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Butthole Surfers were one hell of a live band
March 6, 2009 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Mickey Ween: A security guard came onstage and Gibby threw the alcohol on him. The dude just started backing away, it was clear that Gibby probably would set him on fire. And now, knowing Gibby like I do, it was definitely within the realm of possibility.
Mark Pesetsky: And Gibby just gave me that psycho look with the Charles Manson eyes. He grabs a bottle of the rubbing alcohol and throws it on me and then starts walking towards me with a lighter. And John, the other bouncer, just jumps offstage. It was every man for himself at that point.
Gibby Haynes: Oh yeah, I do remember that. I mean, I've lit kids' heads on fire and they were smiling!
An Oral History of May 3, 1987: The Day The Butthole Surfers Came to Trenton, New Jersey. Butthole Surfers interviewed in bed, parts 1 and 2, playing The Scott & Gary Show on their first run through New York, parts 1 and 2, playing live in 1985 [low quality], live footage from the 80s.

The Butthole Surfers' (in)famous Bar-B-Que Movie, made by Alex Winters of Bill & Ted fame, has been featured previously on MetaFilter. First two links via Coilhouse.
posted by Kattullus (51 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
Here's an alternate version of part one of the bed interview with some live footage appended at the end.

Also... damn I wish I could've seen a Butthole Surfers show in the 80s.
posted by Kattullus at 3:12 PM on March 6, 2009


Their chapter in Our Band Could Be Your Life is just absurdly great and a little terrifying.
posted by Skot at 3:17 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Until my dying day, I will never be able to reconcile the fact that Gibby Haynes is the spawn of Mr. Peppermint.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:22 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah! I've seen them many, many times, played with Gibby once - they're actually really decent humans, Gibby is pretty poorly socialized but makes an effort to be decent...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:22 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Skot, agreed. Being a bit of a young'un, my only real exposure to them was when "Pepper" broke and they were on MTV. But reading about them in Our Band Could Be Your LIfe made me wish that I had been older than 6 or 7 when they were in their heyday. The story about Gibby being all twisted on acid and booze and running amok in Denmark (?) is good stuff. I know some of you geezers saw these folks back in the day and would love to hear some good stories.
posted by friendlyjuan at 3:23 PM on March 6, 2009


(damn, I haven't seen that clip in a while. what's funny is that I'm doing the Gibby-ized voices!)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:27 PM on March 6, 2009


I have walked out of exactly two rock shows in my life. One was GG Allin & The Murder Junkies. No surprise there. The other was the Butthole Surfers.

Never take more acid than you are sure you can handle and then decide to go see the Butthole Surfers. It's like being in a Hieronymus Bosch painting, except with penis surgery videos.

Also: Locust Abortion Technician is a work of twisted genius, one of the most outstanding albums of its time. But the song 22 Going On 23 is pretty much the most highly concentrated dose of pure evil that I've ever heard. That song gives me nightmares.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:27 PM on March 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


I have a lot of great Butthole Surfers stories... would that I had time to write them down. Tiny one here.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:31 PM on March 6, 2009


SATAN SATAN SATAN SATAN
posted by TrialByMedia at 3:55 PM on March 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I saw them twice, got kicked out of the first show in Houston in '93 for smoking pot. It was an outdoor show, and we were sitting there dejected at the gate, could still hear everything, and the first song they played was "The Bon Song" (which should be named the bong song.) It was very depressing. Not only that, but Stone Temple Pilots had opened up for them, which was good, and my girlfriend was there for them; I was there for the Surfers - but Scott Weiland had taken a moment to complain about how rough all the touring was and that he could really use some drugs, and suddenly all kinds of stuff was flying up to the stage... Later on, I felt a great injustice had been served that night.
posted by hypersloth at 4:03 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, when I saw BHS at the Warsaw a couple of months ago, they threw out dozens of people for dancing. I managed to avoid getting thrown out, but I did not enjoy the show.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:09 PM on March 6, 2009


Very weird to see Dean Ween, aka Mickey Melchiondo, referred to as Mickey Ween.

I wish I could have seen the BHS in their prime. (And super-young Ween to boot).
posted by Bookhouse at 4:14 PM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Years and years back...maybe 1993? 1994?...a friend and I were sitting in Emo's in Austin, Tx, painfully early for the show we wanted to see. We were there to see Tsunami and Versus play there later that evening but, since we had nothing better going on, we decided to go at about 7:30 to have a beer and shoot pool.

There are all of 3 other people in the establishment at that hour. One of which is some squirrely looking kid at the jukebox, and one of which was this hulking, drunk redneck at the bar. He looked about seven feet tall, had a tattered, dirty black leather jacket on, and a mane of long, greasy black hair.

