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Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends of West Texas Music
by Christopher Oglesby
Published by the University of Texas Press:
"As a whole, the interviews create a portrait not only of Lubbock's musicians and artists, but also of the musical community that has sustained them, including venues such as the legendary Cotton Club and the original Stubb's Barbecue. This kaleidoscopic portrait of the West Texas music scene gets to the heart of what it takes to create art in an isolated, often inhospitable environment. As Oglesby says, "Necessity is the mother of creation. Lubbock needed beauty, poetry, humor, and it needed to get up and shake its communal ass a bit or go mad from loneliness and boredom; so Lubbock created the amazing likes of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, and Joe Ely."

buy the book

"Indeed, Oglesby's introduction of more than two dozen musicians who called Lubbock home should be required reading not only for music fans, but for Lubbock residents and anyone thinking about moving here. On these pages, music becomes a part of Lubbock's living history."
- William Kerns, Lubbock Avalanche Journal

 -continued from page 1-
Greg: In junior high, Chris and I hooked up with David Gomez out of, pretty much, just love of music. We really didn’t have any ulterior motives like "to get girls" or "drink free beer" or...

CM: I wanted to get girls.

Greg: Well, that just came with the territory. But we started playing, and we all realized, "Damn! We’re good!" We played Rush; We played The Knack; We played Van Halen.

CM: A lot of the bands that were playing along side of us were doing just the more basic kind of stuff. As far as I could tell, we were the only one’s that really started to get more into the progressive stuff - just for the purpose of doing something a little more advanced.

Chris: When I listened to y’all’s CD, I could tell that there’s an intentional "orchestration" to it. I can tell that y’all are layering a lot, and making a musical sound out of it that’s a lot deeper than just banging on drums or yellin’. There’s a lot going on with it.

So how did you figure out that y'all were that good?

Greg: When you’re 13, 14 years old and you can put together a Rush song and make it sound identical to - exactly what those guys were playing... You get the same feeling from it - hopefully - that they got out of playin’ it, you have to step back and go, "Damn, Boy! Good job!" "Hey, you, too!"
Plus, the reaction that you get from people when you’re that young and playing something that advanced…You don’t necessarily get the big standing ovation; You get the thousand mile stare like, "Who the fuck are these guys and what planet are they from?!"

Chris: Where are you getting that stare? Who’s giving it?

Greg: Lubbock, Texas.

CM: Just - y’know - playing at parties. Again, we were like 13 years old at the time… And just doing crazy shit.

Greg: And parents are there looking at us going, "Oh, My God!"

CM: I think we were a little bit of an anomaly just because - like we said before - we were doing some stuff that was beyond what other kids our age were doing.

Jason: I think with the times changing, and also with Tech being there and a lot of youth being in Lubbock, one thing I’ve noticed that has changed since then is it’s openness to what these guys were doing back in 1984.
Whereas a parent these days wouldn’t be so freaked out by it; But goddamn, in ’84 you got your 14 year old kid playing Hard Rock songs in the garage! That’s pretty unheard of back then. Now-a-days, a lot of kids are playing guitar. So it’s a lot different. People are into all kinds of music more than they used to be.

Chris: And I think that Rock-n-Roll - Heavy Metal - is not as terrifying to people in Lubbock as it was when it first was starting. When Kiss first came to Lubbock and opened their world tour on Halloween night, the whole city was scared! Like the Devil worshippers were gonna be out taking the blonde virgins and sacrificing them…I mean these are real stories that I heard back then! And it wasn’t "joking around." You really did hear people earnestly saying that.

Greg: Yea! "Put your animals in the house."

Chris: There were more Devil worshippers in Lubbock, apparently, than anywhere!

Jason: That’s funny; I didn’t know any of ‘em, either. [The whole room breaks into laughter].

Chris: And you never heard about anybody actually getting killed by Devil worshippers. Who were all these blonde virgins who were being sacrificed?

Jason: The very fact that people thought all those crazy things made that band -- or any other band that had that mystique -- more appealing to the kids. "They’re making a big deal about it; My parents hate it. I’m gonna loooove this band!"

Chris: We were talking about how y’all were maybe ahead of your peers musically; How y’all end up getting together as a band in Lubbock?

CM: Jason had been playing with Uncle Nasty. I was doing mainly radio deejaying and not doing a whole lot of playing.

Jason: Chris did the "seven to midnight" shift; He was the prime-time deejay at FMX. When we got Greg in the band, we needed a bass player, and Greg was like, "Man, I’ll talk to Chris but he’s got this radio gig."
We played from 10:00 to 2:00, and Chris was off the radio at midnight, so there was no way.
But then Chris got canned from FMX…[Laughs]…and all that changed!

