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From just south of Austin, Texas, comes…

The Hickoids

play Winstons, Ocean Beach, June 27th

Meet The Grandkids

Texas based band the Hickoids will mount a West Coast tour beginning in Los Angeles on Friday June 26th at the Redwood Bar & Grill. The tour, titled “Meet The Grand Kids”, is their first out West since the ill-fated “Fiasco Magnifico” back in 1989 and coincides with the re-issue of their “Waltz-A-Cross-Dress-Texas” album and comes on the eve of the release of their new album “Hairy Chafin’ Ape Suit”.

The Hickoids trace their roots to the Austin punk scene circa 1984. Their first show was in San Antonio opening for Black Flag and the Meat Puppets. The band was originally conceived as hardcore country meets hardcore punk, with some psychedelia and glam thrown in for good measure. During their initial germination period the band would share the stage with seminal local outfits including Scratch Acid, the Butthole Surfers, the Offenders, Daniel Johnston and Poison 13, as well as LA based cowpunk compatriots Tex & the Horseheads, Blood On The Saddle and the Screamin’ Sirens, and as yet unknown national acts like the Flaming Lips and Soul Asylum.

The band released their first album “We’re In It For The Corn” in 1985 and were also voted “Best Country Band” by the readers of the Austin Chronicle that year, much to the chagrin of more conventional practitioners of C & W music. The band’s live shows were notorious spectacles featuring “hay explosions”, tequila chugging, frontal nudity and the occasional onstage fist fight. They would release three more records, the “Hard Corn” EP, “Waltz-A-Cross-Dress-Texas” mini-LP and Christmas single “We Got The Eggnog If You Got The Whiskey”, as well as some compilation tracks and guest appearances. The band made frequent trips to the West Coast and also several national tours but eventually collapsed in the early 90’s under the weight of substance abuse, line-up changes, legal problems and poor finances. Aside from a half-dozen or so reunion shows in Austin over the ensuing 15 years the band would not perform regularly until re-forming in 2006, making stops in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston and the occasional trip to neighboring states.

So, the rejuvenated Hickoids featuring original members Davy Jones(guitar) and Jeff Smith (vocals), alongside new faces Jonie Hell (ex-Haunted Garage) on drums, Rice Moorehead ( of Bigfoot Chester) on bass and Stevie Tombstone (The Tombstones) on guitar will pack up the (rented!) van and hit the road this June. They will perform material from their previous releases and preview material from the forthcoming disc. Three words of caution: Hide the goats!

[Click the pic below for the hi-rez flier download image.]

How Not To…

It’s hard not to bitch about how easy young bands have it these days; cheap quality gear for stage and recording, instantaneous communication and cultural acceptance on a large scale that only 25 or 30 years ago seemed unimaginable. So, in some respects it feels like the events I’m about to describe took place at the beginning of the 20th Century rather than a decade from the end.

The Hickoids began recording our second album for the Toxic Shock label sometime in 1988 with the legendary SST/ Black Flag producer Spot. Long story short, the band felt determined to establish a new identity and sound that would dust the aura of Jukebox that held thick over the band despite his departure from the band a couple of years earlier under less than amicable circumstances. We made our first album in 1985 with Stuart Sullivan at Austin’s Lone Star Studios. It was Sullivan’s first album project in a career that has spanned three decades and seen him work with everyone from Sublime to Willie Nelson. That being said, it was both a groundbreaking and highly flawed effort. (I recommend you check out Sullivan’s own Wikipedia entry, which I won’t comment on here.)

Our pre-production efforts amounted to two or more band members sitting around Richard Hays’ porch or living room while drinking, smoking and/or tripping and banging on an un-tuned guitar and whatever else was available. The songs themselves were cultivated over a fairly long period of time and were hyper self-reflexive in nature, with the titles and phrases being drawn from our misadventures over the previous couple of years and tours. Despite the fantastic-seeming allegory, they were an accurate depiction of our sorry, hand to mouth existence. Beyond that, we might have actually rehearsed two times before recording.

The actual recording went incredibly well, with the whole project requiring only about 20 hours of studio time from set up to finished mix. I give props to Spot here…it was the least wasteful thing we did the entire decade. It sonically captures just about everything we were capable of at the time (when not blacked out) and definitely marks a departure from the Jukebox-era.

After what seemed like an interminable wait of 10 months or a year the record was finally released as “Waltz-A-Cross-Dress-Texas”, complete with Willie Nelson in drag cartoon on the cover. Willie, upon being informed of the album art, queried with his trademark detached stoicism “Well, how do I look?” My own Mother, after reading about the release in the San Antonio daily paper quipped “It sounds to me like you’re trying to get killed.” The fun and games were just beginning.

An $800 van was bought (later known, almost euphemistically, as “the Bad Van”), a three month tour was arranged, and all the appropriate lies and wishful half-truths were told to girlfriends, erstwhile bosses, black marketers, landlords and roommates. And to sweeten the deal our friends and protégés from Dallas, the Loco Gringos, would be joining us for the first month of the tour which they had prophetically dubbed “the Fiasco Magnifico”. (Travelling in their vehicle, later known realistically as “the Good Van”.)
Following an extraordinarily hard night of partying with friends from the bands Catbutt & L7, I was awoken about 6pm by my band mates who’d come to fetch me and make our way to the tour’s first show in Dallas. Still punch drunk, and against the better judgment and wishes of elder Hickoids Davy and Richard I refused to pack anything and left town with only the clothes on my back.

