For all the pioneering/talented/unique/intense bands that made it mainstream in the years between 1965 and 1985 there are at least 20 equally talented bands that fell flat. Be it their sound, their location, their image or other factors, this era is plagued with stories of failure. It has only been recently, with the benefit of hindsight and truckloads of reissues, that the music of these rock ‘n’ roll Van Goghs is gaining an audience. And so it goes with Zolar X.
Of all the genres and sub-genres of rock ‘n’ roll music, space-glam can only apply to Zolar X. This Los Angeles-based sci-fi rock band existed from 1969 until 1981, and at one point they were the house band for the legendary glam-rock club Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco. Like the New York Dolls, they serve both as proto-hair metal, and proto-punk, but weirder and therefore (in my humble opinion) cooler.
They were a band that only early ’70s LA could spit out, playing a brand of glam that was one part Ziggy Stardust, one part Banana Splits, and one part Ed Wood. Critics have often compared them to other oddballs like The Monks or The Screamers, only taking their look one step further by not only dressing like space-men but claiming they actually were from the planet Plutonia and developing their own alien language comprehensible only to themselves. If that isn’t utterly fabulous enough, the monikers of the original lineup are out of this world: Ygarr Ygarrist on guitar, Zory Zenith on vocals, Eon Flash as “Pattern Timist,” and Zany Zatovian on bass.
Their label Alternative Tentacles (owned by longtime Zolar X fanatic Jello Biafra) calls their music “the link between The Stooges and Chrome.” This may be true in image but the music goes back to their Ziggy Stardust influence. Where David Bowie sticks to the two- to three-minute pop format, Z-X took their sound to the heavy metal extreme with louder, epic, grandiose musical vistas with more guitar solos. Lyrically they never strayed from their outer space theme with song titles including “Timeless,” “Silver Shapes,” “Rocket Roll” and (my personal favorite) “I Took My Helmet Off (I’m Going To Love Her).”
They are playing this Wednesday at Sabala’s with their current lineup of Ygarr Ygarrist, Eon Flash, and Jett Starsystems. For a maximum Zolar X experience, a healthy dose of Liquid Space Drops is recommended before the show.
Zolar X, The Nice Boys, Rectangles and Space Creatures From the Year 3000 will play 9:30 p.m. tonight at Sabala’s, 4811 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd. Tickets are $8, 21 and up.