Brant Bjork hails from Palm Desert, California where he began playing live gigs at thirteen. By high school Brant begun Kyuss with local bros Josh Homme, Nick Oliveri, and John Garcia.
In 1991 Kyuss was signed to Elektra and became the first desert rock band to achieve international success by spearheading a musical movement that brought heavy and psychedelic sounds back into rock and served as a prototype for all "desert/stoner rock".
In 1993 Brant left Kyuss and moved to Humboldt County to flip pizzas and play soccer. He was replaced by drummer Alfredo Hernandez.
Too much rain moved Bjork back to his natural habitat where he started an independent record label, El Camino Records (now DUNA records); played drums in hardcore punk band De-Con; and played guitar with desert legend Mario Lalli in Fatso Jetson; only to come full circle and hook up with old friend, Josh Homme, to begin the critically acclaimed "Desert Sessions" sage.
It was at this time that Bjork and Homme began working "a new thing" which became Queens Of The Stone Age. However, Brant decided to take the road less traveled and took an offer to rock with his old surf buddies Fu Manchu, a rock adventure that took him into the studio for five records and around the world in four years.
Feeling the need to embark on his own personal musical journey, in 199 Brant released his first solo record, "Jalamanta".
This landscape record certainly has underlying rock elements, but is more an embodiment of fluidity in motion between bebop jazz, break beats and Rasta grooves. Bjork plays all the instruments on the record and sings with such unbridles soul and conviction it not only confirms Bjork as one of the baddest rock drummers of our time, but also legitimizes him as a premier talent on all levels.
Bjork's follow-up record, CH'E was recorded and mixed in three days with Alfredo Hernandez on drums and Dave Dinsmore on bass.
CH'E is the heaviest of Bjork's solo rock albums to date, and truly captures Brant's classic rock & roll roots. In 2000 Brant released his third solo record, BRANT BJORK AND THE OPERATORS on DUNA records. The Operators' record once again demonstrated Brant's capabilities indicative of his formative years being spent in the 80's underground and creates a low-brow, hi-fi approach to traditional new wave. If Cheech & Chong and The Cars had a love child, it would be Brant Bjork.
With the momentum of three highly diversified albums under his belt it is clear the artisit has covered so much ground, he has come full circle with his fourth solo record to be released in the Summer of 2003. Brant combines the strait forward rock and roll approach of CH'E, the stoner pop feel of the Operator's first record, and the loopy grooves of Jalamanta that once again has Brant Bjork leading the most innovative fast-forward throw back rock & roll since the Ramones.
Early 2004 Briant Bjork is featured on Melissa auf der Mauer's debut album.
After Sabbath’s Ward and the Melvins’ Crover, Bjork is the name most often cited as an influence by other drummers in the burgeoning genre, based primarily on his groundbreaking playing on the first few recordings by Kyuss: Wretch, Blues for the Red Sun, and Kyuss (Welcome to Sky Valley).
Named for “the sons of Kyuss,” monsters in the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, Kyuss first came together around guitarist Josh Homme and vocalist John Garcia in the small Southern California town of Palm Desert in the late ’80s. The band members moved to Los Angeles in 1990 and signed to Chameleon Records after 13 performances in the big city. All of their dreams seemed to be coming true, but after two years of non-stop touring, Bjork abruptly quit and ceded the drum throne to his friend and fellow desert rat, Alfredo Hernandez.
“I just burned out,” Bjork says. “I was drinking too much and smoking too much—I was an 18-year-old kid who was playing in this crazy rock band and I had no idea of what I was doing. I was just lucky that I was smart enough to realize that I had to stop before it killed me.”
The aspect of Bjork’s playing that other drummers love most is the huge wash of a massive ride cymbal that hovers over a heavy riff like an ominous storm cloud. “It probably comes from growing up in the garage,” he says. “It was loud, and I was never the best drummer. I was never technically very good—I taught myself how to play—and I just wanted to be heard and to make noise. I didn’t know what the difference was between a ride and a crash. When you’re playing punk rock and heavy rock as a kid with loud guitars, there were a lot of areas where in between riffs where the music would breathe, and I didn’t want to hear that little ping-y sound. When you ping on the ride, it’s almost like playing a note on the guitar, and when you crash on the ride, it’s like playing a power chord on the guitar. So I just kind of filled up some space.”
Bjork has always filled a bigger role than just playing drums; he also plays guitar and bass, and he wrote some of Kyuss’s most memorable songs, including the anthemic “Green Machine.” He continues to contribute to the songwriting for Fu Manchu; he produced the band’s first album, 1994’s No One Rides for Free, and he joined on drums in time for 1997’s Action Is Go. He has also recorded a psychedelic and soulful solo album, Jalamanta, credited to Brant Bjork and the Operators and released on Man’s Ruin in 1999.
“I’ve never said, ‘I wanna be the drummer.’ I just loved music and I wanted to make records,” Bjork says. “As a kid, I was almost listening as a producer, before I even knew what that word meant. Punk rock allowed a kid like me with low self-confidence to get involved in music and start performing. I chose drums simply because they looked like the most exciting instrument, but I was equally compelled to play guitar and bass and create music as a whole. It was sort of a challenge, because I was caught in this stereotypical role of being the drummer—the guy with the backbeat who sits in the back and holds the rhythm—but I also wanted to take on some responsibilities as far as creating and art and writing songs. I had things I wanted to express.”
As for how his drumming has developed, Bjork is self-deprecating to a fault. “I was never a studious drummer; I was interested in playing great songs,” he says. “Let’s face it: It begins and ends with songs. If you don’t write great songs, big deal. In Kyuss, I never even thought like, ‘I’m the beat guy and I’m gonna lock in with the bassist to play a tight rhythm.’ I was like, ‘I’m gonna lock in with Josh and watch the way he strums and the way we move from chord to chord and the progressions and I’m just gonna roll with him.’ It was just kind of a natural thing.”
Proudest recorded moments: “There’s a song on Welcome to Sky Valley (Elektra Records) called ‘Demon Cleaner’; it was a first take, and there was a roll that was kind of my version of Ginger Baker. It probably sounds nothing like Ginger Baker, but that’s kind of where my head was at at the time—this rhythmic roll thing on the toms. And I really liked the drumming on the first track of the last Fu Manchu record [King of the Road, Mammoth Records], ‘Hell On Wheels.’ I thought that was a good one; it just had a lot of energy and it kind of flowed nicely. I always like to hear flow.”
His gear: “I don’t really have any endorsements; I’m not real good in that department. I’ve played Ludwig drums my whole life. Ironically, I’ve just ordered and received today a new kit that I’m gonna try out for the new Fu Manchu record, and if I like it, I’ll tour with it. It’s a clear Fibes. I bought some Ludwig Vistalites a few years ago, and I used them on the Brant Bjork and the Operators record. They’re beautiful, and I love the Vistalite sound. But my Ludwigs are ’75, and I didn’t want to take them on the road.”