By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
By Derek Askey
A second single, this time recorded in a film-scoring studio on the UCLA campus, found the Urinals growing in terms of technical skill and production savvy, and the band made their way off campus, sharing bills with the likes of Black Flag, Wall of Voodoo, and the Circle Jerks. (The Urinals' singles can be heard, along with live numbers and compilation tracks, on the essential compilation Negative Capability . . . Check It Out!) As the Urinals continued to evolve, the members decided the brusque name no longer suited their music, and in 1982, Talley-Jones, Johansen, and Barrett began performing and recording under the name 100 Flowers, releasing an outstanding self-titled album in 1983. But with growth came different views about the band's approach.
"Kjehl and I were really having a lot of trouble with each other, we were disagreeing on practically everything, and it just wasn't working," Talley-Jones said. "There was too much friction. We were trying to go in two entirely different directions. I felt he was trying to soften the sound of the band, and I wanted to keep it hard. So [in 1983] we broke up and went our separate ways."
But the group was too vital a combination to lie dormant forever. In 1986, Kjehl Johansen and Vitus Matare formed a new band, Trotsky Icepick, and in 1989, they invited Talley-Jones to become their lead singer. After recording a handful of albums for SST Records, Trotsky Icepick still performs, as does Radwaste, a Talley-Jones project featuring four percussionists. In 1996, friends in the band Dime Box asked the Urinals to open a record release show for them, and Talley-Jones and Barrett assembled a new lineup with guitarist Rod Barker. That edition of the band cut a new album in 2003, What Is Real and What Is Not, which found the Urinals still exploring the boundaries of their wiry, nervous sound. Now featuring guitarist Rob Roberge (who is also a published novelist) and with a new album due out this year, the Urinals are a long way from over, and that's just fine with Talley-Jones.
"When we first started out, we weren't really able to express the songs as completely as we learned to do later," Talley-Jones says. "Because at that point, obviously, we were still struggling musically. So we discovered what the songs really were later on — they started to unfold for us, even though you'd think they're so simple and basic, nothing to them, no dimension to them whatsoever. The act of playing them helps you discover them. I still enjoy playing them. I still enjoy that people like to hear them, and I also feel like we're continuing to move forward."