Ronald Reagan's Army

In your heart, you know the Yuppie Prick$ are right

Austin's Yuppie Prick$ exist beyond the parameters of the never-ending "What is punk?" debate. Completely. While their music undoubtedly has much in common with the Buzzcocks and the Sex Pistols, their backgrounds and lyrics do not. Not for them the dead-end jobs as butcher's assistants or fish-and-chips counter help, nor the frustrations of lives in the dole queue. Nope, this is a punk band only Jeffrey Skilling and Andrew Fastow could love, or maybe even join.

According to their Web site, Yuppie Prick$ lead singer Trevor Middleton -- the heir to a pharmaceutical fortune -- has an estimated worth of $30.5 million; guitarist Deuce Hollingsworth claims to be the only third-generation divorce lawyer in the Southwest; drummer Nigel Smythen-Wesson is the ne'er-do-well scion of a wealthy English family who joined the band after "pranging" his Bentley into Middleton's BMW; bassist (and Houston native) Preston Hetherington is a multimillionaire stockbroker who lists one of his hobbies as "hunting endangered species." (Another of his off-stage pursuits is the operation of an Internet porn site -- he regards the band's shows as fine talent-scouting opportunities.)

That's what their bios say, anyway, so it must all be true. At any rate, as you might expect, the songs these guys write range far from the usual anarchic spleen-venting of the old-school punks, not to mention the "my parents/girls just don't understand me" harangues of the more recent crop of punks. Instead, they remake the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK" as "Prosperity in the USA," complete with lines like "I am the next Bill Gates / I buy and sell real estate." Then there's "Boo Fucking Hoo," in which Sally Struthers and other "feed the kids" types are brushed off with the blunt "I need a cup of coffee to stimulate my greed." There's also a salute to band hero Arnold Schwarzenegger -- in one of their songs, the burly Alpine politico gets a blow job in the most politically incorrect car of all time in "Hummer in My Hummer." (Sample lyrics: "As the Governator / I hereby decree / Wrap your lips around / My Austrian Red Heat.") And they penned the very first pro-suburbia song in punk history in "Suburban Living," wherein they boast that "We don't have drug deals down the block / You won't see crack whores sucking cock / All our drugs are kept inside / Don't keep blow in my ride / Suburban living is the life for me."

Which brings up a paradox. What could be more punk than rebelling against everything punk is supposed to stand for? The Yuppie Prick$ could very well be the most punk band on earth. But how does an obscenely rich, archconservative pharmaceutical heir become a punk rocker, anyway? Racket put the question to Middleton. "Boy, that's kind of a long story," he says. "I had some run-ins with the pops about future control of the company, and I had this disillusionment period where I kinda gave up some of my worldly possessions for a while and hit the streets." (He also had some burnout issues going; as he put it on the band Web site, "Three super-models and four grams of blow a day just wasn't cutting it anymore.") "So then I ended up at a couple of punk rock shows and fell in love with the music. And one time I was kind of passed out outside a club and this guy drove by and threw some pocket change at me. That kind of woke my ass up so I picked up all my credit cards and re-entered the real world, but I believed that people could still enjoy the musical part of the punk rock, without…"

He struggles to find the right words, a pithy way to explain the essence of the Yuppie Prick$.

"You don't have to be a poor loser to play good music and have a good time," he finally concludes. That's the heart of this band. You see, they are something like Christian rockers in that they use music as a Trojan horse, but instead of faith in God, they have faith in supermodels, fat bottom lines, leveraged buyouts, custom-built titanium drivers and towering mounds of uncut cocaine. They see their shows as punk PowerPoint presentations, though few sales meetings are as raunchy and cruel as YP shows, where the wretched losers who come to see them are peppered with abuse, lectured on the wonders of laissez-faire capitalism and showered with dollar bills -- some hurled from the stage, others whacked at them inside stuffed plastic golf balls. Another staple of their earlier shows is the ass-kissing segment, in which Middleton drops trou and offers the first person to kiss his bare butt a $20 bill. (The moral? That it pays to kiss ass in the music business.)

Evidently the Prick$ have smooched some of the right posteriors. They just finished recording their second album at renowned Austin studio the Bubble with Frenchie Smith of Young Heart Attack, and they will be shopping the CD at South By Southwest. One label that has nibbled so far is Alternative Tentacles, the Berkeley, California, outfit founded and run by punk legend Jello Biafra. Middleton believes their signing would be mutually beneficial. "He needs to have some proper conservative philosophy on his label, alongside that lib-rull hogwash they're usually spewing," he dryly notes. "He understands the mass-marketing possibilities -- he has a bunch of bands on his label that probably only sell a thousand copies. He has to be looking forward to a band like us that could actually make him a few dollars."

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