History of LFA
In days now long gone by–well the early 1990s–in the Heartland of America, four Illinois Wesleyan University and one Illinois State University undergraduates formed a garage band by the name of Lizards From Afar. Combining elements of classic, punk, and alternative rock with a sprinkling of comedy and music theater, the group performed shows in and around Bloomington, Illinois, between 1991 and 1993 with various personnel changes before finally breaking up. In that time, the group recorded some of their music in an extremely amateur fashion using the limited technology available at the time and according to their budget–which is to say, on four-track tape recorders with a few microphones.
That music is now available in mp3 format upon request–especially for our long lost fans who may remember fondly our goofy, often troubled performances on the IWU quad, or at the Phoenix club, or at the Gallery. Anyone who would like to hear those mp3s should contact us by posting on this blog–see the POSTS page on the menu to the right.
After more than fifteen years, four of the original band members (Lizards) have reconvened (From Afar) to record new music and re-record (and re-imagine) some of the old. This site posts news and discussions on the new recording venture, dubbed Bloomington Democracy.
== A Brief History of The Lizards from Afar by Sir Pent ==
The band formed in 1991 when members of the Illinois Wesleyan University theater department decided to form a musical act. They soon were joined by a student of the art department on drums. To round out the sound, they brought in a friend of the bassist on lead guitar who was a student at nearby Illinois State University. Within months, the group was playing large shows, such as the Concert On The Quad.
Soon the group entered the studio to record their first independant album. This low budget venture was recorded in the studio of Jeff Baran in Bloomington, Illinois. In the course of seven hours, the group recorded fourteen songs. The resulting album was entitled “How Old Is Your Sister?” It sold a respectable amount in the mid-west, garnering requests for a the band to continue.
1992 saw the first personnel change in the group. Gila Monster quit to pursue a successful run at musical theater in Chicago. The group decided to continue on in his departure without replacement. Lead vocals were handled mainly by Chopper Newt, but also by Gator and Serpentuh. The band quickly recorded its follow-up album, “Kick the Habit,” this time recorded in Chopper Newt’s home studio. Engineering was handled by lead guitarist the Gecko. Once again, the album proved successful and the band was invited to perform at the Illinois Wesleyan University Bandshell.
1993 would be the final recording and touring year for the band. Chopper Newt left the group, moving to California to work at a recording studio where he helped during the recording process of the Bel Biv Devo sophmore album. (Narrowly missing an opportunity to work with Kurt Cobain, as Chopper detailed in his later composition Butterfly Effect.) The three remaining band members decided to carry on. After extensive auditions, a new lead singer was hired who took up the Lizard moniker Komodo Dragon. The group recorded a new album, “Tantric Pathways,” over the course of a few weeks at different locations in the Bloomington/Normal area [note by Gecko: The Lizards recorded most of this improbably titled album in Gator and Gecko's squalid apartment]. The album suffered from recording issues [note by Gecko: my fault], rushed song-writing and lack of musical direction. While there is strong material to be found, there is just as much weak.
By mid 1993, the group disbanded, presumably for good. Chopper Newt, Serpentuh, and Gila Monster formed a short-lived new band, Fearless Freep, which performed many of the old LFA tunes. In the past several years, the original music recorded by Lizards from Afar has been showing up in different websites, posted by fans and band-members alike. Local and national groups have begun covering original compositions along with the Lizards’ unique arrangements of popular songs. In 2008, several members of the group began recording new music.
More information can be found at:
Gila Monster – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Tambourine, Occasional Keyboards, Cowbell, Kazoo
Chopper Newt – Rhythm Guitar, Occasional Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
the Gecko – Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar
Gator – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals, Occasional Lead Vocals
Serpentuh – Drums, Occasional Backing Vocals, Even Less Occasional Lead Vocal
Salvatore A-Train Mandyr – Saxophone, Occasional Backing Vocals
the Leatherettes – Backing Vocals – 1991
Girls With the Vroom – Backing Vocals – 1992
Komodo Dragon – Lead Vocals (LFA mark III)