I set the table up, and my friend comes back with a couple of beers. We decide to put a few songs in the jukebox for our game, so we go to stand in line behind the kid that was already there. Said kid gets up and leaves us to start plugging in our favorite Stereolab and Polvo songs. Meanwhile some Butthole Surfers song comes on. I guess the kid in front of us liked them.

Anyway, we hear some sort of incoherent bellowing from the bar area and look up to see the hulking drunk redneck charging us with fire in his eyes. What happened then was sort of a blur, but the salient points are us sitting there panic stricken, drunk redneck launching (amid a sea of expletives) a flying karate kick at us and hitting the jukebox instead, causing it to tip over and start skipping, and two bartenders practically leaping over the bar to restrain the guy.

After they escort him out, one of the bartenders apologizes and, rolling his eyes, explains that this happens from time to time because Gibby hates to hear himself sing while he's drinking.

As neither my friend nor I were big fans of the Surfers, we didn't even recognize him. Apparently, though, he was under the impression that we had played that song. And he wanted our blood for it.

About a year later, I met King Coffee at a show. He ran a record label in town called Trance Syndicate. He, as opposed to Gibby, seemed very affable and to be a genuinely nice guy.
posted by kaseijin at 4:20 PM on March 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


I like the part about Gibby making a kite from the string that comes out of the dot on the bottom end of a fish then flying so high he could see the etruscans, bolivians, artesians, and wallhonklers. (sp?)

too bad they became assholes, but thanks for the post.
posted by generalist at 4:34 PM on March 6, 2009


First saw them in 1985 at the Metroplex in Atlanta, and boy did that turn my teenage mind around.
posted by ornate insect at 4:40 PM on March 6, 2009


Download the "Double Live" recordings from the Butthole Surfers website to study the lysergic heaviness.
posted by Hammond Rye at 4:42 PM on March 6, 2009


From TFA:

I guess the Replacements opened for the Buttholes.

Or vice versa, Goatse-style.
posted by kcds at 4:49 PM on March 6, 2009


I saw them a couple times at the Farm in the 80's. BHS shows always had a giant pit and then many, many people just high out of their minds staring at the screen. Being an artist/community garden/day care center, Farm show always had a hippie contingent and they would often be right in the pit with the hardcore kids once they had sold all their acid to punks. I vividly remember some dude in tie-die completely losing his mind and screaming at the screen at a BHS show. I loved Farm shows.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:50 PM on March 6, 2009


I saw them in maybe '89 or so. I'm sure I told my mom I was going to see They Might Be Giants or some other benign sounding band. They were everything the 'zines had led me to believe and oh, so much more.
posted by padraigin at 5:02 PM on March 6, 2009


Until my dying day, I will never be able to reconcile the fact that Gibby Haynes is the spawn of Mr. Peppermint.

Being someone who grew up with Mr. Peppermint on the TV, it makes perfect sense to me. I mean, check out that bear friend of his, yo.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 5:03 PM on March 6, 2009


I didn’t know if they painted themselves or if they just had scurvy.

Both, kid. Ah, the good ol' days.
posted by mwhybark at 5:10 PM on March 6, 2009


My own Gibby anecdote is decidedly more tame. I first met him on Lollapalooza in 1992. Later on, we were touring by ourselves, and found out that the Butthole Surfers were playing nearby. We went to see their show. To be honest, I didn't own any of their albums, and wasn't really familiar with their music. I watched most of the show, then went backstage to hang out.

At the time, I liked to drink, and helped myself to some of the beer backstage. Their rider must not have been that extensive, or they got more guests than usual, as I believe I drank the last beer.

The show finished, and Gibby heads straight for the laundry basket tub of ice cubes and beer cans. Finding no beer, he tosses the whole basket across the room in a rage. I felt personally responsible for drinking beer that should have gone to Gibby.

GIBBY, I KNOW IT'S BEEN 16 YEARS NOW, BUT I'D LIKE TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO PUBLICLY APPOLOGISE FOR DRINKING THE LAST BEER THAT ONE TIME. IT WAS ME WHO DONE IT.
posted by Tube at 5:11 PM on March 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


Ah, I laughed and laughed. A++ WOULD CLICK AGAIN
posted by mwhybark at 5:15 PM on March 6, 2009


I saw them play CBGBs around 85/86 with Ed Gein's Car and The Dickies. The Surfers had their go-go dancers on stage with them during that tour. Most of the music I listened to at that time wasn't nearly as challenging so their set just went over my teenage head. I scratched my head and went outside to wait until The Dickies took the stage. I regret that now but at the time those guys really freaked me out.
posted by cazoo at 5:17 PM on March 6, 2009


Also, the idea of an 80s BHS show at The Court (mentioned in passing as the gig the night before) DOES NOT COMPUTE.
posted by mwhybark at 5:19 PM on March 6, 2009


Tom, is that you on the right in the video with Gibby?
posted by onalark at 5:23 PM on March 6, 2009


Saw the PCP/EP tour in Chicago, it was chaos, fucking awesome, floor sweeps, we were having chicken fights, CHICKEN FIGHTS, fists swinging, bodies piling up, it was one of the best shows I've ever seen.

