Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bodysnatchers - Are You Into Destruction

A1. I Want That Girl

A2. I'm Gonna Love Her Anyway

B1. Battle Of The Bands

B2. Are You Into Destruction

B3. Obsession/Depression

Are You Into Destruction EP
Wall-O-Sound (BS 1/2), 1978

Larry James and brothers Chris and Ian Bailey were living in Southern California in the mid 70s, playing in what could be described as a Texas roadhouse band called The Kid. With Larry's Texas roots, he had turned them on to artists like Willie Nelson, Doug Sahm, and ZZ Top, so their output was a mix of rock, country and blues. In 1975, they started getting heavily into funk and started leaning their music into the direction of a funk-influenced hard rock group.

Shortly after that they moved out to Austin where they started a funk-rock band called Daddy Longlegs. By the end of 1977, Larry, Chris and Ian started rehearsing with Tom McMahon and Kyle Brock in another group called The Bodysnatchers. They paid homage to 60's garage bands by playing songs by the Yardbirds, Love, Creation, and others. It was around that time they started hearing about the "punk" thing that was going on in New York and the UK, but it had not yet hit Austin.

Then on January 8th, 1978, the Sex Pistols played Randy's Rodeo in San Antonio. Excited to see the spectacle of London punks playing to a crowd of rowdy, skeptical Texans, the show turned out to be everything they had hoped for; a full-on, nonstop war between crowd and band. And as it would turn out, many of the kids in the crowd that night would go on to form the first wave of punk bands in Austin including The Next, The Huns, The Skunks, The Violators, Standing Waves and more.

Following the Pistols show, it became apparent they needed to adapt the punk aesthetic with the 60's thing they were already doing. So Larry started writing songs like "Mama, What's A Punk?" and "Are You Into Destruction." By this time a failing Tejano bar on the drag by UT campus called Raul's had started allowing the newest upstart punk bands like The Skunks and The Violators to play on off nights. With the help of a friend who played in a band called Project Terror, whose drummer was dating one of the Violators, the Bodysnatchers booked their first gig at Raul's in early 1978.

On April 22nd, a "punk and new wave festival" took place at a newly opened downtown club called the New Atlantis. All three of Austin's punk bands at the time, The Skunks, Violators, and Bodysnatchers, along with The Nervebreakers from Dallas and Chatterbox from San Antonio, were to face off in a battle of the bands competition. It was the first high profile punk/new wave event in Austin and it drew a large crowd. In the end, the Nervebreakers edged out the competition, taking home the big cash prize of $250. The Bodysnatchers felt they had been cheated out of a win and believed The Nervebreakers had a pre-arranged agreement with the club to get a $250 payout since they traveled the furthest, which would have ultimately meant the battle was rigged. This led to the Bodysnatchers' angst-ridden song, "Battle Of The Bands," in which they challenge The Nervebreakers to a rematch.

Another thing of note about the New Atlantis gig was that it was the first time Jimmy Pettit would appear on stage with the band. Prior to The Bodysnatchers, original bassist Kyle Brock played in Eric Johnson's band. Having an obligation to Eric the night of the battle, the 'Snatchers brought Jimmy in to fill the spot. He attests that they chose him because his girlfriend had recently given him a short Sid Vicious haircut and it had nothing to do with his abilities. Regardless, they all hit it off and decided to keep him on board, along with Kyle. So after that, they'd play shows with two bass players, Jimmy playing the low parts while Kyle played more of a lead style with lots of fuzz and feedback.

A local musician and producer named Jay Aaron Podolnick came out to see the 'Snatchers play a gig at Raul's and was blown away. Jay had previously worked with Kyle on Eric Johnson's Seven Worlds album and offered to produce a record for The Bodysnatchers. So they went in to Pecan Street Studios in downtown Austin and laid down five songs for an EP in a single session. It was recorded live to 1/2" tape and mixed on the fly with no overdubs. With its summer 1978 release, The Bodysnatchers 7" EP marks the very first independently released punk record to come out of Austin, pre-dating The Skunks' "Earthquake Shake" by several months. It is believed that 500 copies were pressed. The thin paper sleeve has caused most every copy in existence to have unsightly ring wear on the back cover.

