Lydia Lunch

Lydia Lunch

Lydia Lunch in 2005
Background information
Birth name Lydia Anne Koch[1]
Born (1959-06-02) June 2, 1959[1]
Rochester, New York, United States
Genres No wave, post-punk, industrial, avant-garde, spoken word
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, actor, self-empowerment speaker[2][3]
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1976–present
Labels ZE
Associated acts Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, 8-Eyed Spy, Big Sexy Noise, Harry Crews, Sonic Youth, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Cypress Grove, Retrovirus, No Trend

Lydia Lunch (born Lydia Anne Koch, June 2, 1959)[1][4] is an American singer, poet, writer, actress and self-empowerment speaker whose career was spawned by the New York no wave scene.[5] The Boston Phoenix named Lunch "one of the 10 most influential performers of the 1980s."[6]

Her work typically features provocative and confrontational noise music delivery and has maintained an anti-commercial ethic[7] operating independently of major labels and distributors.[8] Lunch's moniker was given to her by Willy DeVille because she stole food for her friends.


Early life

Lunch was born in Rochester, New York. She moved to New York City at the age of 16 and eventually moved into a communal household of artists and musicians. Soon Willy DeVille gave her the name "Lunch" because she often stole lunches for the Dead Boys.[9]


After befriending Alan Vega and Martin Rev at Max's Kansas City, she founded the short-lived but influential no wave band Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, with James Chance.[10] Both Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and the Contortions, Chance's subsequent band, played on the no wave compilation No New York, produced by Brian Eno. Lunch later appeared on two songs on James White and the Blacks album, Off-White.

Lunch's solo career featured collaborations with musicians such as J. G. Thirlwell, Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Nick Cave, Marc Almond, Billy Ver Planck, Steven Severin, Robert Quine, Sadie Mae, Rowland S. Howard, Michael Gira, the Birthday Party, No Trend, Einstürzende Neubauten, Sonic Youth, Oxbow, Die Haut, Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Black Sun Productions, and French band Sibyl Vane, who put one of her poems to music.

In the mid-1980s, she formed her own recording and publishing company called "Widowspeak Productions" (also known as just "Widowspeak"), on which she continues to release her own material, from music to spoken word. Two albums published by Lunch's label were released in 2013: Collision Course & Trust The Witch, by Big Sexy Noise (released on Cherry Red), and Retrovirus (released on Interbang Records); both albums are by Lunch's musical projects.[11]

Lunch released her studio album Smoke in the Shadows in November 2004, through Atavistic Records and Breakin Beats, after a six-year break from music.[12][13] Nels Cline, the lead guitarist of alternative rock band Wilco, was featured on the album.[14] Smoke in the Shadows was met with positive reviews by Allmusic,[15] PopMatters,[12] and Tiny Mix Tapes.[16]

In 2009 Lunch formed the band Big Sexy Noise. The group features Lunch on vocals, James Johnston (guitars), Terry Edwards (organ, saxophone), and Ian White (drums).[17] Johnston, White and Edwards are members of the British band Gallon Drunk.[18] A six-track eponymous EP was released on June 1, 2009, through Sartorial Records,[19] and included a cover of Lou Reed's song "Kill Your Sons," as well as "The Gospel Singer", a song co-written with Gordon.[14] The debut, self-titled album, Big Sexy Noise, was released in 2010, followed by Trust The Witch in 2011. For both albums, Lunch and her band completed tours throughout Europe.[20][21]

In 2010, The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project launched We Are Only Riders, the first of a series of four albums featuring Pierce's previously-unreleased works-in-progress. The album features interpretations of Pierce's work by friends, collaborators, and admirers, including Lunch.[22] Lunch also contributed to the second album from the project, The Journey is Long, which was released in April 2012.[23]

Although the Pierce Sessions Project's third and final album, The Task Has Overwhelmed Us, was due for release in late 2012,[24] the schedule was changed after the release of the second installment. Glitterhouse Records, the label producing the collection, instead released a third album titled Axles & Sockets in May 2014, on which Lunch performs "The Journey Is Long" with Pierce's recordings. The label explained that the third album has become the "penultimate" full-length release of the Project, but did not name the final album, or its release date.[25]

Lunch released the album Retrovirus (also the name of the band Lunch plays with) in 2013 on Interbang Records and ugEXPLODE (the vast majority of the album tracks are published by Widowspeak).[26] Together with band members Weasel Walter, Algis Kizys, and Bob Bert, Lunch performed a show following the album's release at the Bowery Electric venue in New York City, US, in May 2013.[27]


She appeared in two films by directors Scott B and Beth B.[28] In Black Box[28] she played a dominatrix, and in Vortex[28] she played a private detective named Angel Powers. During this time, she also appeared in a number of films by Vivienne Dick, including She Had Her Gun All Ready (1978) and Beauty Becomes The Beast (1979), co-starring with Pat Place.[29] In 2011, Lunch appeared in Mutantes: punk, porn, feminism, a film directed by Virginie Despentes, also featuring Kaylee Sprinkle and Catherine Breillat She also wrote, directed and acted in underground films, sometimes collaborating with underground filmmaker and photographer Richard Kern.

Spoken word

Lunch has recorded and performed as a spoken word artist, collaborating with artists such as Exene Cervenka,[30] Henry Rollins, Don Bajema and Hubert Selby Jr. as well as hosting spoken-word performance night "The Unhappy Hour" at the Parlour Club.[31][32]


In 1997, Lunch released Paradoxia, a loose autobiography, in which she documented her early life, sexual history, substance abuse and mental health problems.[33] Time Out New York gave it a favorable review,[34] while Bookslut ambiguously concluded "It's to the reader to determine whether Lunch's study goes deeper than that, or if instead, it's a kind of literary and philosophical repetition compulsion, a reprisal of greatest hits from male nihilists, sexual adventurers and chroniclers of deviance."[34] PopMatters called it a "brutal but boring and predictable circus, about which Lunch shows no emotions. Only fatigue seems to have given her pause."[35] Other reviewers praised Lunch's candor while expressing reservations about her prose.[36][37]

Additionally, Lunch has authored both traditional books and comix (with award-winning graphic novel artist Ted McKeever).

