When I was a young child there wasn't really any Rock 'n' Roll so the music that I heard was just music from the honky-tonks and white Pop music, whatever was popular, Country. The popular music of my parent's generation an it didn't really have that much of an impact on me. I guess I liked music but I don't have any real memories of it but then when I was becoming an adolescent that's when Rock 'n' Roll was born; Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Little Richard , Elvis and Buddy Holly, and all that stuff. It's really incredible when you think about there was nothing and then there was all of those guys. Within a year or two all of those guys, and of course a lot more, and Rock 'n' Roll really had its beginnings before it hit white radio but when it was actually becoming Rock 'n' Roll from Rhythm & Blues and everything else it's just incredible to think about how much burst on the scene at one time. The an adolescent just kinda being ready for that stuff, it had a terrific impact on me. With the exception of Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly & The Crickets a lot of that early Rock 'n' Roll was really was more kind of piano and saxophone that it was guitar and I wasn't really playing anything at the time. I had taken some piano lessons as a kid but didn't really take it very seriously.
So the first Rock 'n' Roll I heard guitar wasn't that much of a part of it and I didn't really think about it that much but when I was about 13 or 14 I was at a teen dance and they had a band. I don't how old the guys were, they were probably 18 or 19, but to a 13 year old they looked pretty old. I used to go to this teen dance on Friday night in the shopping center in Dallas. The teen dance was called "Teen Timers" and they would spin 45's one Friday and the next week they would have a local band. One of the first times I went to it and actually heard a real Rock 'n' Roll or teenage band it was just a trio with guitar, piano and drums. The guitar player didn't sing but he looked like Elvis, real handsome guy with Elvis hair. He was playing a Stratocaster. Of course I didn't know what that was at the time but I remember sitting there with my friend and we were listening to the music just hearing it up close and personal. They were just playing like Jimmy Reed, R&B kinda stuff, Fats Domino, whatever. This was early on. But we were listening to it just hearing it like that, live, and it was kinda the first time I ever really tuned into the guitar. Me and my friend we looked at each other and said, 'We gotta learn how to do that!' So we started taking lessons. So I was about maybe 13 or something like that when I first heard a little trio at a teen dance playing. I don't know what they were playing but it was just the same kind of stuff we were listening to which was that early Rock 'n' Roll.
It was just basically R&B anyway, really, just about. Then Rock 'n' Roll started having having its more unique elements to it. But as a youth Blues was mixed right in there just about from the beginning with my Rock 'n' Roll. I knew the difference but living in Dallas at the time we were exposed to Blues so Little Richard and Fats Domino and all of those kind of 50's icons, all of those Rock 'n' Roll icons, were a part of my education but also soon after discovering all of that was Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, and Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters and Little Walter, Bo Diddley, Chess Records and Excello Records and VeeJay Records. So I was really lucky to where I got hip to all of that stuff right off the bat.
As a matter of fact is was just kind of understood that when I was in -we called it Junior High School then which was 7th, 8th and 9th grade- and when I was in Junior High here in Dallas Jimmy Reed just kind of ruled. It was like... I remember being in the 6th grade and a friend of mine said -he was older than me and already going to Gaston- he said, "So you know who Jimmy Reed is?" And I said, "Well, no, I don't think so." I was like in the 6th grade or something and he said, "You better find out!" Meaning when I get to Gaston I need to be checked out about Jimmy Reed, so that was just a part of my youth. And then the Rockabilly was there too and you could tell the difference between Rockabilly and just regular Rock 'n' Roll and Rhythm & Blues and Blues, but it was just all mixed up and I was influenced and messed up by all of it.
I took piano lessons when I was 8 years old before I ever heard any Rock 'n' Roll and I don't even know why I took it. Some woman came into my class in the 3rd grade and said, "Does anybody want to take piano lessons?" And I have no idea why I said, "Yeah, I'll do that." I had really no interest or knowledge in music or anything. I don't even know why I raised my hand but I took for about a year and a half but we didn't have a piano so I didn't really get very far with it. But then when I started really playing I started on guitar. The we got a piano later on for my sister and I started trying to transfer what I was learning on guitar to the piano so I started banging around on the piano but really guitar was the first thing I took seriously.
