the jigsaw seen biography
on the success of their critically acclaimed 2010 release “Bananas Foster,”
The Jigsaw Seen released the ambitious follow-up album “Winterland” this
autumn. The new album is a winter-themed song cycle showcasing the group’s
eclectic take on the seasonal concept. Among Winterland’s many highlights is a
guest appearance by rock icon Dave Davies of The Kinks, lending his vocal
talents to the band’s version of Gordon
Lightfoot’s "Circle of Steel." The release of “Winterland”
coincided with a national tour in November and December.
Formed in 1988 by Dennis Davison (ex United States Of Existence, whose influential debut album “Introducing” was released by Bam Caruso in 1986) and Jonathan Lea, The Jigsaw Seen recorded their debut single “Jim Is The Devil,” which was released by Get Hip Records in 1989. The Los Angeles band then signed to New Jersey based Skyclad Records, releasing another single in 1989, "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” and unleashing their debut album “Shortcut Through Clown Alley” in 1990.
The Los Angeles Reader pronounced: “The Jigsaw Seen’s witty commentaries capture both general life and more personal emotions with equal depth of feeling, and the music always shines.”
The band toured in support of the record, playing shows with Smashing Pumpkins, Afghan Whigs, the Cynics and the Sneetches, among others.
The Jigsaw Seen’s critically acclaimed EP “My Name Is Tom,” released in 1991, saw the band expanding their sound from tight pop song structures to a more expansive approach, culminating in the title track’s thunderous raga-rock.
Current bass player Tom Currier and drummer Teddy Freese joined in early 1993, solidifying the current lineup. Teddy previously played with Midwest combo Yipes, who scored a Billboard Top 100 single with their version of The Beach Boys’ “Darlin’.”
Davison and Lea produced the highly regarded tribute albums “Melody Fair, Songs Of The Bee Gees” (1994) and “Sing Hollies In Reverse” (1995) released by Eggbert Records and including such acts as Young Fresh Fellows, Fastbacks and Jon Brion.
Current auxiliary member David Nolte of the legendary Los Angeles band The Last joined in 1996. David later played with one of The Jigsaw Seen’s biggest influences, Arthur Lee (of Love) on one of Arthur’s last tours.
In the mid to late 1990’s the band appeared on tribute albums to Henry Mancini (from which the band’s version of “Baby Elephant Walk” was a CMJ charting hit), the Left Banke and Del-Fi Records. They also released a string of 7” singles during this time.
2000 saw the release of the band’s masterpiece “Zenith” about which The London Evening Standard proclaimed: “The Jigsaw Seen plough a gloriously arranged and sumptuously produced furrow. Echoes of Love are everywhere, noticeably in the sensual “Tight Lips” and the slinky “Big Hand,” where the loops and the mellotrons are beefed up by Laurel Canyon street noise. The Jigsaw Seen could be viewed as the missing link. A swoon-filled noise to stave off winter blues.”
The album received unanimous praise and substantial radio airplay, earning a spot on CMJ’s Top 100 chart. “Zenith” also earned guitarist Jonathan Lea a Best Packaging Grammy nomination for the album’s innovative design. Following the release of “Zenith,” The Jigsaw Seen was nominated Best Rock Band at the 2001 LA Weekly Awards.
Also in 2000, guitarist Jonathan Lea starting touring as a member of Kinks legend Dave Davies’ band, eventually appearing on the albums “Bugged Live,” “Transformation” and “Rainy Day In June.”
Dennis and Jonathan embarked on an acoustic tour of the UK in spring 2001. While there, the duo recorded a live radio session for the BBC. Their shows in Wales were also recorded, resulting in the live EP “Perfformiad I Mewn Cymru.”
In 2002 the band compiled their numerous tribute album tracks, recorded a few more and released it as “Songs Mama Used To Sing.” UK magazine Q called it a “cool and eclectic set.” This was followed in 2003 with the single “We Women.”
The "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" single was reissued as a 5-song CD in 2004, eventually reaching number 12 on Amazon's "Alternative Rock" bestsellers chart in 2008. Also that year the band appeared in the documentary film "Public Access Hollywood" performing "David Hart's Name Of Song", their tribute to Christian Science puppeteer David Unger Hart.
In 2005 the band’s 1991 recording “My Name Is Tom” was included on Rhino’s box set “Children Of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The Second Psychedelic Era,” which also included tracks by the Rain Parade, Dream Syndicate and the Three O’Clock. The song was also selected especially for the iTunes compilation “Essentials: Garage Rock” which also includes The White Stripes, Teenage Fanclub and The La’s.
The “My Name Is Tom” EP was reissued and expanded into a full-length ten-track album in 2006. This was followed by the release of the holiday EP “What About Christmas?” which USA Today said “deserves to be part of the permanent seasonal repertoire.”
In 2007 the band’s stellar version of Scott Walker’s “30 Century Man” was chosen by producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen to be included in 20th Century Fox’s best-selling “Futurama” DVD “Bender’s Big Score.”
2010 saw the band release "Sleep", their collaboration with Kristi Callan, the "30 Century Man" EP and the critically-acclaimed "Bananas Foster," followed by "Winterland" in 2011.