Closest thing to an indoor riot I've ever participated in, and I've been to shows that were nonstop fighting.
posted by Max Power at 5:26 PM on March 6, 2009


When I was in high school, we lived in a very small town in the middle of nowhere so our access to any music that wasn't classic rock, country, or in my parents' (admittedly pretty decent) record collection was limited to the weak signals from WORT in Madison or WWSP from Steven's Point, and our occasional pilgrimages to record stores.

Since we didn't really know what we were doing, we tended to pick up music by whichever bands had the most outrageous names, which is how we were introduced to the Butthole Surfers.

Nobody in school believed there was a band called the Butthole Surfers. They thought I was lying, that I had made them up.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:26 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Since we didn't really know what we were doing, we tended to pick up music by whichever bands had the most outrageous names, which is how we were introduced to the Butthole Surfers.

Nobody in school believed there was a band called the Butthole Surfers. They thought I was lying, that I had made them up.


Me too. I went by outrageous names and awesome covers, and Hairway to Steven won on both counts.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:35 PM on March 6, 2009


I saw them on the Rock School tour last year in the UK, apologies for the self-link but you may like some of the connections....
posted by Mintyblonde at 5:37 PM on March 6, 2009


onalark: yes, that's me on the right with the light on my head...

unfortunately :-( my recorder died the very moment I started to play the set.

I didn't like the Rock School at all - it took away the insanity bigtime to see earnest kids doing the Butthole Surfers....
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:47 PM on March 6, 2009


Being someone who grew up with Mr. Peppermint on the TV, it makes perfect sense to me. I mean, check out that bear friend of his, yo.

You mean Muffin, the bear with the perpetually stuffy nose? I grew up with him too, but Muffin does not explain Gibby Haynes.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:10 PM on March 6, 2009


Gibby Haynes: Those were real 16mm films. To find those films I had to do research at University of Texas, looking in reference books and tracking things down. Back then you had to be pretty imaginative to get those kinds of films. The people who had things like penis reconstruction films were very sensitive about distribution. You had to call up and pretend you were a doctor. We would have stuff mailed to our house outside of town that were addressed to The Pathology Wing, at So-and-So Hospital, Dr. Gibson Haynes.
posted by ornate insect at 6:18 PM on March 6, 2009


First time I heard of the Butthole Surfers was when my dad told me about them after he'd returned from selling my Duran Duran CDs to Yesterday's Music because my mom said Duran was banned from prisons because witch cults were performing satanic rituals to their music.
posted by katillathehun at 6:32 PM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow, these are some neat videos. I've been Googling trying to figure out what year it was that I saw the Butthole Surfers and the Bad Brains in Boston at the Channel and trying to figure out who opened for whom. It was 1986 (I Against I tour) pretty sure, but maybe 1987. In any case, I knew about the Bad Brains and knew nothing about the Butthole Surfers except thay "Hey" song they did. I went to the show because I had a car and I drove a bunch of people there from Western MA. All I mostly remember was a bunch of what looked like car accident videos playing over the band, some crazy music, a crazier crowd, and a naked bald woman with (it seemed, I swear) no teeth dancing on the stage in a blonde wig like a total lunatic. I guess she was with the band. The Bad Brains put on a good show but it was nothing at all compared to this, HR's backflips or no.
posted by jessamyn at 6:55 PM on March 6, 2009


Never take more acid than you are sure you can handle and then decide to go see the Butthole Surfers.

It's better to regret something you have done than to regret something you haven't done.
posted by homunculus at 8:09 PM on March 6, 2009 [11 favorites]


Never take more acid than you are sure you can handle and then decide to go see the Butthole Surfers.

I might amend the end of that to "...and then decide to be Butthole Surfers."

They were one of the best bands I've ever seen live, a couple of times, and also one of the worst. It really seemed to depend on the psychochemical state of the day.
posted by rokusan at 8:59 PM on March 6, 2009


It's better to regret something you have done than to regret something you haven't done.
And by the way, if you see your mom this weekend, would you be sure and tell her
posted by hypersloth at 10:45 PM on March 6, 2009


Goddamn, I'm so sad I never got to see the Butthole Surfers live in their heyday.