CM: I got fired from FMX no more than two months after Greg had called me up asking if I wanted to come play. We had thought the schedules wouldn't allow it. But when I got fired - That same day, I called up Greg, "If y’all still need a bass player, I’ll come play."

Chris: Is there any story to you getting fired?

CM: Oh…I knew this would come up…The job I have right now is working for a company called Clear Channel; FMX is owned by that same company. So I can’t go into a lot it, because there’s still some hurt feelings from both sides. Let’s just say I was a stupid 22 year old kid at that time, did some stupid stuff on the radio.
I was being a "Rock Deejay." I got a new boss who didn’t see eye-to-eye with me too well, so eventually he just figured out a way to get rid of me. That’s basically what happened.

When I was gonna join the band, I don’t even remember if there was any official try-out or anything…

Jason: There wasn’t. We just said, "PLEASE play!"

Chris: Jason and Michael and Chad had asked Greg, "Can he really play, or is he just some dude who has a bass?" Luckily, I could play.

Chris: Who’s Michael?

Jason: He was the other guitar player in Uncle Nasty, Michael Adami.

CM: I really had no other real job. I was just doing some construction work for my dad and playing with Uncle Nasty. That was in September of ’92. We went from September through the end of '92, and that was really kinda where Uncle Nasty had kinda peaked out by then. Jason was starting to want to move on to getting past the "cover band" sort of thing. Greg and I both - neither one of us had a lot of experience outside of doing "cover band" stuff, and we were both wanting to write our own music.

Jason: In Uncle Nasty, we were playing mostly "popular" Hard Rock and "popular" Metal. We weren't doing anything ground breaking.
We were just a "cover band."

I had always wanted to write heavy songs. I wanted to get heavier. I was always into Megadeth, Metalicca, the heavier shit…The old stuff when it was really heavy. Greg was into that, too. So when Greg got into the band, me and him immediately struck up this deal - Greg was in the band maybe a month or two before Chris was - We ended up really doing all this cool stuff…Pantera like changed out lives in 1992. I’ve gotten over it since then. I was like, "Let’s write some heavier stuff." Then when Chris got in, he and Greg had a history.

I said, "Man, now I got a great drummer and a great bass player; I’d like to just get out of Lubbock!" I talked to them one night, "Do you guys wanta split?" They were like, "We’ve been wanting to split, too." It was totally group decision. And we played our last show New Years Eve of ’92.

Chris: And you moved to Austin then?

Jason: About six months later.

CM: But we did make an effort - at the time, it was a major effort on our part - to get the guys in Uncle Nasty to change over to doing some original stuff…

Chris: So the three of y’all left Uncle Nasty, and went off on y’all’s own…When did Kerry join the band?

CM: I remember pretty vividly: We were right down there by Main Street Saloon, and we had been talking beforehand that we needed a singer; There’s nobody that we really wanted to play with who can sing. I wouldn’t doubt if King Mahon’s name came up at some point.
I came up with, "My little brother Kerry would like to sing. He’s not a singer but he looks the part."
Not to sell Kerry short or anything, but we really didn’t have a whole lot of options and we knew that he would do what we told him to do and do his best at it, so we asked him straight off the bat…
And for a long time - Kerry himself would readily admit that - he was easily the weak link in the band for a long time. We had club owners try to tell us, "You need to get a new singer."
Of course, we were such good friends and we were so bent on doing our own thing and not doing what we’re doing to please anyone else, that we were not about to mess around with that kid of stuff. We hung onto Kerry.
Fast forward up to now, and he’s become a real good singer. It took a little while, but it worked out in the long run.

Chris: Tell me about what y’all’s experience has been here in Austin.

Jason: We’ll play anywhere we can, as long as we’re not getting fucked over, basically. We do want to get paid.

We have a large draw; We are a significant band in this scene, and we want to get paid for it.

CM: Metal bands historically get screwed at every turn. We’ve had many, many shows where they’ve refused to pay us or they paid us less than what they said they were gonna pay us. But that’s pretty much par for the course.
We’ve finally gotten to the point where we can command a little more of a payday. There’s been a more places come open over the past year. Emo’s has been there forever; We play there pretty regular, and that’s a good place for us.

Chris: Is that where you developed a lot of your fan-base?

CM: There’s really not one specific club. We have a good following that will follow us wherever we’re playing. I think that’s true of most bands in Austin. There are so many different places to play, you don’t necessarily have "regulars" at any music club, any more.

Chris: Are y’all looking to get out of Austin? Or are you happy doing what you’re doing here?

Jason: We all have other jobs, but we’d all love to be touring the world playing music as a living and being able to cover our debts. We’d all love to do that, but that doesn’t happen to everybody so we’ll just keep plugging along at what we do until we’re tired of it, I guess.

CM: We all have pretty realistic attitude about it. Even if we don’t ever become multi-platinum, touring the world - At least, satisfy ourselves in playing some really good music.

