Texas Punk

A World of Our Own: Mydolls and the Houston Punk Scene (2016)

On July 28, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) presented A World of Our Own: Mydolls and the Houston Punk Scene, an interview with Texas first-wave punk band MYDOLLS (1978-present), SugarHill Recording Studios President and producer Dan Workman and Wild Dog Archives. Mydolls discussed their nearly four-decade-long career recording, touring, and producing records; their DIY ethos and cultural impact; and their role as community leaders working to empower women and musicians of all ages. Following the discussion, Mydolls performed a live concert in the Museum gallery.

CAMH also displayed collected ephemera and materials from the band’s archives in the Museum’s Cullen Education Resource Room. Admission was free and open to the public.

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Select artifacts from Mydolls’ band archive curated by Max Fields and organized by Wild Dog Archives (2016).

Part of the music-based lecture series 20HERTZ, this presentation is held in conjunction with Mark Flood: Gratest Hits20HERTZ is a lecture series conceived around themes of musical influence in everyday life. The series asks artists, musicians, and all-around-creatives to share the music that has influenced them throughout their lives.

Watch a video of the lecture, courtesy of CAMH.

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(Flyer design by Barry Elkanick; courtesy of Max Fields and CAMH)

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Art Punk: Culturcide on Point Zero, Tacky’s Pop Propaganda Dubs (1987)

“The underlying aim is to produce music that successfully opposes the social system within which we are all immersed. To produce music that is a particular style is to invite the system to use your music for its own ends. We’ve seen that happen with punk music. But if you take the system’s own propaganda as your ‘style,’ it defeats that process. Dubs also make use of the massive conditioning of the population. Between today’s alienated individuals, no real dialogue exists…any non-mainstream attempts to communicate have to start from the zero point.” – Perry Webb/Mark Flood in SICKO #1 (January 1987)

Formed in 1980, experimental noise rock band Culturcide and their version of performance art converged with the early punk and underground music scenes. By 1987, the year SICKO magazine covered the release of “Tacky Souvenirs of Pre-Revolutionary America”– the band’s controversial, now classic, LP featuring comedic dubs of overplayed mass media songs–Perry Webb/Mark Flood had already created a distinct surreal/cut-up language of his own using sardonic humor and satire to create a new noise that opposed “the social system within which we are all immersed.”

Mark Flood: Gratest Hits is an artist interpretation/reflection spanning a 30-year history. The exhibition, which includes ephemera from Culturcide, is on display at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston through Aug. 7, 2016.

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CULTURCIDE ALBUM REVIEW: “Tacky Souvenirs of Pre-Revolutionary America” LP (SICKO #1, January 1987)

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(Original Zine Courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

 

Anarcho-punks Organize First Rock Against Racism Concert at UH (1979)

Led by a sociology student named Henry Weissborn, the three-member strong Direct Action Committee (DAC) at the University of Houston began organizing “Be-In” events in the spirit of the previous decade’s counterculture. Also know by the Youth International Party’s moniker “Yippies,” Weissborn, brothers Jeff and Dave Stewart and their fellow activist party banded together with some of Houston’s earliest punk bands to produce these underground music gigs.

There is cut-and-paste evidence that legendary Houston punk progenitors Really Red and Legionaire’s Disease performed at Yippie-organized Be-Ins, including an outdoor event held November 18, 1978, at Lynn Eusan Park, which drew a massive crowd of around 500 supporters, according to a report in Weissborn’s first DIY publication, ULTRA magazine.

Houston’s student Yippie chapter planned to launch the city’s first Rock Against Racism event on campus as documented on this flyer promoting ULTRA, but the “free rock and reggae” campus event was called off. The show took place instead at Paradise Island on April 1, 1979. Among some of the classic punk bands performing for the first time were AK-47 and Vast Majority, two of Houston’s most radical.

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(ORIGINAL FLYER COURTESY OF Wild Dog Archives.)

Ultra and Wild Dog Zine Original Artwork: Untitled Faces (1978-79)

Henry Wild Dog founded ULTRA, an underground DIY zine focused on the Direct Action Committee and other countercultural movements, in 1978. The fourth and last issue was published in January 1979, after which the long-haired, radical Yippie (Youth International Party member) was transformed into a Houston Punk.

