By Anne Frank 2000 & Max Dropout
The year was 1980, and while Richard Pryor was setting his dick on fire, sixty-three Muslims were being decapitated in honor of a certain charisma Chernobyl’s presidential nomination, and everyone else was whining over the death of John Lennon, the punk rock scene in Dallas was lurching toward its apex, producing some of the most volatile and strangely underrated bands to end up at the bottom of the compost heap known as underground rock n’ roll. The whole mess was something of an anomaly, too, since Dallas doesn’t exactly seem like the sort of place that would cultivate any worthwhile culture… let alone a sub culture. Imagine a colony of bacteria gestating in a bucket of bleach. The odds are certainly against the scum getting anywhere in that bucket, or in Dallas for that matter. The city has such disinfecting properties that even riding the city bus can give one a cool, shower-fresh sensation. While Dallas put forth many influential early punk bands, such as NCM, the Telefones, Superman’s Girlfriend, the Deprogrammers, the Bombsquad, the Assassins, the Dot Vaeth Group, the Vomit pigs, and Stickmen with Rayguns, it all died out in the strangest way.
About twice a year, I am forced on a Dallas pity trip to see my decrepit old grandmother that doesn’t even know my name and calls me fat, and in all the 18 years of these smile-and-nod vacations, I have never seen Dallas change once. Ironically, this is also the same city they filmed Robocop in. Apparently, when they envisioned the future of Detroit, they thought Dallas WAS the OCP mold, which says a whole lot about the city itself, in an Orwellian sort of voice of course. The city is chromed, aerodynamic, and run almost exclusively by art fag yuppies and virtually senile WWII veterans. So where have all the punks gone? The answer to this is quite obvious, and one that I rhetorically ask myself upon entering any large city. They have all either grown up and gotten office jobs or drank themselves into premature death, as was the case of Dallas legend Bobby Soxx.
There is one good thing I can say about the Dallas area; the record selection at the Half Price Books KILLS. After a five hour car ride with my brother constantly buzzing retardation into my ear, I was about to pop somebody in the face if we didn’t stop soon. The place we eventually ended up at was the gigantic Half Price Books behind the hotel. Before I entered the gullet of this warehouse-sized monster, I could smell the sweet rot of pulp and ink in every harrowing gust from its lungs. I huffed it in, and high on dust spore, began to weave through its massive record section, compulsively leafing through sleeves, as if I were some creepy, looming bottom feeder scouring for its essential nourishment. After pillaging the first couple racks, I pulled out something that genuinely surprised me. It was The Judys’ “Washarama” in perfect condition for two fucking bucks. This record has been known to sell for over 50 big ones on eBay. I beamed with excitement, and tucked the record tight under my arm like a paranoid pack rat. My excavation of rare Texas punk ’45s didn’t end there. I uncovered recordings of the Skunks, the Ralphs, Joe “King” Carrasco, and the Big Boys, along with other miscellaneous rarities. All of them dirt cheap. At this point, I was far beyond astounded. I was bewildered by my finds. In a city where 25 years prior there was an enormous punk scene, the last remains of this culture had washed up in a Half Price Books shit bin of all places. The euphoria aroused by my good fortune was finely cut with the sort of rage an ecology Nazi must feel while walking a beach lined with writhing whales belching up crude. It almost wasn’t right that I was walking away with these records for so little. Christ, shouldn’t there be a test of fire? Or knives? Shouldn’t I have to fight a mummy at least before walking out of the building with this virtual treasure under my arm? This was a grave-pillaging travesty. This was sacrilegious in a sense. There was a time when people cared about this stuff in Dallas. There was a pride all the way up to even the late ’90s that has since gone completely dead. Did some psychic meteor hit and make everyone dumb, thusly wiping away this once pulsing sub-culture in much the same way the dinosaur was erased?
