Heritage Hump Day: Jesus Chrysler Supercar, "Three Cross Curve"

Jesus Chrysler Supercar has probably the best band name to emerge from Phoenix in the '90s.
Jesus Chrysler Supercar has probably the best band name to emerge from Phoenix in the '90s.
Courtesy of Onus Records

Every Wednesday is Heritage Hump Day! That's because every Wednesday from now to the end of the year or before someone really big stops us, Heritage Hump Records (a temporary subsidiary of Onus Records) and New Times will be bringing you a limited edition collector's item of a much beloved Phoenix band that walked the scorched earth of Arizona before the year 2000 A.D. We will honor that band with a commemorative digital single that you, the digital public, will have only seven days to download to your computers and smart phones before this single gets marked up to an exorbitant price as determined by the mp3 collector community. When that happens, a new Heritage Hump subject will be chosen and the free-for-a-limited-time-only cycle begins anew.

This week, all three of Jesus Chrysler Supercar's albums in the '90s (Hail Bailer, Latterday Speedway, and Land Speed) are mysteriously available again as free downloads to coincide with the release of former Jesus Chryslers guitarist Jason Corman's third album as Mr. Fantastical, titled Born to Boogie, Born to Die (on the Sunset Alliance label).

This flamboyant band, fronted by singer Mitch Steele, was famous for performing in NASCAR jumpsuits and playing rock heavy on the testosterone. In this New Times profile on the band from May 20, 1999, titled "Auto Exhaustion," writer Gil Garcia describes a typical gig/video shoot for Jesus Chrysler Supercar at the defunct Bash on Ash that makes the band sound like the logical forerunner to BroLoaf:

"Video may have killed the radio star, but it pumped plenty of life into last week's Jesus Chrysler gig . . .

"Even by normal JCS standards, this was a raucous gig from the first cymbal crash, with glitter flying all over the crowd and booze being sprayed in every direction. Before Jesus Chrysler even hit the stage, word was spreading that some video ringers were gonna make it up onstage and turn the proceedings into a kind of homage to "Hot for Teacher" or "Girls Girls Girls," depending on which brand of sexist '80s metal you prefer.

Sure enough, early in the show, a couple of excitable women in the front row lowered their skimpy tops for the camera. But that was hardly preparation for what was to come. About 45 minutes into the gig, 10 or so VIP types jumped onstage and jiggled like it was 1999. Josh Prior of Yoko Love (who opened the show, along with Digital Free Loner Boy) joined the festivities, alternately grinding with the dancers and getting passed over the crowd like a beach ball. Meanwhile, breasts were getting exposed like it was Cinemax on a Friday night. The lingering question at the end of the night, though, was who were those merry exhibitionists, and what did they have to do with Jesus Chrysler Supercar?

"I have no idea who the hell they were," says singer Mitch Steele. "I know that some of them were from Tiffany's. I didn't know 'em from shit. I think it might have been that our co-manager's girlfriend used to work at Tiffany's, and she just came down with a bunch of her friends. So I'm just like, 'Whatever. I have no problem with you showing us your tits all night long.'"

Wild as the video shoot was, the real excitement for Jesus Chrysler is yet to come, with the six-song EP Land Speed set for a June 10 release and a six-to-eight-week European tour likely for September. The video footage will likely be edited into clips for "Dope Sick Lunatic" and "Jillbilly," the latter of which Steele describes as "a modern-day 'Lola' kind of song."

Actually, one of the most refreshing things about Jesus Chrysler is that the members are relentlessly candid about their ambitions. They make no apologies about the fact that they want a major-label deal, they want national success, and -- most important -- they want to be able to quit their day jobs.

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Later in the article, we find out the band's goals of getting signed to a major label deal were almost realized when Sony flew the band out to the punk rock birthplace and legendary NYC shithole CBGB to showcase. The band had secured a one-year demo deal with Sony and recorded a four-song demo on Sony's dime. Although the gig went well, Sony passed on the band. Island Records showed similar interest, but when Polygram corporate shuffling resulted in the band's ally at the label getting shitcanned, the finish line for Jesus Chrysler Supercar was just around the bend.

How fitting that our Heritage Hump song this week should be "Three Cross Curve," a song which never appeared on any Jesus Chrysler releases and only saw action on a KEDJ "The Edge" Locals Only compilation. Prominently featured in it are the first two notes that opens Pearl Jam's "Even Flow" and also features prominently in the bridge of Stone Temple Pilots' "Plush." Certainly any band with the arrogance to call itself to call itself Jesus Chrysler Supercar would have the same pluck to carry on the tradition with those same two notes. And, to be fair, it's the same two notes a foghorn and the the doorbell on the the old Addams Family TV series used to make.

"It's a song about driving and living too fast," says JCS guitarist Corman about this rare track. "It was inspired by the many trips to Vegas to play shows. The road to Vegas is loaded with white crosses marking the people who have died along the way. It was written late in the bands years. Had hoped to release it but it never happened until now."

Also something that never happened until now, the defunct band has a Facebook page and a video for the song, all courtesy of Sunset Alliance founder David Jensen, who is described in this 1999 article as "the band's van driver" and "the sixth Chrysler."

Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.

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