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Butthole Surfers

From Academic Kids

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The_Butthole_Surfers_Electriclarryland.jpg
The cover of the album Electriclarryland

The Butthole Surfers are an American indie and punk band. The band was founded by Gibby Haynes and Paul Leary in San Antonio, Texas in 1982; the pair met while students at Trinity University. Incorporating elements of hardcore, psychedelia, and performance art, their live shows also made heavy use of strobe lights, background films and naked dancers.

While their line-up changed frequently through the years, they had a core membership of Jeff Pinkus on bass, with King Coffey and Teresa Taylor on drums in addition to Haynes (vocals) and Leary (guitar). Mark Kramer (of Bongwater and Shimmy Disc) also briefly played bass.

They recorded their debut EP on Alternative Tentacles, before moving to Touch & Go to release their debut album Psychic...Powerless...Another Man's Sac. Along with The Teardrop Explodes in the UK this album might be said to have begun the psychedelic revival (psychedelia having been extremely unfashionable in the five years since punk). It also showed the influence of heavy metal (especially Black Sabbath), again, many years before this sound became fashionable: in marrying punk and heavy metal it might be seen as one of the first precursors of grunge. Their second album Rembrandt Pussyhorse showed the increased influence of the European avant-garde (e.g. bands such as Throbbing Gristle and Einsturzende Neubauten) as well as American eccentrics like Frank Zappa and The Residents. They recorded two more albums and numerous EPs for Touch and Go before leaving to record an album (Pioughd) for Rough Trade Records. In 1991 they were part of the first Lollapalooza tour. Soon afterwards they signed to Capitol Records and this one time underground band eventually became a mainstream commodity with songs on modern rock radio and Beavis and Butt-head. They also contributed songs to the soundtracks of Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet and Mission Impossible around about this time.

The band's most famous song is "Pepper" from the album Electriclarryland in 1996, which recounted the somewhat sordid stories of several high school students in Texas. However, probably their best album is the critically lauded Locust Abortion Technician (Touch & Go - US/ Blast First - UK). The story of the creation of this album is told in Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad (Little, Brown) amidst other tales from the American underground in the 1980s.

In 1996 the band brought a legal action to recover rights from Touch and Go to their back catalogue, a case they eventually won in 1999. Those records are now in print on their own Latino Buggerveil record label. At the same time a huge legal battle with Capital records began which ended up with the band being kicked off the label and signing to Hollywood Records (a subsidiary of Disney).

In the early 'nineties Gibby Haynes and Jeff Pinkus released a side project (The Jackofficers) which produced a highly psychedelic take on House music. As the 'nineties went on, the band became increasingly influenced by electronica, with Gibby namechecking Massive Attack, Tricky, and The Chemical Brothers as influences. This culminated in 'The Weird Revolution' (a reworking of an aborted album recorded for Capital called 'After the Astronaut') their most electronic album to date.

Some newspapers have occasionally referred to the band by a censored version of their name, BH Surfers.

Samples

Discography

  • Butthole Surfers EP (1983) (alternate title: "A Brown Reason To Live")
  • Live PCPPEP (1984)
  • Psychic... Powerless... Another Man's Sac (1984)
  • Cream Corn from the Socket of Davis EP (1985)
  • Rembrandt Pussyhorse (1986)
  • Locust Abortion Technician (1987)
  • Hairway to Steven (1988)
  • Widowermaker EP (1989)
  • Double Live (1989)
  • Pioughd (1990)
  • Independent Worm Saloon (1993)
  • Electric Larryland (1996)
  • After the Astronaut (unreleased) (1998)
  • Weird Revolution (2001)
  • Humpty Dumpty LSD (2002)

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