Joecephus and The George Jonestown Massacre
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Joecephus and The George Jonestown Massacre

Memphis, Tennessee, United States

Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Band Rock Country


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Smothered and Covered cd review"

One of those Memphis bands that actually plays out of town as much as in, Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre has struggled to find its place on the local scene.

The band is essentially a showcase for guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Joe Killingsworth. His father is Cousin Bo Jack Killingsworth, who played with '50s rockabilly great Eddie Bond. Like Bond (and Charlie Feathers and a lot of the rougher-hewn stars of Memphis' great rockabilly era), the younger Killingsworth tends to bend musical traditions to meet his own needs. As the band's name -- derived, if not outright stolen, from the English psychedelic outfit the Brian Jonestown Massacre -- might suggest, its preferred mode is a twisted form of classic honky tonk music skewered through with a hot rod of punk. They are country the way, say, the late Porch Ghouls were blues, deconstructed and forged into something not so reassuringly familiar but definitely new.

Whether they prefer country or rock, though, anyone who bothers to pick up the group's just-released second album, Smothered and Covered, will come away with some interesting ideas and pleasant surprises. The record kicks off with a funky little garage rock original, "Jerk You Off My Mind," and then proceeds at a series of right angles from there. What sort of twisted mind places boozy covers of Danzig's "Thirteen" and the Louvin Brothers' "Knoxville Girl" back-to-back and reveals them to be kissin' cousins?

Despite the forced sloppiness, there are moments of great beauty on Smothered. The guitar playing on Willie Nelson's "Bloody Mary Morning" is rapid-fire dazzling. And once the drums kick in on the song simply titled "The Ballad," the whole affair seems to teeter on the edge of punk collapse but is kept wondrously upright by guest steel player Louis Meyers' crying lines and some superb rockabilly guitar work in the double-time second half. The group even manages to turn AC/DC's "Hell's Bells" into a tender country lament.
- Commercial Appeal

"Outlaw Spirit"

For Joey Killingsworth, "Quittin' Time" was just the beginning. The Memphian wrote the song and got radio airplay before forming his namesake band, Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre.

"I was doing some stuff with John Pickle for his movie The Importance of Being Russell, and I came up with a wacky song called 'Quittin' Time,' which got played on Rock 103, so I thought I ought to put a band together," Killingsworth explains of the X-rated update of Johnny Paycheck's "Take This Job and Shove It."

(Country music runs in the family. Joey's father, Bobby Killingsworth, has played guitar with Eddie Bond for more than four decades.)

"Originally, I had two separate groups in mind," admits Killingsworth, who launched the stripped-down Joecephus and the White Lightnin' Band around the same time. "Then Hank III became my inspiration: He combines country music and heavier stuff, so I decided I could combine country and hardcore. I love Black Flag and Waylon [Jennings]-era country, so I tried to blend it. We did some acoustic shows, then our first electric show was with Shooter Jennings, Waylon's son."

In a recent snapshot, Killingsworth poses shirtless in the middle of Sun Studio, showing off the tattoos that further testify to his affinity for both country and punk rock. A heavily inked symbol for the experimental noise group Einsturzende Neubauten sits high on one shoulder blade, dwarfed by a brilliant caricature of Jim Marshall's iconic Johnny Cash portrait.

The song "Jerk U Off My Mind" has garnered more than 7,000 plays on Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre's MySpace page ( That song and tunes such as the speed-metal-inspired cow-punk anthem "Going Back to Memphis" and the country boogie "Honky Tonk Night Time" have brought Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre national exposure. In April, the group contributed a cover of "Death Comes Ripping" to a Misfits tribute CD. And next month, they'll hit the road to open shows for Reckless Kelly and Unknown Hinson.

"[As of] this month, we'll have been at it two years," Killingsworth, a veteran of '90s-era indie band Grendel Crane, notes of Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre. "When we started, we'd have gigs every weekend or every other weekend, and we'd make $20 apiece. Somehow we started networking, and we've been opening for everybody from Southern Culture on the Skids in New Orleans to David Allan Coe in Knoxville.

"I had to turn down a gig playing with The Bottle Rockets last weekend, because the band couldn't do it," Killingsworth says, explaining that he's resorted to running a classified ad with the hopes of finding a permanent rhythm section.

"Right now, it's me on guitar, Richard Wagor on bass, and either Don Mayall or Brett Broadway on drums, but I'm trying to find a core group, a permanent lineup that can get on the road and tour," he says.

Last month, Killingsworth was tapped to perform with the late Waylon Jennings' band at the prestigious Spirit of the Outlaws monthly concert series, held at Douglas Corner in Nashville. He also found time to put the finishing touches on his band's second full-length CD, Smothered and Covered.

Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre will celebrate the release of Smothered and Covered with local reggae group Soul Enforcers at The Buccaneer this Saturday night.

"We'd go into the studio whenever we had a song ready," Killingsworth says of the album's marathon-long recording sessions. "We'd have some drinks, knock it out, and really have fun with it."

It sounds like ol' Hank might've done it that way too, but even so, Killingsworth is cautious about the group's potential with stereotypical country-music fans.

