History of LFA

In days now long gone by–well the early 1990s–in the Heartland of America, four Illinois Wesleyan University and one Illinois State University undergraduates formed a garage band by the name of Lizards From Afar. Combining elements of classic, punk, and alternative rock with a sprinkling of comedy and music theater, the group performed shows in and around Bloomington, Illinois, between 1991 and 1993 with various personnel changes before finally breaking up. In that time, the group recorded some of their music in an extremely amateur fashion using the limited technology available at the time and according to their budget–which is to say, on four-track tape recorders with a few microphones.

That music is now available in mp3 format upon request–especially for our long lost fans who may remember fondly our goofy, often troubled performances on the IWU quad, or at the Phoenix club, or at the Gallery. Anyone who would like to hear those mp3s should contact us by posting on this blog–see the POSTS page on the menu to the right.

After more than fifteen years, four of the original band members (Lizards) have reconvened (From Afar) to record new music and re-record (and re-imagine) some of the old. This site posts news and discussions on the new recording venture, dubbed Bloomington Democracy.

== A Brief History of The Lizards from Afar by Sir Pent ==

The band formed in 1991 when members of the Illinois Wesleyan University theater department decided to form a musical act. They soon were joined by a student of the art department on drums. To round out the sound, they brought in a friend of the bassist on lead guitar who was a student at nearby Illinois State University. Within months, the group was playing large shows, such as the Concert On The Quad.

Soon the group entered the studio to record their first independant album. This low budget venture was recorded in the studio of Jeff Baran in Bloomington, Illinois. In the course of seven hours, the group recorded fourteen songs. The resulting album was entitled “How Old Is Your Sister?” It sold a respectable amount in the mid-west, garnering requests for a the band to continue.

1992 saw the first personnel change in the group. Gila Monster quit to pursue a successful run at musical theater in Chicago. The group decided to continue on in his departure without replacement. Lead vocals were handled mainly by Chopper Newt, but also by Gator and Serpentuh. The band quickly recorded its follow-up album, “Kick the Habit,” this time recorded in Chopper Newt’s home studio. Engineering was handled by lead guitarist the Gecko. Once again, the album proved successful and the band was invited to perform at the Illinois Wesleyan University Bandshell.

1993 would be the final recording and touring year for the band. Chopper Newt left the group, moving to California to work at a recording studio where he helped during the recording process of the Bel Biv Devo sophmore album. (Narrowly missing an opportunity to work with Kurt Cobain, as Chopper detailed in his later composition Butterfly Effect.) The three remaining band members decided to carry on. After extensive auditions, a new lead singer was hired who took up the Lizard moniker Komodo Dragon. The group recorded a new album, “Tantric Pathways,” over the course of a few weeks at different locations in the Bloomington/Normal area [note by Gecko: The Lizards recorded most of this improbably titled album in Gator and Gecko’s squalid apartment]. The album suffered from recording issues [note by Gecko: my fault], rushed song-writing and lack of musical direction. While there is strong material to be found, there is just as much weak.

By mid 1993, the group disbanded, presumably for good. Chopper Newt, Serpentuh, and Gila Monster formed a short-lived new band, Fearless Freep, which performed many of the old LFA tunes. In the past several years, the original music recorded by Lizards from Afar has been showing up in different websites, posted by fans and band-members alike. Local and national groups have begun covering original compositions along with the Lizards’ unique arrangements of popular songs. In 2008, several members of the group began recording new music.

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More information can be found at:

Lizards from Afar myspace page

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Original Members:

Gila Monster – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Tambourine, Occasional Keyboards, Cowbell, Kazoo

Chopper Newt – Rhythm Guitar, Occasional Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals

the Gecko – Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar

Gator – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals, Occasional Lead Vocals

Serpentuh – Drums, Occasional Backing Vocals, Even Less Occasional Lead Vocal

Additional Members:

Salvatore A-Train Mandyr – Saxophone, Occasional Backing Vocals

the Leatherettes – Backing Vocals – 1991

Girls With the Vroom – Backing Vocals – 1992

Komodo Dragon – Lead Vocals (LFA mark III)

18 Responses to “History of LFA”

  1. This band sounds both impressive and successful. Who are they?

  2. The Gecko Says:

    Where did we get the name Lizards From Afar? Shouldn’t that be in the History? I think I heard some stories about this once, but the name was decided before I ever joined up.