I've gotten hella wasted with Pinkus, which, while fun , does not even remotely make up for this fact.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:46 AM on March 7, 2009


I saw every single show the Butthole Surfers did from 1985 till 1993. Many hundreds of them. :)
posted by gigbutt at 4:42 AM on March 7, 2009


I used to be one of those who "wished they had seen the Butthole Surfers" until I met a guy who actually had seen them in Toronto and Gibby himself took too much acid, proceeding to come on-stage and shriek into a megaphone for half an hour before being led off.


Hmm come to think of it, I really wish I saw the Butthole Surfers.
posted by mannequito at 5:07 AM on March 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I named my dog Gibby, because he likes to dingading dang his dangalong ling long.
posted by Restless Day at 5:11 AM on March 7, 2009


I named my dog Gibby, because he likes to dingading dang his dangalong ling long.

You can call me Al... (Jourgensen)
posted by Balisong at 6:59 AM on March 7, 2009


The video clips of dolphin vivisection really did it for me... I was NOT PREPARED for that show. It was at convention hall in asbury park, early 90's... Towards the end everyone was just transfixed, staring at the screen while these wild vibrations were passing over us... trippy dude!
posted by illuminatus at 8:43 AM on March 7, 2009


It's like being in a Hieronymus Bosch painting, except with penis surgery videos.

Heh, I remember the penis videos, although the only time I ever saw Butthole Surfers live was in 1993, when they opened for Nirvana (Helmet was the openin act). It was a pretty sedate concert. Except for those penis videos.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:11 AM on March 7, 2009


Haynes says the band and the label simply had different goals. "[Touch and Go founder] Corey wanted a medium return, while we wanted to maximize our investment," he says. "You can only get so far on shocking band names and song titles. This isn't art. If it were art, I'd feel uncomfortable selling it."
posted by jcruelty at 9:51 AM on March 7, 2009


My sister and I used to hang out with a crowd that included Gibby. And I liked the BHS in concept, but Gibby himself told me that I would be too icked out by the show, and I should probably skip them. So for a long time I did. Then I went. I'm really sorry I did.

Afters, at a party, Gibby came up and was all "What's wrong, why are you acting weird? Oh shit, you saw the show, didn't you? I TOLD you not to see the fucking show!" Thing were kinda off for a while, but soon he was back to trying to sell my sister to Al Jorgenson, and things were back to normal.

My Emo's story: Back when Kumbala was the manager/head bouncer, my sister and I were regulars, knew all the bands, and were regularly driven home after people had provided us with too many tiny squares of paper. The one rule was; never let us leave with Gibby. NEVER.

Good times, good times. I miss old Austin. (But hey, I'll be at Emos this Friday for the Burlesque Cupcake Cookoff. it's going to be really weird walking in there almost 20 years later.)
posted by dejah420 at 10:01 AM on March 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


On that same tour the BHS played a little armory here in Clearwater. Much of the same stuff happened that was mentioned in the oral history except a very nasty contingent of skin heads showed up to the show (as they were apt to do at any "punk" show in these parts.)

All hell broke loose - fire, destruction, nakedness on stage and skin heads taunting Gibby and Gibby going back after them. The promoters shut off the power and everyone filed into the parking lot where the BHS continued to play.

The armory never had another show after that.
posted by photoslob at 12:51 PM on March 8, 2009


I love the oral history of these kinds of things. A really fascinating read, especially from the point of view of a longtime Ween fan. Never saw BHS live, but I did see Crash Worship play once.... same kind of vibe, I guess... which is to say, rock 'n' roll used to be kind of dangerous.
posted by ph00dz at 1:02 PM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Like BitterOldPunk, I think that Locus Abortion Technician is a sublime work. I used to listen to it on the way to school on my walkman, which used to take about 45 minutes. I distinctly remember the sun coming through the trees as I traversed the final suburban streets toward the school buildings as 22, going on 23 played. I may have put the Wiseblood Stumbo/Someone Drowned in My Pool 12" on the end of the tape to fill up space. A lot less scary live than in the studio, in comparison to the BHS!

Then we got more interested in the Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill, which lent itself to more to group sing-a-longs, so that's what we did on the way to school. We would choose a role to play and recite the entire album. The 'terrible behaviour' of the Beasties did not impress us having seen the BHS, it just looked like drunken frat boy foolishness performed in order to court controversy, which is exactly what it was.
posted by asok at 8:32 AM on March 9, 2009


PCP Pep and Psychic... Powerless... were our scene's absolute most-beloved records of all time from around 1986 to around 1988. I can't recall a party from that era that did not involve Lady Sniff and Chrub being blasted at top volume, inevitably prompting panic, mayhem, thrown furniture, spilled bongs, and the like.

When we moved on, it was to Big Black.
posted by mwhybark at 12:29 PM on March 10, 2009


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