By comparison, the scene in Fort Worth, a city that lay just west of the big D, offered a strange example of a scene during the 80s, which was quite contrary to the one that thrived in Dallas. There were probably only two worthwhile bands that came out of the town. One of these was the not-so-punk Ejectors, who released a single, and the other was the teen punk band, Hugh Beaumont Experience. In a city so close to Dallas, I can imagine that it would be discouraging to start a new punk band where nothing of that sort had ever been done. Fort Worth is pretty much the white bred cowboy suburb of Dallas, so when the Hugh Beaumont experience first picked up their instruments and caused a ruckus, you can bet that people stirred. Until about a year ago, I maintained only a vague understanding of who HBE were. When I was in elementary school, the Butthole Surfers were pretty much my deities (thanks to my cousin who shoved a pair of headphones on me whenever possible). By the time I hit fifth grade, I knew most of their songs by heart and I would obnoxiously sing along whenever they popped on the radio. This was back when “Pepper” was constantly spun on the alternative station. At the time, I didn’t think it was weird that my favorite little Texas band was playing on the radio. I didn’t think of them as “sell-outs, ” I just thought it was cool as fuck, and I couldn’t have been more excited for them. Anyway, I knew of the Hugh Beaumont Experience even then, and just regarded them as King Coffey’s “other band, ” never giving them much thought. I was just too young to do much in the way of research. Information about them on the internet is also very scarce, though there are a few reliable punk sites, such as www.breakmyface.com, which have proven helpful in obtaining information on the band. After plowing through several articles, I felt like I was only scratching the surface of their mystique.
The Hugh Beaumont Experience was created between classes and on lunch breaks at the prestigious Country Day School in Fort Worth. Comprised of four kids ranging from 15 to 17, they looked more like the math club than punk rockers. The first gig they ever played happened to be on a school sponsored field trip. Their audience, comprised mostly of theatre geeks and choir kids, were none too enthused by their performances and pelted the boys with food. In 1981, they recorded their first material which was a four song EP entitled Cone Johnson. How the Hugh Beaumont Experience were discovered is kind of ambiguous. It just sort of happened. Local DJ George Gimarc became interested in the boys, and suggested them to a woman named Beth of Cygnus Records, who was searching for new talent. She wanted a band that would be a profitable success, which is why Cone Johnson is extremely refined compared to their later records. The tempo is really slow and clean, and seems to only barely drag itself along a steady beat. On top of that, Brad sings in this pubescent fake British accent that makes it impossible to take the recording seriously. If I had heard this before the posthumous Virgin Killers release, I probably wouldn’t have any sort of interest in the band, and this has been the case for many people I have encountered so far. The same year they put out the Cone Johnson EP, their original drummer had left and HBE placed an ad in search of another. Despite not really knowing how to play drums, Jeff “King” Coffey quickly responded.
The LP reissue of Virgin Killers was compiled in 1993 by Existential Vacuum Records, featuring their unreleased studio recordings and some live tracks. The original self-released version is solely off a cassette and extremely difficult to find. These recordings embody what terrible, yet terribly awesome Texas punk should sound like. It’s a borderline cacophony that weaves itself together perfectly in a pulverization of grinding guitars, rapid drumming, and a chorus of rowdy kids that sound as if they can’t decide who’s supposed to be singing the lead. When I think of the Hugh Beaumont Experience, I get the image of a horde of raucous teenage boys, instruments in hand, trying to squeeze down a narrow staircase at the same time. The inevitable outcome of this involves a great deal of tripping, banging, laughing, and maybe sprains. This record is bad; by standard rules of composition, but all such aesthetical errors are forgiven as the group makes up for lack of real talent by having twice as much energy. They can barely play their instruments (much less together), their lyrics are ridiculous, and the whole style of playing is pretty much a dissonance. This youthful spirit is what makes the record so great. Who really cares if it’s in tune or on the beat? It’s a total wreck, but it sounds like a lot of fun. One of the biggest treats on Virgin Killers is when they’re conversing between songs. And by conversing with the crowd, I mean conversing at the crowd. In the background, there are only about three voices, and when Brad advises “you can dance if you want to; we don’t smell bad…” you really get the impression that the few people there are awkwardly standing against the back wall exchanging puzzled expressions. Oddly enough, The Hugh Beaumont Experience were greatly underappreciated yet opened for big name bands such as MDC and the Dead Kennedys. The most they ever made in a night of playing was 100 bucks, and even that came as a happy shock to them. I hold them up as one of the greatest Texas punk bands of all time, right up there with Stick Men with Rayguns. They weren’t great in a conventional or artistic sense, but in the sense that they had the energy and spirit that so many bands lack. They weren’t a horde of inebriated, dirt-under-the-nails hooligans, they weren’t even poor. Quite the opposite, in fact. Regardless of this, they never tried to convince anyone otherwise. They just played their simple, awful, and infectiously catchy Sex Pistols influenced punk rock and had a lot of fun doing it.
