Rock History

Kyuss Gives Birth: 15 Bands That Owe Some of Their Success to Kyuss Falling Apart

Looking back at 1987, it seems obvious Kyuss was destined for greatness. When they first formed under the moniker Sons of Kyuss, they had three of the biggest names in Stoner Rock in their young lineup: Josh Homme on guitar, John Garcia on vocals, and Brant Bjork on drums. Bassist Chris Cockrell was soon replaced by Nick Oliveri, and Desert Rock history was born. Kyuss would go on to incorporate the talents of Scott Reeder and Alfredo Hernández before disbanding in 1996.

Why the band fell apart depends on who you ask, but Brant Bjork has gone on record to deliver two different reasons:

  1. Josh Homme and Bjork were the creative forces behind the band, but they wanted to move in different directions. Young and ill-equipped to deal with the confrontation, the debate tore the group apart. 
  2. Josh Homme discovered he could make more money by penning the songs all by himself. This made him more aggressive in evaluating work others brought to the table. 

If the members of the band had quit their musical careers there, their legacy would have lived on forever. But these were mere kids, barely out of high school, and energy levels were high. 

Instead, Kyuss alum have gone on to create and join some of the biggest bands in the Stoner Rock scene. 

1. Queens of the Stone Age


If Kyuss never broke up, would Queens of the Stone Age have ever existed?

Performed with: 

  • Josh Homme
  • Alfredo Hernández
  • Nick Oliveri

Band Summary:
What can we say about Queens of the Stone Age that hasn’t already been said? Queens of the Stone Age is Josh Homme’s band, but it features a revolving door of guest artists—in a good way (Dave Grohl played drums on Songs for the Deaf.). QOTSA was originally called Gamma Ray when it formed in 1996, but they faced a lawsuit by a German metal band of the same name. They turned to Queens of the Stone Age—because Kings of the Stone Age would have been “too macho,” Homme said in an interview with Complex. QOTSA has pumped out quality album after quality album. While they started as a hard-driving, distortion-heavy stoner rock band with metal tendencies, they’ve recently embraced more pop sensibilities, giving listeners something to move their hips to on the dance floor. 

2. Unida


Unida’s Coping With the Urban Coyote. A musical treat we may have never gotten without Kyuss.

Performed with: 

  • John Garcia
  • Scott Reeder

Band Summary:
Unida first appeared on a 1999 split EP with Dozer, a Swedish Stoner Rock band. The Unida section was a raw, lo-fi affair, similar in sound to Garcia’s work with Slo Burn. In 2000’s Coping With the Urban Coyote, the band looked poised to take over as Stoner Rock gods. Their second full-length album, For the Working Man, was blocked with legal disputes with their record label. It never received a mass release. With the album cut off at the knees, Unida members went their separate ways. 

3. Hermano


Hermano. Another post-Kyuss Garcia project.

Performed with: John Garcia

Band Summary:
After Kyuss, John Garcia settled into a sound that music fans either love or hate. Slo Burn sounds like Unida, Unida sounds like John Garcia’s solo work, and John Garcia’s solo work sounds like Hermano. Like the other projects in that list, Hermano serves up hearty servings of bass-laden guitar grooves rocking underneath Garcia’s signature vocals. Their first album, Only A Suggestion dropped in 2002. Their latest album, …Into the Exam Room, was released 12 years ago, but the band still claims to be active. 

4. Vista Chino


Vista Chino: A sort of Kyuss reunion project.

Performed with: 

  • John Garcia
  • Brant Bjork
  • Nick Oliveri

Band Summary:
The story of Vista Chino is an interesting one, and it offers a number of different perspectives on band dynamics and certain celebrity personalities—depending on who you listen to. Essentially, Vista Chino was originally intended as a 2010 Kyuss reunion under the name Kyuss Lives! For whatever reason, Josh Homme and Scott Reeder didn’t join in, and they filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against John Garcia and Brant Bjork. The group pressed on under a new moniker: Vista Chino. 

5. Slo Burn


Yet another Garcia project, Slo Burn was criminally cut short.

Performed with: John Garcia
Band Summary:
After Kyuss, John Garcia jumped into a short-live project called Slo Burn. Slo Burn sounded like later-day Kyuss, but the sound was simpler and more accessible the common man—but not to the point of being straightforward rock. Slo Burn provides a strong Stoner Rock performance. After releasing a 1997 EP by the name of Amusing the Amazing, John Garcia split to form Unida. 

6. Mondo Generator


Mondo Generator: A Nick Oliveri jam.

Performed with:

  • Josh Homme
  • Brant Bjork
  • Nick Oliveri

Band Summary:
Spearheaded by Nick Oliveri, Mondo Generator encapsulated all of Oliveri’s raw energy after the Kyuss breakup. The name Mondo Generator is an interesting one. Originally a track on the Kyuss album Blues for the Red Sun, the name was picked up after Brant Bjork spray painted the phrase on the side of one of Oliveri’s amps (If you have a physical copy of Blues for the Red Sun sitting around, leaf through the artwork. You’ll find a picture of the amp.). If you’ve never heard Mondo Generator before, listen to “Quick and to the Pointless” and “Tension Head” on QOTSA’s Rated R. Both tracks are fronted by Oliveri, and both sound like Mondo Generator. 