The Bodysnatchers had always intended to be a fun band and never took themselves too seriously, but their strong musical ability caused their authenticity to be questioned by some of the members of the punk scene. Gary Floyd, who would later lead The Dicks, once proclaimed, "You aren't punks, you're businessmen!" As fate would have it, the band fully ran its course and split up in August of 1978. Kyle was keeping active with other projects and Larry wanted to do a more commercial sounding, straight-forward rock band, which would become known as The Rocking Devils.

The Devils began with Larry, Jimmy, Ian, and Chris from the Bodysnatchers along with Joe Eddy Hines. After just a couple rehearsals, though, Chris departed. He met Bevis Griffin at Raul's and they started a band called the Skyscrapers. The two eventually joined The Shades and then went on to play in the Bats and Banzai Kik.

Larry moved out to LA in 1982 and played in a couple bands called Hot Heads and Magic Black Snakes. Jimmy later played and toured with the Flatlanders and Joe Ely (who coincidentally was recording in the same studio at the same time that The Bodysnatchers did their EP). Ian went on to play in the very first incarnation of Standing Waves as well as an early line-up of F-Systems.

Tom McMahon briefly played in The Explosives, appearing on their first EP. He was also part of a short-lived band that toggled between the names The Other Guys and Walking Baby Bird that featured a young hair stylist named Terri Laird, who would later become known as Texas Terri. The band he played in that was closest to achieving success was the female-led new wave group X-Spand-X, who released a four song EP produced by Earle Mankey. Rusty Keith, who played in The Vendettas was in an early version of the band, then ex-Bodysnatcher Kyle Brock came on board in his place. Kevin Tubb was also in the band. He had previously played in the final incarnation of The Shades who were responsible for the Ward & June Never Understood EP, which Tom also lent some guitar licks to.

Monday, January 16, 2012

F-Systems - People

A. People

B. Naked Kiss

F-SYSTEMS (Austin, TX)
People b/w Naked Kiss
Classified (CRR-003), 1980

Neil Ruttenberg was a staple in the early Austin punk/new wave scene. He began working at pivotal record store Inner Sanctum in '74 and by '79 was doing a weekly radio show on KUT as Reverend Neil X. Having played in Neil Young cover bands in high school, it was in '78 that he changed directions while playing in the experimental band Radio Free Europe.

Though he only played 5 or 6 gigs with them, he did appear on a couple cassette releases and the 1979 double 7", History Of The Invisible Dog, where he contributed vocals to the song "Alien Day." Ultimately he was let go for being "too commercial," which led to him starting his next group, F-Systems.

The band incurred numerous line-up changes through their duration so they never had a definitive sound. Neil's songs would often be inspired by films as well as his love for prog rock and bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Magazine and PIL. Typically he would write the music and play bass while Lorenda Ash would come up with the words and sing the songs.

The earliest line-up had Bob Murray from Standing Waves on drums, but he only played their first gig, a three song set at a house party. Later came Mark Lander in his place and Kerry Crafton joined on guitar. After that they wanted to add keyboards. A Colombian musician named Andres Andujar, who had played in a successful South American band called Ankora, answered their ad.

F-Systems primarily play Raul's until the original management left and the bookings dried up. Club Foot soon became the alternate fun place to be. Their manager, Shirley Staples, worked there running lights. She assured them gigs, designed posters, and put all the money they made from shows into an account so they could make a record.

In June of 1980, they went in the studio and recorded "People" and "Naked Kiss." In the midst of the recording sessions, Kerry left the band due to internal conflict over the production of the record. Jerry Barton was brought in and re-recorded the guitar parts for "Naked Kiss," while Randy Franklin of Standing Waves produced.

Their friend Roland Swenson had recently started a label called Classified to release records for Standing Waves, the band he was managing. F-Systems asked if they could use the Classified name on their record to add credibility. So even though the single is credited to Classified Records, the band financed and released the two pressings of 500 copies themselves.

