Herb Lienau is one of the desert’s greats. His punk band Decon, with members of Kyuss and Unsound, only lived for a year in its initial incarnation, but is still noted as one of the pioneers of the desert music scene. In recent years, Lienau has emerged wearing a mask and carnival attire, seated behind an organ, and using an electronic voice-changer. This act is known as Herbert, who performs hits of the past such as “House of the Rising Sun” or “Grim Grinning Ghosts”—in a very weird fashion. Learn more and download his new album at herbsorgan.com—and you catch him live at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Saturday, Nov. 23. Lienau recently endured The Lucky 13; here are his answers.
What was the first concert you attended?
Technically, War at Angel Stadium in Palm Springs, in 1976. I went with my friend and his parents. His dad was the assistant city manager of Palm Springs, so that’s why I got to go. My first concert that I bought tickets for was Cheap Trick at the Swing Auditorium (in San Bernardino in) December 1979. It was also my first time seeing someone simultaneously smoke pot and set hair on fire!
What was the first album you owned?
Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. I bought it with my own money when it came out (age 10) at the record store at the Palm Springs Mall. Great album—my all-time-favorite album cover.
What bands are you listening to right now?
I’ve always been all over the map. Currently, I listen to a lot of novelty records like Spike Jones, Mercyful Fate, and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.
What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?
Ninety-nine percent of all of the bands that have been on Saturday Night Live for the past 10 years. Those “bands/artists” are trying to be so cool, but to me, just come across as being weak and lazy. Bring back the days of Devo, The B-52s, and The Specials. Hear that, Lorne Michaels?!
What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?
Easy … The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?
Insane Clown Posse’s The Great Milenko.
What’s your favorite music venue?
Probably the Hollywood Bowl or Greek Theatre.
What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?
“Notes and Chords Mean Nothing to Me,” Redd Kross.
What band or artist changed your life? How?
Black Flag. I heard “Nervous Breakdown” on Rodney on the Roq (KROQ) in 1979. I was 14, and that music really connected with how I was feeling as an early teen. I was lucky to see them many times and almost played a gig with them once. They were the real deal, and made me want to play in a punk band.
You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?
I’d ask Mark Mothersbaugh: “Are we not men?”
What song would you like played at your funeral?
“Oops! … I Did It Again.” Ha!
Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?
Electric Ladyland, The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
What song should everyone listen to right now?
Every song on Infest the Rat’s Nest by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. That album kicks ass! (Click here to hear it!)