"With whatever [the mainstream country-music industry] hypes as the new outlaw thing, they might wear big hats, but they're not really doing anything different," he says. "Luckily, there's an undercurrent with these Spirit of the Outlaws shows and with people like Hank III and Dale Watson, who are just too rowdy for the establishment."
- Memphis Flyer

"Cd Review"

Blue Collar sensibilities and frustrations get explicit articulation in storming country punk. When the playing is this ferocious--tunes are divided between headlong thrashers, reflective, steel guitar-swayed lulls, and jaunty dance naturals-- tough times just don't hurt as much. - Rockabilly Magazine

"Cd Review"

Their sound is predominantly country mixed with influences ranging from metal, jazz, bluegrass and punk. It’s nice to hear a fresh take on good, old-fashioned country every once in a while that reminds me of something Merle Haggard would approve of. The guitar is often nice and twangy, and some tracks incorporate steel guitar. The electric bass sometimes has a jazz feel to it, which adds uniqueness to their sound. While I’m not a fan of the pot leaf motif on the cover, and the vocals are just adequate, the band does come off with an appealing honesty, and songs like “Citified” touch on the sort of witty songwriting that makes for enduring country music. -Lisa - Rock N Roll Purgatory

"Memphis newspaper story"

Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre isn't the average country band.
"It's a cross between Merle Haggard and Motorhead 'cause it's super-fast country, but also leans on the heavy," said Joecephus, the band's lead singer and guitarist.

"My dad called it acid country when he heard it," said Richard Wagor, who plays upright and electric bass. Donald Mayall plays drums and percussion and Brian Costner, guitar.

Some of the band's songs will be featured in the movie "The Importance of Being Russell," which will have a free screening at 7:30 and 9:45 p.m Wednesday at Malco's Studio on the Square.

"I was around country my whole life," Joecephus said. "I never got into it. My dad played on the Eddie Bond Show. He was Cousin Bo-Jack. You didn't hear no rebellion coming out of Barbara Mandrell and all that kind of stuff that you were hearing from Black Flag and Metallica.

"But then when I started hearing Hank (Williams) III and them guys, they would do songs like 'Cocaine Blues.' I went and researched the old (Johnny) Cash and was like, 'Oh, that's where the energy was.' I discovered all this crazy country and it kind of reeled me in."

He put Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre together about nine months ago. "We kind of lucked up on something. I'd go to see the heavy shows and go see country shows at the Hi-Tone, and I seen the same mix of people. And then I seen, like, Hank Williams III do a country set and then a heavy set and the same people stick around. So, I was like, 'Why don't we just mix it all together and combine super-fast heavy country?'"

"Going Back to Memphis" is the group's most popular song, said Joecephus, who writes the group's music and lyrics. Describing the song, he said, "A guy kills his ex-girlfriend and he's going back to Memphis 'cause the cops are after him.

"Some of the songs are murder ballads and very angry songs. We got one called 'Gone to State,' another killing song, where a guy's stalking a girl. We got your songs about your honky tonks, about drinking. We got a lot of songs about the marijuana, a few songs about the cocaine."

"Going Back to Memphis" is featured along with 18 other bands on a compilation CD, Yells From the Crypt. "It's all killing, horror-oriented songs pretty much."

Wagor, who studied music at the University of Iowa and Manhattan School of Music, also is third chair viola in the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. He's followed symphony performances with Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre shows. "We played the Buccaneer and we didn't go on until 1:15 in the morning, which was kind of nice," he said. "From 8 to like 10:30 I'd been playing Mahler's Sixth with the Symphony."

Following the symphony concert, Wagor went home and "stripped down to, I don't know, probably like a Joecephus shirt or something and a hat with pot leaves on it, combat boots and some ratty jeans."

"The cover of the CD we're working on has the Tennesee flag and instead of the stars is three pot leaves," Joecephus said. "And a lot of the (band) shirts are like the Pabst logo."

-- Michael Donahue
January 6, 2006:
- Commercial Appeal


Joecephus and The George Jonestown Massacre - Self Titled.
" Going Back To Memphis" on Yells From The Crypt compilation cd on Gravewax Records.
"Cityfied" can be heard in the movie: The Importance of Being Russell.
"Quittin' Time" can be heard in the Movie : Grim Sweaper.
"Smothered and Covered"- 2nd cd
"Bloody Mary Morning' from the Smothered and Covered cd is currently in rotation on Sirius Radio Outlaw Country channel 63.
"Mystery Train" on comp cd called This is My Memphis.
Tater Twats ep release in June 2008.
"Quittin' Time" goes into rotation on Sirius Outlaw Country channel 63



Blazing a trail out of Memphis, Tennessee, Joecephus and his always revolving band
The George Jonestown Massacre are on a roll. Having been referred to as the link between Motorhead
and Merle Haggard and and having served as opening acts for such diverse artists as
Shooter Jennings, David Allan Coe, Jesco White, Southern Culture On The
Skids, Jim Dickinson, Green Jelly, Torture King from Jim Rose Circus, Scott Biram, The Reverend Horton
Heat, HR of the legendary Bad Brains and many more, Joecephus and company are
ready for full auditory assault in any venue that can take it. Exhibiting a
tireless work ethic, the band has played Honky-tonk venues as well as Punk/
Metal clubs throughout the southern states. Joecephus has created a unique style by
mixing "outlaw" country sounds with rockabilly rhythms, jazz improv, reggae, rock, and old school punk blurring
the boundaries of music. Rigorous time spent in the studio and on the road has not gone unrewarded, the
music of Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre can be heard on the following compilation cd's :
Gravewax Record's Yells From The Crypt
This is My Memphis
Double Talkin Jive: A Tribute to Guns 'N Roses
and in the indie movies:
The Importance of Being Russell
Grim Sweeper
Beyond The Wall of Sleep
The Best of Rachel Rotten.
The band can also be heard on local Memphis radio and on SiriusXM Outlaw Country.
Featuring members who come together from a prestigious list of some of Memphis' finest bands, this is just
the beginning for a band that will be tearing shit up for a long time to come.
Do yourself a favor and experience the electrifying energy of Joecephus and the
George Jonestown Massacre when they roll through your town.