Rock-Critic Pop Quiz #11: How Many Members Of Butthole Surfers Can You Name?
For weeks, scared rock journos could avoid participating in this important "Are You Smarter Than a Rock Critic?" pop-quiz shame exercise by blocking our AIM name or not picking up their cell phones. But this week is SXSW! The yearly blowout where we critics bravely enter the wild, bringing our parade of pasty white skin and BBQ-stained neckbeards out from the comforts of mom's basement and into the vomit-saturated streets of Austin, Texas. I could finally ambush these folks in public, where they couldn't run to the safety of their hotel rooms and/or Google. Since we were in Texas, I figured the best route would be to celebrate the greatest thing to come out of the state since Frito Pie. And so we asked eight music writers:
Woe betide anyone who actually bought this record
How many members of the classic Butthole Surfers lineup can you name?
OK, yes, our panel is about half its usual size, but that is a fuck-up on the part of this particular anthropologist: Uh, I kind of was hanging out watching disgusting bullshit like Shit & Shine instead of trying to pounce on the sea of writers pouring from Stubb's when Smith Westerns were over. I even hung out on Red River for a little while, but all I saw was a steady rain of taco meat as drunks attempted to dump food in their mouth. But smaller panel or no, this should be an easy question, right? Dan Deacon is doing an entire Buttholes tribute as a part of that bonkers Our Band Can Be Your Life concert, and the book itself should be etched into the memory of anyone who writes about what these giant corporations in Austin call "indie rock." Plus, the Surfers had a genuine hit, and at least one of these guys is a full-fledged New Yorker now, and probably stood in line with you for that Cake Shop cookie last week.
So we once again cobbled a consortium of 15 (ok, this time only eight) professional and semi-professional rock critics, all given the usual rules:
1. I will not identify you AT ALL, so it is OK to be wrong. [We will say that our esteemed panel edits magazines, websites, and alt-weeklies. They have written for pretty much every outlet you've ever heard of, from Rolling Stone, Spin, and Billboard on down to random Tweets.]
2. You can't use Google.
So do these guys know their Buttholes from a hole in the ground? Find out below:
The correct answer: Gibby Haynes, Paul Leary, King Coffey, Jeff Pinkus, Teresa Nervosa
Out of eight polled:
Number of critics that answered correctly and got all five: 1
Of those, number of critics who live in Texas and were wearing an AmRep T-shirt at the time: 1
Number of critics that got three: 1
Number of critics that got two: 1
Number of critics who got one: 1
Number of critics who didn't get any: 3
Most guessed member: Gibby Haynes
Least guessed member: Jeff Pinkus
Critics who went for bonus points by naming any of the revolving lineup of bass players: 0
Various excuses for not knowing the answer: Already handed in two stories, five hours of sleep, already saw six bands, starving, literally being asked 10 minutes after waking up.
Critics who let out a laugh or an audible "pfft" when asked: 2
So yeah, woe is Jeff Pinkus, bassist from their dub-doom mid-'80s run through their weirdly metal mid-'90s run, and currently part of their party-centric reunion that sometimes features balloons. And double bummer because dude left right before he could start getting those sweet "Pepper" royalties. Beyond his hard-plucked basslines, he also was a member of the wild bands that pepper (ha) Buttholes entries in record guides, including twang-metal monstrosity Daddy Longhead and current Southern-fried bruisers Honky. But we're most fond of his twisted dance music one-off with Gibby, the Jackofficers, who used primitive computers to make early '90s bangers that split the difference between hypnotic, danceable, and confrontational (their shows consisted of them playing the songs on a Walkman and standing around). Take a spin through "Ventricular Refibrillation," from their only album, Digital Dump; marvel at their use of samples from the Iran-Contra hearings, dated even in 1990!