Initially, I was ultimately dissatisfied with everything come up with while working on this article. It’s difficult, when going back and compiling a composite from available info, not to simply regurgitate something that doesn’t yield anything new or interesting about the band or their personality. I needed something special in order to justify my attempt, and it came one day while discussing it with Max. “Coffey lives in the neighborhood, you know, ” he said, “he’s an awfully nice guy. We talk about our cats whenever I see him out. I bet he’d answer a few questions for you.” Being a huge Butthole Surfers fan I was a little intimidated by the suggestion at first, but after a few email exchanges I found myself across a table from the mysteriously youthful percussionist. When Coffey sat down, he seemed mystified as to why someone would even want to bother taking the time to focus on such a relatively obscure band. “Okay, ” he asked, “what are you guys up to exactly?” Amusingly, when I heard the tone of his voice, it reminded me of some dad who’d just found their mischievous little brats on the kitchen floor covered in pantry-looted chocolate icing. I wasn’t sure how to answer that question, but as he slowly began to peel back the years and wallow through recollections, giving us an occasional nostalgic whence followed by a chuckle as he relayed an anecdote pertaining to lead singer Brad or a particularly dreadful performance they had given, It occurred to me that this band had a lot of unreported charisma outside of their available recordings, and I realized I really wanted to do my best to convey that.
The following is a transcription of a conversation Max and I had with King Coffey in his own words.
AF: Were you at all surprised when Max contacted you about doing this?
KC: Well, yeah, I mean, Hugh Beaumont Experience only had one record, we were on one compilation. That was it as far as stuff that came out in our time. It was one of the most fun times I’ve had in my entire life, but I don’t really think about it that often. So yeah, I was definitely surprised.
AF: So, not a lot of people really ask about it?
KC: Not really. I think people sort of know the name more than anything. It’s a pretty obscure thing.
MD: What do you know about the name? Why did they settle on that?
KC: Well, they claim that some friend of theirs recommended it to them, but I know for sure that he got it from Cream Magazine. It was one of their little comics, and one of the guys in it is joining a band called the Hugh Beaumont Experience. The guy thought it was funny, and recommended it to Brad, who was the singer, and one of the main guys behind the band. Initially they were called the Offenders, but then they learned there was a band in Austin called the Offenders, so they changed the name to the Hugh Beaumont Experience.
AF: How old were you when you joined?
KC: They were thee teen punk rock band in Fort Worth. They were the only punk rock band in Fort Worth. They started in 79 I guess. I joined in… 1980? I’m guessing. This was back when punk was so underground. People were openly hostile toward it. There was no internet; it was impossible to find other people into it. But this band, the Hugh Beaumont Experience from Fort Worth — where I was from — had it together enough to go to a studio and put out a record. And it was a great record! It was full on ’77 punk rock anthems. Then I found out they were the same age as I was and I was blown away. I was like, “wow, who are these guys?” There was no address. There was a contact address in Dallas from where the record label was based out of. It was completely mysterious. And I was trying to start my own band at the time. I didn’t know how to play drums, but you know… punk rock… It doesn’t matter. So, they put out the record, it got some airplay on this new wave radio station that came on at midnight in Dallas. Then half the band left… the rhythm section left. The rest of the band took out an ad in a monthly, looking for a drummer and a bass player, and I immediately ditched whatever band I was working on because I could tell it was never gonna happen. I volunteered my services, and again even though I didn’t know how to play I was in because I wanted to do it. Which was really the same kind of deal with the Butthole Surfers. I was a fan of the Butthole Surfers and I didn’t really know how to play drums even then, but they had trouble maintaining a drummer or finding anyone who had any kind of enthusiasm for being in a band. But I wanted to do it, so therefore, I was in. That’s kind of been my road to the top.