I don't really even feel like I'm a piano player, really. I like to amuse myself with it and I can make people think that I can play the piano but the reason that I -I mean there's some things that I can do OK- but my point is I know what all my weaknesses are on the piano. I've got a few things figured out and there's some stuff I can do pretty good but I have to work too hard at playing piano. I feel like I'm a guitar player that can bang around on the piano a little bit. I've never really had that much access to a piano but anytime I've had access to a piano I love to play it. I can barely walk by one without -I'm sure it's annoying to some people- but if I see a piano it just draws me to it. And so whenever I'd get a chance I would play a piano. I don't really have one now. I finally got a Wurlitzer electric piano, which is a different thing but I love a Wurlitzer electric piano, so I've actually had a piano for a while even though it's not a real piano. But I really like trying to play the piano. Whenever I sit down to play piano what I seem to like to play just to amuse myself -I'm not really a Jazz guitar player or a piano player- but when I sit down at piano I like to try to play ballads and standards and stuff like that. I can bang around on E and G and A, some three chord stuff, I can do that. A working knowledge of the piano to some extent, I guess you can say.
About a year after I started playing I... I guess I started playing (professionally) about the time I started the 9th Grade and then there were some guys in my neighborhood that I knew that wanted to start a band, and so I guess right before the 10th Grade it would have put me about like 15 years old or something. In he 10th Grade in High School I was playing in a band with some people and I was the youngest guy in the band. So my first band I had I was 15.
Moving to Austin
I moved down there (Austin) in May of 1970 and Jimmie and Doyle (Bramhall) moved down there like a month later, then Paul Ray moved down there a month later and then Stevie, it took Stevie about another year to get down there. I happened to move down there first but just by about 30 days. I didn't even know Doyle at the time. I'd actually played a couple of gigs with Jimmie but I didn't really know Jimmie very well. I was about 7 years older than Jimmie. I knew who he was and I'd actually played a couple of gigs with him but I didn't know him very well. I moved to Austin with this bass player named Jamie Basset who used to play with Jimmie before we all moved down there. Jimmie and Doyle kind of moved down there together and when they got to town they came over to where Jamie and I were living and they said, "Well, let's play." And so a week after Doyle and Jimmie had moved to town Doyle and Jimmie and the bass player Jamie Basset and I started playing in a band called Storm and Little Doyle -we call him "Little" but I guess the world knows him as "Doyle II" or whatever- he was like about 2 years old when they moved down there and I didn't know Doyle until he moved to Austin. So I've actually know Little since he was about 2 years old.
At the time, this was in 1970... you know, it's funny to think back. I was talking about how in '55 and '56, even '57, still only 3 years, it's incredible how much stuff happened that was significant for all musical time in that short period of time, and then things kind of fizzled out in the early 60's. Some of the Rock 'n' Roll started getting watered down a little bit and then in the second half of the -it got off kinda to a slow start but it started with The Beatles and The Stones and then Bob Dylan- but by the second half of the 60's, maybe the whole thing started with RUBBER SOUL, I don't know, the psychedelic stuff started happening and guys started growing their hair long and people started becoming aware of Vietnam and getting alarmed about that. I guess it's kind of hard for people to understand or even care about if you weren't there but like I'm old enough to where I grew up in the LEAVE IT TO BEAVER days. For people who are so young they don't know what that is it's like you've seen footage of the old Black & White TV shows with the families where everything seems so innocent. That's actually the America I grew up in as a child and then as an adolescent Rock 'n' Roll burst onto the scene and just kinda shook everything up and everybody thought that was just a teen thing that would go away. It was a teen thing but it didn't go away. But then the 60's -I was barely old enough to pick up on the 50's stuff- but when the 60's exploded it might be hard for young people to understand how radical it was for guys to wear long hair and smoke pot and stuff like that but that was all radical stuff in the late 60's and if you had long hair it was just like walking around with a sign going, "Yeah I smoke pot," and it was, "I'm probably against the Vietnam war and yeah I take drugs too." And the country was very divided and polarized over those issues and some places were a little bit more dangerous to live if you had long hair and Dallas was one of them.
