Big Boys: Texas Punk Pioneers Find a Fresh Towel With LP Reissue
Big Boys, the hugely influential Texas punk band that, among other things, inspired two Austin music festivals, have been getting some big press lately thanks to the reissue of their first full LP earlier this month.
Industry Standard/Where's My Towel, a record born from Big Boys' frustrations with the Austin music scene, was originally released in 1981. The album became part of a CD compilation by Touch and Go Records in 1993, and a reissue followed in 2005. Now, Light in the Attic Records has re-reissued 3,000 hand-numbered copies, complete with colored vinyl, new art and inserts and more goodies.
Big Boys was founded in the late '70s when the members were barely out of school. Biscuit, the singer, had an energy onstage that has been compared to James Brown. The band's ethos was as much about accessibility as anything else. They often ended shows by saying "Now start your own band!"
The band broke up after only six years. Biscuit, whose real name was Randy Turner, passed away in 2005. Last week, Tim Kerr, Big Boys' Lake Jackson-raised bassist, talked to Rocks Off via email about the re-issue, his musical life after punk rock, getting press on NPR and his more recent exploits as an artist.
Big Boys' 1982 album Fun, Fun, Fun lent its name to a popular Austin music festival.
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Rocks Off: Can you tell me about how the re-release of Where's My Towel/Industry Standard came to be?
Tim Kerr: Patrick McCarthy [of Light in the Attic] had met Bill Daniel [photographer/filmmaker] and got my contact from him. The thing that I thought was cool was that they put out all kinds of music and aren't specific to one style, which was one of the messages of the Big Boys.
It seemed fitting to be represented by people that are opening up your musical vocabulary and are not limiting themselves. So much more is going on around you and if you are "zeroed in" on one thing, style, etc. you are going to miss out on something you might like.
I was in L.A. to paint a mural and they asked me to come by. When I met them and talked, I realized it would be a good thing and I got a hold of Chris [bassist Gates] and it went from there. They are great to work with and let us call the shots, which was great!
At one point they wanted to also do CDs, but Corey [label owner Rusk] at Touch and Go still has the two CDs with everything in print. It just made sense that if you wanted a CD copy, get them from Corey.
RO: I've recently heard you guys on NPR, right after the LITA mini-doc came out. Do you feel like there's a resurgence of interest in Big Boys music, or does this stuff bubble up pretty regularly?
TK: It comes up off and on, but NOT NPR! [Ed. Note: the NPR story came out on Kerr's birthday.]
RO: If Biscuit were still around, would you guys consider playing reunion shows? Have you been approached?
TK: When he was alive we were asked a lot. I am pretty much in the minority when it comes to these "reenactments." I have been involved in some, but for the most part don't feel that comfortable doing them.
If it's for some cause or something I lean more towards doing one, but [it] still feels odd. Instead of going to something to relive a cool period in your life, right now and the new things your friends might be doing need your support so much more.
Above: the short doc produced by Light in the Attic on Big Boys' history.
RO: What do you think of the current punk scene, and the young music scene in Texas? Do you have any favorites?
TK: For the last seven or so years, all I have been doing and immersing myself in music-wise is playing lots of Irish traditional on a button accordion and old-time on banjo [clawhammer style]. I am probably playing more now then I did in bands, but it's at sessions, people's houses, or here at home, so I don't really go out to clubs much at all anymore.
I feel hypocritical because I think you should support new stuff going on, but between painting, traveling, and playing music with friends, I just don't go out to clubs and see new bands. I went to England and Ireland last summer with the Pine Hill Haints and had probably the best time I have ever had on tour other than Japan and Lord High Fixers. Lord High Fixers were the most fun band I have been in.
I am supposed to record Lee Bains and the Glory Fires this summer. They are great.
RO: I know you've been quite busy with art shows lately. What's coming up for you?
TK: I leave to paint a backdrop for the Bender festival in Portland in a couple of weeks. Also going to do a music piece for it that I have done in Providence and San Francisco. A sort of Pharoah Sanders piece that's open for everyone to be a part of when its performed.
RO: Any advice (besides "start your own band") for young musicians and artists?
TK: Do what you do because like breathing, you need it to live. You do it to because you feel alive and whole.
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