AF: Were you going to school at the time?
KC: I was going to high school. It was hard for them because there were very few places to play. There was no where to play in Fort Worth. There was the Hot Klub in Dallas. They really had trouble getting shows, ’cause they were so young. They weren’t even allowed in the clubs. They were like a mysterious phantom, but when I met them they were my heroes because it was about punk rock. It wasn’t a new wave thing. Everybody was into new wave and we were sick of new wave. We were very much into the punk rock scene, but we were also tragic, because we were in Fort Worth and we were a couple years behind the times. Cool punk rock in the US at the time was like Black Flag and Minor Threat. We didn’t know about hardcore. It was Fort Worth. To us, punk rock was still the Sex Pistols and ’77-style. When we first started getting into hardcore records we were like, “oooh! oh! This is what punk rock is now! Okay.” So we began speeding up all our songs so we could be like everybody else. I think it kind of ruined the songs maybe, but we were punk rockers, man. We wanted to be the most punk rock band out there.
AF: What happened to the first drummer?
KC: Carter Colba! He was a nice guy! He was a good drummer, too. He really was. I met him a few times, but I think..(pause) I don’t wanna speak for people who I barely know, but I kind of got the sense that he didn’t wanna be in a punk band. Like he thought the whole thing was kind of stupid. Whereas, Brad and Tommy, the singer and the guitar player, really wanted to carry on. I think the initial band’s rhythm section kind of lost interest. They were all friends at a pretty elite private school called Country Day. Brad went on scholarship, and Tommy’s parents really weren’t that rich, but they had enough to put him in this private school. But they were these rich kids in this punk band and I think only Tommy and Brad were true punks. I think the other two thought it was a funny joke kind of thing.
AF: What were you listening to around the time you joined the band?
KC: Wow… uhm (thoughtful pause)… Well, I was definitely into punk rock. It was one of those deals where — and maybe it’s the same for every kid — when they get into punk rock… like, SERIOUSLY get into punk rock. I hated everything that was coming out of the radio and TV. Everything was under suspicion. Everybody became the enemy and the only thing worthwhile was punk. But pretty quickly I realized, at least for me, that punk rock also meant dub and reggae and soul… anything underground. Anything obscure. Anything that wasn’t the mainstream was to be embraced. Even to this day, I’m 42 now. I can’t catch up. There’s so much music out there and 99% of it is not main stream. It’s fascinating. You can keep discovering new records all the time, so I was like that. I was buying all kinds of records. I was really into KNOK and KNOW, which were the black radio stations. They were the best. They were playing stuff like Parliament, Cameo, and Trouble Funk, the whole burgeoning Go-Go scene, stuff like Roger and Zap. It was great. When I joined the band, Brad and I would spend the weekend just listening to KNOK… drinking Champale, because that was advertised on the radio, and listening to all night jams. Pumpin Parliament on the radio. That was kind of the soundtrack to our lives besides whatever punk rock records we could get. But even then punk rock was hard to find. You had big chain stores, like Peaches in Fort Worth, where if you went to the corner of the store they had a tiny imports section, and you could go through all these crappy records, but you might find record, and it would be really expensive, and you didn’t know what it sounded like ’cause you can’t take it out and listen to it. So you take a chance. It was so hard to find stuff. But I guess that was part of the appeal: the hunt. But yeah. punk rock and disco… that’s your short answer. (all laugh)
AF: Did you know any of the members prior to joining the band?
KC: Big mystery. No, I had no idea at all. I’m still shy, but when I saw the thing in the classifieds looking for musicians, I wanted to call immediately, but it took a day for me to get my cool, take a deep breath, and make the phone call because I didn’t know these guys at all. But then again, it didn’t really matter who I was. Just that I wanted to play was enough for them. But I still put on my best possible punk rock clothes and did my hair just right. I tried to be punk.
AF: Did you have ANY musical experience prior to joining the band?
