Texas Punk

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)

Punx No. 2 (1986)

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.)

Wild Dog Zine: Pearland New Wavers The Judy’s Pack the Island (1981)

Wild Dog: Didn’t you debut at a Pearland High School Talent Show?

David Bean (vocals, guitar): It wasn’t a talent show, but a school dance. Kinda wild, we blew the circuit & fuse a couple of times. And we threw beef liver and spinach all over a bunch of girls. We threw out the green spinach on “All the Pretty Girls.” It was a punk show or something.

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(Galley and media courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Austin’s The Dicks on New Wavoid Rejection, Radical Messages (1981)

“I think The Dicks were one of the earliest poster bands…When I returned from San Francisco, several friends said, ‘It’s too bad all of us want to be singers and none of us can play anything.’ I said, ‘Why don’t we just lie? Let’s make up a band, and call it The Dicks.'” – Gary Floyd (Vocals)

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(Original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Wild Dog Zine: Island Owner Phil ‘Hix’ on Stolen Mics and Broken Glass (1979)

“There will be some regulations, rules, standards, or something of the sort – I hate to use the words ‘rules and regulations’ – about who helps clean up. We used to have popcorn in here. Instead of eating it, they threw it.” – Phil Hicks (From a 1979 interview in WILD DOG zine)

Paradise Island (Parasite Island), Rock Island, and later just the Island was Houston’s first designated punk rock venue, an exile’s dive on Main Street converted from a former Mexican restaurant. The club was run from 1978 to 1983, debuting many local first wave acts such as Christian Oppression (later the Hates, Houston’s longest running punk band) and AK-47 while also hosting nationally famous bands, including X, Black Flag, and Dead Kennedys.

In a 1979 interview by John Peters for WILD DOG #3, Island owner Phil Hicks spoke candidly about whether his club would survive overhead and damage costs from unruly punk crowds or sell out to disco investors, Austin versus Houston, Legionaire’s Disease’s notorious performances, and whether to leave broken glass on the floor in the spirit of its destructive shows.

“If rock’n’roll doesn’t pay the bills then I will be satisfied that I have experimented at all levels,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair for me to support a building and not to at least be able to experiment and try different things. I have never put popular rock’n’roll bands in here, not because of the budget, but because I started out with a game plan of having a place so that unexposed talent or bands could come in here, so they would have a place to play in front of people and could get a start. Momentumwise [sic], emotionally – so they could get out of their practice room.”

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(Original galley; first page out of six courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Lester Bangs, Austin Surf Punk and Jook Savages on the Brazos (1980)

“Austin’s surf punkers The Delinquents are joined on stage at Club Foot by professional rock critic Lester Bangs. Bangs, who is swinging the microphone stand in the [below] picture, is also featured as guest vocalist on an upcoming elpee [sic] by the Delinquents.” – 1980 photo caption, WILD DOG zine

That LP was Jook Savages on the Brazos, which Lester Bangs and The Delinquents recorded on the band’s label, Live Wire Records, in 1980. According to Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America’s Greatest Rock Critic by Jim Derogatis, the famed music journalist briefly transplanted in Austin in an earnest attempt to front a band in the local music scene widely recognized for its outlaw country and psychedelic influences.

Most notably, Lester Bangs and The Delinquents opened for NYC experimental rock new wavers the Talking Heads at the Armadillo World Headquarters Nov. 21, 1980, before Bangs would record his lone studio effort with the band. After packing the house on the eve of its final closure, the Armadillo (formerly the legendary psych venue Vulcan Gas Company), shuttered on New Year’s Day 1981.

Formed in the late 1970s in Austin, The Delinquents debuted their 1960s garage/psych/fuzz rock inspired EP Alien Beach Party in 1979. Its self-titled album was independently released the following year via Live Wire Records.

Lester Bangs, the writer whose poison pen and harsh criticism of MC5’s Kick Out the Jams first landed him a gig with Rolling Stone in 1969, died from an accidental overdose on April 30, 1982.

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(Photo by Michelle Levinas; original galley courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

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(Original Delinquents shirt courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)

Imagery of Revolt: AK-47’s The Badge and the Machine Mandala (1980)

One of the most iconic records to come out of the first wave Houston punk scene, AK-47’s The Badge Means You Suck (/Kiss My Machine, 1980) was a protest anthem against Houston’s Police Department (HPD), which had a documented history of racism and extreme violence during the 1970s. Nine victims are named on the cover of Badge, among them 23-year-old veteran Joe Campos Torres and 21-year-old activist Carl Hampton. The HPD tried unsuccessfully to sue the band after the flipside’s release in 1980.

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(Original artwork by Jimmy Bryan; original signed lyric sheet courtesy of Wild Dog Archives.)