Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Some good ol' worthwhile visceral experiences

Everyone has those bands they think were genius. The ones who packed the first small clubs they were allowed in. The ones who defined moments in their life.

For me in Dallas, these were the bands and a few moments that did it:
  • Seeing Tripping Daisy on a New Year's Eve, being drunk and captivated by their light show that consisted of woman moving a clear bowl of multi-colored jello back and forth on an old-school overhead projector.

  • Standing at the bar at Club Clearview watching a gigolo-type in a western shirt with the sleeves cut-off, hit on seemingly disinterested younger woman. Then seeing that same guy introduced by Reverend Horton Heat as "Jimbo on upright bass." And for the next two hours, standing two feet from the stage, being blown away by this thing called pyschobilly. Waiting around after the show to see Jimbo walking out the backstage door, arm around that interested younger woman.

  • Close to midnight at Trees in Deep Ellum. Lights down. Smoke pushing out from the stage. The sound of two drum kits working in tandem. And, there in silhoutette, leaning on his cane, Course of Empire's vocalist Vaughn Stevenson channeling Goth "it" Peter Murphy. Large empty drums getting rolled out into the audience. And like kids in kindergarten, males and females pounding away with the band as one.

But, at the top of this list would have to be the funk, rock of Billy Goat. Yes, they were known to rub the dance floor with vaseline. Yes, their concert t-shirts read, "Fuck More, Bitch Less." And yes, they had an attractive (once you got past the underarm hair) woman on stage who held up words (Chef Boy Ardee) from the songs and on good nights encouraged the audience, by removing her top, to join in on "Clothes Off." But, they were also much more.

What I have learned since then is that I remain right. They were genius or at the very least, still worth a listen. I'm offering Billy Goat's major label release Bush Roaming Mammals as evidence. Here's a sample.

"Dog's Heroin"


"Trash Can Charlie"

"Clothes Off"

The Players:
MIKE DILLON (percussion, vocals)
Pre-Billy Goat: Ten Hands, Denton music scene
Post-Billy Goat: Hairy Apes BMX, Les Claypool's Frog Brigade, Karl Denison's Tiny Universe


EARL HARVIN (drums) **still among my favorite all-time drummers
Pre-BG: Ten Hands, Denton music scene
Post-BG: Earl Harvin Trio, Seal, The The, Air, Psychedelic Furs, Joe Henry, etc.


KIM PRUITT (movement, house props, vocals)
Pre-BG: Mike Dillon's girlfriend
Post-BG: Mike Dillon's wife


Pre-BG: (songwriter/guitarist) Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. Also, an original Bohemian when they were locally popular, nationally unknown prior to Mrs. Simon adding her name.
Post-BG: Recorded a New Bohemians album and still performs w/that band name always attached to the marquee, preceded by the words 'of the.'


BRANDON SMITH (bass, vocals)
Post-BG: Blowfish (featuring original Pantera frontman Terry Glaze and drummer Mike Malinin, who later joined the Goo Goo Dolls)


PHIL MAJOR (guitars, vocals)
Post-BG: TBD


Pre-BG: (musician) Modern Lovers, Talking Heads
Post-BG: (producer) Live, Foo Fighters, No Doubt


I leave you with Mike Dillon's thoughts on the band:

"A lot of people thought we were just straight-up f*cking losers and that we were sexist because we got naked, but it wasn't like it is now with all those bands saying, 'Hey, bitches, get up on stage and show us your tits.' It was more like, 'Hey, guys, anyone want to pull their d*ck out with me and do some male bonding?'"


At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

too bad i just unearthed that tripping daisy album, good things come out of dallas i suppose. happy birthday mr.

At 7:27 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Well, Triple J, I hope for your sake this Billy Goat had talent to accompany its penchant for public nudity. My experience has been that bands that are quick to get naked do so because cheap spectacle is a lot easier to pull off than actual musicianship.

Fifteen years ago I lived in a co-op in Austin, a sort of student-run boarding house, occupied in my case chiefly by neo-hippies (which made for daily challenges). Every semester the house would have a huge party.

I tend to not enjoy parties unless the food, drinks, and company are top-notch, and at the co-op none of these qualities were present. There was no food, the beer was shitty, watery, flavorless American swill in a keg, and as for the company—well, my house-mates would let any asshole off the street with two bucks for a ticket to come in and tear our house to pieces.