That December, Andres got a lucrative job in San Antonio. For the next several months he'd trek back and forth between the two cities to play gigs. But after a while he had to follow his career path. So Randy Franklin left Standing Waves and filled in, playing the keyboard parts on guitar.

In mid-1981, a friend in the RTF program at UT made them music videos for "People" and a newly recorded song called "Exorcism." The videos were used for a class project and never commercially released. Dick Ross, who had now taken over on drums, appears playing and lip syncing in both videos, though he didn't actually play on the recording of "People." Dick had previously played in The Vendettas and then in a short-lived group called the Ray-Vons, who would later become Max & The Make-Ups. Randy was also in the videos playing the keyboard.

The band had built a steady following. Their songs were played on local KLBJ with the help of Samantha, who was shopping the record around to DJs and stores. She even ran an ad in NME. They earned themselves slots opening for Gang Of Four, Grace Jones, Joan Jett and U2.

But alas, things fell apart by the fall of 1982. Neil moved to LA to work on his true passion, film. Dick would go on to play with Joe King Carrasco for many year and still plays the bar circuit. Andreas went on to a successful career in engineering. Kerry recorded and produced many seminal Austin bands at Earth & Sky Studios before moving to Dallas in '88 to work with metal band Rigor Mortis.

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.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Inserts - Doctor's Wives

A. Doctor's Wives

B1. Us The Product

B2. Rent Raiser

Doctor's Wives EP
Classified (NR-12586), 1981

Guitarist Steve Van Derveer and bassist Bill Jenkins started jamming together in 1979. That summer, Billy Pringle, whose short-lived band Boy Problems had just imploded, and Fred Schultz, who had played in the Mistakes, were auditioning musicians for a new project they were cooking up. Steve and Bill presented the 7 or 8 originals they'd written, Billy and Fred dug the songs, and the Inserts were born.

They spent a couple weeks writing up the rest of a set, and after scoring some better equipment through some shady deals, they began gigging regularly. Initially as an opening act, they worked hard to make a name for themselves at their mainstay, Raul's, as well as other clubs like Duke's Royal Coach Inn, the Continental and eventually Club Foot. They got more and more popular through the early part of 1980 and became known for their high energy stage show featuring Billy's extroverted dance moves and the filthy jokes they would tell between songs.

Eventually, personality clashes with Schultz and Pringle got Bill kicked out of the band. Manny Rosario, who had played in the Huns, the Next, and with Fred in the Mistakes, filled in for a couple weeks before Vic Reams took his place on a more permanent basis. Around this time, a bright young kid named Mike Carroll approached them to be their manager. He began working to get them steady gigs and took care of all the publicity. The band also started taking short road trips to Houston and Dallas where they were well received.

The Inserts rushed into the studio to record an EP. Mike designed the cover for the record which was released in a short run on Austin label, Classified, who also put out records for Standing Waves, F-Systems and later, Delta.

The Inserts continued to write more material, churning out two songs in a couple hours at some practices. They gigged constantly. A buzz was even created in LA after a writer caught their act and wrote a glowing review of them in a fanzine. Talks of touring the west coast were broached and future gigs in Austin were already booked when all of a sudden Billy pulled the plug. He had secretly formed a new band called The Jitters with Vic using half of the Inserts songs to fill their set. The Inserts played a couple reunion gigs between '82 and '85 and discussed staying together permanently, but alas, it was not meant to be.

The Jitters pushed on for a couple years before Billy went on to front a band called Bad Mutha Goose with Tim Kerr of the Big Boys. Fred Schultz also had a stint with Kerr when he joined the Big Boys on drums for a long tenure after the Inserts broke up. And even Mike Carroll had a Tim Kerr connection when they played together in Poison 13. Fred and Steve tried another project called Guilt Trip but that never got off the ground. Bill died 6 years ago of an accidental overdose on Valium.

The song "Doctor's Wives" was later featured on the Bloodstains Across Texas compilation.