Other work

In 2007, Lunch appeared on a viral video that was recorded backstage after a Joe Rogan comedy show, in which she confronts Rogan for making jokes about "dumb women" in his comedy act. The interaction becomes inflamed when Lunch becomes confrontational, whereby she commands the comedian to make eye contact and comments: "I was going to put my cigarette up his nose, but that's okay." Lunch then withdraws from her initial approach, claiming that her cigarette comment was not serious.[38]

In 2013, Lunch ran self-empowerment workshops in locations such as Ojai, California, US and Rennes, France. In regard to the Rennes workshop, her inaugural self-empowerment event, Lunch recalled: "Every day people would come in that would have to get a hug. I felt like mother India."[3] In April of that year, Lunch said that she is the producer of the Emilio Cubeiro album Death of an Asshole.[39]

Personal life

In 2004, she left the U.S. for Barcelona, which is her residence as of December 2013.[3]



Compilation albums
Video albums

Teenage Jesus and the Jerks

Compilation albums
Appears on

Beirut Slump

8-Eyed Spy


Harry Crews

Big Sexy Noise


Appears on

Spoken word








(both written, acted, directed and produced with Emilio Cubeiro)



  1. 1 2 3 Martin Charles Strong. The Great Indie Discography. 2003, page 85
  2. Hans (August 20, 2011). "Lydia Lunch Filmography". From The Archives. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 "Lydia Lunch Through the Years". New York Times. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
  4. Masters, Marc. No Wave. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2007, p. 73
  5. "New York Times". 2007-01-18. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  6. " – The Official Lydia Lunch Website – Biography". Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  7. Masters, Marc. No Wave. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2007, pp. 73–108
  8. Stephen Holden. "New York Times". Retrieved 2014-06-29.
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  10. Masters, Marc. No Wave. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2007, p. 82
  11. "Widowspeak Productions". Discogs. Discogs. 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  12. 1 2 Horning, Rob (January 27, 2005). "Lydia Lunch: Smoke in the Shadows < PopMatters". PopMatters. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  13. "Lydia Lunch – Interview – MagnaPhone Magazine – Pure Music". Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  14. 1 2 Hectic, Gerry (June 27, 2009). "Lydia Lunch – Big Sexy Noise". Fly. Archived from the original on November 20, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  15. Jurek, Thom. "Smoke in the Shadows". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  16. "Lydia lunch – Smoke in the Shadows". Tiny Mix Tapes. 2004. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  17. Guy Manchester (June 30, 2012). "Big Sexy Noise & Rock in Your Pocket: Bristol – live review". Louder Than War. Louder Than War. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  18. "Meltdown: Lydia Lunch's Big Sexy Noise + Cindytalk". Time Out. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  19. "iTunes – Music – Big Sexy Noise – EP by Lydia Lunch & Big Sexy Noise". iTunes. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  20. "Home". Lydia Lunch Official Site. Lydia Lunch. 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  21. "Big Sexy Noise live". Songkick. Songkick. 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  22. "The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project". Glitterhouse Records. Glitterhouse Records. November 1, 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  23. Phil Newall (February 9, 2012). "Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project to release second album...". Louder Than War. Louder Than War. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  24. "Nick Cave and Blondie's Debbie Harry duet on The Gun Club tribute album". Uncut. IPC MEDIA. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  25. "The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project". Glitterhouse Records. Glitterhouse Records. 2 May 2014. Retrieved 31 December 2014.
  26. "Lydia Lunch – Retrovirus". Discogs. Discogs. 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  27. elementallfilms (1 June 2013). "Lydia Lunch / Retrovirus - at Bowery Electric, NYC - May 29, 2013" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  28. 1 2 3 The New York Times
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  30. Rob Trucks (20 May 2008). "Interview: Exene Cervenka of X". Village Voice. Village Voice, LLC. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  31. "Tales and Cocktails – Los Angeles Times". December 9, 1998. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  32. "LYDIA LUNCH". Trouser Press. Trouser Press LLC. 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  33. Nothing's Shocking: An Interview With Lydia Lunch, Drew Fortune, July 18, 2008]
  34. 1 2 Brown, Liz (2007-10-04). "New York Time Out". New York Time Out. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  35. Kantor, Matthew. "PopMatters". PopMatters. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  36. "Feminist Review". Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  37. "Lydia Lunch's Autobiographies". 2013-02-22. Retrieved 2014-06-29.
  38. uwho22 (20 February 2007). "Joe Rogan VS. Feminist" (Video upload). YouTube. Google, Inc. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  39. Wes Eichenwald (13 April 2013). "Lydia, oh Lydia: the intrepid artist on life, death, punk rock, the universe and everything". Pogoer 2.0: Wes Eichenwald's website. Wordpress. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  40. "Film Search: Rome 78". Chicago Reader. Sun-Times Media, LLC. 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
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  42. "Full cast and crew for The Road to God Knows Where"., Inc. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  43. "Full cast and crew for Visiting Desire"., Inc. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
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  45. "Full cast and crew for Kill Your Idols"., Inc. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  46. "Mutantes (Punk Porn Feminism)". Coffee, Cake & Kink. Coffee, Cake & Kink (UK) Ltd. 3 April 2011. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
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