Parental Guidance Suggested
By Christopher Gray, Fri., Oct. 10, 1997
Just what is an "adult"? Well, that depends on who you ask. One of my closest friends says being an adult is total, absolute freedom to "do whatever the hell you want to." My parents, true to form, see it more as meeting a series of responsibilities and obligations. My insufferably cynical classmates see it as one compromised principle after the next. The University of Texas, to whom we fork over a few grand each year, can't make up its mind (big surprise there). At UT, you're free to take whatever classes you want, for as long as you want, as long as your check don't bounce. Maybe adulthood is simply getting away with it. With that in mind, allow me to introduce the Adults. The Adults are singer Paul Ahern, bassist Luke Gosselin, guitarist Peter Simonite, and drummer Chris Deaner. They're all in their twenties, have short hair, Biblical names, day jobs, and infectious laughs. They've released two 7-inch singles, appeared on a couple of local compilations (Free for All Volume 2, Do Me Baby!), and released three albums of their own: 1993's Plugged EP, 1996's Action Street, and the brand-spanking-new Soothing Sounds for Baby. They're talented musicians, intriguing songwriters (some Soothing titles: "The Aleph," "Goat's Blood (Secret Meeting in the Woods)," "Off-White Devil," "Something Totally Beautiful Getting Eaten Up by Ants," and "Pipe Dreams & the Violent Animal"), and dedicated live music fans.
Yet all that tends to get overshadowed by this local band's onstage antics, where they dress in costume, perform Paula Abdul-style rock choreography, and mock anything and everything they can think of. When it comes to what's really going on in their heads, most people don't have a clue. After a raucous sit-down session with the band, their purple-haired manager John Riedie, and Gosselin's roommate William at the South Austin hideaway Ego's (after which we retired to Ahern's house to watch a Winger video), I don't know either. The quips and cracks were flowing as fast as the Bass and Tecate, so instead of attributing each quote to the individual who said it -- thereby making him responsible -- everything that follows should be considered as coming from the collective Adult unconscious.
Tell me about the origin of the Adults.
"We started back in '84 as a Tejano band. Then funny stuff happened. We lapsed into serious drug addiction..."
"Why are you lookin' at me?"
"I'm hoping somebody will just take it over."
"And then more funny stuff."
"What's the question?"
"Where did the band originate?"
"We came from the Chronicle actually."
"I met Luke through the Chronicle. We were in a white funk band, and we advertised for a pickin' and slappin' bassist."
"Funk n' hammer, actually."
"I was fresh in from Vermont."
"Fresh off the boat."
"I didn't have a car, so I took the bus down to our friend Fred's house, where these guys were."
"In the rain."
"We funked out. We got so white-hot the place caught on fire. We had to go like this to keep the roof up."
Because the roof was on fire, right?
"It was. We played for about a year and a half, two years.
"We also tried out this black reggae bass player dude named Luis right around the time he tried out."
"I didn't know that. For the record."
"He came along years later."
"Y'all weren't even the Adults yet."
"So that's how we all met. We broke up for a couple years, year, year and a half..."
"Not even a year, I don't think."
"Pete was playing in another white funk band."
"Now, wait a minute. I was playing with a guy named Luis, who's now in a band called Ta Mère."
"So, Ta Mère was also playing in a white funk band."
"Okay, we're all guilty."
"Ta Mère's got integrity, and if that bass player wouldn't have been in the white funk band..."
"He's even whiter and funkier than you."
So are you guys still a white funk band?
"Pretty much. We listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 311, Jane's Addiction..."
"The Funky Funks of the Funk Station."
"The Funk Funkers."
"Peter was playing down at Mercado Caribe and Paul was there seeing the band. Then Paul was playing at Chicago House and I went over to check him out. He was playing some songs really good, and I brought us all together that night. Peter was always there playing, so we all just got together and went, `Let's start a band!'"
"You guys had already done tapes with a tuba player."
"What was his name?"
"I don't know, but he also had a toilet in the back of his van that he played through sometimes."
