Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dirty-ass r & R

I've been hit by a couple of waves of hardcore nostalgia lately. In a lifetime previous to the one before the one before this one, I was one of the guys who always brought a camera to the punk rock show in my hometown. Since my hometown was Austin Texas, and this was in the mid-1980's, a lot of pretty great bands passed before my eyes, and some of them left an impression (and a few dents) in my camera. Some of these bands went on to be nationally known, if not exactly famous, like Doctors Mob, True Believers, Poison 13 and the Offenders. Some of the performers definitely were, and still are, infamous, like the Butthole Surfers and Daniel Johnston. And then there were bands that were somewhere in the middle, like Scratch Acid.

Scratch Acid were Brett Bradford, Rey Washam, David Sims, and David Yow. Brett was quiet and restrained, Sims controlled and vaguely menacing, Washam tempramental and probably the best drummer in Texas, Yow was a great frontman, and the most hilarious guy on the planet. For some of these reasons, and for their ferocious music, SA became known in some other regional hotspots, like pre-Nirvana Seattle (I imagine Kurt Cobain was familiar with wild-ass Scratch Acid magic), but they never became Mega. Sims and Yow's next band, Jesus Lizard, were better known (and hopefully better paid.)

But Scratch They were truly amazing: scary, thunderous, cacaphonic and funny. They were as heavy as Led Zeppelin, but far more unhinged.

There's a guy in DC who's making a movie about Scratch Acid, and I want him to see these pictures, so that's one of the reasons I'm posting them. Looking at the images now, I'm struck by how sharply they document a pretty blurry phenomenon and cultural moment in my past. Scratch Acid burned across my life like some sort of a hairball meteorite, and though I couldn't have known it at the time, my life then was as wide-open as their music. Anything could have happened at one of their shows, and anything could have been around the next corner for me. But inscribed into these pictures is exactly who they were, and exactly who I was. You can see just how Yow wrapped his cowboy boots in duct tape, and you can see that I was one of the (many) people who loved the way he did that.

I'm so glad I have these pictures. Without them, I would be tempted to think Scratch Acid slayed me because I was young and stoopid. Now I know I didn't dream them. I can be sure that they were the real deal: bonified slobbbery monsters of rock.


EuroTrippen said...

Nostalgia's a double-edged sword. So great to look back and remember, but then there's that 'so far the other way my life has gone' moment that leaves you just a little hollow.

The mid-80s were great... before the high-tech companies set up shop & yuppies flooded in like the proverbial plague. Around that time I was juggling school and a night job at Conans pizza on 29th & Guadalupe. But what my life really revolved around was tumbling the old boy's club that was Texas politics (down with Bill Clemments!), listening to The Ramones & getting as stoned as humanly possible every weekend.

As Archie Bunker would say... those were the days.

Elizabeth said...

I was just listening to an interview, on Fresh Air, with Astrid Kirchherr, who took those early photos of the Beatles. There was a similar feeling she talked about, that feeling of not yet being weighed down by limitation; being old enough to be in the world and do things, but young enough not to know or worry about precedents, consequences....

Anyway, these photos gave me that feeling too.

DWmS said...

Aww. Yer sweet.

pat said...

B and Elizabeth: See, these are some of the reasons I don't think youth is wasted on the young. It's probably only someone in their twenties who would ever try to process the Ramones, Texas politics and Conans pizza with the same brain. It prolly even made sense to you. I think, despite our best intentions, that we do get more inflexible as we calcify. (BTW: large Conan's pepperoni and jalapeno with whole wheat crust. I just wanted to say that.)
David: I'm not trying to blow smoke up your skirt. Your band was important.
Plus, how are you doing?!