The Prefab Messiahs began as a proto-lo-fi post-punk left-field garage pop band associated with the “Wormtown” (Worcester, Massachusetts) punk/arts scene of the early 1980s. Stylistically, their early sounds have been compared with Television Personalities, Swell Maps, Josef K, White Fence, Thee Oh Sees, The Clean, and King Tuff.
Originally together from 1981-1983, they played basement and club shows fairly often. Aside from the 1983 cassette Flex Your Mind, though, no recorded material was available from them until 1998’s Devolver CD-R anthology. Several songs on the album were produced by their friend (outsider psychedelic singer-songwriter) Bobb Trimble.
At their first-ever gig, the band distributed a simultaneously prank-ish and poker-faced “manifesto”, using 60s rock album liner notes as a wobbly template. It began:
“…Was it only 3 or 4 weeks ago that the future PREFAB MESSIAHS first pooled their cosmic energies and talents, and – crooning their messages about our Plastic Age – decided to totally revolutionize Pop Music? The Concept was shocking in its boldness – 4 young men with a Destiny – from the Store 24 to Mister Donut their eyes burned with what they saw, even as they lapped it up faster than a small order of McDonald’s fries. Reality could not keep the PREFAB MESSIAHS down! Still, if the Media is the Message, just what are these guys talking about? In short, they’re talking about you and me and no one in particular – about the kind of Eternal Struggle that most “bands” and “musicians” don’t even realize exists…”
Armed with borrowed guitars, puny amps, and a mission to confound the status quo, the three Clark University undergrads began a unique post-punk musical trajectory through the burgeoning-yet-insular Wormtown (Worcester, MA) underground.
The stark reality of the Reagan Era had already taken hold, with its yuppie-driven consumerist, conformist and “product”-focused fetish culture. In an attempt to deal with it all, our heroes sought refuge in the Dada reverie and post-WWII existentialism that ended up yielding their moniker. In the New Religion of mall culture, product placement and instant gratification, “prefab messiahs” like Ronald McDonald and the Pillsbury Dough Boy were trotted out by their corporate masters to replace the old guard of unprofitable prophets.
That was the working Concept, at least – and the The Prefabs mischievously (naively?) married it to an unlikely collision of primitive post-punk, grainy psych, and left-field garage pop – all at a time when terms like “indie” and “alternative” weren’t even bandied about yet.
The Prefab Messiahs have reunited (or as they say, “re-franchised”) several times for the Wormtown Anniversary Bash festivals, including the 20th in 1998 and the 25th in 2003.
An appearance of the “2008 franchise” of the Prefabs occured at the Wormtown 30th Anniversary Bash on May 3, 2008, in a combined set with Bobb Trimble. Guest members in this franchise included Gary War and Ned Egg (Gary was a member of Ariel Pink’s band; also, Gary and Ned previously comprised the band Chas. Mtn.).
In early 2011, Almost Ready Records (known for their The World’s Lousy With Ideas compilation series) issued a 7” single of archival Prefabs material, “Franz Kafka / Prefab Sun”.
In December 2011, Fixed Identity released Peace Love & Alienation, a collection of eight archival Prefabs songs newly remastered by Jay Rajeck (of TRS-80), who has also worked with Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. Two of the songs were produced by Bobb Trimble in 1982.
In June 2012, the band embarked upon on a four-date 30th Anniversary “Reunion micro-Tour™” with Bobb Trimble’s Flying Spiders, playing shows in New York and Massachusetts. Other bands playing on the tour included Spectre Folk, Sore Eros, Weyes Blood And The Dark Juices, and Secret Lover.
In September 2013, Burger Records reissued the Prefabs’ Devolver on cassette. Also beginning in 2013, the band began their first new sessions in 30 years, recorded by Doug Tuttle (formerly of MMOSS and Jesse Gallagher (ex-Apollo Sunshine; recorded the first Quilt LP).
On March 10, 2015, Burger Records and KLYAM Records will co-release the 8-song Maxi-EP Keep Your Stupid Dreams Alive, the band’s first new sounds in 32 years.