Artist: Jupiter After Death (or Jupiter A.D.)
Title: None (Samples)
Keywords: Electro-Industrial, Hi-NRG, Synthpop
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
This is not going to be a “proper” music review, as at this moment in time there isn’t any music by this artist for me to review, even if I wanted to — and, believe me, I do… I’ve been through every inch of the web looking for it, which is a kind of sad annual project of mine, and it cannot be found. It is a review of music that existed once long, long ago, but no more… a review I’ve compiled from the memories of the music… all I have left of it.
It only recently occurred to me that I should write about the strange, tragic history of Jupiter After Death, do a piece of dedication… a eulogy perhaps… to this group that is no longer extant nor can / will ever be again. In order for me to write the review, it will be necessary to take us both on a journey far into the past, figuratively speaking: 1998 – 2002 to be exact. And, what’s more, I’ll start by talking about a completely different group, as this is where the story begins.
The year was 1999. An alternative industrial rock group with a synthpop / hi-nrg inspired sound released (well… re-released…) their debut album from 1998, Cultural Minority, on the Mystic Music record label. Their name was Uranium 235, and though they’d been writing music since 1994, they were one of those bands that seemed to have gotten stuck riding late on the tail-end of ‘The Downward Spiral’ train… were a band you would say were style-biting NIN, a bit like Gravity Kills or Machines Of Loving Grace, et al. — but that they had their “own unique sound”. I’m sure you know what I mean, it would be an understatement to say that there were a lot of such bands at that time, amidst every other pseudo-niche alternative rock genre in the late ’90s. Regardless of this, there definitely was something to them that felt unique and special. Anyway… having just been signed, the expectation was that Mystic Music were going to push their name and sound into the rock mags and other media, spreading awareness of the group and helping them become a successful, touring band. A little of that was delivered, but in 2000 Mystic Music went bankrupt, completely defunct, leaving the band without a label. By 2001, Uranium 235 had disbanded, the members splitting off to do other things.
In that short time span, they did have a lot of shows on the East coast, opening for Marilyn Manson, playing with Type O Negative, and I think (though my memory is not perfect) they might have toured with Motorhead someplace in Europe. I wasn’t there for any of that, being a young teenager trapped in the Mid-West.
I first heard of Uranium 235 in 1999, maybe late 1998 at best, in some magazine that I picked up in a store but never purchased. It was shortly thereafter that I found a single copy of their album in a CD shop and bought it. They became my favourite band, as I was young enough still at that time to have a “favourite band”. I was an industrial kid in the ’90s, you see, mostly listening to music from a bygone time period… and it was ok that industrial had kind of mutated into a sub-genre of alterna-rock. I didn’t care… I wore fishnets and lots of black shit and loved this obscure band, and that was my life. 😛 It was kind of a shitty time period for me personally, though. Being a young teenager, I was stupid, but somehow quite aware of my own stupidity yet unable to do anything about it or formulate thoughts to a degree that felt satisfactory. Worse was an awareness of the stupidity of others, a kind of stupidity that seemed inherently worse than mine because it had no aspirations to overcome it… and a tendency to crush those aspirations in others. So life felt mercilessly sadistic, nihilistic, and all I could do to keep going was attempt to cultivate myself blindly in spite of it all. At least I had a favourite band!
In order to stay, virtually, connected to the group and new information about stuff I was in contact with someone who was a member of their street team I think. That seemed really cool. At the point that the band were breaking up, I somehow got my hands on some cash and ordered a Uranium 235 t-shirt, which I actually still owned up until a year or two ago when it finally got away from me. It came also with a CD-single, ‘Here It Comes’, which I still own, and a poster that I also still own, miraculously (being poor and shuffled around, I’ve lost quite a lot of shit over the years).
They were a real workhorse type of band, like so many during that time period (a lot of groups on Roadrunner Records come to mind…). On one of their sites they claimed that one year they played a show every day for 340 days.
It was really sad that they broke up… if they’d managed to get the album out a few years previously, it might have been regarded as a classic of the era… just a few years later and they might have at least been able to go the Bandcamp Indie route. Instead, everyone went their separate ways…
… Uranium 235’s keyboardist/effect guy, Chris Bride… he’s a really, really super nice guy. Here’s some old angelfire page that one of the U235 fans made for him! And here’s what he looks like today! Back in ’07, while I was still running Noise-Joy, I found him on MySpace and decided to chat him up randomly. I did the same thing with as many of the other members of Uranium 235 as I could find, which weren’t many. As far as I can remember, only he and Shane actually responded. Chris was by far the more conversational of the two. After the split, he left the world of being a rock star behind, went to college, got married, and is apparently (and hopefully!) enjoying life. When we were speaking I noticed on his page that he spoke about having a few synthesizers around still that he enjoyed playing around with, so I told him if he ever wanted to send me any music, even just something experimental, that I’d love to release it… but of course nothing ever really came of that and I didn’t really expect it to. He’s at a different place in life. 🙂
The other person I managed to contact was vocalist / guitarist Shane U235 (later Shane Faith, when the Jupiter After Death project started). He had music up on his MySpace page, some of which was ok, but it looked as though after years he’d gone in a strange direction with his sound, involving acoustic guitars and things. I asked him at one point if he still had any of the Jupiter After Death music hanging around someplace, but, alas, he did not.
The drummer, Rob Steele… he always looked to me like a construction worker that someone had shoved into a corset.
The original bassist was Jimmy McConnell, but he left to be replaced by… someone else, I think, who then also left and was replaced by Roxy Michaels, a former model… who was the other member of the original group to go on to Jupiter AD…
I know they existed. There were maybe four or five of them, each only a few seconds in length, and I had at one point, but now lost, a CD-R with all of them on it.
Each one was amazing. Extremely good. Cheesy, yes, but in the best way. The sound was hi-nrg, very dancy, pop, 80s sounding, with crunchy guitars and wonderfully melodic vocals. I couldn’t wait for the album. But, time went on and no album came.
Eventually, word was that Jupiter AD was over; a rift had occurred between members. There would be no album.
Because those tracks were just samples and not whole songs, and because the Jupiter After Death project ended so shortly after it began, the music is very unavailable, anywhere. It is unlikely I will ever hear those samples again…
… and in 2005, Roxy Michaels passed away. I didn’t hear about it for a long time, but it was very shocking. I recently discovered his brother keeps his memory alive on Facebook. It’s just one of those things that seemed so untimely that it’s almost impossible to believe it happened at all. Too many tragedies…
… I wanted to write this because for the brief time that these people were doing stuff it became a part of my life that was important. A small chapter, but a meaningful one.
Music is like that. It’s just strange thinking about all of it again! Hopefully, maybe some of you will now be thinking about some of the stuff you listened to when you were 13-16 years old, haha! x)