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Cheap Rewards

by Dave Hyde


My partners in crime and I took a long weekend and flew down to Austin from the northeast to witness the spectacular event that we knew would occur when Inepsy’s only US tour rolled through Texas. Inepsy are Montreal’s finest: Motörhead meets Discharge meets a fifth of Jack D. Throw in a bunch of crazy Texans, a hand—err, nose—ful of drugs, and a few nights in (essentially) the same place, and you’ve got a memorable weekend. It started with a heckler who couldn’t keep down his Tamale House and ended with an all-nighter in which the band spray-painted “See You in Hell” on the back of their van and were trailed out of Texas by police. It was a great trip.

I was up front about my other reason for that trip: “I’m not leaving Texas until I get a Nubees 45 and the first Distractors.” After a few years of looking it was relatively painless, and I left town with the Distractors in hand and the promise that I’d get the Nubees in due time. Sure enough, in about a month it was sitting on my turntable where it stayed.

The Nubees were a good time on a Friday night; some friends who’d end up as Satans or Michael Milken decided to record themselves banging away on their dorm room furniture. One member played it to pal Ryan Richardson saying, “we just recorded some songs you'll want to release in 20 years." Being impatient as he is, Richardson bumped up the timeframe by 19 ½. And so, The Nubees released a one-sided single with “Crosswalk” and “Scavenger Hunt for Your Brain” with one of a kind photos of their parents on the covers.


“Crosswalk” really is one of the better punk songs recorded of its time. It’s a fast, snotty punk song that’ll dance around your head for days. I nearly described it as “primitive” but caught myself. A look at the instrumentation will put that rumor to rest: members of the band plugged in their practice amps and grabbed a table, pot, and box for percussion. It’s as good as anything Lowery ever played on. The second song doesn’t fare as well, but neither did Freestone’s “Church” and that never hurt the record’s classic status. To be fair, “Scavenger Hunt” is actually pretty good, but not the classic that “Crosswalk” is.


                                         


Knowing that the Hates third EP was released in an edition of 50 copies, the powerful media conglomerate of Existential Vacuum/Fiesta Records had to one-up them. In 1994 45 copies of the Nubees EP hit the streets. The picture sleeves were as professional as the backline. Each cover was personalized by Richardson. Then the two labels laid out all of their masterpieces and sorted out who got what one record at a time. The records were available for mailorder from Busy Kids distro, but no one cared. It’s been ten years and no one but the jack pack has noticed this record. The time has come!

Due to popular demand, both Nubees tracks are available here for download. For free. You're welcome. Right click the song titles and "save target as..." "Crosswalk" and "Scavenger Hunt for Your Brain" .

If you were to drive 120 miles southeast from Austin, heading into the Gulf of Mexico, you might find yourself in Victoria, Texas. In fact, there’s probably no other reason you’d end up there unless you were in Austin and wanted to drive through the desert to the gulf. Victoria was home to The Distractors, who, in 1994 released their debut EP on their own Dime Box Records. To steal from a friend who has recently heard the band for the first time, the record is “so great shit-fi.” Pardon the grammar; he was a creative writing major.

Much to my delight the fella who recorded them flunked out of recording school. The single starts off with two completely in the red originals. Not only does Trey sing “Walk Away” but the guitar solo he provides would make his label’s namesake Dimebag Daryl jealous. Jennifer handles the vocals on “Tell Me Now”, and it looks like you’re out of the picture. Two fast, snotty, fuzzed guitar tracks on the A-side—this is how legends are made! The flip is a cover of a Paul Revere and the Raiders song that gets the same treatment as the originals. They don’t play pretty music.

Dime Box pressed 200 copies of that one, 25 of which were left at a phone booth by a drunken band member who was attempting to meet up with the A&R rep of a local record distro. The records were never seen again. I heard a rumor that a local beggar left some copies on show-goer’s windshields and threw the rest into the Colorado River. Cheap Date records came along and picked up the slack by reissuing 300 more copies of the single, then releasing the amazing follow-up (600 copies including a handful with inverse colored “mostly white” sleeves). Repent put a few songs on one of their comp LPs. It’s sad that those great Distractors and Loli & the Chones songs got buried on a comp (the 45 will always be the perfect format for punk rock, and the compilation LP is is a good way to forget a recording existed). Finally, in 1999, Big Neck finished up the discography with the “Shake It Up!” EP.

The Young Losers were less blown-out than the Distractors but snottier than the Inhalants. After Trey and Jennifer moved to Austin from Victoria, Trey started up this band with an ex-Inhalant. They give the Stipjes a run for the title of most forgotten Rip Off Records band. They self released their debut single in 1998, pressing 300 copies on blue vinyl. They swapped out the “band playing” picture for a “band sitting on a picnic table” picture on 12 copies of the sleeve. The music was standard fair mid period Rip-Off stuff, maybe like a toned down (and less interesting) Brides or the Infections single. The single has a cool cover of the Saints “Private Affair” on the flip. This is the least essential of the records mentioned in this article, but if you find it around it’s worth picking up. I prefer this single to the band’s later effort on Rip Off.

While not at all scarce, I couldn’t talk about all this Texas punk circa 1994 without mentioning The Motards. Their finest hour undoubtedly came in their “I’m a Criminal” EP. The first 500 copies of the single were produced by Scuzz, while the next 1000 by Scuz. A few copies were stuck up on the Sound Exchange (great, defunct Austin record store) collectibles wall with a fake Sub Pop sleeve as the John Wilson Experience (I’m looking for a copy of that for myself, so if you’ve got a copy you can let go of, please get in touch). This single is one of my favorites. It’s got soul, it’s in the red, it should be in the collection of any fan of recent punk rock. The Motards may have overproduced and put out a few too many records to leave a gilded legacy, but this one is an absolute winner.

Now it’s your turn to run out and find yourself a Nubees, I assure you, your life won’t be complete without it. I’m going to write this column regularly to talk about some of the overlooked records from the past 15 years. The first ten years of punk have been well documented, and we’ve spent so much time looking for the next Tapeworm that we’ve let the Distractors slip by. I may not be one of the world’s top five experts when it comes to this shit, but I’ve decided to step up to the plate and attempt to document some of it. I do need your help, so if you know or played on a great 90s-present punk record that no one has noticed please tip me off to it. If I can find a copy and dig it I’ll surely include it here.

Contact:
Dave Hyde
PO Box 49631
Austin, TX 78765
E-mail: fightordie-at-hotmail.com



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