KC: Lord, no. Like I said, I was trying to start this one band. I might have gotten a drum kit by that point. Initially, when I got into punk rock I wanted to play bass, but it just seemed too hard. You have to put your fingers in a certain place… I dunno. It was like math or something. Any simpleton can play drums. You hit something, and it makes a sound and you’re done. So I went to the music store and got a pair of drum sticks and started battering away on the wood floors of the house. I had these big indentations all over the place. I was going through books… pounding on books and destroying those. So I got a job at Del Taco and my dad put down a deposit so I could get this drum kit, and I paid off the bank, and after a while I finally got my drum kit. So yeah, I had a drum kit when I joined Hugh Beaumont Experience, but I didn’t really know how to play it. And mid way through the whole thing, we had a show and I left my kick pedal behind. There was no way I could afford to replace the kick pedal, and we had a show coming up. Then I realized that, at least by that point, we were playing this hardcore kind of stuff that I didn’t really need a kick drum for. It’s like a windup monkey kind of thing. I just needed two drums to (do that beat). So, we kind of just did a show with a floor tom, a snare, and a symbol. That was the complete drum kit, and you could play the perfect hardcore beat with just that. I kinda did that for a couple of years. I did that a few years into the Butthole Surfers. I’m still learning to play with my feet. That doesn’t come naturally to me at all.
AF: That actually answers my next question.
MD: I have a replacement, then. What were your parents like? Were they supportive of your punk rock endeavors?
KC: It was kind of like the Courtship of Eddie’s Father for me. My parents divorced early on and I lived with my dad, and he was like an out-there beatnik kind of guy. Super cool guy, but not really quite there. He was really supportive of me doing music. He was great. (pauses and laughs) We were living in this condemned house, and my dad lived in this trailer next to the house. Initially we were both living in the trailer, and he had this idea he was gonna fix up the house, but it never quite happened, so I told my dad, “look, you fix up the rest of the house, and I’m gonna live in this corner” … (which was) the one room that was still had four walls left to it.
“You fix up the rest of the house, and I’m gonna live in this room with four walls, ” and it was great. We could literally spray paint the walls. It was being torn down anyway. We could do anything we wanted. Friends would come by, we’d do drugs, and we’d spray paint the walls. It was the most perfect punk rock high school crash pad ever. It was so cool. My dad’s attitude was like, “as long as you’re getting good grades and you tell me what’s happening…”
He didn’t really care. He was happy I was doing something fun and creative. It was awesome. Every now and then I’d take a bus down to Austin, to see shows like at the Ritz and stuff, and even though I had no right to be doing it, I’d say, “dad, look here’s all my homework. My report’s done. There’s a big show at the Ritz I wanna see in Austin. I have a friend I can stay with down there.” and he’d say, “okay, just as long as you call me when you get there, and wake me up when you come home Sunday we’re cool.” As long as I maintained my GPA the guy let me get away with murder pretty much.
MD: Did he see you play?
KC : Oh, yeah! But you know, I was a jerk. Like every stupid high school kid, I didn’t really appreciate my parents. I was trying to be cool, I was trying to be in a punk rock band, and there’s my dad, who went out of his way to pile all of our stuff into his pick up truck, drive us to Dallas. And I would make him stay outside in the pickup trick and listen to the Rangers’ game because I didn’t wanna be embarrassed by my dad coming to the show. But when we went on, he’d stand in the corner and watch, and then sneak back to the truck. I was a jerk, and I regret that, and I apologize now, but he was great. He went to all the shows, and deep down of course I appreciated his support. Him being there was cool.
MD: Did he like the band?
KC: Mmm… (pondering). No (all laugh). No, he was more into classical music and stuff. But he’s also a freak, so I think he appreciated the whole counter cultural vibe. Even if he didn’t appreciate the music, he appreciated that I was doing something different.
AF: Was there anything going on in Fort Worth at the time at all?
KC: Oh, god, no! Uh-uh. But briefly! Briefly… for about six months, there was a club right around the corner from me called Zeros New Wave Lounge. I remember I was in my drivers ed class; we were driving in the car with four people, and they said, “Jeff, look at that! It says Zeros New Wave Lounge!” and I said “whaaat?” (Imitates swerving) — I almost killed everyone in the car steering into it. It was a new wave lounge… but they had punk rock bands play there as well, and even though I missed it because I was kind of clueless, Black Flag played there. X played there. I saw my first live punk bands there. The whole experience of seeing a rock band, where you feel the kick drum from the PA (pounds chest rhythmically), I got that experience there. Of course it being Fort Worth it died a quick death. But they would let me in, even though I was too young to get in legally, if I promised not to drink. I’d kind of stand in the corner and be freaked out.
