Lydia Lunch Retrovirus
After befriending Alan Vega and Martin Rev at Max’s Kansas City, Lydia founded the short-lived but influential no-wave band Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, with James Chance. Both Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and the Contortions, Chance’s subsequent band, played on the no wave compilation No New York, produced by Brian Eno. Lunch later appeared on two songs on James White and the Blacks album, Off-White.
Lunch’s solo career featured collaborations with musicians such as J. G. Thirlwell, Exene Cervenka, Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Bob Bert, Nick Cave, Marc Almond, Billy Ver Planck, Steven Severin, Robert Quine, Sadie Mae, Rowland S. Howard, Michael Gira, the Birthday Party, No Trend, Sort Sol, Einstürzende Neubauten, Sonic Youth, Oxbow, Die Haut, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Black Sun Productions, and French band Sibyl Vane, who put one of her poems to music.
In the mid-1980s, she formed her own recording and publishing company called “Widowspeak Productions” (also known as just “Widowspeak”), on which she continues to release her own material, from music to spoken word. Two albums published by Lunch’s label were released in 2013: Collision Course & Trust The Witch, by Big Sexy Noise (released on Cherry Red), and Retrovirus (released on Interbang Records); both albums are by Lunch’s musical projects.
Lunch released her studio album Smoke in the Shadows in November 2004, through Atavistic Records and Breakin Beats, after a six-year break from music. Nels Cline, the lead guitarist of alternative rock band Wilco, was featured on the album. Smoke in the Shadows was met with positive reviews by Allmusic, PopMatters, and Tiny Mix Tapes.
In 2009 Lunch formed the band Big Sexy Noise. The group features Lunch on vocals, James Johnston (guitars), Terry Edwards (organ, saxophone), and Ian White (drums). Johnston, White and Edwards are members of the British band Gallon Drunk. A six-track eponymous EP was released on June 1, 2009, through Sartorial Records, and included a cover of Lou Reed’s song “Kill Your Sons,” as well as “The Gospel Singer”, a song co-written with Gordon. The debut, self-titled album, Big Sexy Noise, was released in 2010, followed by Trust The Witch in 2011. For both albums, Lunch and her band completed tours throughout Europe.
In 2010, The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project launched We Are Only Riders, the first of a series of four albums featuring Pierce’s previously-unreleased works-in-progress. The album features interpretations of Pierce’s work by friends, collaborators, and admirers, including Lunch. Lunch also contributed to the second album from the project, The Journey is Long, which was released in April 2012.
Lydia Lunch performing in 2012
Although the Pierce Sessions Project’s third and final album, The Task Has Overwhelmed Us, was due for release in late 2012, the schedule was changed after the release of the second installment. Glitterhouse Records, the label producing the collection, instead released a third album titled Axles & Sockets in May 2014, on which Lunch performs “The Journey Is Long” with Pierce’s recordings. The label explained that the third album has become the “penultimate” full-length release of the Project, but did not name the final album, or its release date.
Lunch released the album Retrovirus (also the name of the band Lunch plays with) in 2013 on Interbang Records and ugEXPLODE (the vast majority of the album tracks are published by Widowspeak). Together with band members Weasel Walter, Algis Kizys, and Bob Bert, Lunch performed a show following the album’s release at the Bowery Electric venue in New York City, in May 2013.
The current line up of Retrovirus includes Weasel Walter, Bob Bert and Tim Dahl