With D.R.I. coming to Trees last night, we at DC9 thought it might be opportune to look at some of the legendary punk bands that have claimed Texas as their home. These days, D.R.I. is better known as a metal act, but when they began life way back in 1982, Kurt Brecht and crew were a classic hardcore punk outfit.
For all practical purposes, the 10 bands on this list are the godfathers of punk rock in Texas. And nearly every punk band that has come after them has been derivative to the point of imitation. One quick caveat: Before the screaming starts, The Butthole Surfers were intentionally left off this list, as they deserve a category all their own.
10. The Hates - Forming in 1978, Houston's The Hates were among the first Texas punk bands. Christian Arnheiter's love of the Sex Pistols and The Ramones was ever-present in the great singles produced by this underappreciated band.
9. Marching Plague - Little known, even at the time, San Antonio's Marching Plague were one of those bands in the middle of every great punk-rock triple bill. The band had a sense of humor missing from a lot of punk acts. Case in point, Marching Plague would wear Ronald Reagan masks and sing "Reagan Man" to the tune of Sabbath's "Iron Man." And this was when dear old Ronnie was still in office.
8. Really Red - Teaching You The Fear, Really Red's 1981 full-length debut still stands today as one of the best albums ever made by a Texas punk band. Hailing from Houston and lead by Ronald "U-Ron" Bond, Really Red never got their due. 7. The Hugh Beaumont Experience - Fort Worth's HBE consisted on a bunch of snotty, disenfranchised morons who could barely play their instruments. All of which meant they were pretty damn good. And these guys get extra credit for being the starting point for one Jeff Coffey, the drummer who would go on to greatness with the Butthole Surfers.
6. The Skunks - Formed in 1977, Austin's Skunks may well be the first punk band from Texas. Led by the talented Jesse Sublett, most of what the Skunks had to say, at least musically, was on the fringes of punk. But the attitude essential to all great hardcore bands was there in spades.
5. MDC - Vehemently far-left politically, Austin's (now Portland's) Millions of Dead Cops are as in-your-face as any punk-rock band on the planet. Singer Dave Dictor still fronts a version of MDC, but the uninitiated are directed to 1982's Millions of Dead Cops, an album that features such punk rock mainstays as "John Wayne Was a Nazi" and "Corporate Deathburger."
4. D.R.I. - Houston's Dirty Rotten Imbeciles started in 1982 and quickly released the magnificent Dirty Rotten EP. Featuring 22 songs in 18 minutes, the EP is as raw and full-throttle as punk can get. After relocating to San Francisco, D.R.I. evolved into a metal/thrash band, but they never forgot their punk roots. 3. Stickmen with Rayguns - Dallas' own Stickmen with Rayguns were fronted by one Bobby Soxx, a guy who would just as soon shove a microphone up his ass as sing into one. Sometimes, he did both at the same time as his band showered the crowd with glorious noise. Sadly, Bobby passed away in 2000 and his band's lone album, Some People Deserve to Suffer, is out of print.
2. The Dicks - Amazingly, Gary Floyd and The Dicks still play the occasional reunion gig. Formed in Austin in 1980, The Dicks were one of the most uncompromisingly political punk bands anywhere. On the excellent 1980-1986 compilation you can find "Hate The Police," perhaps the finest single ever released by a Texas punk band. Last year Alternative Tentacles re-released the band's catalogue in several formats, and you can buy them here.
1. The Big Boys - Fronted by the late, great Randy "Biscuit" Turner, The Big Boys were instrumental to both the Austin and Texas punk scenes. Over a fitful 5-year existence that started in 1979, The Big Boys delivered the goods on and off stage. These days, all that's on CD are the two compilations: The Skinny Elvis and The Fat Elvis. Both are essential for anyone interested in the history of punk in Texas.