"He asked me if I wanted it. I could never figure that out."
How long did he keep the toilet in the back of his van?
"We only saw him one day. He came in and played tuba on this recording we made."
Where'd you record that?
"At Flashpoint. I think it's still there."
"Then we got together and we had my roommate playing drums for a while, then another drummer, then another drummer, then another drummer, then there's like six other drummers that tried out, and then we met Chris."
"We met Chris through Luis, the Ta Mère bass player who played in the white funk band."
"It was fortunate that Chris also knew him."
"He recommended the Adults to me, because I was grumbling about the band I was in."
How come y'all never play with Ta Mère?
"I don't know. After all this incriminating stuff, I don't think Luis will ever let us."
"All right, so Luis was playing in a black funk band."
Instead of a white funk band?
"How would you describe it?"
What's the major difference between a black funk band and a white funk band?
"Umm... I'd say the color of the skin."
"White funk bands get only Jell-O shots."
So I heard the new album. Why aren't you guys on Matador?
"Because we're not personal friends with Gerard Cosloy."
"Because they've filled their Austin quota."
"We want to get on a major label immediately."
"We want to be on Stethoscope."
You could be the first white funk band to be signed to Bad Boy.
"We want to be on Trance."
When's the Puff Daddy Adults remix coming out?
"We're gonna do a video with Puff Daddy. Him in the background going, `Yeahhhh, yeahhh, all right.'"
I hear if you work with Puff Daddy, you get free Cristal for life.
"Free Cristal? Nice."
"Puff Daddy. That just says it right there, doesn't it? All puffed up and full of hot air."
You guys are keepin' it real, right?
"So darn real."
"I think the Adults are gonna borrow a Police song, loop it, sing over it, but don't change it at all. Then have Sting come sit in with us."
So who's a better role model, Chuck Berry or Jerry Lee Lewis?
"I think they both like to pee on women, don't they?"
"Chuck Berry's got a huge schlong, I hear."
"Wasn't the flipside of `Johnny B. Goode' `The Wee-Wee Hours'?"
"No, it was `I wanna play with my ding-a-ling.'"
"That was a number one song."
"In the Seventies, wasn't it?"
"I think it'd be great if for the release party, we just covered that ding-a-ling song for the whole 40 minutes."
"[singing] `I wanna play with my ding-a-ling, my ding-a-ling...'"
"That'd be great! Yeah, we should do that. For 40 minutes."
"When we called him on the phone [to audition], Chris was on some kind of major-league pussy quest or something, looking at girls out his window."
"He was like, `Hold the phone! There's this chick walking by. I don't think I'm gonna be able to make it to practice today. I'm gonna go talk to her. Hold on, hold on!'"
"And Paul said, `At least I know you're a heterosexual.' I said, `Good.'"
"Oh man. I hope the irony translates."
"So anyway, we played a bunch of shows and here we are."
"I wonder if you're gonna be able to hear any of this."
"The only thing you'll be able to hear is the anti-gay sentiment. Project toward the tape player."
"It's all right and natural."
So when girls come up to you after shows, what kind of things do they tell you?
"Girls? We wouldn't know."
"`Your breath smells like shit.'"
"`That was really loud. When does Fastball go on?'"
"One girl after the show said, `You've been drinking all day, haven't you?'"
"`Do you know any of the guys in Fastball?'"
"`Hey, so your next gig's with Spoon. Can you get me on the guest list?'"
What about groupies? Are you for or against them?
"I'm for 'em, but, you know, where are they?"
John, isn't it your job to make sure they get laid whenever they want?
"He's not doing a very good job."
So, Trainspotting or Swingers?
"Trainspotting/Swingers" as far as what goes? Like, which one is better?"
"I think Children of the Cornhole is much better."
"I saw that the other day. It was great!"
"You worked on that movie?"
"Me and William watched that the other night. It was awesome!"
"Children of the Cornhole? They called it that?"
"I don't know. Maybe it's the porno version."
What is a cornhole?
"That's your snoot snout. That's your asshole."
