stuff. He is a huge part of my music … I’m so stoked on that.”

CVW: Another for Mario… You’ve recently moved back to the desert from LA, any chance of another Rhythm & Brews style venue from you? It seems now more than ever, we need one.

ML: “Always dreaming and looking around… you never know!”

CVW: How did you guys become a part of this show?

ML: “Carrie Caldwell, a desert local and dear friend of Brian’s asked if I’d help put a party together… so I put this show together for the guys.”

CVW: This show is several different genres from our desert scene. It seems like the best of the best in each genre (punk, rock, bluesy rock, jam). Have you been part of a showcase of our local talent like this before?

ML: “All my life… this is totally normal for me. I’ve been doing shows like this since the 80s.”

TT: “Yeah, I mean, that’s what I always thought the desert scene was about. Going back to the generator parties, there were always diverse lineups. Mostly because all the bands sounded different, but also because you were trying to get as many people to come as you could. If you look up the old Rhythm & Brews, or Comedy Haven, or JB Thirsty Bull calendars, there were some super diverse lineups going on. It wasn’t unusual to have Sort of Quartet, Unsound, Kyuss, and Nuthouse all at the same party at The Nude Bowl or Comedy Haven way back when.”

CVW: Brian Maloney and Eric Edgar are celebrating their birthdays by having you all play. What can you tell us about these gentlemen and how important they are to local music?

ML: “Brian Maloney has been playing in great bands in low desert for more than 30 years… Scabies Babies, Unsound, Noonday Madogs… him and Eric were this crazy energy in the punk scene down here. Brian had an energy that drew people around him. He was always active… building… doing. Brian had the half pipe ramp where everyone would skate and meet up. Eric had the pad where the bands would play. The guys had that kind of supportive energy that gave everyone else some fun. That shit takes work! I love those guys.”

TT: “I’ve known Brian since I was a little kid. His younger brother and I were on the same little league team. I went over to his house to skate his ramp long before he probably even knew who I was. Unsound was my favorite band, I hated that I was missing this amazing punk rock scene I had heard about in Los Angeles. I was so bummed I was stuck in this small town that didn’t have much going on. Then I saw Unsound when I was about 14 or 15, they made playing music real to me. To see these dudes that were only a few years older than me do this thing that was so great, it blew my mind.

I doubt Eric will remember this, but I had hopped into a car with him and Britt Killen to go to an Unsound show at some bar that was 21 and over. I was only 19 at the time, but Eric had an old expired license on him and he gave it to me to try to use it to get in. Somehow it worked, even though we don’t look anything alike. I bluffed my way through many liquor stores and concerts with that ID! I still have it in a drawer at my parent’s house somewhere.”

CVW: What is in store for us at this show? Any surprises?

ML: “This is just a rad reunion of desert family and friends. Good vibes are in store.”

TT: “As Willy Nelson used to say, ‘3 chords and the truth.'”

CVW: What is the future of Yawning Man / Fatso Jetson? New Album? Tour?

ML: “Well, Yawning Man is touring the States and Canada in September/ October. We are going to South America in April. Fatso will be touring the U.S. in February and both bands are writing material to record in spring.”

TT: “We’re always working on something…”

Interview with Gary Arce of Yawning Man

Coachella Valley Weekly: What was the original lineup of Yawning Man?

Gary Arce: “The original lineup was me and Alfredo (Hernandez). That’s how it started. Alfredo was jamming with Mario and Larry with a band after Across The River had broken up. Me and Alfredo were unemployed at the time, so when everybody else was at work, we would mess around. He was on drums obviously, and I started learning how to play guitar. I was messing with a delay pedal and started learning riffs. After a while, we had a few songs and asked Mario to play bass. Then, Larry joined on second guitar.”

CVW: Where did the name Yawning Man come from?

GA: “It came from an old movie. The Yawning Man was this doll. When all the toys would go to bed at night, he would do this song to send the toys into dream land. We thought it was pretty cool.”

CVW: You guys started in the mid-80s, but didn’t release an album until 2005. What took so long?

GA: “We started in ’86, or ’87. We only lasted until 1990 and then started playing together under a different name, The Sort Of Quartet. We put out some work on SST Records. We didn’t really stop playing. Alfredo joined Kyuss, and we started playing with Rob Peterson. Rob went off to school, I started having kids, and Mario and Larry formed Fatso Jetson. I joined that band a year later. In one form or another, we never stopped playing. When Fatso toured with Queens Of The Stone Age in Europe in 1999 or 2000, we got approached to do more shows. We started jamming again as Yawning Man with the original lineup. We started writing new material and finally put out an album. We have 35 – 40 songs from when we first started. We put them out as demo tapes. The first demo tape we have, but the second demo tape we can’t find. Hopefully somebody out there has it.”

CVW: What do you think about the success of the desert scene in Europe and Australia? Are you surprised by it?

GA: “Not really. You know if it weren’t for Kyuss, and Josh (Homme), and Brant (Bjork), and John (Garcia), there wouldn’t be a scene in Europe. The way I see the scene in Europe currently, is with all these desert fests in London in Belgium, why aren’t there any desert bands? It seems like a lot of European bands are going for a “desert” sound, but they’re not from here. There are so many great bands from back in the day from here. It seems you can fill the bill with true desert bands.”

CVW: In my opinion, you guys, as well as some others, are the desert sound. It seems to me there are a select few bands from back then that really gave us the sound we are known for.

GA: “The thing about our scene in the late 80s and early ‘90s is we were a small group. We were all friends. We lived by each other, and jammed together. We all had our own sound though. I think it turned into something big though. There’s something magical here. I don’t feel it when I go to other places. It’s a vibe you can’t get anywhere else.”

CVW: Any surprises in store for the show? It seems like it’s going to be a big reunion.

GA: “It’s going to be cool. Billy Cordell is going to join us on bass for a few songs. It is going to be a trip. I haven’t seen some of these people in 20 years. I don’t get out much.”

CVW: Any plans beyond this tour coming up? New album?

GA: “We are going to put out an album with this label in England. After the US tour, we have some South American dates lined up. We are totally focused on touring and writing music.”

Gary Arce was the CV Music Awards ‘Trailblazer Award’ recipient in 2016.

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