I had never been to Austin even though it's only 200 miles away, I had never been to Austin until 1969 and I went down there with some friends and I knew some people nobody had really ever heard of Austin really before that. I mean it was the capital of Texas but culturally I don't think nobody really thought much about it. But in those days in the late 60's early 70's, it's a very small -well it's not that small, a couple hundred thousand- but it had a really small town feel; it had the capitol, the University of Texas, and it was not an industrial town. It was just a pretty little town, quaint houses and trees, almost kind of like a sleepy college town. I mean a bunch of smart people but it was a really laid back town. But back in those days the college towns were the kind of haven for longhaired people and all that kinda stuff. It was a smaller town and it seemed like a friendlier town and there were just more... it just seemed like if you had long hair -I mean me and my friends were never like Hippie hippies but we were musicians and had some things in common with people of that generation- and Austin was just a safer environment for people that wanted to live like that. There was kind of strength in numbers or something, it wasn't... seems like hard, industrial -well Dallas isn't so industrial, compared to Austin I guess it is- Dallas was more conservative at the time and the longhaired people in Austin you just felt their presence because it was just smaller and there was a lot of them. There was just so many beautiful hippie girls.
The first time I went down there, the first day I was there, I said, "I need to be here!" And so it took me about a year after I discovered Austin to get down there, but this was about the time that -I mean it was a totally different time- people were hitchhiking all over the country and just checking everything out. San Francisco obviously was famous for its cultural stuff at that period and there were a few other places like Ann Arbor, MI, probably Cambridge and of course New York, and there were a few towns that were kind of iconic for the culture at that time and Austin was becoming one of a few towns across the country that people that were drawn to all of these happenings started to discover. And so a lot of people gravitated to Austin, especially from Dallas and Houston, and Lubbock and Waco and Texas places, but there were people that were just traveling all over the country at the time and word of mouth got out about Austin and so people started checking out Austin and if they didn't live there permanently a lot of people came there. Austin was just one of those places in those times seemed to be a very happening, friendly, creative place to live so it happened to attract a lot of musicians.
At the time Austin wasn't really in my opinion any more of a music town than hardly anyplace else. There was music there before we got there bit there was music a lot of places. There was music in Waco, there was music in Lubbock, there was music in Houston and Dallas, there was music kind of all over the place and Austin wasn't really thought of as a music town. They had a few cool venues there and some cool stuff going on but it wasn't really nationally recognized, or even recognized across the state that much, but musicians being like they are and the times being what they were it attracted a lot of musicians and so in the 70's Austin became one of the more important music towns. We went there not because it was a music town, just because it was a cool town. It's like when you think of all these other American iconic music cities like Chicago or Nashville or Memphis, or whatever you want to think of, most of those iconic music cities were iconic music cities most of the 20th Century but Austin -I think you can safely say that Austin's a music town- but it wasn't really put on the musical map until the later 70's or the early 80's so it was kind of unique like that.
Early bands in Austin
In the 70's and into the 80's, I'm not really sure when it started changing but like in the "older days" back to the 70' s and before it's different from today because back then people didn't really play in that many different bands at one time. I'm not saying that nobody did but for the most part bands were formed however they were formed and people just were in one band pretty much, they were just committed to one band you rose or fell with however the band did, but people weren't playing in a bunch of different bands. So in the 70's I didn't play with that many different bands. I only played with Jimmie about six months in that band and then the next band I played with was called Southern Feeling, I did that for about a year and a half with W.C. Clark and Angela Strehli, and then in '74 Paul Ray and me and some fellas started Paul Ray & the Cobras, and then I played in Paul Ray & the Cobras from about '74 to about '82. That was the band that Stevie joined in '75 I think, played with us a couple years. I might have done some gigs with some other bands but basically in the 70's I was only in about three different bands; first of all The Storm, then Southern Feeling and then Paul Ray & the Cobras.
Gigs and Bands
I had gone out and done some brief road work but it wasn't really until '79 maybe when the Cobras -it took us all through the 70's to... we were trying to, me and most of my friends, and there wasn't really that many of us, Austin is kind of thought of as a Blues town but there was really only a handful of us that were trying to play Blues and so we just played locally most of the time. I mean we'd play around the state every once in a while but we were just trying to get somebody to come to hear us and it took a while to get that going. But in 1979 Stevie had left The Cobras and Paul Ray had left The Cobras; we kept going and got a different singer, and went on the road. So I guess I started going on the road in '79 with The Cobras. It's not like I stayed on the road but that's when I started going on the road, when you go out for a month or so.
