Feature from the Phoenix New Times

J Church's Whorehouse

A long time ago (actually, it was 1987) in a galaxy far, far away (okay, Berkeley, California), a band called Cringer pioneered the now-ubiquitous pop-punk sound. When Cringer split up in the early '90s, guitarist-songwriter Lance Hahn and bassist Gardner Fusuhara decided they weren't through leaving their mark on punk rock.

Enter J Church. Possibly the most prolific band in indie rock, for the past six years J Church has churned out albums and singles on God-knows-what-record-label-it-is-this-week. Hahn's near monotonal, semimelodic singing, and the decadelong chemistry between him and Fusuhara, makes J Church stand out from what "pop-punk" has become--no NOFX comparisons here.

J Church's eclectic song subjects (which have ranged from vegetarianism to cigarettes, Bikini Kill to Jennifer Jason Leigh) are in their usual fine form on the band's new LP, Whorehouse: Songs and Stories, now out on the London-based Damaged Goods label.

Let's see--a song about gut-searing loneliness (check), a love song for Hahn's guitar (check), a one-night-stand song (check), a cover of a popular alternative song (Beck's Asshole)(check)--yep, it's a J Church recording. This one's quite a bit rawer than the overproduced (but verrry nice-sounding) Arbor Vitae, but no one expected J Church to stay shiny for long.

Recently, Revolver asked Fusuhara why J Church isn't the next big thing yet. His reply: "That kinda stuff doesn't just happen to you--you have to try. One thing we're realizing now is that as far as radio play goes, the recording quality has to be at a certain level, or they won't play it. I listen to my records and I think, yeah, it sounds fine, but it's not quite up to that radio production level. We're certainly easy on the ears, but Lance has a weird singing style, kind of flat in a way. We haven't tried to remain unpopular. I think it's hit or miss with everybody--they either really like us or really don't."

October 1996


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