Band of the Week: Qui

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Hometown: Los Angeles
Fun Fact: Two of the three band members regularly perform covers at a Los Angeles restaurant under the name Paul and Oates.
Why It's Worth Watching: Qui's riffs and unpredictable Americana lyrics are a great launching pad for one of rock's most entertaining frontmen.
For Fans Of: The Jesus Lizard, Frank Zappa, Melvins

Sometimes you don't kill your idols; you hire them instead

. Formed as a two-piece in 2000, Qui has labored quietly for six years, releasing one album (Baby Kisses, 2003) and sporadically touring west of the Mississippi. Guitarist Matt Cronk and drummer Paul Christensen created a heavy, angular sound happily indebted to The Jesus Lizard, of which both musicians were avid fans. Then they met David Yow, the explosive frontman of the defunct Lizard, and things clicked.

"When we met David, it was not our intention at all to trick him into joining our band," Christensen says. "But we realized he's just like us, a kindred spirit." The three bonded over more than a shared sensibility for pummeling rock; cooking and Frank Zappa also proved to be common ground.

"Matt and I have a little side thing we've been doing for years," Christensen explains. "We get together and sing covers every Wednesday at a French restaurant under the name Paul and Oates. That's where we started singing harmonies over stuff that's heavy. And we asked David to do a Zappa song with us there."

After a handful of performances, Yow simply asked to join the band for real. Qui already had most of an album written and partially recorded. Only a couple songs were composed with Yow in the band. His old guttural, low-in-the-mix vocal style isn't quite what the band prefers, as Cronk and Christensen both sing and harmonize on many tracks. So they taught their new member to sing for real.

"We've got three voices harmonizing," Yow elaborates. "Matt and Paul have painstakingly taught me how to do that. Id' never done it before; every now and then I'd hit the right note and stuff, but that's it." Being one of three voices has proven to be an inspiration. "I really do like having backing vocals. I like that a lot. There are times with The Jesus Lizard we tried to do that, but it didn't work out that well."

Breed no assumptions that Qui is now a lopsided act led by an egocentric voice, though. "One of the weird things about being in this band, since I wasn't involved since the inception, is that it doesn't feel arrogant for me to say we kick ass," enthuses Yow, who wants to be both on stage and in the audience. "Like during the song 'A#1,' which shifts gears and gets really cloudbursty, I'm disappointed that I'm in the band, because I wish I could be in the audience listening to that. It's so strong."