Your memories kinda get kind of funny and I don't know how you filter out or filter in different things but it just seems to me like we played about four or five nights a week, kinda all the time. I don't know if we did and there were probably some weeks when we didn't, especially in the early days because when we all... when we first got to Austin Jimmie kinda already had a name around the state to some extent and I thought that when we moved to Austin and started over with that thing down there I thought we were gonna be rulin' Austin pretty quick but for some reason it just didn't happen. And we played a lot of gigs where our bar tab exceeded what we divided up at the end of the night. But things were a lot cheaper, we had roommates and lived together and all that stuff, so you could get by on almost nothing which is a good thing because we made almost nothing. But it seems like all those bands that we played in we were just trying to play.
It's a lot different now than it was then because -seems funny to say "in those days" but it was a long time ago- there were places to play and even though there was a lot of bands in Austin when we got there, and as the 70's progressed other musicians moved there so there was more bands and more musicians. There were still a lot of venues but more important than that, something that's different from today, is that local people were interested in hearing local music and that hasn't seemed to have been the case for a long time. There's just so many other distractions, and there's a lot of other factors that would take too long to go into -I mean I'm still trying to sort it all out myself- but it was a different time and the age span of people that were interested and everything, this age span was much smaller. Like today there's certainly nice clubs or whatever that cater to a certain demographic but there's also other venues and certain music acts that play that there might be three decades of... you know, the fans might span... back in the 70's most people that were going out at night were just in their 20's and if you were in your 30's or much into your 30's you weren't still going out at night, so it was a younger crowd and everybody had more in common but now a lot of us just kinda never grew up and we never stopped playing in clubs and we never stopped going out to clubs so the age span of people out on the streets at night, it's funny, there's people in their late 50's and people in their 20's. That hadn't always been the case.
So back then there was actually I guess in some ways a smaller audience just because the age span of people that were interested in what was happening, it was a smaller age span. The difference was that back then people didn't have computers and their home entertainment centers weren't like they are (now), there was just different things going on in the country, in the world and in people's lives and going out to hear live music, even if it was local, it was important to people. I'm sure I stayed sometimes but when I think about it back in the 70's it just seems like if I wasn't playing I was going to hear Jimmie or Stevie or some of my friends or just going out every night and hanging out in the daytime. Maybe it wasn't like that but that's the way it seems. So there was a lot of venues, I mean it's not like everybody was making a lot of money but people just went out a lot if you were in the demographic. Not everybody that was of that age was going out at night, there was some -the way we would characterize them- there were 'straight' people and then there were... whatever you want to call them, the other people. And straight people, meaning people that didn't have long hair to over simplify, like maybe smoke pot and have long hair, maybe they had... it's not like everybody of that age group had long hair and smoked pot, and that's not the only way to define them, but to over simplify there was only kind of one main subculture back then in the late 60's and 70's. There was really just kinda two, maybe one subculture. It had it's little factions I suppose but unlike today there's like a hundred subcultures. It's like there's hardly any unity out there. There's so many different factions, so many different subcultures. It was just different, everything wasn't quite so splintered back then.
Making a Living
Every once in a while somebody would come up with some side project for fun or something but it seems like we all worked a lot. When I'm thinking back I'm thinking, "How much money did we make?" The sad and funny thing about it is like in a lot of ways everybody in the country is making more money doing what they used to do except for musicians. I mean good, professional, even world-class musicians, a lot of them are making $50 a night right now. And of course back in the 70's $50 a man a night might have been pretty good pay but musician's pay hasn't really kept up with the cost of living so musicians are just about as broke as they ever were. But back then when we were younger we were more willing to have roommates and Austin actually in those days everybody was always broke just about. About the only people you ever knew that ever had any dough were the dealers and the difference back then is like the dope dealers, they weren't like criminals, they were just more like outlaws. The were outlaws but it's not like they were criminals, they weren't violent. Eventually things got out of control and got rough, especially after cocaine came into the picture. But a lot people just didn't have much money but it didn't take very much money. Rent in Austin was really cheap and if you had a roommate or two you were still broke but you could still come up with a Super Reverb and a Stratocaster, and you could drive a '66 Cheverolet, and you could pay the rent and go eat Mexican food and go out and hear music. Compared to now life was fun and easy even though we were broke. The thing is the younger you are the easier it is to be broke. If everybody else is broke it doesn't seem to be as hard. The older you get you don't want to be older and not have any money. That's not good. That's not one teeny bit fun. Or pleasant. But when you're young, and so many of us were just so grateful to be able to try to play music... you just have to play and if you have to sacrifice to play for some reason we do it.
