Dancing About Architecture
The Return of the Butthole Surfers and the christening of Beerland
By Ken Lieck, Fri., June 22, 2001
Butts, Cocks, and Stuff
Pity poor Chris Riemenschneider. He was almost in the Austin music journalism biz long enough to actually see the long-awaited new Butthole Surfers album come down the pike. I'm in this for the long haul, myself, and sure enough, four or five years since the first mention of its planned existence, and within a week of Reimenschneider's farewell column in the Austin American-Statesman, the word came from Hollywood Records that Weird Revolution is out August 28, with the first single being "The Shame of Life," co-written by Gibby Haynes and Robert J. Ritchie (aka Kid Rock). They even sent an advance, which sounds a lot like the unreleased follow-up to 1996's Electric Larryland, '98's After the Astronaut. Aside from new tracks like the Barenaked ("Buttnaked"?) Ladies-sounding "Dracula From Houston" and occasional brief flirtations into Ministry territory, it's still dominated by the hip-hop flavorings of Astronaut. Word is that Hollywood is psyched about the album, and a happy, hard-working publicity department is what the band really needs at this time. Since I mentioned Ministry, I should add that off-and-on Austinites Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker have been hard at work (with new drummer Max Brody from Sangre de Toro) kicking back into action with a new best-of disc (and recent accompanying video), plus a new song on Steven Spielberg's E.T. for the 21st-century flick, A.I. Fans of the Ministry offshoot Revolting Cocks, meanwhile, can look for that act to act up again in the future as well. While parked in the alley next to the Red Eyed Fly last weekend, Phildo Owen played me some rough tracks intended for upcoming projects by both RevCo and the Skatenigs. A savage battering of the old Archie Campbell standard "Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me" makes for one particularly brilliantly twisted track. Hey, Buttholes, pay attention to these guys! I'm thinking Hee Haw-based industrial music may be the big hit commercial trend of the future.
Croslin the Line
You've heard the rumors that the newness and sincerity is returning to Austin, and guess what? They're true! John Croslin, the Zeitgeist/Reivers founder-turned in-demand producer, has come back to Austin. "Yes, I'm back in Austex," he e-mails, "and as far as I know, I'm back for good. (I came back for the parking.)" Cros says he had a great time in San Francisco, where he's been living for a couple years now, and is happy he got to work with, among others, Beulah, John Doe, Carlos, Mates of State, and For Stars, who are in town next week at the Mercury with Mark Eitzel. "But I still don't like Barry Bonds," he adds. No word on any Reivers reunions in the works, nor of any activity on the part of his previous band the Make, for that matter.
Across the Atlantic
If Davíd Garza is happy to be with Atlantic Records, as reported here last week, Kacy Crowley is absolutely ecstatic to have been dropped by the label. "It was a stroke of beautiful luck!" she exclaims of Atlantic's decision to release her. "They were like the post office, and I was like a postal worker." Crowley says that she figures the situation was "typical"; though several people at the label were very excited and involved with Boys in the Attic, her second album for the label, they weren't the right people, and so she was released from her contract. Her plans call for playing a lot of gigs at the Saxon Pub and elsewhere this summer, then taking the already finished album and shopping it around the label circuit. In the meantime, she's positively chirping with happiness, announcing via cell phone to the Chronicle that, at this very moment, "I'm at the laundrymat, I'm smoking, I'm unsigned -- I feel normal!"
Life on Red River
As of 11:30am Tuesday, Randall Stockton sounded positively dazed after having cleared the final hurdle with city inspectors and getting his club Beerland green-lighted just an hour earlier. Seeing that Stockton and his wife Donya have sunk every penny they had into Austin's newest live music venue, maybe they should have called it "the Money Pit" rather than its current moniker. "Camping" was how the Red River proprietor (see "Red River Valley," p.60) referred to the Stocktons' new living arrangements, in that they're currently couch-surfing thanks to the financial demands of getting a club up and running these days. "That's punk rock," he chuckled. Punk rock is just what you can expect from the club, both in the future and tonight, Thursday, when Beerland finally throws open its doors. Looks for sets from the Ritchie Whites, Cripples, and Wiretaps, featuring members of Austin's former Inhalants. Friday finds the Hard Feelings, Peeps, and Mike Mariconda spinning vinyl, while Saturday is Blunt Force Trauma. Stockton says he's looking forward to next weekend's official "Third Annual Legendary Opening of Beerland" with the Wontons, Hard Feelings, and others, but for now he's happy to stand in his club and enjoy one of its cold namesakes.
Meanwhile, young and tressless longtime Lovejoy's man Andy Porter, currently a manager at another Red River hotspot, Dino Lee's tiki establishment Ocean's 11, recently found himself with a dilemma. "There was this homeless crackhead out in front of the bar about a week and a half ago," Porter explains, "and he was trying to sell me a guitar for $25." Making sure the guy wasn't actually Randall Stockton trying to rustle up some change for his laundry, Porter says, "I told him, 'I don't think so.' Then I took a look inside the case and there was this really nice, left-handed Ibanez acoustic." Porter says he figured the odds were good that this guy had just lifted somebody's instrument during a set change, so he bought the guitar. "The way I figure it," he says, "if someone can tell me the serial number, I'll give it to them for the $25." (Hint: If you were too stupid to write down the number, chances are the place you bought it from has it on record somewhere.) To claim the instrument, call Ocean's 11 at 708-0112 or drop by any day after 3pm. Porter adds with a snort that if the instrument turns out to have belonged to a touring musician, or if it goes unclaimed for whatever other reason, "I'll just give it to [Holy Happy Hour] Charlie."
You'll likely find Charlie both at Beerland and at Room 710 this Saturday; he's a fixture at the latter place, and he's been installing fixtures at the former! The 710 is having their first anniversary party that night with Brown Whörnet, Pong, and Clutch Cargo playing, with club and band posters and T-shirts to be given away. Even if Charlie doesn't score the new guitar, he's proud as a pappy over his guaranteed hit song, an Alice Cooper-flavored ode to Jenna Bush called "I'm Nineteen!" (Sample lyric: "Reporters come from the left and right, TABC is out tonight!") Meanwhile, the Whörnet will be releasing their new Perverted Son CD Radio at the party, and I've been guaranteed the first copy in advance since I just moved into the front half of the duplex where Josh Chalmers from the band lives. (Now the only question remaining is who's gonna go down and get those damn dead kittens out from under the house.) It's not bad enough that he's playing a "picnic" this year after all, at the Verizon Amphitheatre on August 11, with a gig scheduled for the Backyard the same week, no less. (A lesser promoter than Tim O'Connor would be tearing out his hair.) Nope. That's still not the most interesting thing that Willie Nelson is doing this week. Having conquered every other genre, this week Nelson has a new children's album out on Island, featuring the Red Headed Muppet's title take on Kermit the Frog's "The Rainbow Connection," plus kiddie favorites like "I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover," "Won't You Ride in My Little Red Wagon," "Playmate," "Rock Me to Sleep," and standard "Playin' Dominoes and Shootin' Dice." (Hey! How'd that one get in there?!?, Nelson also guests on The Gypsy by Jackie King, and both tonight (Thursday) and Friday, 10-11pm, The Life and Times of Willie Nelson runs on CMT as part of "Totally Texas Week," which began Monday, but will run again over the next few days. Charlie Robison hosts the Totally Texas Countdown, in which he will "relate Texas topics ranging from the spirit and pride of the state and its citizens to its rich multi-genre history of musical artists and movements -- the faces and places that define the sound of the Lone Star State." That show features videos from various CMT-friendly Texan musicians including Robison, his brother Bruce Robison, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, George Strait, LeAnn Rimes, the Dixie Chicks, and Lee Ann Womack among others. Finally, Nelson also has a track scheduled for Caught in a Webb, an all-star tribute album to country legend Webb Pierce that's starting up production about now. The project features such luminaries as Mark Knopfler, George Jones, Lucinda Williams, Dwight Yoakam, and Dale Watson It was here in "Dancing About Architecture" that you first read the good news about Roky Erickson finally getting mental (and dental) health treatment after more than a decade without. Still, let me give a big thumbs up to the Austin American-Statesman for realizing how important the story -- and Roky himself -- is, and affording it front page (!) status on Tuesday. If you missed the daily that morning, the insightful feature should still be accessible at www.statesman.com Sarah Elizabeth Campbell is suffering from third-stage Hepatitis C, and an emergency fundraiser is in the works as she starts debilitating Interferon treatments. The benefit is July 1 at La Zona Rosa, 6pm to midnight, with Red Dawg, Shelly King Band, Mandy Mercier, the Troubadours, Toni Price, Albert & Gage, the Austin Lounge Lizards, Slaid Cleaves, and Dream Trybe Meanwhile, the other sick Sarah, Sarah Dashew of the Ginger [Leigh] & Sarah Band, continues to recover from the rare disease mycoplasmia and will actually perform with the band at La Zona Rosa on Friday with Trish Murphy and the other healthy Ginger, Ginger Mackenzie. Adds Leigh, "Sarah will be well enough to do the show, although she will not join the [G&S Band's European] tour until September. I'll do the first half without her to give her ample amount of time to continue recovering" And last but not least, the Metro takes a break from presenting Seventies and Eighties legends to bring in Sixties legend Robbie Krieger, who plays at the venue on Monday. Doors open at 9pm
-- Contributors: Christopher Gray, Raoul Hernandez, Andy Langer, Margaret Moser