Divine Horsemen
Divine Horsemen

Divine Horsemen

About Divine Horsemen

A vehicle for the dark, mercurial songwriting of Chris D. (aka Chris Desjardins), Divine Horsemen earned a cult following for their raw but accomplished mixture of punk, roots rock, and blues, with the melodies as carefully crafted as the film noir sensibilities of the lyrics. Divine Horsemen were also notable for the vocals of Chris D. and Julie Christensen; the sweetly ferocious tone of her voice was a striking contrast with D.'s rougher, less-forgiving instrument. The band made an impressive debut on 1984's Time Stands Still, their combustible approach reached its peak on 1986's Devil's River, and they returned in 2021 with a strong, uncompromising reunion effort, Hot Rise of an Ice Cream Phoenix.
Chris D. formed Divine Horsemen in the wake of the breakup of his group the Flesh Eaters, a fiery collision of punk, blues, and art rock who collapsed in 1983 after the release of their album A Hard Road to Follow. D. intended his first post-Flesh Eaters effort to be a solo album, recruiting a variety of friends and previous collaborators to accompany him, including members of X, Green on Red, the Gun Club, and Tex & the Horseheads. At the time, he had started dating Julie Christensen, and she soon became involved with the project, becoming a constant presence on the tracks. D. opted to use the group name Divine Horsemen (the name taken from a Flesh Eaters song, which in turn was drawn from voodoo lore), and the album, Time Stands Still, was issued in 1984.
D. and Christensen soon married, and turned Divine Horsemen into a proper band for recording and touring purposes, with Cam King and Wayne James on guitars, Robyn Jameson (who was in the last lineup of the Flesh Eaters) on bass, and Rex Roberts on drums. The second Divine Horsemen album, Devil's River, was released by SST Records in 1986, and the third, Middle of the Night, followed in 1987. Later that year, they delivered another LP, Snake Handler; by this time, Cam King and Wayne James had left the group, and Peter Andrus became their sole guitarist. However, D. and Christensen's relationship was deteriorating, in part because they had both fallen into drug and alcohol dependence, and she chose to clean up while he was still using. (He successfully beat his addiction in 1996.) After a final EP, 1988's Handful of Sand, the couple divorced and Divine Horsemen broke up.
Following the end of Divine Horsemen, Chris D. launched a short-lived group called Stone by Stone, whose album I Pass for Human came out in 1989, and he revived the Flesh Eaters with the 1991 release Dragstrip Riot. While he remained active in music, by the end of the 1990s he was devoting most of his time to his work as a writer, publishing fiction, essays, and two books on Japanese genre cinema, as well as teaching film studies and arranging programming for Los Angeles' American Cinematheque. Meanwhile, Christensen became a successful backing vocalist, recording and touring extensively with Leonard Cohen and doing session work with Van Dyke Parks, Rufus Wainwright, and Exene Cervenka. She also pursued a solo career, issuing the album Love Is Driving in 1996.
In 2019, the Flesh Eaters re-emerged with a reunion album, I Used to Be Pretty, and D. invited Christensen to add backing vocals to a few tracks, while she also joined the group for a few dates on their subsequent tour. After working together again, D. and Christensen discussed the possibility of recording a new Divine Horsemen album, and they began working up material with guitarist Peter Andrus, bassist Bobby Permanent (replacing Robyn Jameson, who died after suffering severe injuries while trying to help a woman being attacked by a stranger), and drummer D.J. Bonebrake. A blend of new material, re-recorded numbers, and covers, Hot Rise of an Ice Cream Phoenix was released by In the Red Records in August 2021. ~ Mark Deming

    Los Angeles, CA

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