As a founding member of Stoner Rock’s seminal Kyuss, Brant Bjork was already a Rock legend by the time he was in his early 20s, pounding away on the drums in the middle of the desert. When Kyuss released the often-overlooked Wretch in 1991, Brant Bjork was on his way to the Stoner Rock history books.
That was nearly 30 years ago, and the man has shown little signs of slowing down. In fact, Brant Bjork may have a convincing case for the hardest working man in Stoner Rock (and definitely one of the hardest working musicians in Rock—although we would be foolish to say he’s anywhere close to Buckethead’s enormous catalog).
The Brant Bjork Resume: Studio Albums
Here’s something to get the ball rolling: Brant Bjork has worked on 34 albums since 1990 (and he’s appeared on 13 more). For those of you reaching for your calculators, that’s an average of 1.17 records per year, or one album every 10 months and one week.
What’s just as important is the level of effort Brant Bjork brings to the table for each record. While with Kyuss, Brant Bjork shared much of the writing duties with Josh Homme, penning classics like “Green Machine” and “50 Million Year Trip (Downside Up).” After Kyuss, Brant Bjork got his start with Fu Manchu by producing their 1994 debut, No One Rides for Free. By 1997, he was in the drummer’s seat, doing what he does best.
But it was in 1999 that the world first witnessed the huge range of Brant Bjork’s talents in Jalamanta. While managing all vocals, percussion, bass, and guitar work, Brant Bjork simultaneously softened the edges around Stoner Rock. Contrary to the hard-driving fury of Kyuss or the insistent riffing of Fu Manchu, Brant Bjork showed Stoner Rock could be relaxing, laid back, and totally cool.
Since then, Bjork has released nine more solo albums—most of which are completely solo with occasional guest musicians filling in on a few instruments. In general, however, Bjork will man vocals, guitar, bass, and drums in the studio. In these solo albums, he takes the liberty to experiment with new sounds, sometimes extending out into areas like Psychedelic Rock (2002’s Brant Bjork & The Operators) and Jazz (like with 2019’s Jacoozzi).
The Brant Bjork Resume: Production Work
Brant Bjork is also comfortable on the production side of the business, though most of it was when he was younger. Bjork produced Fu Manchu’s debut album, No One Rides for Free, in 1994 (the same year he released Welcome to Sky Valley with Kyuss), and he then produced Solarfeast’s Gossamer in 1995. More recently, Bjork served as the producer on Vista Chino’s Peace in 2013. During this pseudo-Kyuss reunion (minus heavy hitters like Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri), Bjork also played drums, bass, and lent his vocals to the record.
To be fair, Brant Bjork has been at this game for nearly three decades now, and that’s given him a head start on 2019 giants like Truckfighters and Sasquatch. To balance things out, we’ll compare Brant Bjork’s body of work to three of his contemporaries: Josh Homme, John Garcia, and Tommi Holappa.
In the race for hardest-working Stoner Rocker, Josh Homme would probably be Brant Bjork’s biggest competition. The man has recorded seven albums with Queens of the Stone Age, four albums with Eagles of Death Metal, all of the Kyuss albums, many, many sessions with The Desert Sessions, and dozens and dozens of assorted collaborations and guest appearances.
There’s only one problem: Josh Homme isn’t Stoner Rock anymore. Yes, he’ll always remain an influential musician within the genre, but a quick listen through Eagles of Death Metal or the latest QOTSA album and it’s easy to see: Josh Homme is focused on creating Pop Rock tunes to laugh at and dance to. Nothing wrong with that, but it does disqualify him from the Stoner Rock conversation. Brant Bjork, however, has never strayed far from the space.
We have a soft spot in our Monster Riff hearts for John Garcia. Kyuss, Slo Burn, Unida, Hermano—the man hasn’t done much wrong. But when you count it all up, John Garcia has about 16 albums to his name (a few of which were solo endeavors). Not shabby by any means, but it’s only half of Brant Bjork’s output. To be fair, he has also contributed vocals on nearly two dozen tracks for groups like Mondo Generator, Danko Jones, and Karma to Burn. But the fact still remains: He hasn’t outworked Brant Bjork.
We’ve been meaning to do a full 1,500 words on Tommi Holappa for some time now, and we’ll link to the article here when we finally get a chance. For now, here’s what you need to know if you aren’t familiar with this living guitar legend: You need to go listen to Greenleaf. Holappa’s guitar heroics won two Greenleaf songs the first and second slots on our list of top Stoner Rock guitar solos,
As the founder and lead guitarist for Swedish Stoner/Sludge Rockers Dozer, Tommi Holappa coordinated five albums and six EPs. With Greenleaf, he’s released nine albums. That’s a total of 14 albums and six EPs—somewhere north of 120 individual tracks. Impressive, but it still doesn’t compare to Brant Bjork’s output.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
Whether you’ve listened to him or not, Brant Bjork is marching on. He’s shown no signs of slowing down, and he frequenting tours to perform his music live. At this rate, there’s no telling what his final album count will be. There’s this much we do know: In 2019, Brant Bjork’s still the hardest working man in Stoner Rock.