For the first time in 19 years, San Diego post-hardcore legends Drive Like Jehu are returning to the stage. On Sunday, Aug. 31, the group will play a free show at Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park—featuring civic organist Carol Williams.
It's an unconventional return for the band, whose abrasive final album, Yank Crime, turns 20 this year, which is exactly why the group's members found the idea so appealing. Guitarist John Reis tells CityBeat that the idea first came about when Dang Nguyen—one of Reis' business partners at Bar Pink and a board member of the Spreckels Organ Society—approached him about coming up with new, eclectic programming ideas for the Organ Pavilion.
"The next words out of my mouth were, 'We have to do Drive Like Jehu with a pipe organ!'" Reis says. "I've always been so intrigued and captivated by the Spreckels pipe organ."
Since 1995, Drive Like Jehu's members have gone in different directions. Reis and vocalist Rick Froberg played together in Hot Snakes (and even incorporated some Jehu songs into their set lists) before Froberg moved to New York City and started Obits. Drummer Mark Trombino became a sought-after producer and opened a donut shop, Donut Friend, in Los Angeles. Mike Kennedy became a chemist.
The band's been approached in the past to reunite for festivals, Reis says, but this opportunity just sounded more enjoyable for everyone.
"We'd had lots of offers," he says. "We're four people at different places in their lives, with varying interest in the idea at any given time. We didn't really need an invitation to do it.
"Everyone was just, like, 'This sounds fun!'" he adds.
Reis noted that the band hasn't yet chosen the songs for their set, but he suggested that the best songs would be those with the most musical space, to allow for better use of the organ. While this is a very different type of show than one Drive Like Jehu might have played in 1994, Reis says it's the only show they plan to play.
"People are hoping that maybe there's a secret show, maybe something more conventional," he says. "But we have zero plans to do it."