Lydia Lunch (born Lydia Anne Koch; June 2, 1959)[1][3] is an American singer, poet, writer, actress and self-empowerment speaker. Her career began during the 1970s New York City no wave scene as the singer and guitarist of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks.[4]

Lydia Lunch
Lunch at Chateau H, Saint-Julia, France, 2019
Lunch at Chateau H, Saint-Julia, France, 2019
Background information
Birth nameLydia Anne Koch[1]
Born (1959-06-02) June 2, 1959 (age 65)[1]
Rochester, New York, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actress
  • self-empowerment speaker[2]
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active1976–present

Her work typically features provocative and confrontational noise music delivery, and has maintained an anti-commercial ethic,[5] operating independently of major labels and distributors.[6] The Boston Phoenix named Lunch one of the ten most influential performers of the 1990s.[7] Her collaboration with Sonic Youth called "Death Valley '69" was named one of "The 50 Most Evil Songs Ever" by Kerrang![8]



Lunch was born on June 2, 1959, in Rochester, New York, and is of German and Italian descent. She moved to New York City at the age of 16 and eventually moved into a communal household of artists and musicians.[citation needed] 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.[9] 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. She was in two other short lived bands before launching her solo career in 1980, Beirut Slump and 8 Eyed Spy.[10] In the mid-1980s, she formed the recording and publishing company "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]

She 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]

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.[21] Lunch also contributed to the second album from the project, The Journey is Long, which was released in April 2012.[22]

Lydia Lunch performing in 2012

Although the Pierce Sessions Project's third and final album, The Task Has Overwhelmed Us, was due for release in late 2012,[23] 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.[24]

Lunch released the album Retrovirus (also the name of the band Lunch has played with since then) in 2013 on Interbang Records and ugEXPLODE (the vast majority of the album tracks are published by Widowspeak).[25] 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, in May 2013.[26] In March 2022 the Center for Popular Music (CPM) at Middle Tennessee State University named her the recipient of the CPM Fellows Award. The only previous recipients of this honor were Barry Gibb and Lamont Dozier.[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 Annie Sprinkle and Catherine Breillat. She also wrote, directed, and acted in underground films, sometimes collaborating with underground filmmaker Nick Zedd 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]

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

Other work


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."[2] In April of that year, Lunch said that she is the producer of the Emilio Cubeiro album Death of an Asshole. In 2014 Lunch shot a series of photographs with Austin, Texas-based artist, Darla Teagarden.

In 2019 Lunch started the podcast The Lydian Spin. Lunch hosts each weekly episode with bassist Tim Dahl.[36]

In 2020, Lunch appeared on the album Against All Logic "2017–2019", by producer Nicolas Jaar.[37]

Personal life


In 2004, she left the United States to live in Barcelona.[38] She returned to the United States in 2017 and lives in Brooklyn.




  • "No Excuse" (1997)
Compilation albums
Video albums
  • Willing Victim (The Audience as Whipping Boy) (live in Graz, Austria, 2004)

Teenage Jesus and the Jerks

  • "Baby Doll" (1979)
  • "Orphans" (1979)
Compilation albums
Appears on

Beirut Slump

  • "Try Me" (1979)

8-Eyed Spy

  • 8-Eyed Spy (1981; reissued as Luncheone in 1995)
  • Live (1981)

Harry Crews

  • Naked in Garden Hills (1987)

Big Sexy Noise

  • Big Sexy Noise (2009)
  • Trust the Witch (2011)



Appears on


Spoken word

  • Better an Old Demon Than a New God, Giorno Poetry Systems comp. feat. William S. Burroughs, Psychic TV, Richard Hell and others (1984)
  • The Uncensored, solo (1984)
  • Hard Rock, solo (split cassette w. Michael Gira / Ecstatic Peace, 1984)
  • Oral Fixation, solo (12", 1988)
  • Our Fathers Who Aren't in Heaven, w. Henry Rollins, Hubert Selby Jr. and Don Bajema (1990)
  • Conspiracy of Women, solo (1990)
  • South of Your Border, w. Emilio Cubeiro (1991)
  • POW, solo (1992)
  • Crimes Against Nature, solo spoken-word anthology (Tripple X/Atavistic, 1994)
  • Rude Hieroglyphics, w. Exene Cervenka (Rykodisc, 1995)
  • Universal Infiltrators, (Atavistic, 1996)
  • Kicks Joy Darkness, feat. Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac's work performed by other various artists (1997)
  • The Devil's Racetrack (2000)
  • Flood Stains, w. Juan Azulay (2010)
  • Medusa's Bed, w. Zahra Mani & Mia Zabelka (2013)
  • Marchesa, solo (Rustblade, 2018)






  • The Right Side of My Brain (1985)
  • Fingered (1986)


  • The Offenders (1980)
  • Vortex (1983) (with John Lurie, Adele Bertei, Pat Place, Beth B and Scott B)
  • The Right Side of My Brain (1985)
  • Goodbye 42nd Street (1986)
  • Fingered (1986)
  • I Pass for Human (2004)
  • Flood stains (2010)
  • Disturbtion (2015)


