As singer of Defenestration and the Chainsaw Kittens, Tyson Meade earned a reputation as one of the true individuals and in the alternative music scene of the late '80s and early '90s, his quirky, tuneful, two-octave warble and skewed lyrical styling resonating with listeners well beyond the decline of the genre and into the new millennium.
Born in the north Oklahoma oil outpost of Bartlesville in 1962, Meade was weaned on the Beatles, Elvis, and the Supremes. Having fallen prey to the more dissonant sounds of punk, new wave, David Bowie, and T. Rex, Meade in the summer of 1980 bought a Gibson Marauder from his brother and formed the band that would become Defenestration with a group of local skaters. In 1984, with a loan from his mom, Meade financed the 400-dollar recording cost of the intense, darkly psychedelic Defenestration, which caused enough of a stir on the coasts to lead to a deal with indie Relativity. The tighter, slicker Dali Does Windows followed in 1987, but a subsequent power struggle with co-songwriter Todd Walker and a series of lineup changes lead to the dissolution of the band by the end of the following year.
Working at a Norman, OK, indie record shop, Meade got wind of a high-school group on the verge of kicking out its lead singer. Out of options, he followed up on the lead and the Chainsaw Kittens were born, the name a reference to the sound of the groups' lead guitar player and the members' young age. Following the 1990 issue of the dark, glammy "Mother (Of the Ancient Birth)," the Kittens released Violent Religion, which took the sounds of the single to their logical, androgynous conclusion, exploring homoerotic and religious themes in depth, featuring Meade in full drag on the back cover. The harder Flipped Out in Singapore and more varied, less consistent Angel on the Range EP arrived one year apart with different rhythm sections. With the recording of 1994's Atlantic-distributed Pop Heiress, the group finally had a budget and internal stability, but not soon after the album's release, Mammoth pulled its support. 1995 saw the band ink a deal with new Chicago indie Scratchie Records and the release of Meade's mostly acoustic solo album, Motorcycle Childhood, which represented the first of his works to deal openly with his homosexuality and rural Oklahoman upbringing. 1996's poppy, melancholy Candy for You EP marked a change of direction for the band, and Chainsaw Kittens, released in October of the same year, marked a somewhat poppier step in the same direction. With the restructuring of Scratchie, the band in 1999 moved to the new Four Alarm imprint, and in fall 2000 issued The All American, a straight pop album. By then, Meade was living in New York City, and planning another solo album. ~ Steve May, Rovi