"Every year I had something that was going to be kind of hard, like working out every day or quitting smoking. You know, stuff that is just impossible for anyone to actually do," the Reverend (a.k.a. Jim Heath) intones in a low, gravelly voice. "So last year, I said that I was going to wash my hands more, and I have. I imagine that I'll set my sights really low again this year."
You can see the new germ-free Reverend Horton Heat while you ring in 1999 at New Year's Eve Houston. Other acts appearing on four stages around Bayou Place and the theater district include Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Fastball, Dishwalla, Dr. John, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, the Suspects, Joe "King" Carrasco, Jim Belushi and the Sacred Hearts, Tkoh! and El Vez.
The Texas-bred Re-verend (vocals, guitar) and longtime compadres Jim Wallace (bass) and Scott Churilla (drums) will no doubt play plenty of songs from their recently released Space Heater, a record that brings out Heat's well-known warped humor and mixes all kinds of music from surf and rockabilly to Tejano, country and punk. Many of the tracks also name-check various cities in the Lone Star State and extol what Heat sees as its many virtues.
"Texas has the friendliest people anywhere," the Rev notes. "The police in Boston are really mean ... but anytime I've been pulled over by the cops in Texas, they've always been very professional."
He adds that Texans also have a better sense of humor than people in other parts of the country, honed through the hardships of frontier life, oppressive heat, chiggers and roaches. "Some people don't even know what a [Texas-sized] roach is in other parts of the country," he muses. "I grew up in Corpus Christi, so I do. Even the rich people have roaches in Texas."
Perhaps being back among the insects will help the Reverend enjoy a New Year's Eve spent working -- the way he's spent every December 31 since the band got together in the mid-'80s. "Hey, bands get paid more on that night than any other night of the year," he says with a laugh. "And even I can't turn that down!"
-- Bob Ruggiero
New Year's Eve Houston begins at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 31. General admission is $60, and the VIP private party at Aerial Theater is $150 (including food, drink and valet parking). Call Ticketmaster at 629-3700.