We made it approximately a block and half before the van stalled, and then another half-mile before it stalled again. We stopped in Waco to phone and announce our likely tardiness and stalled for good. We ended up being towed the remaining 100 miles to Dallas, just in time to miss last call at the bar we were supposed to play. Thanks to the shade tree mechanics of Foote brothers Don and Mike we got on the road the next afternoon to our show in Lubbock that night. Unfortunately, the mechanics and the non-functioning fuel gauge failed to warn us that we would need gas to get there. We ran out about 80 miles from our destination and in turn missed our second show in two days.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that we might have begun to have second thoughts about the whole thing: Au corntraire mi amigo! Our perpetual bouts with buzzard luck only served to further embolden us and fuel our collective mania.

If memory serves correctly, the drive to Arizona was marked by only the relatively minor inconveniences of a couple of blowouts. We settled in Tucson for a few days to play a couple of shows, while enjoying a mountainous view of cheap honk back at the hotel. At this point we must have started to take on the appearance of a comedic 80’s cowpunk version of the murderous gang from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.

We headed north to Tempe for a show at the Sun Club. As the Hickoids played Pepé of the Gringos decided to take a dump on the stage, right in front of me as I sang. The club owner immediately ran up, red-faced, yelling “get the fuck off the stage, I’m calling the cops right now!” which he did. Unbeknownst to us, Pepé and the owner of the Good Van had managed to puncture the gas tank of the Gringos vehicle while on an expedition of debated purpose earlier in the evening, forcing us all to spend an uncomfortable two or three hours surrounded by about 10 cops; This, while holding poorly concealed contraband and with many of us possessing potentially tour ending warrants of various shapes and sizes.

Undaunted, it was agreed that we would abandon the pre-arranged tour routing, forego a contracted engagement and instead try our luck in the town where all good deviants feel at home, Las Vegas. We called our friend Calamity Jane who owned a club called Nashville Nevada on what was then the outskirts of town. She arranged a couple of comped rooms for the bands and invited us to play the club. Nothing remarkable happened at the last-minute show, other than the addition of a card table and mock poker game onstage played by the road crew. This would remain a fixture of both bands’ sets for the remainder of the tour. Also, Pablo from the Gringos and I spent about 15 hours playing the nickel slots at the hotel bar. I think I won $250 twice, about the only profitable thing that happened on the whole trip.

At this juncture, things start getting fuzzy and my recollections somewhat vague. We rolled on to San Diego the next day for our show at the Spirit Club that evening. I’m pretty sure no one defecated on the stage and that’s about it. We visited Tijuana the next day; cheap beers and margaritas were had, pills were bought, Hickoids and Gringos alike were heavily scrutinized on our return border crossing and at least one cavity was searched. We rolled into LA that night for a groggy and I’m sure cacophonous show at Al’s Bar. The party was in full swing.

Thanks to the pimping skills and celebrity of our travelling companion Craig Johnson we were able to split up around LA, Hollywood and Venice and decompress for a day or two. The Hickoids regrouped at Texacala Jones’ West Hollywood home and spent an afternoon watching El Duce consume an entire half-gallon of tequila by himself, waxing philosophical. I recall Davy Jones being particularly frightened as El Du walked in on him changing pants in the back of Tex’s house, shades of Midnight Express.
While on a morning beer run during that week, Pepé and I happened to meet one of my idols, David Bowie, at the “Rock ‘n Roll Ralph’s”. The “Thin White Duke” was on a wine and cheese run with a supermodel. He was very gracious despite my appearance; shirtless, shoeless, unshaven for a week and wearing only a pair of flared purple spandex pants given to me by Tex. As I watched the Beauty and the Bowie ride off into the hazy sunrise, waving glibly and smiling warmly at us from their Alfa convertible, I was wishing I had packed some duds.

I’m unsure if we played a second LA show, but after about four days of hanging around we drove to San Francisco for a show at the Full Moon Saloon. Through some dereliction of detail we ended up spending the better part of a week on the wrong floor of a big 3-story Victorian and seemingly no one cared. We continued partying and raising hell like there was no tomorrow. While entertaining a young lady (known to the crew as “Sgt. Pepper” because she wore a marching band jacket) in “the Bad Van” I noticed there were fire trucks at the house. Turns out, a self-styled brujo who happened to pay rent on the floor we were staying on had developed heavy resentment at our presence. In an attempt to vanquish us he placed a curse on us and in doing so caught the house on fire during the rite. No problem. We moved on to the other floor, especially since the first one was now partially uninhabitable.
The following day we made our way to Chico for a show at Hey Juan’s Burro Room. I’m not sure exactly what happened there, but it took about eight hours to make the three hour drive back to San Francisco.

The Bad Van was getting badder, the wind from our wallet was blowing colder, and we were facing a heavy drive through the mountains to Seattle with another two months ahead of us after parting ways with the Gringos. So, after a short band meeting we decided to call it a day. Our art might have been worth starving for, but it was not worth dying for.

The Gringos rolled on and completed the scheduled shows without incident, other than Pepé disappearing only to be found asleep in a Seattle dumpster. Davy and Richard drove the Bad Van back to Texas. Both were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning by the time they made it home. Wade ended up staying and making San Francisco his home. I remained another half a week or so before begging a girlfriend back in Texas to buy me a plane ticket. The Loma Prieta Earthquake struck San Francisco four days after I left, killing 63 people. It is known as the first major American earthquake to be broadcast live on national television.

All the cell phones, Chinese amps and e-mail in the world wouldn’t have changed a thing.

[The Hickoids play Winston’s with The Screemin’ Yeehaws, June 27th at 3PM. Read more sordid tales and follow their tour’s saga at myspace.com/hickoids. ~Ed]

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