"Don't play dumb."
"Are you coming on to me?"
No. It's bad policy for writers to get involved with musicians.
You guys have never been profiled before?
"This is our first time, you know."
"Well, we did for PCP. Pop Culture Press. And for the Texan."
"Oh yeah, for the Texan."
"That was kind of half-assed."
"Yeah, that was pretty half-assed."
What do you think about all the hard-hitting competitive music journalism going on in Austin between the Chronicle and XL?
"I don't understand the question."
So what do you guys think about the Austin music Scene?
"Oh, it's great, man. It's really tight."
"Everybody loves each other a whole lot."
"I just like the fact that any night you can walk down Sixth Street and see a good band at just about any bar."
"The other day, I was at Tropical Isle, and I saw this great band called the Oogaboogas."
"I bet you had to fight your way to the front."
"We all hang out at Tropical Isle."
"They got these great drinks called `Grenades.'"
"They fuck you up."
"Don't you have any rock & roll questions? Like Rolling Stone?"
Yeah...Which Dylan album would you take to a secluded desert island?
"Which Dilli album?"
"Blonde on Blonde, definitely. Blonde on Blonde."
"Highway 69, dude, revisited."
"What do you guys think of No Doubt?"
"Chris e-mailed me a naked picture of Gwen Stefani. She was posing in a men's restroom, like this, with her top off."
"That doesn't seem very appealing."
"In the same way that looking at a 13-year-old boy is appealing."
If you guys could pick one Hammer song to cover, which one would it be?
"What's up with these stupid questions?"
"`U Can't Touch This.'"
"There's only one way to answer that question."
"Yeah, I mean, obviously, it's `U Can't Touch This.'"
"No, it's not `Can't Touch This.' It's the one with the `When Doves Cry' beat in the background."
Yeah, that's `Pray.'
"Yeah, man, `Pray.'"
"It's too hard to pick between `Can't Touch This' and `Pray.' I guess I'll pick `Pray.'"
"Can't we cover `em both?"
What about `2 Legit 2 Quit'?
"No, that was after he sold out."
What would y'all like to get across to the Chronicle readers? What would you like them to know about the Adults?
"We'd like to somehow magically make everybody like us so much that every person in Austin buys the CD."
"So we can quit our jobs."
What's the funniest outfit y'all have worn?
"It was just me and Paul, because we didn't have a drummer and Peter was working, and Paul wore this little tight gold lamé thing, I dressed up like a heavy metal guy, and we had a drum machine. The first song we played was `I Wanna Hold Your Hand.' Deborah Wolfinsohn from XL ent. came out. She wrote a review of the show that was like 10 words long. It said, `They played a Beatles cover and I had to leave.'"
So did Gwen Stefani ever notice that her gold lamé halter top was missing?
"We all made out with her. We all know her really well."
"Kissed her, felt her boobs..."
"I like the frat boy ones."
"We were on tour and dressed up as frat boys in Fayetteville, Arkansas. A few songs toward the end, we stripped down to ladies undergarments and had funny stuff scrawled on our chest."
So do you guys ever find you have a problem being taken seriously?
"Well, I don't know why."
"We all have Tourette's, I guess, in a way."
"I think that the costumes thing actually does get in the way sometimes."
"We're just goofy fuckin' guys. Get over it."
"We can't help it. But we love to play music and we take music seriously."
"The music we take very seriously."
"It's like, how can the public know what to think of you when you're putting on a good show, having a good time, and dressing up like a chicken all simultaneously?"
"It's really hard to be taken seriously when you're wearing a costume shaped like a big piece of toast."
"People tend to be unable to look beyond that."
"People go up and say, `What does it mean for the next show?' and that's not what we want to be asked. But at the same time we're putting that forth."
If you guys were being interviewed for Rolling Stone or Spin, all they'd ask you about would be the costumes.
"Well, thanks for saving it 'til the end."
The Adults celebrate the release of Soothing Sounds for Baby at the Electric Lounge, Friday, October 10.