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During the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference two years ago, you couldn't walk down the street or into a bar or even by a garbage can without seeing this image: a fluorescent lime flyer with the name SINIS (the S's drawn like those on the flags of Hitler's soldiers or on KISS album covers) above an image of a girl sitting on the floor, talking on the phone and pouting.
The papering of Austin for Sinis's debut gig at SXSW capped a promotional blitz that started three months before the band had even written a song. By the time it took the stage, Sinis had scraped together six originals and a clutch of covers.
The show sold out.
And the hype continues.
Austin's Sinis, as in "sign us," is a nasty metal act. For a hint of the band's sound, first look at the names of its players: rhythm guitarist Krank Von Shaftt, lead singer Johnny Thundernips, drummer Damien Sinis and bassist Rick Strutter, as in the KISS hit. Plus, there's new edition Suzie Jones, who, according to Von Shaftt, "joined the band by the decree of Satan, her father." Besides having credible roots, Jones is a babe. Says Von Shaftt: "One-third of the crowd comes for the show, one-third of the crowd comes for the music, and one-third comes just to see Suzie."
Sinis's lusty lyricism only adds to the attraction. Take "Laying the Pipe," for example: "Little Suzie always gets her fuel injected / Playin' with the girl 'cause she ain't infected / Like to drive fast and likes to take charge / Likes to lay pipe in the back of my car."
Says Von Shaftt about the band's maturation: "Just over the last six or eight months has the substance caught up with the hype." But Sinis still saturates the streets with promotional material, expanding from Austin out into Florida and West Texas. "People come up to us after every show now saying how much they miss hearing this type of music, how there's just nowhere they can find it anymore except in their own record collections. I grew up listening to KISS, AC/DC, Ozzy Some of the new rock is good for what the bands are doing, but I always liked the three-chord songs about chicks with big tits." (Les Mixer) Sinis performs Saturday, January 22, at Emo's Alternative Lounge, 2700 Albany. For more information, call (713)523-8503. Eugene Chadbourne -- Dr. Eugene Chadbourne is in the house. A pioneer of lo-fi who made a name for himself in the early 1980s as the man who played the electric rake (that's right) and as leader of the hillbilly punk outfit Shockabilly, Chadbourne is in town for a "performance."
In person, Chadbourne is just as likely to play the rake, mike his shoelaces, respond to street noise by improvising wildly on the guitar (he's a virtuoso) or whip out a Bach sonata on the banjo. On stage, he looks like a mad scientist in a lab, sitting with his instruments around him and flailing his arms as his hair flies. He's a modern-day Phil Ochs, delivering politics with humor, fervor and an insane display of guitar wizardry. He has written a book about why the music business sucks called I Hate the Man Who Runs This Bar.
Chadbourne has collaborated with avant-gardist John Zorn, who, along with Chadbourne, Arto Lindsay, Fred Frith, Elliot Sharp and others, launched a small free-jazz revolution in New York called No Wave. From there Chadbourne has gone on to perform with the Violent Femmes, Camper Van Beethoven (as Camper Van Chadbourne) and Jimmy Carl Black, the drummer from the Mothers of Invention, plus many other lesser musical gods. Chadbourne tours the world constantly and has done so for more than 20 years. He is a true DIY icon, having released hundreds of recordings on nearly as many labels.
Content with his cult status, Chadbourne is free to explore his creativity. His performance this weekend is called "New Directions in Country Music" or "Avant-Garde, Free Form, Country and Western Bebop." Whatever it is, it features local players David Dove on trombone, Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar and Walter Daniels on harmonica, the group collectively known (for this night, anyway) as the Ernest Tubb Memorial Band. While in town Chadbourne will also "lecture" on KTRU/91.7 FM and perform a free concert at Sound Exchange. Eugene Chadbourne and the Ernest Tubb Memorial Band perform Sunday, January 23, at 7:30 p.m. at MECA, 1900 Kane. For more information, call (713)666-5555. Tickets are $7 and will be available at the door. Chadbourne's lecture on KTRU airs Wednesday, January 26, at 4 p.m., and his performance at Sound Exchange, 1846 Richmond, takes place at 6 p.m. (Liz Belile)
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