But back then everybody still, as broke as we were, we could still live somewhere and in Austin I almost never knew anybody that lived in an apartment. Everybody lived in a house. Not by themselves usually but you could afford to live in a house. Sometimes I had two roommates, sometimes I had one. Sometimes I had two roommates but one of them never had any money so it was like having only one roommate. But if you had two or three people you could pay the rent. You could rent a house for $150 or something, $160. Gradually the rent got higher but everybody was broke, that's true, but everybody had a car and everybody had a Strat or a Tele or whatever you wanted and everybody had a gig-worthy amp. $300 for a Super Reverb was a lot of money back then but if you had to have it you could come up with $300 for a Super Reverb and you could get a Strat for $300. And you could get a '66 Cheverolet for about $500. That was more money than it is today, today somebody would like to find a '64 Strat for $300 but that's not gonna happen. It's sad because if you want to play today you can get an amp and you can get a guitar and you can get a car but if you don't have much money to spend the kind of stuff that you're gonna get today compared to what a poor person could get then... there was a time when all those vintage Strats were just used guitars. They didn't cost what it would take to send a kid through college.
Cosmic Cowboys, Disco and Punk Strikes Back
If you were playing Blues in Austin we were just used to adversity anyway because like we moved to Austin and we're trying to play Blues, really there weren't very many of us, but we were trying to play it and it was hard and we were just starting to get a little bit of attraction and then Willie starts coming to town. That's cool and everything but all of a sudden Austin turns into this "Cosmic Cowboy" haven and all these hippies start turning into cowboys and stuff so now everybody's into Country music. We used to call it "The Progressive Country Scare" that came to Austin because we were just starting to get some traction and then Willie comes and changes everything. But we were stubborn and just wanted to play Blues so we kept doing it. The disco thing I don't know if it hurt us or not because we were already hurt. Back then if you wanted to play Blues it was already an uphill struggle but I do remember back then you would get gigs in some unlikely places because there just were no Blues clubs, even white-owned Blues clubs. By then a lot of the black Blues joints didn't exist anymore and if they did you probably couldn't play at them. All the clubs we played at were just nightclubs where all kinds of bands played. Very few Blues clubs. Sometimes we would just come up with gigs and try anything and I remember several gigs where we would play and then we would take a break and they would start playing Disco on our break and that's when the people would rush to the dance floor. And of course the sound system made all those dance tracks sound really powerful and strong and then we'd get up there with our little Blues instruments and probably sound like a car radio compared to that stuff. So Disco hurt us more in certain venues.
Disco hurt a lot of things but it also caused a reaction to it and I'm not really sure how Blues fit into all that since Blues was already difficult in the first place. I was a little bit too old to be into the Punk thing but even if I didn't understand it exactly, and I never could relate to Punk myself, on one level I understood it. I couldn't relate to it because musically it was not interesting to me, it seemed like it was more an attitude than about good players and stuff. But part of that was just a reaction to how watered down music had gotten. So Disco probably contributed to Punk maybe. And how Rock had gotten so corporate. I think Punk was a reaction to corporate Rock and Punk was probably a reaction to the mindless Disco stuff. Had I been a little younger I probably would have gotten caught up in Punk but I wasn't that angry. And I already knew how to play my instrument. Punk had a certain intensity and attitude that's a part of Rock 'n' Roll so I could understand it, but after hearing the stuff I heard and everything and knowing what I knew I just didn't have the Punk mindset. It's not like I hated it or anything, I just was a little bit too old for it. I wasn't angry about stuff. I kinda understood it on some level but it would have been fake if I had tried to be some kind of Punk. But I think maybe Disco had something to do with causing Punk to exist. Not totally, but it seems to me Punk music, the whole Punk thing, was the reaction to corporate and mindless things in society. I guess the Punks they needed to feel something or just wanted to call bullshit on something they thought was fake and I can understand that.