  • The Wild World of Lydia Lunch (1983)
  • Penn & Teller's Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends (1987)
  • Put More Blood into the Music (1987)
  • The Gun is Loaded (1988–1989)
  • The Road to God Knows Where (1990)
  • Malicious Intent (1990)
  • The Thunder (1992)
  • Totem of the Depraved (1996)
  • Paradoxia (1998)
  • Lady Lazarus: Confronting Lydia Lunch (2000)
  • Kiss My Grits: The Herstory of Women in Punk and Hard Rock (2001)
  • DIY or Die: How to Survive as an Independent Artist (2002)
  • Kill Your Idols (2004)
  • "Lydia Lunch, à corps perdu " (2008)directed by Ludovic Cantais


  • American Fame Part 1: Drowning River Phoenix, dir. Cam Archer (2004)
  • American Fame Part 2: Forgetting Jonathan Brandis, dir. Cam Archer (2005)
  • Wild Tigers I Have Known, (Scenes Deleted), dir. Cam Archer (2006)



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

  • South of Your Border (1988)
  • Smell of Guilt (1990)






  1. ^ a b c Martin Charles Strong. The Great Indie Discography. 2003, page 85
  2. ^ a b "Lydia Lunch Through the Years". The New York Times. December 20, 2013. Retrieved December 28, 2013.
  3. ^ Masters 2007, p. 73
  4. ^ "Lydia Lunch - Trailer - Showtimes - Cast - Movies & TV -". The New York Times. April 2, 2009. Archived from the original on April 2, 2009. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  5. ^ Masters 2007, pp. 73–108
  6. ^ Holden, Stephen (June 4, 1987). "Lydia Lunch Expands Theatrical Boundaries". The New York Times. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
  7. ^ " – The Official Lydia Lunch Website – Biography". Archived from the original on October 22, 2004. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  8. ^ "The 50 Most Evil Songs Ever". Kerrang!. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  9. ^ Masters 2007, p. 82
  10. ^ Forced Exposure magazine, Issue #10, 1986
  11. ^ "Widowspeak Productions". 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  12. ^ a b Horning, Rob (January 27, 2005). "Lydia Lunch: Smoke in the Shadows". PopMatters. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  13. ^ "Lydia Lunch – Interview – MagnaPhone Magazine – Pure Music". Archived from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  14. ^ a b Hectic, Gerry (June 27, 2009). "Lydia Lunch – Big Sexy Noise". Fly. Archived from the original on November 20, 2012. Retrieved October 3, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  15. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Smoke in the Shadows". AllMusic. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  16. ^ "Lydia lunch – Smoke in the Shadows". Tiny Mix Tapes. 2004. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  17. ^ Manchester, Guy (June 30, 2012). "Big Sexy Noise & Rock in Your Pocket: Bristol – live review". 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 Store. June 2009. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  20. ^ "Big Sexy Noise live". Songkick. 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  21. ^ "The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project". Glitterhouse Records. November 1, 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  22. ^ Phil Newall (February 9, 2012). "Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project to release second album..." Louder Than War. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  23. ^ "Nick Cave and Blondie's Debbie Harry duet on The Gun Club tribute album". Uncut. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  24. ^ "The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project". Glitterhouse Records. May 2, 2014. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  25. ^ "Lydia Lunch – Retrovirus". 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  26. ^ "Lydia Lunch / Retrovirus – at Bowery Electric, NYC – May 29, 2013" (Video upload). YouTube. June 1, 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  27. ^ "Lydia Lunch: 2022 Recipient of the CPM Fellows Award". Middle Tennessee State University. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  28. ^ a b c Calhoun, Ada (December 20, 2013). "Lydia Lunch Through the Years". The New York Times.
  29. ^ Masters 2007, p. 160
  30. ^ Rob Trucks (May 20, 2008). "Interview: Exene Cervenka of X". The Village Voice. Village Voice, LLC. Archived from the original on February 3, 2014. Retrieved November 22, 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 November 22, 2014.
  33. ^ Nothing's Shocking: An Interview With Lydia Lunch Archived July 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Drew Fortune, July 18, 2008]
  34. ^ a b Brown, Liz (October 4, 2007). "New York Time Out". New York Time Out. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
  35. ^ "Paradoxia by Lydia Lunch < PopMatters". Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  36. ^ "The Lydian Spin". Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  37. ^ Barnabe, Dylan (February 10, 2020). "Against All Logic 2017–2019". Exclaim!. Retrieved March 12, 2020.
  38. ^ "Lydia Lunch: 'If it's for the money, you're not doing art. You're doing commerce'". the Guardian. July 21, 2015. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  39. ^ "Film Search: Rome 78". Chicago Reader. Sun-Times Media, LLC. 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
  40. ^ "Full cast and crew for Invisible Thread". IMDb. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  41. ^ "Full cast and crew for The Road to God Knows Where". IMDb. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  42. ^ "Full cast and crew for Visiting Desire". IMDb. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  43. ^ "Full cast and crew for The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things". IMDb. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  44. ^ "Full cast and crew for Kill Your Idols". IMDb. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  45. ^ David Marren (June 15, 2012). "Blank City – film review". Louder Than War. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  46. ^ "Home". Lydialunchfilm. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  47. ^ "So Real It Hurts". Retrieved May 18, 2020.


  • Masters, Marc (2007). No Wave. London: Black Dog Publishing.

Further reading