John Wilkes Booze arrived in 1999 as a quartet, but the noisy garage soul group from Bloomington, IN would eventually expand into a six-piece who saw themselves as a continuation of Indiana's art-punk continuum that includes, among others, the Gizmos, Zero Boys, and MX-80 Sound. Originally an off-shoot of pop-psych indie rockers the Impossible Shapes, the group began with a longer name, as the John Wilkes Booze Explosion, and featured Seth Mahern handling vocal duties, Chris Barth on bass, Jason Groth on guitar, Aaron Deer on organ, Mark Rice on drums, and Eric Weddle on guitar, saxophone, and electronics. After a brief hiatus early in 2001, John Wilkes Booze returned with a shortened name and a greater focus. In 2002, they announced Five Pillars of Soul, a series of EPs dedicated to unsung heroes the band wanted to champion. The series eventually included tributes to Melvin Van Peebles, Patty Hearst, Marc Bolan, Albert Ayler, and Yoko Ono. The curious series got the group a good deal of press and an even greater number of shows for 2003, with JWB playing almost 60 gigs by the end of the year. Along the way, drummer Rice and guitarist Groth were replaced by Grant Pershing and John Dawson, respectively. Early in 2004, Kill Rock Stars released a condensed version of the Five Pillars of Soul EP series as a single disc. The following year a vinyl only album, Heliocentric Views of the John Wilkes Booze Pts. 1 & 2 , arrived in March, and a new CD, Telescopic Eyes Glance the Future Sick, was released by Kill Rock Stars in August. ~ Wade KerganPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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