AF: The Ejectors were from Fort Worth weren’t they? Weren’t they playing around that time?
KC: Yeah. See, this is funny, like the little class differences we carry to our graves I guess. We were Hugh Beaumont Experience. We were punk rockers. Everybody else were these fey new wave bands that we hated. Even though the Ejectors were a great band — they had some great songs — to us, they were new wave. That’s just the weird almost fascist thinking we were offered: punk rock or die! They weren’t punk enough. The only punk band we respected in the whole DFW area was Stickmen With Ray Guns with Bobby Soxx. That was it. We worshipped Bobby. He was just the most intense performer, and Stickmen with Rayguns were so ahead of their time, too. They had this heavy, death-dirge thing, where like it was a punk band, but they weren’t playing classical punk. They were exploding a thousand different ways. It was so heavy, so vicious, so mean, so angry. They were our band. Plus, NCM were really great. Neil ran the VVV label. He played guitar in that band. The Ejectors were cool. They were our age. They were another high school band, but to us, they were “eeeeeh, kinda new wave.”
AF: Did you get to meet Bobby Soxx? What was he like?
KC: Yeah, yeah! He was a very nice guy. It’s one of those classic things, you knew in a second he could snap and take out a knife and start spewing some racist bullshit, and you might die or something, so you always walked on eggshells around him. He used to work at a Pizza Hut in Dallas and we’d go visit him and he’d give us pizza. He was just so nice and so friendly, and he actually knew a lot about music, too. He knew a lot about rockabilly and all kinds of cool music. He was a super nice guy. I guess looking back he must have thought it was funny, these teenagers were like his biggest fans. “Ah! Bobby Soxx! Bobby Soxx!” He was the man, though.
AF: I can imagine. I’m a big Bobby Soxx fan. The scene in Dallas was pretty big. Did any of those bands influence you besides Stickmen with Rayguns?
KC: It really wasn’t that big. It wasn’t as big, say, as Austin was, and even Houston had some happening bands. As far as the Dallas scene goes in relation to Hugh Beaumont Experience, we were there from when punk and new wave were about the same thing, and hardcore began to emerge, and there was a big schism between what is punk rock and what is new wave, which is kind of a shame, but that’s just the way it was. A band like the Dicks kind of threw the gauntlet down on the line with the whole fake bands thing. Either you’re a fake band who plays new wave, or you’re true punks and we were true punks. We were on that VVV comp, Live At The Hot Klub. We were friendly with most of the bands. I wasn’t really nutty about most of them, but they were nice guys. But toward the very end there were so few punk bands, like hardcore bands, in the DFW area that there was one club called the Studio Club, where all the touring hardcore bands came through. Name a hardcore band from the early 80s, they played Studio D. Almost every show had Stickmen with Rayguns and Hugh Beaumont Experience. Because those were the only hardcore bands in town. I’m sure all the locals hated us… “Oh god, not these guys again. They can’t even play their instruments. They’re just gimmicky sixteen year olds jumping around.” But, really, there weren’t that many bands that I liked in Dallas. To me, it was all about Austin. When the whole band got out of high school we were like, “screw this joint. Let’s go to Austin, where the action is.” The number of punks in Fort Worth could count on one hand. It was Hugh Beaumont Experience, my friend Phil and my friend Lorna. Well… I guess that’s six fingers. Anyway, that was it. That was all the punks in town. When I went to Austin, I think the first band I saw was the Dicks at the Ritz, and good god, there were like five hundred punks there. It was huge. And they’re all in front of the Ritz. I’d died and gone to heaven. That was the best show I’d ever seen in my entire life, too. It was one of those life changing things.
AF: Do you know what happened to the actual Cone Johnson records? It’s really hard to find. It goes for about $1500 on eBay now.
