Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Huns - Busy Kids

A. Busy Kids

B. Glad He's Dead

THE HUNS (Austin, TX)
Busy Kids b/w Glad He's Dead
God (001), 1979

In the summer of 1977, Dan Puckett was living in a co-op near UT called the Ark. One day when he pulled into the parking lot he heard "Anarchy In The UK" coming from a room upstairs. Having known about the Sex Pistols through the pages of Melody Maker and NME and thinking he was the only one in Austin that owned the single, he counted windows and took off at a pace to see who was playing the record. After finding the room that the music was coming from, he spent the next two hours discussing The Pistols, Bowie, Roxy Music and Velvet Underground with his new friend, Phil Tolstead.

Over the next several months they attended many shows together. But it was on the ride home after the Sex Pistols played their historic San Antonio gig in early 1978 that they decided they should start their own band. Phil was a Radio-Television-Film major at UT and knew a drummer named Tom Huckabee who was in the same program. Tom brought in Joel Richardson on bass and then Manny Rosario completed the line-up. They started rehearsing in mid-1978.

Phil and Dan had a clear idea of what they wanted to do: a band with the energy of the Sex Pistols and the stagecraft of Bowie. They played their first show at Raul's on September 19th, 1978 as part of the new Punk Rock Tuesdays. The band instantly gained notoriety due to the fact that the police came in, reportedly from a noise complaint, and ended up arresting Phil after he kissed a cop who came on stage on shut them down. The story made it all the way to Rolling Stone and NME.

The arresting officer was Steve Bridgewater, who had recently caught slack for getting out of hand at a protest about an annual boat show that took place on Austin's Town Lake. Right around the same time, The Huns started advertising their debit gig. They put the names of some of their songs on the posters: "Legalize Crime," "Violence," "Police State," etc. These were plastered all over campus and presumably mistaken as criticism by the police force because of the recent protest incident.

Oddly enough, Tom had made a short film entitled The Death Of Jim Morrison earlier that summer. While filming scene downtown, a police officer saw that they were shooting without a permit and set to break it up. But before they put the cameras away, the officer agreed to be in a scene that showed him making an arrest. That officer was Steve Bridgewater. Coincidence?

Phil was charged with resisting arrest. Charlie Hunter, who was a high school friend of Dan and the boyfriend of Joel, was in law school at the time. So he went to the legal clinic at school and got Phil representation. After long proceedings where Charlie was even given air time on TV deploring the Austin Police Department, Phil was let off with a fine.

Not long after the police incident, Manny left the group and John Burton took his place. Charlie continued helping the band by booking them shows and designing some posters. By 1979, they were playing gigs every 3-4 weeks at Raul's and incorporating various stage antics, often involving costumes. During a show on June 21st, 1979 Phil went onstage clad only in a jock strap and gold paint. Then on July 4th, they crucified a guy on stage. Dan would often dress as a satanic nun, as a scoutmaster or in a vaguely fascist-looking uniform. Also to entice audiences, they'd open up their shows with short films.

Since Joel worked in the film studios on the UT campus, he had keys to the building and would let the band practice there. One night he opened up Studio 6A where Austin City Limits was filmed and they spent a couple hours recording "Busy Kids" and "Glad He's Dead." It was the first time that Phil used the nasally voice to sing "Busy Kids," which the band hated, but he was adamant about keeping. Their friend Victoria Jones did the painting for the front cover. She also designed some posters for the band.

The band was invited to play on the Live At Raul's album but Phil refused to play the show for some reason. Meanwhile, Dan had already been playing with another band, Radio Free Europe. Since the Huns were playing less gigs and hardly rehearsing anymore, he decided to leave the band in early 1980. Bert Crews from the Re*Cords took his place til the band dissolved shortly after that.

The Death of Jim Morrison from Tom Huckabee on Vimeo.

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