In 1982, Yow formed the Austin, Texas-based punk/noise rock group Scratch Acid. The group's initial lineup featured Steve Anderson (vocals), David Wm. Sims (guitar), Brett Bradford (guitar), Yow (bass), and Rey Washam (drums). Anderson was kicked out of the band early in their career, prompting Yow to move to vocals and Sims to move to bass. After releasing three albums and developing a strong following, the group disbanded in 1987.
Yow and Sims next formed The Jesus Lizard in 1987 with Guitarist Duane Denison. The trio relocated to Chicago, Illinois in 1989. They used a drum machine for their earliest recordings and performances before adding Drummer Mac McNeilly after recording their first EP Pure. Yow achieved wide notoriety for playing shows completely drunk and incoherent. Of touring with Jesus Lizard, Yow said: "I enjoyed writing songs and acting like an idiot with those guys. To make enough money to support ourselves." The Jesus Lizard eventually landed a spot on the Lollapalooza tour and signed to Capitol Records, despite earning little commercial success. During the course of their career, The Jesus Lizard released six studio albums (the last of which featured Jim Kimball replacing McNeilly), three EPs and a live album before breaking up in 1999.
In 1995, Yow collaborated with Helmet on a cover version of "Custard Pie" for Encomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin.
According to his close friend and recording Engineer Steve Albini, Yow is an accomplished cook and has worked in several restaurants in Austin and Chicago. Yow also has an extensive resume of graphic design work. He is known in his field for retouching photographs and is a former employee of Upshot, an advertising agency. Yow also recorded a commentary track for Tool's DVD single "Schism" in 2005. He appears as an actor in a few movies, including Big Money Rustlas.
In 2008, The Jesus Lizard reformed with the classic lineup and embarked on several tours. They again lapsed into inactivity at the end of the following year.
In 2006, Yow, Sims, Washam and Bradford reformed Scratch Acid for the Touch and Go Records 25th Anniversary Festival in Chicago. They also performed a series of reunion shows in Austin (09/02/06), Chicago (09/09/06), and Seattle (09/16/06).
His first New York solo art show opened at Fuse Gallery on August 2011 and ran until September 21, 2011.
In 2013, Yow released a solo album that had been in production for almost 15 years on Joyful Noise Recordings. The album—titled Tonight You Look Like a Spider—was released in a limited edition, where the vinyl album was delivered inside of a concrete monolith, instead of a normal record sleeve. Yow stated that he'd been inspired to do the album by Mike Patton, and described his compositional process in an amusing anecdote:
Yow is an avid cat lover and has drawn cats for the last 30 years. In 2014, Akashic Books released a compilation of Yow's cat illustrations called Copycat: And a Litter of Other Cats. Yow also exclusively interviewed Lil Bub for The A.V. Club.
"I rented a saxophone for 2 months, I borrowed some guitars and some drums, I rummaged through the kitchen, I squeezed a fat cat, I poked and prodded and ended up with my very own music. It’s real good, if you like that kind of shit. I named it Tonight You Look Like A Spider after a spider I saw one night."