WILD DOG #1 was launched in April 1979 as the first zine covering the emerging punk scene in Houston following the inaugural Rock Against Racism show at Paradise Island. A poet and social activist, Henry Wild Dog included poetry and ink drawn artworks contributed by a number of underground writers and artists in both ULTRA and WILD DOG.
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(Original Artwork/Galleys courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

 

Peel Talks Texas Punk, Spins Mydolls’ ‘In Technicolor’ on BBC Radio (1982)

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TRANSCRIPT

In January 1982, MYDOLLS took a holiday in London and were interviewed on the JOHN PEEL RADIO PROGRAM on BBC-1. Peel’s show came about in the mid-seventies and has since given first chances to now-renowned musicians. “Peely” spun IN TECHNICOLOR and expressed a great interest in the Texas music scene.

The fall of 1983 heralded further intimations of success: the band appears in a scene of Wim Wenders’ film PARIS, TEXAS, starring Nastassja Kinski, which won the coveted Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1984. Shot on location in Port Arthur, Texas, the film has MYDOLLS performing A WORLD OF HER OWN off their recent 12″ 45 EP SPEAK SOFTLY AND CARRY A BIG STICK

(Ephemera courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Austin Surf Pop Punk: Alien Beach Party on Live Wire Records (1979)

The Delinquents debuted their 1960s garage/psych/fuzz rock inspired Alien Beach Party 7″ EP in 1979. The band formed out of the Austin music scene that, unlike the Houston underground, was recognized internationally during the 1970s for its cosmic cowboy, outlaw country, and psychedelic/acid rock influences. As part of the emerging punk and new wave scene, the band performed at Raul’s rock club, Austin’s counterpart to the Island in Houston.

Lester Bangs, “America’s greatest rock critic” and famed writer for Detroit-based CREEM magazine, lived in Austin for a brief stint and recorded his lone studio effort with the band at Earth & Sky Studios in 1981. Both albums were released on band members Brian and Melinda Curley’s label, Live Wire Records.

The surf pop punk, new wave sounds of Alien Beach Party (Side B1: Do You Have A Job For A Girl Like Me?/Side B2: Motivation Complex) were created by the band’s initial lineup (there were several iterations): Layna Pogue (vocalist), Andy Fuertsch (guitar), Tim Loughran (engineer and drums), Mindy Curley (keyboards), and Brian Curley (bassist and producer).

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(Media courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

‘PROTO-PUNX’ INFLUENCES & THE PSYCHEDELIC-PUNK CONTINUUM (1986)

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Henry “Wild Dog” Weissborn published the final issue (Vol. III, No. 1) of Houston’s first punk fanzine, WILD DOG, in August 1981. Published by Khosrow Amirazodi, PUNX magazine emerged from its parent ‘zine STUDIO X as one of several Houston underground publications filling the void as the underground music scene evolved from garage and experimental noise to hardcore.

Although this article in PUNX No. 2 appears less polished than previous writings, Weissborn contributed this editorial, “Proto-Punx…And Other Bizarre Facts About Animals,” as part of a series of important historical musings chronicling Houston’s early music and alternative press movements.

“Mus[i]cologists concede that Texas was an extremely fertile spawning ground for punk rock in the 60’s,” Weissborn wrote in 1986. “In particular, the 13th Floor Elevators loom large in the punk rock hall of fame.” A seminal punk and Texas underground influence, Roky Erickson and Elevators Tommy Hall and Stacy Sutherland set off the wave of acid rock that eventually peaked in the middle 1960s in San Francisco, “where the wave finally broke and rolled back,” leaving its high-water mark of a generation.

In addition to their contemporaries the 13th Floor Elevators, Houston’s own psychedelic rockers, the Red Crayola (later Red Krayola), also made a comeback in the New Wave, according to Weissborn. Red Krayola was formed in 1966 by a band of art students led by musician and visual artist Mayo Thompson from the University of St. Thomas.

In his “Proto-Punx” essay connecting the psychedelic and punk scenes, Houston’s Wild Dog had this insight to offer about urging on the underground momentum:

“Punk rock has always been ephemeral. This is its beauty. Here today, gone tomorrow. Anyone can do it. Bands come and go, but their legacy lives on forever on record. The challenge beckons.”

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(Original zine courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)