There have always been misconceptions surrounding Reverend Horton Heat. For starters, there's no preacher frontman—it's just a name. Then there's the whole genre classification issue; despite the popularity of the band's awesomely unhinged '90s cut "Psychobilly Freakout," the trio doesn't really fit under the banner or feel a musical kinship with psychobilly's European-influenced acts.
"I know it's a cliché," bandleader Jim Heath explains by phone from a tour stop in Omaha."We're a rock 'n' roll band that has a '50s rockabilly influence. But come to our show, and you'll think we're a punk rock band."
Well, a punk rock band that plays traditional country—sort of. The trio's freshly minted album, Laughin' & Cryin' with Reverend Horton Heat, infuses the band's speedy, vintage Sun Records sound with a healthy dose of vintage honky-tonk that often employs 4/4 time. They aren't tears-in-your-beer numbers, though; Heath cleverly finds the humor in even the saddest, most pathetic scenarios and souls.
Reverend Horton Heat, The Von Ehrics
And, onstage, Heath's a certified wild man, singing about drinking and drugging. But back in his suburban Dallas home, Heath dutifully plays Mr. Mom.
"I'll have plans to work on a hot rod or motorcycle, but it's, 'No, sorry, have to take a little girl to a birthday party,'" Heath says with a laugh. "I do a lot of stuff that's not very manly. Like listen to the musical Annie and sing the song 'Tomorrow.'"
Fellow Dallas-based punk rockers The Von Ehrics open.
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