When the Buck Pets' self-titled debut came out in 1988, writer Ann Powers (New York Times, Village Voice, Rolling Stone) nailed The Pets' attitude, musicality and determination in her Austin Chronicle review:
"It's chemical: an urge you can't put down, the rubber hose around your arm and the blood-spittle smeared there afterwards.... America is strung out for something honest. And some bands keep trying to deliver the rock."
"The Buck Pets are my latest connection. These four Dallas babies obviously suckled on Sabbath and first got drunk on Sonic Youth; surrounded by heavy metal from infancy, they're old enough to transcend its inanities but young enough to love the grunge. But unlike such neo-hair bands as Mudhoney and Pussy Galore, the Buck Pets don't waste time being clever. Primary writer/guitarist Chris Savage and the band want to be inside, cartilage against bone, where it happens and hurts. Because their perspective is so close, The Buck Pets manage to avoid the trap of irony that squeezes the life out of so many bands today. The Buck Pets build gigantic edifices of time-capsule rock and then jump from the rafters, pulling the walls down with them as they fall."
Savage and Thompson began their connection by growing up together and going to the same high school in Plano, Texas, just outside Dallas yet too close to the death knell of suburbia. They had to get out. At 16 they hit the road with then-drummer (Tony Alba) and stayed out for about three years.
During that time they met bassist Ian Beach in true rock fashion. While | stopped at an East Coast gas station to ask for directions to their next gig, Ian overheard them and offered directions in return for a ride. He left town that night as The Buck Pets' new bassist.
What Ian got into was four years of touring every club they could find and recording two albums, "The Buck Pets," and "Mercurotones" for Island Records. "Mercurotones" was on the CMJ charts for six months including several weeks in the Top 10. During that time the band headlined clubs in North America, got kicked off the final Jane's Addiction tour (for showing a little attitude), and picked up a series of dates with Neil Young.
Just this year the band has been joined by new drummer Ricky Pearson who was Chris' roommate at the time and guitarist for Dallas band Rooster. In keeping with the Pets' history of spontaneity, he switched to drums. His first assignment in the studio was to take on Keith Moon's part in The Who's "Bargain" which The Pets covered for a European Who tribute album and can be found as a limited-edition 7" on Sing Fat Records along with "Car Chase" and "Shave" two cuts from the new record, TO THE QUICK.
TO THE QUICK was recorded in Baltimore in the final weeks of 1992. It captures the "newness of the first record and the live vibe of the second," says Andy. Produced by Ted Nicely (Fugazi) and The Buck Pets, Chris describes it as "the truest record for our sound. It's us."
The Pets have a knack for beautifully blending melody with distortion while avoiding gratuitous riffs. They toss out irresistible hooks with apparent effortlessness, but they do it with a heedless urgency and unpostured guilelessness.
Their lyrics paint many pictures and capture the gamut of emotions. "C'mon Baby" has its bitterness: "You spend most of your time/walking backwards in front of me/spitting out senseless words/like a little baby." "Rocket To You" is pure loneliness: "You can catch depression through the telephone/it's a lonesome line that stretches across 17 area codes."
And then there's the title track with the line that sums up The Buck Pets: "If I could change anything, I would change everything."