Below are some questions we asked Tex prior to the re-issue of "Pardon Me I've Got Someone To Kill"...nothing in the music business has improved in the years since...
Q: You first came to prominence and regional notice via your Dallas punk band the Nervebreakers ( who opened for the Sex Pistols on their 1978 US tour) . Did you foresee the changes that have taken place in popular culture in the 30 years since, i.e; did you believe you were actually taking place in a musical revolution (albeit a very slowly fomenting one)?
A:The late '70's punk phenomena was not as much a formula thing as later versions. It was more a rag-tag collection of misfits & outcasts who came together because no one else would have them.
Glam-rock remnants, fatties, druggies, record store clerks & a surprising number of gays, still a capital offense in Texas back then, artists, art-rock remnants, loners. It was a minor trend that sort of died & continued to grow. The original punk was generally just good, direct, loud, plain & simple rock n'roll. An idea that hopefully will never die no matter how co-opted (as everything becomes on the bidness side) & inevitably diluted. Each successive incarnation adds their own bent to it & on & on. We were just one link in the chain.
Q: You also worked in a Dallas record store in the 70’s – what are your thoughts on the demise of the “Mom & Pop” music retailer, the rise of myspace, “free music” and the almost non-existent boundary between content and advertising ?
A: Well, I worked at a corporate record store, Discount Records, owned by CBS. James "the Ig" Osterberg worked at a branch up in Michigan in his early days too. But back then there were THREE record sores in this big shopping area in Dallas called Preston Center. Discount, a local small chain called Sound Town & the mom & pop, Preston Records, who'd been there for years & I know outlasted Discount at that location & I think Sound Town too, but of course long gone now. Preston Records is where I used to go asan early-teen, once-a-week & purchase an album with my saved up unused lunch money. The music biz has changed & everything else has too. you can stand up for what you believe in, but you can't fight progress & the changing times. It does no good. I suppose the only defense is to create your own little world with what makes you happy & well & stay in it whenever possible.
Q: Now as it relates to “Pardon Me…”, was your increasing involvement in a country oriented sound motivated by what you saw as the cooptation of the punk sound by the music establishment? or were you inspired by some of the music that was happening in the Hollywood scene(where you lived ) around that time and just getting back to your Texas roots? Up until that time had you ever played in a band that performed only country/roots material?
A: Since the Nervebreakers never really were just a "punk-rock" band, always expressing a variety of influences, it was who I was. My older brother was a musician who played for years with rockabilly legend, Gene Summers. I grew up listening to the Flamin' Groovies & The Move, who both had a rockabilly side. Hell, The Clash even did some & we loved The Cramps right from the start. So it was a natural progression to the billy side from there. After the demise of a post-Nervebreakers rockabilly outfit in the early 80's (Tex & the Saddletramps), I moved to Austin in '84 & got involved with the first version of Out on Parole with 2 cats who'd just moved down south from Oklahoma named Joe Dickens & Wayne "Reverend Ottis Moon" Buckner, with Mike Buck or Freddie Krc on drums. We attempted a rockin' honky tonk trashy hybrid that had it's moments but things fizzled out & I moved to Hollywood in '86. My band there was the Loafin' Hyenas with ex-members of The Cramps, Gun Club, & Blood on the Saddle in a style I learned was dubbed "psycho-billy". We did a version of hank williams' Weary Blues. C&W, blues, rockabilly, punk, it's all on the same side of the aisle. There's a simplicity, directness & emotional release.
Q: You discuss in the liner notes that Mike Buck found most or all of the songs on the record. Some are documented as attempts to make a quick buck (“Psycho”, “Strangler In The Night”) Do you think that any of the songs were perceived by their respective writers to be legitimate, heartfelt social and/or psychological commentary, or were they all pretty tongue-in-cheek?
Oh yea, “Strangler” is totally tongue-in-cheek, but it's the only one that's just a joke. I guess “Country Hixes” is pretty goofy too but on purpose. All the others ARE legitimate, heartfelt social and/or psychological commentary (couldn't have said it better myself). “Girl on Death Row” is by Lee Hazlewood who did alot of social commentary in songs like these. “Pardon Me” is the scariest, ‘cos you just know Johnny Paycheck was damn serious. Most are just a product of the song-writer's craft of writing a song from a novelty angle or an idea spurred from a current event,expressing the dark side of reality & the human condition that we all share whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. “Psycho” is the best of all because it is so masterfully constructed by the great songwriter Leon Payne, with alternately slow & fast sections symbolizing, I suppose, the manic-depressive phases & split personality of a really disturbed
Q: When you told people that you intended to an album filled with murder themed C& W songs, what was the general reaction?
Q: Did the overall comic effect of the album defy their expectations once they heard it?
A:I don't think anyone had any expectations. A few people gave me a hard time about it after the fact, saying I was encouraging deviant behaviour & glorifying it. But look at any of the arts, specifically film & print, & there are whole sub-genres of true-crime, monsters, horror & tales of
the weird & dark side. Always has been. But yeah, I think the humorous moments help smooth out the darker subject matter.
Q: Despite being recorded in home studio with 1980’s technology “Pardon Me…” is very enduring. How much credit do you give the incredible cast of sidemen on the album?
A:Though recorded in a home, the studio gear was good-quality older analog equipment. So with the older equipment and primitive conditions, it naturally tended to duplicate the sound heard on those old records & sounded authentic and warm. the fact that you had a group of musicians who revered the old songs & sounds, who had perfected their craft playing these styles, made it even better. Mike Buck has spent a career founding & playing drums with The Fabulous Thunderbirds & The Leroi Brothers & soaking up styles & rhythms backing up a ton of cajuns, old bluesmen & original rockabillies that passed through Texas. Marty Muse grew up playing pedal-steel guitar & is a master musician & has played with the best & is still out there playing, currently with Robert Earle Keene. John X Reed is from Lubbock (now don't call it Labuttocks, be nice) & came to Austin years ago with the Flatlanders crowd. He is the premier practitioner of the fluid "border-style" of guitar playing. So these guys have the resume & the soul.
Q: How do feel about the current crop of folk/country artists who seem to owe more to Bread, America and the Eagles than Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams? How about pop country “artists” who owe more to Bruce Springsteen, George Michael and Madonna than George Jones and Loretta Lynn?
A:Well, starting out as a rock guy, I can't get too uppity about modern country not being "country enuff", but I find most of it to be slick in a bad way, simple-minded & obvious. Now I always liked power-pop and every now & then, I hear a current country hit that IS a better-than-average pop song but most of it just doesn't interest me at all. Those older artists you mentioned just expressed more heart-felt emotion, vulnerability, an appearance of honesty & direct countenance.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A:Just like all the other old geezers, my old band, the Nervebreakers decided earlier this year to get back together & record a new album. The content is all tunes we wrote ourselves, but never got around to recording & documenting back in the day. We are slowly working on it a couple of weekends a month. I've been surprised at the quality of the playing &songs. It has all been much better than I remembered it & a lot of fun.