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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: