My Little Red Book

Let's Go to Hell: Scattered Memories of the Butthole Surfers

James Burns

My Little Red Book

Gibby Haynes escapes the gravity of a Butthole Surfers bio to remain larger than life. The snaggletoothed alpha freak held his tongue in the first dedicated book about Texas' proto-alternative tricksters, but prevails equally as hero and villain, a genius fuck-up, ringleader, and punching bag. Unloading a dump truck of information about an Austin group whose profile was blurry at best before Let's Go to Hell, the Bible-sized book sucks you into a maelstrom of depraved live shows, including vivid depictions of a piss-soaked bacchanal at NYC's Danceteria in 1986 and their triumphant outing at the Reading Festival in 1989. Meanwhile, a thorough timeline of interpersonal affairs from the harrowing early years to their late-Eighties sweet spot and into the cultural magnification of the Nineties demonstrates author James Burns' keen understanding for what the Butthole Surfers' anarchy meant onstage and off. If only he'd had an editor. The book suffers from typos, fanboy superlatives, and the redundancy of following an explanatory paragraph with a direct quote saying the exact same thing. Still, Let's Go to Hell brims with plentiful drama as band members exit via fistfights and surprise bus tickets home, not to mention universally disastrous relationships with record labels. The band's lawsuit against Touch & Go is reported on in depth. Even with the locals' frontman pleading the Fifth, the insights of core members Paul Leary, King Coffey, Jeff Pinkus, and a dozen other ex-bandmates and associates fill in the gaps. Leary, in particular, lays bare the Buttholes' artistic trajectory: "Our first few records were recorded while we were barely a band and our last few records were the same."


Let's Go to Hell: Scattered Memories of the Butthole Surfers

by James Burns
Cheap Drugs, 504 pp., $38.95 (paper)
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