KC: Well, Beth was the one who put up the money to put it out. I think she only made 500 copies of it. It was kind of a minor hit in Dallas. It might have sold fifty copies because a DJ was playing it. Half the pressing is probably still in the Dallas area, and then Beth might have had the rest in her closet for a while. They might have gotten thrown out. It was a small pressing. It’s one of those things, it had a great name, and it was kind of obscure. There are obviously better records from that time period. Really, Ryan has done some research … I think he knows the true story. He contacted Beth. He might know if you really wanna get into it.
MD: Ryan, from Break My Face? I’ve always wanted to meet that guy.
KC: He’s a good guy and he knows a lot. He’s tracked down every obscure punk band from Texas. He knows his stuff for sure.
MD: Have you been to his house?
MD: Now, I’ve only heard tale, but someone told me he has the Black Flag bars cut into the dry wall of his living room (all laugh). I was amazed when I heard that. That’s truly hardcore.
KC: He actually has the Zeros New Wave Lounge marquee. He owns that now. He’s the collector-supreme of punk rockdom.
AF: What were the other guys in the band like? Do you have any interesting stories about them?
KC: Brad was great. He WAS the Hugh Beaumont Experience, really. Eventually, Tommy the guitar player quit, leaving just a singer and a drummer for the most part. We recruited other people to come in and play in the band, but Brad was the only remaining original member. He was the visionary of the band.
He was out there, man. I don’t even know where to start. He had a Demerol addiction for a while. He was a sixteen year old with a Demerol addiction… he was in and out of rehab clinics, and he was shooting up these drugs. I don’t even know where you find Demerol, but he was a Demerol addict of all things. He was the funniest guy I’ve ever known… passionate about music. I did my first acid trips with him. Even though we were hardcore and punk rock, we began taking so much acid that we realized this music’s terrible (all laugh). You can’t listen to hardcore music when you’re high on acid. So he began, tongue-in-cheek, wearing all this tie-dyed stuff at punk rock shows. Playing in full tie-dye to inflame everybody. We’d play Cream and Jimmy Hendrix. We were trying to be the most psychedelic band in the world. A year earlier, we were trying to be the most punk rock band in the world. It was always about extremes for us. We couldn’t just take in air and exist and be a happy band. It was always from one extreme to another. Later on he moved to Austin.
Well, this is all on the public record I guess (chuckles). He was gay, and he and his boyfriend got involved in this check writing scam in Austin, and the police caught on to him. I was with him when he bought 200 doses of Vicks Sinex Nasal Spray, which they melted down to make the worst bathroom crank ever. The only time I have ever done crank in my life was that stuff, and it burned my nostrils so much. I couldn’t imagine any high being worth that pain. The store manager saw them buying all this Vicks Sinex spray with a check, and thought it was kind of suspicious, so he wrote down the license plate number, and when the check came back bounced naturally they had a license plate to trace it back to. It was the bass player’s dad’s car, and he got called. That day we went to San Antonio to record our two tracks on the Cottage Cheese from the Lips of Death comp, and the rest of the band who were involved in the check writing scam split to California to hide out from Johnny Law for a couple years. When that resolves itself, brad came back to Austin. He started this GREAT noise band called A Child’s Garden of Sodom that I saw play at this theater at the state hospital. It’s one of the most surreal things I’ve ever seen: A Child’s Garden of Sodom at the Austin State Hospital. But Brad was just a funny, funny guy who was really into confrontation. I’ve never known anybody like him.
AF: Were they all easy to work with?
KC: Yeah, we all kind of wanted the same thing, but we didn’t have any skills. We were fans but we didn’t really know how to play. The only one of us who knew how to play was the original guitar player Tommy. He wrote the music. Brad wrote the lyrics. We had a drummer who couldn’t really play, and you had a bass player who at the time was– (laughs in recollection) he was from Arlington, but he spoke with this thick cockneye accent. Occasionally if you called his house he’d forget he had to be in character and he’d speak normally and then go into his cockneye accent. He had this garbage he’d wear that had the word vile on it … he was just that punk rock. But he couldn’t play bass. I couldn’t play drums. I got a friend of mine who was learning to play guitar to play for us. We were all sort of learning. Our ambition was greater than our actual talent was, but ya know, punk rock. It didn’t really matter.
