Austin’s Texas Instruments

26 Jul


Seeing Roky Erikson play recently got me thinking back on the two and half years I spent living in Austin, Texas (’93 – ’95). I did ok there, when not badtrippin’ on magic mushrooms. It never ever felt like my town, you know. But hey that was fine: I finally finished my BA, met some really good people, and did a heck of alot of naked hill-country swimming while out there. Not to sound softheaded, but it was a simplier period in my life. I’ll always remember it fondly.

I also saw a buttload of bands during that time. It was fucking easy: just catch a bus up South Congress to 6th Street, and walk from there. Or easier still, just amble off the UT campus and slide in to The Hole In The Wall most any evening of the week. You really couldn’t go wrong. I saw some pretty heavy shit: Holy Mountain-era SLEEP (they had the gall to hit me up for pot), HELIOS “during any given chord, at least half of my 30 gtr pedals will malfunction” CREED, a pre-Cobain-murder EARTH, Nik Turner’s SPACE RITUAL(!), the godlike MOTÖRHEAD. I also caught 90’s alt. biggies MAZZY STAR and URGE OVERKILL, as well as lost 80’s nutters HALF JAPANESE and DUMPTRUCK. Oh: and don’t forget THE STEVE LACY SEXTET and THE WILLEM BREUKER KOLLEKTIEF! Yeah I used to sit still (barely) for some jazz, too.

I met a great guy named Pat going to those shows, who’d become a gig-going pal during my last few months there. He was older/wiser – he’d been around for the Armadillo World HQ daze in the 70’s. He’d let me in on little secrets, like what an amazing gtrist TOMMY BOLIN was, or how great WISHBONE ASH were live with that bitchen twin gtr attack of theirs – actually far better than a QUICKSILVER MS had been on their early 70’s decline. I picked up alot from that guy.

The band I saw most (other than maybe GIANT SAND) was Austin’s very own TEXAS INSTRUMENTS. Musta seen em a half dozen times at least, and the fact that Pat knew a bunch of other regulars there made those evenings feel extra cozy. TI were so perfect in that relaxed set/setting – the endless beers, the overblown amps, the layered vocals, the cutting Dylan/Boon lyricisms, the folkrockin’ GNARL & TWANG of it all. They’d started in the 80’s with a more tangled-up and off-kilter MEAT PUPPETS/MINUTEMEN sound, only to even out nicely by the time I got there to become nothing short of a goddamn natural wonder. It was as close to a native Austin sound as you might find at the time – anybody who saw em then knows what I’m talking about.

And the rest of you? Well, there’s a few CDs/LPs out there (early ones on the Rabid Cat label; later ones on Doctor Dream Records) but I’d recommend a time machine if you wanna really find out what you missed. Pat, if you’re out there and still rockin’, this one’s for you.

Texas Instruments – “The King of Nothing” (from Speed of Sound, Doctor Dream Records, 1995)

Here’s a video for their tune “One From the Other” from the same record:

15/10/07 edit: OH! And a ’93 live clip has finally made it to YouTube! Do check it out, it does em justice:


10 Responses to “Austin’s Texas Instruments”

  1. Jeanne July 27, 2007 at 3:30 am #

    I’d never heard of them. The song in the video sounds kind of like The Soundtrack of Our Lives!

    I saw Half Japanese and Motorhead in the 80s in DC…not together, of course;-)

  2. mrowster July 27, 2007 at 6:56 am #

    Ms. GOLD CELL! Good to find out that Houston hasn’t managed to gun you down (just yet) – hope you guys are well.

    I don’t think TEXAS INSTRUMENTS ever had much of a profile anywhere else . . . they eventually had to bow to corporate pressure and shorten their name to THE INSTRUMENTS, before throwing the towel in for good in the late 90’s. Ah well.

    And I suppose that’s the genius of TSOOL: they make it their business to sound a little like every great band who’s every come down the pike!

  3. Dave Lang July 27, 2007 at 10:36 am #

    Texas Instruments are a band I’ve read about for about 20 years – usually in reference to them being a kinda sunburnt Texan psych band a la the Elevators or the Meat Puppets (who I know are originally from AZ, but…) – and I saw their records in bargain bins in the early ’90s and passed them up, figuring I’d get around to them one day… What a fool! Great track, I’m going to have to search other things out by them.
    Steve Lacy Sextet live in Texas sounds like a hot gig. You were spoilt.

  4. mrowster July 29, 2007 at 3:52 am #

    Steve Lacy was hot . . . but Texas was where I burned the hell out on listening to jazz. I guess I started listening too hard, I’d get these horrible headaches . . . and then I’d have to sound-detox for like 12 straight hours with something easier on my brain – say, a KENNY RANKIN disc or something. It wasn’t pretty.

  5. Steve of TI December 7, 2007 at 8:36 pm #


    Was doing some youtube-ing and came across links back to your page…wow-great stuff.

    And thanks very kindly for the nice words about Texas Instruments. We are thankful. All of us are still in Austin, Clay Daniel (lead guitar)is still playing music. His current group is called “Seven Inch Stitch” Ron Marks (bass) played post TI- in a band called Triplewide. David Woody Z(guitar and the singing)is pusuing a career in academia last I heard, and I played drums in a band called the Golden Apples.

    Keep up the good work. I invite all of your readers to visit me here:

    Peace, -Steve Chapman

  6. Steve of TI December 7, 2007 at 8:37 pm #

    Oops… make that:

    (sorry for the spelling errors there)…

  7. mrowster December 7, 2007 at 8:44 pm #

    Hey wow, THANKS SO MUCH Steve (and I do hope posting of your mp3 is ok). We enjoyed your beats and your band IMMENSELY. I’m gonna now go check all these new bands out.

  8. nabisco November 13, 2008 at 5:57 pm #

    I lived in Austin from the mid 80s until the early 90s and was an early adopter of the Texas Instruments. In fact, I worked alongside of David at the Co-Op bookstore (we priced law textbooks together), where he often spent downtime jotting down lyric ideas.

    They were fearsome, and I’m glad to hear from Steve that all are accounted for and doing well. Dang it’s been some time!

    • Anonymous January 20, 2012 at 10:02 am #

      I own Sun Tunnels. Album from the early 80s by TI.

  9. mrowster November 13, 2008 at 7:39 pm #

    Nabisco: Fearsome, indeed. Only wish I could’ve witnessed more years of em live.

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