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Pere Ubu

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Cleveland, United States (1975 – present)

Pere Ubu is an music group formed in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1975. Despite many long-term band members, singer David Thomas is the only constant. The group is named after Père Ubu (“father Ubu”), the protagonist of Ubu Roi (“Ubu, the King”), a play by French writer Alfred Jarry.

While Pere Ubu have never been widely popular—usually categorized as “underground rock”—they have a devoted following, have been hugely influential on several generations of musicians and are a critically acclaimed American musical group. To define their music, Pere Ubu coined the term Avant Garage to reflect interest in both avant-garde music (especially Musique concrète) and raw, direct .

When Cleveland-based band Rocket From The Tombs fragmented some members formed Dead Boys, while David Thomas and guitarist Peter Laughner joined with guitarist Tom Herman, bass guitarist Tim Wright, drummer Scott Krauss and synthesist Allen Ravenstine to form Pere Ubu in 1975. At the time the band formed, Herman, Krauss, and Ravenstine lived in a house owned by Ravenstine.

Pere Ubu’s first single (their first five releases were singles on their own “Hearthan” label) was “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” (inspired by the “Doolittle Raid” and named after a film depicting the raid), backed with “Heart Of Darkness”; followed by “Final Solution” in 1976. One review noted that “30 Seconds…” “was clearly the work of a garage band, yet its arty dissonance and weird experimentalism were startlingly unique.”

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