After The Cobras, into the 80's
They continued on a couple years after I quit. I left in '82 and they continued on 'til '84. The reason I left, it's a long story I won't go into, we had an album that we thought was coming out and it never came out and that was a big disappointment and so I just got kind of disillusioned with The Cobras and Lou Ann Barton had put out her first album. I didn't play on it but she asked me and The Cobras' sax player, and Doyle actually, and some other people to be in her band since she had an album coming out. She thought that surely she's gonna go out on tour. Glenn Frey and Jerry Wexler produced that album and Jimmie played on it and she was getting some ink in Rolling Stone and this and that so she just assumed, and we all assumed, that she'd be going on tour since she had this label, this album out with that kind of cred to it. And so Joe and I, the sax player, we quit The Cobras, and Doyle, everybody quit what they were doing and we formed this touring band for Lou Ann and we started rehearsing and then after everybody had quit the band and started rehearsing Lou Ann found out that she wasn't getting any tour support so what we had quit our bands to do was not gonna happen. But since we already had a band we tried playing for a little while to see what happened but nothing happened so we quit doing that. And so then I started playing with Angela Strehli and then, I can't remember exactly when but it was sometime around that time, but Antone's opened up in '75 and when it first opened up that's the same time the Thunderbirds were formed, just coincidentally about the same time Antone's opened up and the Thunderbirds just kinda ended up by default being the Antone's house band. The Cobras played there too a lot but the Thunderbirds kinda ended up being the house band if they needed a band. And then the Thunderbirds played there kinda almost every night that they didn't play someplace else. And then Antone's lost that location and they went to another one and then lost that location and then they went over on Guadalupe. By the time they got over to Guadalupe -I guess this was the early 80's, I can't remember exactly- the Thunderbirds were always on the road by this time and so they needed another house band. And so in the early 80's when I was playing with Angela, I don't remember exactly when, we formed the Antone's house band. And so I was playing with Angela, she was a part of Antone's too, and so from then until the end of the 80's, from the early 80's through the 80's I was playing with Angela and doing the Antone's house band.
We went out on tour, went to Europe a couple times. We went on the road with Angela in the 80's. We actually did go on the road and to Europe. Antone's was our home base and it was great because there were still a lot of Blues guys that were alive and we would back 'em up. It was a remarkable time to be around Antone's to be able to hear and play with all the people that we played with. But Angela put out an album and I put out a couple albums, Angela went on tour. Not all the time but we went to Canada and the West Coast and the East Coast and Europe. So we did do some touring. And then Antone's, we took some Antone's road shows out and went here and there. So I did do some touring in the 80's with Angela and the Antone's fellas.
TRASH, TWANG & THUNDER
I can't remember who called me, it might have been Mike Buck, but I think that they... I knew most of those people but it was a slightly different circle of people and somebody, I'm not even sure who came up with the concept of that album and I think that they were already making some plans on it and then kinda at the last minute somebody decided to include me in the project. I knew everybody except I didn't know Frankie Camaro. I hadn't seen him. I didn't know him before that and I haven't seen him since. I don't know where he came from or where he is but I knew Don and I knew Evan and of course Keith and Mike. So that all came about quick but I don't really know who's bright idea that was to start with. But I'm glad they included me. It was fun to make the album. Actually got a Grammy nomination. We were up against I think Stevie and Jeff Beck and I can't remember who won but we actually went out to L.A. and rented tuxes and went to the Grammies and everything. (Mike Buck didn't mention tuxes, a picture of him in a tux would be interesting.) I'm sure that he had one. I can't really remember who all went. I think Evan went, and Don, I don't think Keith went. Maybe Mike might not have even gone actually. But whoever went I'm we sure we got tuxes because you were just supposed to. Everything has gotten less formal these days but whoever went surely would have worn a tux. I know I did. It was fun to go out there and pretend like you were a big shot for a few minutes. I mean we weren't but it was fun to pretend. We got to be there, we were there without having to break in.