7. Brant Bjork / Brant Bjork and the Bros / Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band


“Automatic Fantastic”—one of the biggest songs from Jalamanta.

Performed with: Brant Bjork
Band Summary:
If Brant Bjork felt creatively stifled in Kyuss, he’s surely spent the last two decades making up for lost time. He has released 14 albums with the above groups since 1999, averaging an album every 16 months. His first solo album, 1999’s Jalamanta, featured him on all vocal and instrumental duties. Bjork’s work is accented by his flat, rhythmic vocals, and repetitive (but catchy) riffs.  

8. Ché


The title track from 2000’s Sounds of Liberation.

Performed with: 

  • Brant Bjork
  • Alfredo Hernandez

Band Summary:
Ché’s only album was 2000’s Sounds of Liberation, which featured Bjork, Hernandez, and Unida bassist Dave Dinsmore. With Bjork taking on frontman duties, the band actually sounds a good deal like his solo work over the last 20 years—but a tinge heavier. You’ll still find the same lo-fi production, swirling, circular riffs, and the lackadaisical vocals. Though the band no longer exists, you can still frequently catch live covers of their songs when you see Brant Bjork and the Bros perform live.

9. The Desert Sessions


Settle into true desert rock.

Performed with: 

  • Nick Oliveri
  • Josh Homme

Band Summary:
The Desert Sessions wasn’t so much a band as it was a few songs that were recorded in the open desert. Here’s the background: Josh Homme and his friends used to throw “generator parties” in the California desert. Basically, they’d rev up a generator and use it to supply the juice to their instruments. Then, they’d get to rocking. The Desert Sessions volumes were the recordings Josh Homme took while he and his friends played during generator parties after Kyuss broke up. The Desert Sessions allowed for rock musicians to come and go in performances, and it’s a template Homme seemed to like, as he followed a similar pattern when he formed Queens of the Stone Age. Eventually, QOTSA took front and center, and the Desert Sessions fell to the wayside (though it looks like new material is coming soon).                              

10. Dwarves


Self-destructive Punk Rock.

Performed with: Nick Oliveri
Band Summary:
Perhaps the epitome of “Down with the man” punk rock, the Dwarves pulled numerous stunts and pushed tons of tongue-in-cheek jokes through their albums and lyrics. Their most famous and self-destructive stunt was in 1993 when the band announced that guitarist He Who Cannot Be Named passed away. The only problem: Her Who Cannot Be Named was still alive. Sub Pop subsequently dropped the band, sending the group into a tailspin. They eventually reunited, this time with Nick Oliveri in tow as a guest performer, to release 2004’s The Dwarves Must Die

11. Them Crooked Vultures


“New Fang”: A Grammy-winning song from Them Crooked Vultures.

Performed with: Josh Homme
Band Summary:
Perhaps the third most successful act on this list after TOOL and Queens of the Stone Age, Josh Homme formed Them Crooked Vultures in 2009 with two of rock and roll’s biggest creative forces: John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin bassist) and Dave Grohl (former Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman). Their eponymous album peaked at number 12 on the US charts, and the group won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance in 2011 for “New Fang.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll see Them Crooked Vultures in the studio or touring the country anytime soon. 

12. Earthlings?


Earthlings? is many things—experimental, space rock, atmospheric, stoner rock…

Performed with: Josh Homme
Band Summary: 
Yet another musical project Josh Homme has contributed guitar, bass, and vocals to, Earthlings offers a fascinating blend of lo-fi space rock, Avant-garde experimentalism, and atmospheric soundscapes. 

13. TOOL


You know who TOOL is. This video is a courtesy.

Performed with: Scott Reeder
Band Summary:
If you’re on Monster Riff, TOOL needs no introduction. But in case you missed the recent Fear Inoculum release, here’s the Spark Notes on TOOL: Led by enigmatic frontman Maynard James Keenan, TOOL is the greatest alt metal band of of our generation. From the powerful headbanging in Undertow to the introspective guitars on Fear Inoculum, TOOL has always put their art first. After Kyuss disbanded, Scott Reeder spent time on stage with TOOL until Justin Chancellor took over as the full-time bassist. 

14. Fireball Ministry


Fireball Ministry has been rocking for more than 20 years.

Performed with: Scott Reeder
Band Summary:
One of rock’s best kept secrets, Fireball Ministry has found its greatest commercial successes in soundtracks, with songs like “Kick Back” and “Fallen Believers” appearing on Sons of Anarchy, and “The Broken” appearing on “WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006.” Scott Reed has held down primary bassist duties since 2014.

15. Eagles of Death Metal


Eagles of Death Metal may be Josh Homme at his most relaxed.

Performed with: Josh Homme
Band Summary:
Although they tour with other musicians, Eagles of Death Metal is primarily a two-piece consisting of Josh Homme and long-time friend Jesse Hughes. The difference between this and other Josh Homme projects: Homme is on drumming duties while Jesse Hughes manages guitar and microphone. While we’ve listened to their sound evolve over the years, Eagles of Death Metal is largely Garage Rock—especially in their early work (where they sound similar to the Black Keys and the White Stripes.

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