E-mail interview with original Buck Pets bassist,

Chuck Smith

From: Chuck Smith
To: buckpets@ewerks.com
CC: MarcelRoy@yahoo.com
Subject: interview
Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 18:03:24 -0500

Sorry it took so long, but here ya go. I don't have the technology to sendany photos, but I'll dig through my collection and see if there's anythingworth sending....

Describe the genesis of the Buck Pets. How did you, Andy, Chris, and Tonymeet, and what led you to decide to form a band?

In the summer of 1985 I moved myself down to Dallas. I had spent a year atOSU and another at OU. Sometime during that last semester (Spr 85) Idecided that if I ever wanted to try being in a band, now was the time. Weactually found each other quite fast. I had played with maybe two or threeother people when someone referred me to Tony (Geech) Alba. We got togetherat his house and jammed with just bass and drums. He and I went out acouple of times, partying, going to see bands. I'll never forget the day hesaid, out of nowhere, "You're a Leo and you were born in August." I don'tput much stock in that stuff, but he was dead on. That should have been aclue as to the bizarreness to come.

I had been doing the standard find a band thing. Reading papers, posting myname on boards at music stores and checking out other postings. I reallywish I could recall what Chris and Andy had put down. Probably referred tothe Buzzcocks. Hell, I probably wouldn't have recognized any of the bandtimes at the time anyway. I was not interested in that genre. I mainlylistened to mainstream rock or hardcore punk. There was somethingintriguing about the note, so I called.

Andy was on vacation in Hawaii at the time, so Chris came by to jam with meand Tony. It really clicked pretty fast. You can't really describe thatfeeling, knowing that something was happening. We didn't even do anycovers, just jumped into some of Chris and Andy's stuff. Some time laterAndy came back, we all got together and the Buck Pets were born.

What inspired you to want to play bass and/or rock music in general?

I started playing cello in fifth grade. I dabbled in guitar. When I wassixteen a friend of mine (Isaac Lamb) told / asked me to get a bass and playfor him. Nothing much materialized except that I got a bass and startedplaying. As I mentioned above I was into mainstream rock and punk. I hadno desire to play anything as ___ as cover music. I knew I wanted to rock.My ear was not, and still isn't, all that great. I have to work really hardat picking stuff up by ear, so an original band was probably mandatory. Ireally can't imagine anything less rewarding than playing in a cover band.

Walk us through an early rehearsal.

One trademark of our band was a certain lethargy or lack of structure. Westarted playing at Tony's mom's house. We show up, set up, and slowly startgetting ready to play. Chris was obviously the leader. We would go throughsongs one after the other. I don't really recall ever going over a smallsection thoroughly, like you would in orchestra. If it was wrong, we'ddiscuss it and play it again. Keep in mind that this was three-chord rock,not Tchaikovsky or even Queen. Usually we'd party during practice, nothingtoo extreme, just enough to relax and get into it. Chris and Andy werestill in school so most practices ended fairly early.

When did you think the Buck Pets might be on to something (i.e. being goodenough to leave the garage)?

The first time I played with Chris.

When did the Buck Pets play their first show? Describe the mood of the night.

At the Theater Gallery with a local band whose name escapes me. It wastotal rock and roll. I swear every teenage girl in black for miles wasthere. It was quite a coming out party. After we got off the stageeveryone pretty much left. I remember the other band even playing laying ontheir backs, they were so bored.

Do you have any interesting stories about other notable shows (or tours)that you want to share?

Well, there was the tour from Hell at the end. I had decided to quit, butto keep my commitments through a scheduled east coast tour. Probably thebiggest mistake of my life. I was treated like a complete leper the entiretime. This was when I discovered my allergy to alcohol. Anyway, I've spentthousands on therapy and this was over ten years ago, so I'll spare you thedetails for now.

Describe the events leading up to and during the first demo's recordingsession. What exactly are the names of those four songs? (I've never seen the cover.)

Oh, we'd been playing around a while. Getting our style down, learning thesongs, the cues, how to rock with each other. If you've ever been in aserious band, you know that they kind of have a life of their own. You justkeep showing up, playing hard, and the next thing keeps appearing. It wasjust the right time for us to do a demo. I believe the four songs were"Grooved Pavement", "No More From You", "A Longer Look", and ___ - can'trecall.

Recording was a trip. You can't help but feel like something big ishappening when you're playing your music and recording it in a 24 trackstudio. It definitely felt "right".

Describe the events leading up to and during the second demo's recording session. (When exactly was it recorded? The same time as the"Snatch Rap" session, or...?)

No, "Snatch Rap" was recorded as a part of the whole compilation process yourefer to below. I can't remember the name, but it was one of the beststudios in Dallas.

The demo was recorded on an 8 track. I don't know if it was all thoughtout, but we probably felt that our strength was our songs. The sonicquality of a high end studio was probably an unnecessary luxury at the time.You can get more songs on tape for the same money.

How did you get involved in the Deep Ellum compilation?

Kim Buie from Island had been scouting us in Dallas for a while. Wegot along well as friends, but I don't think she saw any real commercialsuccess for us (rightly so in retrospect). I believe she was spearheadingthe complilation effort and asked us to put a song on. Just a note, thatcool string scratch (sliding the pick down the strings) was an accident.Andy thought we weren't rolling tape, so he was playing rock god. Itsounded so cool we left it.

Are there any interesting stories behind any of the songs from that time period that you could share? (Such as "A Little Murder," "Funny ThatWay," etc.)

As they were Chris's creations I don't think I'll go into that.

The guitar geek in me compels me to ask about the equipment you used back then.

I started out with a "mako" copy of a Fender P and quickly progressed to thereal thing. I had a Peavey combo with 1 15" black widow. Eventually I gota second cabinet to go with it. At the end I had a Gallien - Krueger (sp?)head and an 8 x 10 cabinet. Gotta live large. Chris had a Les Paul (thesame one he always played) and Andy originally had a Dean Markley flying V.Man, we had to get rid of that quick! Not only did it make him look likeRik Emmett (Triumph) it fed back like hell. Both of them preferred vintageFender combos.

You've said that your departure from the band was less than pleasant. Do you want to elaborate to any degree, or just leave it at that, or...?

Well I mentioned some of it above. I should have just quit and walked away.Had I any inkling of how the next couple of months would unfold I wouldhave.

Do you have anything in general that you want to say to BP fans (or the other original 'Pets, for that matter) reading this?

Well, it still blows me away that there was this much interest in our band.I'm proud of my part in it. No one can take away what I accomplished withthat band. I guess I'm a little jealous of Ian. Very few references to theband mention me. I put three years of my life into making the bandhappen. I truly don't believe it would have unfolded quite the samewithout my presence.

Oh, yeah, I have no idea were to find any Buck Pets recordings (those havebeen the majority of my e-mail questions!)

You've said that you're since settled down and become a family man. Are you still playing music these days? If so, are there any new projectsyou'd like to plug?

I feel like I collect equipment more than anything. I have severalacoustics, a twelve string, an electric, and my bass. I also have rolanddrum machine and fostex 4-track that I rarely have the time to play with.

Thanks again for your time, Chuck!


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