My house-mates were fond of frequent meetings, and you know how much I hate those. They ruled that we residents had to get up early on the morning following a big party and clean up the mess made by these assholes that we didn’t even know. Now I don’t know about you, but to me, a big party and getting up early the morning after do not go hand-in-hand.

I eventually got so annoyed with this situation I stopped going to these parties altogether. I’d just invite a bunch of my friends to the party proper and shut myself up in my room in the back wing of the house for its duration. When my friends needed to chill out, they’d go up to my room and help themselves to the private bar I’d set up and kick back and listen to some decent music. And I managed to avoid having to participate in the clean-up the next day. (And no, I was not the most popular person in the house as a result.)

But I digress.

My house-mates tended to hire noisy, talentless bands to perform at these parties, and in Austin these are a dime-a-dozen. But one repeat offender was apparently notorious for getting naked with little provocation and they came cheap.

I went to one party at this house after I’d moved out, and well into the evening, I made my way across the living room, only to find the lead singer of this particular band, bare as “September Morn,”and looking like an underfed, plucked chicken, perched atop a cabinet, yelling, “I guess I’m the only one here with enough balls to get naked!”

I had hoped this would inspire a large number of the attendees to doff their clothes, allowing me to observe their behavior with the scientific detachment that informs most of my actions, but sadly, things did not go down this way. In fact, the singer’s injunction was heeded only by five drunken frat boys, strangers to everyone in the house, who stripped to their Teva sandals and then stood around, pointing and giggling at their minuscule genitalia, before trooping off the property with their clothes folded in bundles under their arms.

Immediately thereafter, the House Manager, a strong and commanding young woman of Greek extraction, called me over to the chair where she had been sitting, like Stalin at Yalta, observing the proceedings with interest and confusion. “Bankston! Who were those people? Why were they taking their clothes off? Did you know them?”

I assured her I knew neither the nudists nor their motives, apart, perhaps, from the homo-eroticism that seems to be latent in most college fraternities.

Besides that, I have only one more anecdote to contribute on the naked band front. I knew a guy who played in a band in Bryan/College Station, Texas, and they were often hired for gigs at a nudist’s colony in nearby Navasota. The nudists liked these guys because they were willing to actually perform in the raw. Apparently, my friend, the lead guitarist, and his buddy the bassist, when deep in their cups and deep in the groove, somehow managed to perfect what they called a “propeller effect,” where one would twirl clockwise and the other counter-clockwise, before changing direction in mid-song.

I cannot imagine successfully doing that and playing a guitar at the same time.

At 8:42 AM, Blogger incognato said...

I saw Tripping Daisy play at the '93 Hockaday Prom. I think that's when the jumped the shark.

At 8:48 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

Hockaday? Well, aren't you posh!

At 8:52 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

So N8, are you gonna set your phasers to mourn and break out Shat-Man's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" to commemorate the passing of Scotty? I knew he was ill and wasn't expected to last long, but I didn't think he'd go that fast.

At 9:23 AM, Blogger TripleJ said...

For those who don't know ... Hockaday, I believe, is an posh private school in Dallas that counts Lisa Loeb among its alumni.

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Luke said...

Who knew there were TWO Canucks on board the Starship Enterprise. Amazing what an obit will tell you.

At 10:01 AM, Blogger jsbankston said...

And then of course there was Walter Koenig, the faux Russian. I'm still trying to figure out what the hell sort of word "wessel" was.

And amazing what IMDB will tell you. Apparently Walter Koenig is from Chicago, and his son played the amusingly-named "Boner," best friend of Kirk Cameron on "Growing Pains." I'd love to be a fly on the wall at Thanksgiving at the old Koenig place, let me tell you.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

And I read in a James Doohan obit that he sired his youngest child when he was 80! It's a lucky 80-year-old man who can find his hog, much less use it.

At 8:14 PM, Blogger Martin McFriend said...

Dude, TripleJ, nice post. I find it amazing that there could be a band whose members eventually go on, separately, to help form Pantera, Billy Goat and the fucking Goo Goo Dolls. How diverse can it get? Fucking music circles.


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