After Dogbowl's departure, Hall asked Bongwater guitarist Dave Rick to help him put together a new band. Rick recruited multi-instrumentalist Chris Xefos, and Hall retained Dansiger on drums. Hall dubbed the new lineup King Missile, dropping the parenthetical "Dog Fly Religion" subtitle "since that was [Dogbowl's] idea." In late 1989 and early 1990, the band recorded the album Mystical Shit, and in 1990 released it on Shimmy Disc. On the strength of the single "Jesus Was Way Cool," the album hit No. 1 on the CMJ charts, and the band was signed by a major label, Atlantic Records. This series of events led Hall to make a habit of joking, "'Jesus' got me signed to Atlantic Records." Around this time, King Missile was featured in the 1990 documentary CutTime which chronicled the East Village music scene of 1990.
Another lineup change occurred before the recording of King Missile's major-label debut, as Dansiger left the band and was replaced on drums by Hypnolovewheel member David Ramirez. The subsequent album, The Way to Salvation, was released on April 16, 1991, and reached No. 2 on the CMJ charts. Atlantic promoted the album with the release of a single, "My Heart Is a Flower," and accompanying video.
After Ramirez left the group and was replaced by yet another drummer, Roger Murdock, the band recorded its second major-label album, Happy Hour, released on December 15, 1992. The album debuted at No. 1 on the CMJ charts, and its accompanying first single, "Detachable Penis," became a modest hit, reaching No. 25 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. Atlantic released videos for "Detachable Penis" and the subsequent singles "(Why Are We) Trapped?" and "Martin Scorsese," but neither follow-up single achieved the chart success of "Detachable Penis." According to Hall, the band realized that its hit song had drawn in many casual fans who didn't care about the rest of the group's material; thus, the band began to play the song "early in the set, so that the people who didn't like us could leave, and we could play for the people who cared. That worked out well. People did leave."
The band's third and final album for Atlantic was the eponymous King Missile, released April 19, 1994. Neither the album nor its lead single, "Love Is...," was a commercial success; consequently, the band was dropped from Atlantic, and broke up shortly thereafter because, according to Hall, "there was no reason to stay together."
King Missile is an avant-garde band that has been led in various disparate incarnations by poet/singer John S. Hall since 1986.
In 1985, writer John S. Hall began presenting his work at open mike poetry readings. After three shows, Hall became a "featured" poet at the Backfence, a performance venue in Manhattan's East Village.
In 1987, the band went to the Noise New York studio and in just ten hours recorded and mixed its debut album, Fluting on the Hump.
The Way to Salvation, was released on April 16, 1991, and reached #2 on the CMJ charts. Atlantic promoted the album with the release of a single, "My Heart Is a Flower," and accompanying video.
The central element of each group's sound has been Hall's lyrics, which vary in format from straightforward narrative to abstract, disjointed free verse. Hall's performance style is also eclectic, his delivery ranging from a deadpan monotone to melodic tenor singing to overwrought screaming.
I woke up this morning with a bad hangover
And my penis was missing again.
This happens all the time.
[background singing begins: "detachable penis" over and over]
This comes in handy a lot of the time.
I can leave it home, when I think it's gonna get me in trouble,
or I can rent it out, when I don't need it.
But now and then I go to a party, get drunk,
and the next morning I can't for the life of me
remember what I did with it.
First I looked around my apartment, and I couldn't find it.
So I called up the place where the party was,
they hadn't seen it either.
I asked them to check the medicine cabinet
'cause for some reason I leave it there sometimes
But not this time.
So I told them if it pops up to let me know.
I called a few people who were at the party,
but they were no help either.
I was starting to get desperate.
I really don't like being without my penis for too long.
It makes me feel like less of a man,
and I really hate having to sit down every time I take a leak.
After a few hours of searching the house,
and calling everyone I could think of,
I was starting to get very depressed,
so I went to the Kiev, and ate breakfast.
Then, as I walked down Second Avenue towards St. Mark's Place,
where all those people sell used books and other junk on the street,
I saw my penis lying on a blanket
next to a broken toaster oven.
Some guy was selling it.
I had to buy it off him.
He wanted twenty-two bucks, but I talked him down to seventeen.
I took it home, washed it off,
and put it back on. I was happy again. Complete.
People sometimes tell me I should get it permanently attached,
but I don't know.
Even though sometimes it's a pain in the ass,
I like having a detachable penis.
[background voices continue to sing "detachable penis" for
a while, then out]