AF: Do you have any contact with those guys today?
KC: Brad passed away. We don’t really know to this day if it was suicide or accidental death. Only Brad would know for sure. He was found in a closet, hung, from what I was told. That really freaked me out actually, because I’d seen him the night before. The Buttholes played, and I hadn’t seen Brad in like a year because he was living in Dallas at that point. He was just in totally great spirits. Brad was the laughingest guy I ever knew. He was always laughing, laughing, laughing. He isn’t what you think of when you think of someone being suicidal. It was pretty weird.
MD: One of the guys lives in Thailand now?
KC: Yeah, Tommy’s in Thailand. I think he’s a teacher. I haven’t been in touch with him since high school days really. We had another Tommy who played bass who was in the hardcore version of the band. I haven’t seen him in years. David Mcreath the played guitar for the hardcore version of the band, on Virgin Killers and the Cottage Cheese stuff. And he’s still a good friend of mine. We made a record together, and he’s living in Alaska, where he’s the web guy for the Anchorage school district. He’s a solid upstanding citizen.
AF: What were your crowds like? Were they mostly teenagers?
KC: No, the only time we got to play regularly was toward the end, when we were playing all those hardcore shows at studio D. The hardcore scene in Dallas was so small, generally, we sort of played for the same twenty people all the time. By far, the biggest show we ever played was when the Dead Kennedys played Studio D, and five hundred people were there. It was Dead Kennedys, MDC, the Butthole Surfers played their last show with their “mostly original” lineup, Stickmen with Rayguns, and Hugh Beaumont Experience. And because it was the Dead Kennedys, EVERYBODY showed up. It was packed. It was this huge warehouse kind of place. I was so freaked out. I’m sure we played a thousand miles an hour, totally on adrenaline. It was great, so much fun. The Dead Kennedys gave us a hundred bucks. We’d never even gotten paid to play before. We were like “woah.” Bands took pity upon us. Really Red felt sorry for us. They invited us to play a couple times with them down in Houston. We were invited to play the Ritz a couple times. Back then the entire hardcore scene in Texas was so small really, you kinda knew everybody. There were twenty given bands at any time, so you kinda knew all the bands. And we were one of the only representatives from the Fort Worth area. Plus I had a fanzine at the time, so I met a lot of people and made a lot of contacts through that. We probably invited ourselves onto a lot of bills that way.
AF: What was it like playing with all the bigger name bands, like MDC?
KC: It was incredible. People’d actually come see the bands play, they had songs, and they were really good and stuff (all laugh). Because it was punk rock everybody was real approachable, and so you’d get to talk to them. And likewise, I’d invite all these bands back to my house, back to the condemned house. I roadied for Husker Du when they first came through Texas, and they stayed at my house. Bands like None of the Above crashed at my house. I guess on paper they’re my peers, but I’ve always been kind of a fan boy.
AF: I guess that’s all the questions we really have. I have one more to end this on, though. Tell us about one of you’re more memorable shows…
KC: Wow uhm… You have to keep in mind that nobody cared. We were like a bunch of losers playing for people who hated us. Only five people who were our friends who liked us. The live side of Virgin Killers was recorded at the Ridgley Theater in Fort Worth, where we played with another teen band, who were this rock band doing .38 special kind of stuff. They were good, and they were playing a popular style of music that people liked, and here’s our crummy asses playing punk rock in a band that nobody liked anyway. So we kind of had this little war in this theater of 200 of their fans and our one lone friend in the audience. For some reason, we were baiting the crowd. We thought we could take them all on. Making fun of their hair; making fun of what they liked; making fun of ZZ Top; Making fun of Fort Worth. We got out of their alive, but we thought we were being real punk and stuff. and I also laugh about toward the end when we were doing a lot of acid on stuff, even on stage, and wearing a lot of tie dye, and doing our best to piss off punk rockers as best we could.
MD: Thanks for doing this King. We really appreciate it.
AF: Yeah, thanks so much.
KC: Hey, no problem. Hugh Beaumont Experience. Jeeze.