By Michael Swanger firstname.lastname@example.org
Junk Poet plays an all-ages, CD release show on Saturday, June 18 at 6 p.m. at People’s Court with special guests Superchief, Cirrus Minor, Mars on Fire and Hath No Fury. Tickets are $7 in advance through Midwestix.
‘Resurrection’ marks the return of powerful hard rockers Junk Poet
Don’t call it a comeback. It’s a calling guided by fate.
That seems to be the impetus behind the against-all-odds, triumphant return of Junk Poet, whose aptly titled new album, “Resurrection,” is as fist-pumping good to listen to as it was cathartic for the band to make. The band, whose reunion has been five years in the making, will celebrate the release of its first album in more than 15 years with an all-ages concert on Saturday, June 16 at People’s Court.
“ It’s amazing. The magic is still there after all these years. There’s no feeling like it,” said bassist Joel Grau, 42. “I never imagined in my wildest dreams we’d get back together.”
One of central Iowa’s most charismatic hard rock groups during the mid-1990’s, the quartet of Jon “Fu” Fullerton (vocals), Jay Lyon (guitar), Rich Lyon (drums) and Grau formed in 1994 and flirted with breakout success, counting among their peers bands like Slipknot and Stone Sour (they even beat Slipknot in Cityview’s 1998 “Best Of” readers’ poll for best rock band). But after two albums and a few tours of the Midwest, Junk Poet crashed and burned by decade’s end amid deteriorating relationships exacerbated by drug abuse, Fullerton’s mental health issues and Grau’s eventual incarceration in federal prison.
“ None of us were getting along in the late ‘90s,” said Fullerton, 39, who last week was preparing to move from Ames to Des Moines, the two cities the band has called home over the years. “I was struggling with a bi-polar disorder and depression, and Joel and I partied too much. I was the first one to get in trouble with the law, and pretty soon I was out of the band.”
After parting ways with Junk Poet, Fullerton moved to California where for the next five years he played music before returning to Iowa to lead a conventional life.
“ Los Angeles kind of chewed me up and spit me out,” he said. “It’s not a good place to be if you have addiction problems.”
About the same time Fullerton was in L.A., Grau was working on a project with Joel Eckman (Stone Sour’s original drummer) when he was arrested and spent nearly five years in prison.
“ About six months into my prison term my dad sent me a newspaper clipping about Stone Sour getting signed. Initially, it was crushing because I was bummed out that Junk Poet didn’t make it, and I just spent time working with Joel (Eckman). So I decided to turn it into a positive and spent a lot of time in the music room in prison.”
Music, initially, was the last thing on Fullerton’s mind when he returned to Ames and began working as a chef. But something was amiss in his life, so when he got a call in late 2006 to jam with his former bandmates for old time’s sake, he seized the opportunity.
“ We tried to get through some old songs and had some laughs. It was a great way to reunite,” Fullerton said. “The magic was there and we started writing right away, so we decided to keep going. It was a cool moment.”
In 2008 and 2009, Junk Poet recorded “Resurrection” before handing it over to Jay Lyon to mix and master. The result is 10 powerful, revealing new songs like “Time Passes Me By,” “Suicide” and “Secrets” as well as five bonus tunes like “Low” and “Broken Man.”
“ We’re better now, because we’re older and wiser,” Fullerton said.
They’re also more realistic, the singer added, noting that they would like to play more shows and possibly record another album but don’t have illusions about becoming rock stars.
“ We’re all adults now and look at it with a different point of view. We don’t have stars in our eyes anymore. I’m no rock star; I’m just a guy that makes music,” Fullerton said. CV