REVEREND HORTON HEAT photo by Heidi Muzhik

REVEREND HORTON HEAT

INTERVIEW BY STEVE OLSON
INTRODUCTION BY STEVE OLSON
PHOTO BY HEIDI MUZHIK

Amen, do you hear me? I said, do you hear me?! This is the Reverend Speaking. Punkabillyspeedboogie ’50 spunk… How much you junk you got in that trunk punk?! The Reverend Horton Heat speaks…

How long have you been going at the music scene as ‘The Reverend’?
I started Reverend Horton Heat in 1985.

You’re out of Texas?
Yeah, I live in Dallas.

Did you ever skateboard?
When I was a kid. That was when skateboarding was new. I’m 43 years old. I had the kind with metal wheels, like roller skate wheels.

Was that in Dallas?
That was in Corpus Christi. Then all of a sudden, skateboards got a little better and we used to go down to this pool that was drained at this old hotel.

“YOU FEED OFF THE CROWD WHEN YOU’RE A MUSICIAN. TO HAVE A REALLY HOT CROWD TO ME IS A LOT MORE IMPORTANT THAN HOW MUCH MONEY WE MAKE.”

What year do you think that was?
That was so long ago I don’t even want to mention the year.

I’ve been skating since 1975.
Really? I’ve got some friends who were really great skaters, like Craig Johnson.

I’ve known Craig forever. We used to go on road trips together. And I know John Gibson ‘Tex.’ And I knew Jeff a little bit.
Yeah, I knew Jeff Phillips. Actually, the guy from Zorlac still does our t-shirt printing and merchandise.

In Corpus Christi, you can surf there right? Isn’t that on the gulf?
There was a scene but the waves were never really good. Sometimes storms come in and they evacuate the island, but the waves are all still so small.

Have you been playing the guitar since you were a kid?
Yeah, we would have family get-togethers, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, and my cousins always had guitars and mandolins and banjos. It was interesting because different people would have different instruments. Both sides of my parents’ families are very musical, so all the get-togethers had music

Who are some of your influences in the Texan music world?
Well, there are a lot of local guys that nobody has ever heard of, that I’d go see and learn from. I used to go see Freddy King play. For a blues guy, he’s one of the best ever. For me to be able to see him play was pretty cool. Corpus Christi is kind of dead little town. Our biggest guy is Freddie Fender. Whether or not we like Freddy, he was up there.

Oh, no. I like Freddy. ‘Wasted Nights’ was one of the best country songs ever. And then, ‘Before The Next Teardrop Falls.’ That was a good one, too. I loved all that stuff.
You couldn’t get away from it down there, you know. I’ve been with a bunch of crazy bands. I was with this one band that was like a comedy band. You had to read charts, and the leader would turn to you and say, ’79,’ and I would turn completely white, and go, ‘I can’t find #79,’ and he’s already counting off his song. I’d just look at the keyboard player, and he’s saying ‘Cold Sweat in C.’ Next thing you know, I’m playing ‘Cold Sweat.’ This guy would force you to do tequila shots during your solo. I’ve been in some funny bands.

What about punk rock?
I never was really in a straight punk rock band but when I first went to see The Cramps, I thought it was gonna be a punk rock show. I was into punk rock. We had a great place called the Hot Club, and a great place called The Bijou. The Cramps played there. It was basically a punk rock show with that type of audience, but they were playing songs like ‘The Way I Walk’ by Jack Scott. They played ’50s rockabilly and ’60s surf music. I was thinking it makes sense to me that rockabilly was this really wild music that made rock n’roll happen but the corporate guys didn’t want anything to do with it. Rockabilly is punk rock.

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