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Comets on Fire hail from Santa Cruz, CA. The band was formed in 1999 by guitarist and vocalist Ethan Miller and longtime friend bassist Ben Flashman, who were seeking to create a rhythmically and sonically intense music that paid no attention to categorizations — all the while being suckers for anthemic rock riffs, psychedelia, and crunching crescendos. The band came together when Flashman's pal Noel von Harmonson and his Echoplex entered the picture and drummer Utrillo Kushner showed them what he could do with a drum kit. (No less an authority than Julian Cope states quite correctly that Kushner plays like two drummers thinking they are Keith Moon.)
The band's self-titled debut was released in 2001 and eventually issued on the Alternative Tentacles label. Recorded on a four-track, it was a garage/psych freakout of intense if not epic proportions. Comets on Fire became a staple on the underground jam rock scene, as one of the "new weird America" bands to watch. The Comets expanded their musical reach on 2002's Field Recordings from the Sun, released by Ba Da Bing. The band employed a host of guests in creating a noisy, acid-drenched overdriven rock that owed as much to Hawkwind as it did MC5. This was augmented by a host of guest musicians playing everything from saxophones to layers of percussion.
One studio guest and live collaborator was Ben Chasny from Six Organs of Admittance. He became an official member of the band in 2003, adding a second guitar to the Comets' already mighty thunder. The recorded result was 2004's Blue Cathedral, which took the strongest elements from both previously recorded outings and added labyrinthine textures and shifting dynamics to their über-rockist caterwaul, signifying the band's mature arrival. Two years later, after a move to Sub Pop, Comets on Fire released Avatar, their most accessible album to date.