The reason why we’re here in Austin is that it’s a place where you can do music without becoming a big huge Rock Star. It’s possible to have a good degree of success just here in town.
We don’t necessarily want to stop there, but at least it’s a good platform to start something from. But we don’t have any major pre-conceived notions about where it’s gonna go from here.

Jason: My main goal – and I think everyone’s main goal – is to make the best album we can possibly do. This album was supposed to come out in August and we kept telling ourselves to take some time off and just write. The next thing you know, someone would call and we’d play a show.
Then we got called to do the 101X-Fest, and that was really a big turn of events.

Chris: What happened there?

Jason: We played with some huge acts: Cypress Hill, Weezer, The Nixons. We were the only unsigned act, and the only Metal act. Everything else was way Hip-Hop. And the only Austin act….

Chris: Let’s go back to Lubbock a little more. Does anybody have any stories about being a kid there? I know that y’all were aware that there was a lot of good music going on there - like I was - seeing John Sprott and those people at Main Street
In your experience - now that you’re a little bit older - do you think that that was something unique?

Jason: I definitely think it was unique. Because even some bigger towns didn’t have as good of bands as Lubbock had - like The Nelsons and Ground Zero - that were kicking ass and actually making records, writing music and not just playing cover songs.
My brother Sean was in The Nelsons, and they made a record that is killer. It never went anywhere but it was a great album. I just remember thinking, "Man! I want to write music!"

And my experiences as a kid lead me to Heavy music, because I was pissed off.
I got fucked with a lot in Lubbock, because of the way I looked.

Chris: Did you have long hair?

Jason: I had long hair. I wore Guns and Roses shirts; I was a total Rock Kid.
I had the denim jacket with "Metallica" on the back, the whole nine yards.
I still am today. I still listen to a lot of really brutally heavy music, like way heavier than what we do in Human.

I started gettin shit in junior high - From the "Christian Coalition" is what I call them - the Lubbock Christian Coalition…
The funny thing was: My parents live in the rich neighborhood in Lubbock so I was going to church with all the rich kids and in the neighborhood with all the rich kids, so they were my friends. And the kids didn’t care; We were still friends.
I was in Student Council and shit; But I was the only one in the Student Council that was wearing a Guns and Roses shirt, when everyone else was wearing Polos.

I got fucked with a lot, like I was a drug dealer and drug user; I had never even seen any drugs in my life, never done anything! The only thing I had ever done was drink a beer!

I got pulled out of class one time. They said to me, "In the teachers’ lounge, everyone says that you’re a drug dealer." I remember this so vividly! My student council sponsor took me out, all of a sudden out of nowhere!
I was like, "What the hell are you talking about? I don’t do drugs. I don’t deal drugs. What are you talking about? I’ve never even heard that!"

Then I was like, "You people fuckin’ suck! Fuck you people!"

It really kind of stopped when I went to Lubbock High. I found a bunch of other people who were into what I was into.

Chris: It’s a lot easier to be weird at Lubbock High. You kind of revel in it when you’re there. Lubbock High is the one place in Lubbock where it's cool to be wierd.

Jason: I kinda got my niche going there, and felt less "fucked with."

But then, when we got a new superintendent for Lubbock schools, he passed out a regulation at the beginning of my 10th Grade year that said, "You can’t wear these T-shirts," and he named like 30 bands - and some of them were Country bands! Like you couldn’t wear a George Strait shirt because he had a song about screwing a chick, or some stupid shit like that.
So I got kicked out of school like 40-something times.
I had good grades and all of that; I was a smart kid. But, Man! I got fucked with in a major way…

I really hated all those people the whole time I was there. I wrote a song about all that shit in Lubbock. The song is called "Microcosm of Regression" that is about how I felt about all those people.
There's a line in that song where it says:

"Now I look back on the problem and see how small it is.
Predetermined pulse of sheltered ideology.
Podunk wretched dome of dust." 

Now, I always say that I don’t hate them; I just feel sorry for them. I really feel that way. I just really feel sorry for them, for how close-minded they are.
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Buy the book by author Christopher Oglesby
Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air:
Legends of West Texas Music

"As a whole, the interviews create a portrait not only of Lubbock's musicians and artists, but also of the musical community that has sustained them, including venues such as the legendary Cotton Club and the original Stubb's Barbecue. This kaleidoscopic portrait of the West Texas music scene gets to the heart of what it takes to create art in an isolated, often inhospitable environment. As Oglesby says, "Necessity is the mother of creation. Lubbock needed beauty, poetry, humor, and it needed to get up and shake its communal ass a bit or go mad from loneliness and boredom; so Lubbock created the amazing likes of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, and Joe Ely." - University of Texas Press

buy the book

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