Crash Landing in Teen Heaven
A reunited Sincola on the 1990s
By Raoul Hernandez,
9:09AM, Thu. Sep. 8, 2011
KOOP inquired if I'd like to talk about Nirvana and the 1990s, but other than the Gits, it wasn't my favorite decade musically. Then Sincola's reunion appeared – at the ND Saturday. So I asked four out of the five bandmembers whose email I had what the decade meant to them and where the locals fit in. Their responses follow.
Chepo Pena, bass: Ok here goes.
The 1990s were an important time for me personally because that was when I graduated high school ('91) and discovered the amazing underground community. A bunch of weirdos like me playing any kind of music they pleased. Everything was personal. You bought records. Music had value. Bands were putting their own records out and making their own zines. The internet opened new doors for what bands could do, but it killed the personal touch that I experienced in the 90s scene.
Music was all over the place and a lot more organic. You actually had to be able to play your instrument in some form or fashion because Pro Tools couldn't fix it for you.
Sincola didn't break out like a lot of other bands from our time, but I think we were one of the first of the 1990s "alternative" bands to get that scene greater attention in Austin. We did win the Chronicle's very first "Best Alternative/Punk" award at the Music Awards so maybe that counts for something.
Kris Patterson: Here are my thoughts..... not much, but it's what I can come up with while I'm at work....
The 1990s allowed me to disengage from “The New Sincerity” music scene & explore songwriting from a grittier arena. The Breeders were my catalyst: during a road trip with non-stop abuse to my Breeders & Pixies cassettes (back in the day!) I was feeling inspired so I pulled over at a rest stop and called Greg (ahem - Wendell Stivers). I told him that I would be home that afternoon - he needed to find a guitar and come over ASAP! And so, Sincola was born in the Poi Dog Pondering barn. I was roommates with Frank Orrall at the time.
*Melodic yet dissonant
*Simple riffs w/ catchy arrangements
This combo creates the perfect arrangement for the perfect song. I feel that Sincola had this amazing chemistry - one that most bands strive for but few achieve.
The 1990s to me WAS Sincola. I came to Austin to attend the University of Texas, and when I discovered college radio in 1991, my life changed. I got to interview bands like Babes in Toyland, and that's when everything changed for me. I decided that what they did was way cooler than being a DJ, so I decided to play pop/punk music. I made the first band I tried out for, and that was Sincola!
The 1990s for me was about freedom... freedom to make a zine, and have a lot of friends read it, freedom to make it for free at Kinkos. The zine culture really influenced my musical tastes as well as the Riot Grrl movement. The internet was in its baby nascent stages, so there were way less bands, and the scene is Austin was smaller. You could be a local band that was talented, and actually get into SXSW, back when SX was more interested in local bands. Whole foods was a quaint little store on Lamar, and you spent hours in record stores looking for music and cool zines.
Not only that, anti-style was style. So, a torn-up nightgown, or scrub pants, silver spray painted boots (not all at the same time) were my stage clothes, and that was OK. I was also quite fond of vintage baby doll dresses, and school girl shoes. The look was the opposite of the well-manicured, meticulously put together, hipster look of today. What you did made you punk rock, not what you wore.
I'm not sure about how Sincola fits into anything – that's your job innit? – but I do know that for me the 1990s (altho I really liked Nirvana even if Kurt's voice reminded me of the singer from Bad Company) were about the PIXIES. I think there's a fair amount of documentation that Kurt felt that way as well. Sincola's bio used to say that we were the love child of the Pixies and the Go-Go's (on speed or acid or fruit loops, I can't remember which), and I suppose that's right on the money. Of course our stickers use to say "F*cked up music for f*cked up people," and that's equally accurate. Although when we said "F*cked up" we meant more "emotionally picked over" than "PA-A-ARTAY!!"
I had been in Bad Mutha Goose right before that – the scene most of us think of as "the 1990s" was actually the mid-1990s. The music that was termed "alternative" (so highly ironic once it got co-opted by the major labels) also answered to "underground" and "indie," didn't just replace what most people would probably term the "white boy funk" scene – it scared its ass out the door. Where the rider for BMG specified "2 cases of shiner, 2 bottles of Stoly, and a gallon of wine," Sincola's rider demanded "5 pairs of lady jockey underwear and a baton."
For the record, Sincola was never a "grunge" band, although we liked our guitars dirty. I hated those shirts – the pretend flannel with the gray hoodie sewn into it? Altho I think I owned one – so practical for the Texas heat! The first person who can produce one at the show gets a free Sincola t-shirt. We're also going to have a lot of other leftover *ahem* vintage swag available – flexidiscs, stickers, UK red vinyl LPs of Crash Landing in Teen Heaven, and copies of our tour comic, The Road to Totally Nowhere.