Face to Face with Chris Gerniottis

Zakary Thaks frontman parties like it's 1969

By Margaret Moser, 5:05PM, Tue. Oct. 16, 2012

Face to Face with Chris Gerniottis

“I thoroughly like the Ugly Beats because they have the Sixties sound dialed in precisely. They're one of the tightest bands I've ever seen, and they're all down-to-earth musicians.” So raves the singer of Sixties Texas garage rock heroes Zakary Thaks, Chris Gerniottis, who's playing with the Ugly Beats and Eve & the Exiles Saturday at the Continental.

That connection's essential and not merely generational admiration. Texas in the Sixties generated radio hits from border to border - local, regional, and national. When Zakary Thaks levitated out of Corpus Christi with the fuzz-heavy 45s “Bad Girl” and “Face to Face,” they landed on turntables across Texas and beyond.

Gerniottis regards the band, which lasted less than three years, with a kind of amusement.

“It never ceases to amaze me how the Thaks' music has managed to endure through countless cycles of musical trends. The fact that ‘Bad Girl’ was included on the Pebbles Collection, Vol.1 and the Nuggets: Original Artyfacts series gave us a big reputation boost.

“However, Cicadelic Records has been the biggest reason why our music has persevered the way it has. The label's very supportive."

Cicadelic released Zakary Thaks’ Passage to India, which included those aforementioned singles and an album’s worth of cuts from the prolific quintet, which originated in an unusually fertile pocket of the South Texas coast that also produced Bubble Puppy (playing Sat., Oct. 27, at Threagill's World Headquarters).

“The overall response to Passage was very good,” recalls Gerniottis. “Both the CD and song itself garnered complimentary reviews in a number of publications, domestic and abroad. The song was such a radical departure from our other material that most Thaks aficionados flipped out when they first heard it!

“Think about this: in the span of about a year and a half, Corpus Christi gave birth to the Lingsmen [who later became the Thirteenth Floor Elevators], Tony Joe White, Pozo Seco Singers, the Bad Seeds, and the Zakary Thaks.

“Maybe because we were ‘stranded’ on the South Texas coast it made us work that much harder to get noticed. Who knows?”

This Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Continental Club with local garage stalwarts Eve & the Exiles isn’t the first time Gerniottis has performed with the Ugly Beats.

“I first found out about them in late 2004 while doing an interview for a local fanzine. I was given bass player Jason Gentry's e-mail and made arrangements to come up to Austin and sit in with them for a couple of numbers at the Carousel Lounge in January 2005.

“I was shocked that they played both songs so flawlessly! Not a missed beat or wrong note. Perfect!

“I also thought it was wild that Jason's grandfather and my father were friends and business acquaintances for many years in Corpus. I even worked for his grandfather a short time in C.C.

“Talk about kismet!”

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