I only had two (contributions) really. We rehearsed one day at The Continental Club, I think we only rehearsed once or twice or something, they were trying to explain to me what the concept of the album was, just kind of a crazy, demented Rock 'n' Roll instrumental album. I can't remember exactly how they described it but that's what it ended up being. So I was thinking, "Do I have anything?" and I thought, well, I could probably come up with something if it's just supposed to be dumb Rock 'n' Roll. I don't mean that to be derogatory either, it's hard to come up with something cool. I thought, well OK, I got this one thing, the first song I ever made up when I was about 14, some minor chord thing. When I first started playing and learned just enough to make up a couple of songs, a couple of minor key songs, I came up with a couple. I said, well, so it sounds like something I wrote when I was 14 might fit into this project. And so I played them a couple of things that I made up, the first songs I ever made up when I was about 14 or 15 or something, and I guess they all agreed on one of them, they said "yeah that'll work" and that happened to be the song called THE LOST INCAS and then I came up with this thing that ended up being, I think the producer Bruce Sheehan or somebody named it, NEAR EAST BEAST. Probably based on some crazy line that Evan played on it or something but I had just kinda came up with a beat and a chord progression, some kind of general skeleton for a song and I don't think that it actually ended up being exactly what was in my mind but it didn't really matter that much. So my only two songs were the one I wrote when I was like 14 or so called THE LOST INCAS and the other one was BEAR EAST BEAST which I just kind of threw together for that session that just kinda took its own shape, so I didn't really contribute that much.
Actually, I'll tell you what my main contribution I think was. When we were rehearsing these songs, most of them, I mean some of them were just real dumb -not dumb in a bad way, I like dumb- and some of them were just totally three-chord twelve-bar things, just real loud over-the-top, but then some of them had actual chord changes to them, like we did THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY and some other I can't even remember, but we did some songs that weren't just straight out three-chord changes and I think my main contribution to the album was when we were recording it. I loved Keith and everybody loved his bass playing but Keith didn't really like to do a lot of homework and he didn't really like to spend a lot of time learning songs. He didn't even really like to play the kind of songs that you had to spend much time learning. So as we were recording the album -Keith was a good friend of mine, I really miss him, I really liked him a whole lot- but I knew that when we were recording the album I had to be real delicate about it but I could see that it might be a problem for Keith because Keith just didn't have the... Keith just wasn't gonna sit at home and practice these things and work on them and memorize the changes and everything.
And so as we were recording the album I kinda discretely said to him, "Hey, you know I could kinda stand next to you as we're playing the songs and call out the changes to you if you want me to." Keith said, (in a raspy voice) "Yeah, yeah, that'd be good." I didn't want to embarrass him or anything so I was kinda discrete about it but as we were playing the songs I would -I'm pretty good at that and so I knew how to... so we'd be playing and I'd say, "G, A, D" and he would for the most part follow my little directions there and so we were able to get through the songs but after the album came out some people wanted to play a couple of gigs and I was goin', "Oh no. No, no, no. This will not work. This will not be good." Because I knew that at a gig in front of people I couldn't really stand there with Keith and yell out the changes to him. And so he was just gonna be on his own at the gig.
And so we tried to play a gig -well, actually when it came time for the gig people just kinda learned their own songs, didn't bother with anybody else's, so when we played a gig my memory of it is it was just a total disaster 'cause we just couldn't remember the songs. I mean, you know, sometimes you go in and record, a lot of times people record songs and then they never ever play them again in their whole life. I mean I've done that, I've recorded songs that I've never ever played again. And I mean a lot of people have done that, they never played them at a gig after they recorded them in the studio. And that was of course the case with this stuff. Even though a lot of the songs weren't difficult, it was really difficult to remember them and Keith didn't know 'em in the first place! So it was pretty tough. But I got him through the recording sessions but I couldn't do that (at a gig). So I think my biggest contribution was allowing Keith to get through the songs in the recording sessions.
I mean that's the way I remember it and that's my version but you know what, the thing is it's like when I talk about Austin in the early days, when I talk about this album, and when I talk about the things that I've been talking about -I'm sure that you know this but I just want you to know that I know it too- that this is all from my perspective. It's the way I remember it and it's from my perspective. If you could get Jimmie to talk about this stuff, I don't know, he might go, "Somebody's wrong." Or anybody you talk to about this stuff people would just remember stuff wrong, not wrong but differently or focus on it different. I'm just telling you my memories of that TRASH, TWANG & THUNDER stuff and my memories of all those bands, Austin in those days, it's all from perspective which is as valid as anybody else's but it probably wouldn't be the same as anybody else. So I just want you to know that I realize that.