    Matt

    P.S. Although the third recording (TP) doesn’t exactly rock, I’m not sure if the material is “weak.” There’s just not much of it. I’ll admit, though, we should have stayed closer to our original punk(ish) style. One of the only tunes I can still listen to is “Whoops… Democracy!” I wish we had a dozen tunes like that one.

  3. Serpentuh Says:

    I’ve also never heard a consistent story of how that name was conceived. It was presented as the name of the band.
    Chopper and I were just discussing…the name of the band was ALMOST Celtic Wang…which I was strongly against.

  4. Serpentuh Says:

    Also, TP has some great tunes on it:
    No Remorse
    Then I Fall
    Last Train

    Then there are a couple of funny songs which needed to be more “punk”:
    Conspiricist
    Hey Bert

    The other songs (& yes I realize that they were written by ME) are pretty weak. I still contend that Crossroads could’ve been a much better song with crunchier guitars and a different vocalist.

  5. The Gecko Says:

    Didn’t you write Hey Bert? It’s brilliantly funny. Too bad I fucked up mixing in the Bert and Ernie schtick at the end–although I’ve also thought I’d like to kick out that whole bit and just leave my unbelievably awesome guitar solo at full volume.

    In an Argus article Gator commented that he had suggested “The Wizards” which Chopper Newt mistook for the Lizards. And then they didn’t want to be from Bloomington, so they suggested “from afar.” That’s the only story I’ve heard, but it may be apocryphal.

  6. I did write Hey Bert…and I think it is funny, but the ending didn’t turn out very well. Also, it was never my intention for Komodo to do an Ernie impression. It was meant to be more punk…ala Dead Linus where Lucy is voiced by Chopper as Chopper. (& your guitar solo at the end IS awesome and the muppet montage just ruins it…) I was always too mamby-pamby about speaking up about what my songs should sound like…more happy that somebody was willing to even consider working on them. (Chopper never would…)

    The “Wizards” story was something Gator was into at the time. He would come up with something different each time he was asked.

  7. The Gecko Says:

    Now I am indeed interested in uncovering the mystery of the Lizards From Afar. Whence comes our name? I play guitar with a band three years and have no idea…

  8. Chopper Newt Says:

    My recollection of the name thing, and I do think this is right, because it’s so lame:

    I think we were in some class held in the upstairs of that security hut. Gila and I were in it, it may have been directing class. Some girl (may have been Liz A., unsure about that) had a pin or a broach on. We were not sitting by her. Gila asked her what it was, and I forget the answer. He said “Oh, it looked like a lizard from afar.” This happened during the period where every third statement we heard or made was immediately nominated as a band name. For some reason, that was the one that stuck.

    That is 100% true as far as I can remember. I can also confirm that anything Gator said with regard to the name was cooked up in his big fuzzy dome.

  9. Serpentuh Says:

    Now that I read that story, it does ring familiar with a retelling I had heard from Gila.

    But saying that, I want to point out that I believe everything that Gator has and will ever say!

  10. The Gecko Says:

    Yeah, Gator’s story is better. Let’s stick with it and not tell anybody the truth.

  11. Serpentuh Says:

    I am becoming the scurge of http://www.wikipedia.org.
    I post the LFA history almost daily and it gets deleted with warnings daily. I have been banned a couple of times, but apparently the “moderators” can only ban you for a couple of days at a time.
    My goal is to post it so many times that they eventually just acquiesce and let it stay just to shut me up.

  12. Fopr what it’s worth: I remember asking Carm where the name came from shortly after you guys announced the name. He gave me the story about the girl wearing a Pin that looked like a “Lizard from Afar” and how that phrase sounded like a band name.

  13. joyeaux new year thing to the almighty Lizards.. the music lives on.

  14. oh hey.
    i’ve spent more time than i’d like to admit trying to find a recording or video of “Bob’s Your Uncle”.
    i want to collect them all for the secret decoder ring.
    (another completist)

    g

  15. Bob’s Your Uncle was up on the myspace website for several weeks.
    You missed it!!

  16. I’m excited to see you guys are still alive! I still have my original cassette of Kick the Habit that I got while I was at IWU. Can’t remember if I bought it or if it was a gift from Dave Zimmerman.

    Best of luck to y’all!
    Peter

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