P / R / O / F / I / L / E / S

THE BUCK PETS

By Maureen O'Dell


From B-Side (August/September 1990), page 10
© 1990 by B-Side Publishing
Accompanying photo by James Bland (also used in The Buck Pets press kit).

Transcribed verbatim and in its entirety, although the author's band history summary erroneously omits original bassist Chuck Smith. Also, I have no idea who Wayne Hussey is. Thanks to A. Owsley for making this article available to me, even though I lost the auction.



     It was a cold and rainy Friday night in Southern California when my partner in crime Nici and I hit the road on our way to the lovely city of Montclair in order to see that totally amazing Godhead quartet of young hard rockin' Texans, The Buck Pets.

     Now, I had never been to the city of Montclair in all of my native Californian life. And, though one may have preconceived notions of what they believe an unfamiliar club may hold in store, one is never quite prepared for the initial shock that hits. Case-in-point: Montclair's The Green Door. Once inside this establishment, Nici and I were sure that we had stepped onto the set of a David Lynch film. I am not kidding when I say that within the time span of thirty minutes we saw two toothless women crying in their beers about the rotten cards they've been dealt in life, the entire Lynard Skynard and Allman Brothers bands playing endless Bon Jovi tunes on the jukebox, and yet more toothless women in pink spandex attempting to take orders ("A Cape Cod? What's that? What's in it?). Needless to say, these were frightening, confederate style, flag-waving folks.

     Having tired of the endless Bon Jovi tunes pouring out of the club's jukebox and witnessing another toothless woman setting up for an apparent acoustic set, Nici and I entered out into the darkness in order to pass the time until The Buck Pets set by accompanying Bucks drummer and interview subject, Tony Alba, on a supermarket search for spray paint. After purchasing a black can of paint, we returned to The Green Door and attempted an interview with the sweet, young, affable Mr. Alba whilst a loud, local band of Montclair residents "entertained" the Green Door crowd by wearing tu-tu's, throwing food, and squirting silly string. Sophistication city, dolls.

     Speaking of sophisticated cities - Dallas, Texas. What comes to mind when thinking of the second largest state in the union? The Cowboys? J.R. Ewing? Yellow roses? How about The Buck Pets?

     The brilliant young quartet of hard rock thrashers known as The Buck Pets formed back in 1985 in the suburb of Carrollton, Texas, originally as a trio. The trio was comprised of current Bucks: vocalist/guitarist Andy Thompson, lead guitarist Chris Savage, and drummer Alba. (The band now includes bassist Ian Beach.) After playing their first gig on New Years Eve 1985/86 the band begin performing locally for a few months then took to the road at the tender age(s) of 17. How did a quartet of teenagers afford a nationwide tour without the help of a record company, painfully rich parents, lottery winnings, etc.? "We afforded it from club to club," says Alba. "We got, like, $40 a night. We went everywhere. Yeah, things have changed a lot since then. I mean, not that much. We're not on a fucking tour bus - yet," he concludes confidently.

     Following the band's early tours and an impressive entry on The Sound of Deep Ellum compilation in 1987, The Buck Pets powerful, loud, intense sound was noticed by Island Records who proceeded to sign the band in the Spring of 1988.

     Since the release of their outstanding debut in early 1989, there have been feeble attempts at describing the music created by The Buck Pets. They've been called "the definitive garage band" playing an exclusive Texas brand of what's known as "lone star punk"; and, they've been described (by a male journalist) as performing something called "dude's music". Yes dolls, this sexist description (Grrrrr) was the lame terminology one Los Angeles newspaper used to describe the hard rock ditties performed by these four yellow roses from Texas on their self-titled major label debut.

     "Dude's music?! For guys?!," questions Alba. "Wrong! Wrong!," he asserts. Well, how would you describe your band's sound Tony? "Good. Loud. We have two guitars. I guess you could say it's a wall of sound," he states. "All of our songs are love songs," Alba continues, further dispelling the "dude's music label." "(They're about) things all humans encounter, like, gettin' high", (I guess if you love it it's considered a "love song") "makin' love, human endearment, you know?"

     Hmmmm, "love songs" huh? In the mucho-macho world of rock-n-roll, romanticism isn't something that's readily admitted to by band members of this particular musical genre. Are The Buck Pets really closet romantics whose lyrics are concealed by their loud, raw, intense musical accompaniment? "We're all pretty romantic," states Alba. "It might not show. I know I am, and I know Chris is." Groovy guys, huh? Could be the Wayne Hussey's of the lone star state perhaps?!

     Seeing as how The Bucks make this big, loud, aggressive rock-n-roll with a bit of "human endearment" thrown in on the lyrical end of things, musical influences must be just as contrasting, huh? Absolutely! Alba begins his list of favorites: "Influences would be, like, The Pretenders, Hank Williams, Neil Young, Sly & The Family Stone, all blues, NWA and Eazy E. The Replacements is a band we grew up listening to. Those guys are cool as hell. Andy went to school with Tommy Stinson (Replacements ultra-groovy bassist) in Minnesota. We take a lot of influences from there. We used to listen to Metallica," he continues, "but they just made the same record eight times in a row. They used to be, like, more punk rock, but now they're just becoming Spinal Tap cliches. I hate metal. I hate all of it. We don't listen to that fucking shit. We might sound heavy, but...", Alba's Texas drawl fades to a close.

     Needless to say, Tony Alba has mentioned quite an eclectic list of artists as being influential on his own band's music. Personally, I didn't notice a vast amount of country raps with drunken speed metal blues-tinges on The Buck Pets extraordinary debut. Will the band's hodgepodge of influences be a bit more prevalent on the new record? "The next record is gonna be totally different," states Alba. "It's gonna be more pop". "NO!! NO!! WHY?!", I questioned loudly. "Because we want to shake that 'metal' tag, which is a bunch of shit," explains Alba. "The next record's gonna be like a Buzzcock's album - rock/pop - it's gonna be like that. It's not gonna be like a Soundgarden album," he concludes.

     With the impending 1990 release of The Buck Pets "totally different", "non-metal" second LP, are there any plans to get their beautiful faces some massive MTV exposure? Last time around, there were no videos to promote the group's divine debut effort. "Yeah, we're gonna do a video this time around," confirms Alba. "We're going to try to get something on MTV. I mean, why the hell not?! We thought about it last time, but we're definitely gonna do it this time. I'm going to put out a home video of us," he continues, switching to his entrepreneurial frame of mind. "It's a bunch of clips and stuff of us through the years being drunk at home. It's really hilarious. It's so funny. I'm gonna put it out independently myself and make some money myself," he says. "What about profit-sharing with your co-stars?", I query. "They're lucky to be in it," jokes Alba. You're not getting sick of your bandmates/roommates/best pals are you Tony? "No it's not like that," he says. "It's like getting sick of your little sister or brother, you know? You get sick of them, but you can't make them go away," he laughs.

     For a future filled with exciting, intense rock-n-roll, we should all hope that The Buck Pets never go away. These brilliant young Texans are our ray of hope from a dismal musical future filled with the typical poseur, Skid Row-type bands. "We want to try to set some standards for the future - the 90's," explains Alba. "We're so sick of all that L.A. shit. The band's in L.A. are stuck in Spinal Tap. At least we're doing something a little bit different."

     The Buck Pets will definitely be a rock-n-roll force to be reckoned with in the coming decade. The Buck Pets Rule! (Do you get the feeling Maureen likes this band, or is it just me? - Editor.)



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