Because the Music Matters!!!

(re)View from the Past

the first in a retrospective series by Andrew C Schlett

​originally published January  17, 2011

Come with me as I put myself back in that place… and time.

It’s 1991. May, I think. Yeah. Saturday night. We’re all at Numbers, me, Jeff,
Marty, their girlfriends Vicky and Niki, my girlfriend Michelle, a few of the other guys,
and as usual I’m pretty freakin’ drunk but man what a great time we’re all having. This is
a really special show we’re at tonight, I heard that it’s the last time the Bayou Pigs will
ever play together since rumor is that they’re done and breaking up after tomorrow. If
that’s not cool enough, or historic enough, in itself, then throw in the outrageous Pain
Teens, with whips a-crackin’ and strippers a-pole-in’, Bliss Blood at her stiletto-heeled
best, opening the night for the Pigs. By now, though, by this point in the evening, way
too many plastic cups of cheap draft beer later, the Bayou Pigs are close to the end of
their set. Dave Yammer and the boys have ripped through just about everything from
their album Toxic Karma and lots of other songs too, pouring their very hearts out into the
hall as though none of them could truly believe, as I could not truly believe, that it was
about to be over. I love the Pigs, man. Damn.

Then the lights drop down low, banks of fog machines hidden beneath the stage
start filling the room with that hazily thickening fog-machine mist, and as the guitar fades
up from seemingly very far off in the distance we are all carried, almost launched, into
the opening chords of “Don’t Go Down To The Bayou” which is without a doubt the
Pigs’ most epic song. On the album it’s pretty long anyway, but tonight they’re going to
stretch it out over at least 30 minutes, Dave pacing incessantly back and forth across the
stage, muttering, sometimes screaming, his guttural growled admonitions to beware of
alligators, bones, red red mud, slow black blood, and the crazy witches who live nearby.
It is nothing less than entrancing, this sensational exaggerated impact of the lights playing
off the belching smoke, the reverberating amplified sounds of the drums, the guitars, the
thumping bass, Dave’s unmatched singing voice, and yes, even the thrash trumpet which
gives the Pigs their own unique and totally recognizable sound. As Michelle moves
tightly into me, the smell of her hair entirely intoxicating in my nostrils, I hold her close,
dear, warm and snug, as she clutches Pain Teens albums in her arms. I cannot help but
stop to think that this is indeed a genuine precious moment, one which I must savor and
cherish; being with her, with my friends, with the music, and with my life, because I
know it will only be fleeting and that this totally perfect ‘now’ will not last. I take and
hold a clear mental snapshot… one that, eventually, will endure in memory far beyond
the last fading notes of the final Bayou Pigs show, far beyond May or 1991, far beyond
the love of Michelle, even far beyond the borders of the great State of Texas. Speaking
strictly for me, if I can rip a lyric from Rob Halford, we both could have died then and

Little did I know, at that time, how transitory everything really was to be, and how
soon it was all going to change. Nothing else of the life that I knew on that night of so
long ago survives to this day except the memory I just described, and the Pain Teens
albums that sit always close to my turntable. Fast-forward now twenty years, it’s January
2011, and I’m in Westminster, Colorado. Been here for almost 19 of those years, lost
touch with everybody a long time ago, but now due to the invention Facebook, the
barriers of a thousand miles and two decades have fallen away like they were never there.
Lisa E is currently reviving Rivethead and has asked if I would donate some of my
recollections and insights into the way H-Town used to be. I find this flattering. Nice to
know that I’m remembered well, and of course I am pleased to help.

My first column, “(re)View from the Pit” debuted in the January 1990 issue, and
my last, “A Few Minutes With Andy” appeared in February 1992. I only missed a few
issues in between, those because I was likely in jail or something, so I have a good couple
of years worth of material to draw from. Watch this space for ongoing posts as I pull up
more memories and paint them into words for you all to see and revisit with me. Who
says you can’t live in the past? I’m planning to make a series out of it, and who knows?
Maybe one day condense them all into a book. This is going to be pretty cool. It truly
does sadden me to realize how boring, unproductive, and hideously lame my life has
become, and so it is with a renewed sense of youth and purpose, two things I lost a long
time ago, that I approach this project. Thank you Lisa E, thank you Rivethead, and thank
you Houston! I’ll try to do y’all proud, and be true to both the music and the people who
made it.

Some of you might remember when and why I left Houston, but to most readers I
think I simply disappeared, stopped writing for Rivethead, vanished from the concert
scene, and was never heard from again. There really are two reasons for this. The first
and foremost had quite a bit to do with the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office. You see, when
the local cops know who you are, know what your truck looks like, and know what they
are probably going to find in your truck, well son, it’s time to move away. The other
reason was that my girlfriend at the time, Michelle, mentioned above and sure to be
mentioned again at some point in later columns, thought that Boulder, Colorado, was like
the second coolest city on the planet behind only Paris, France. Now, I know jackshit
from Paris, but by total coincidence my dad has lived about 15 miles east of Boulder ever
since the mid ‘70s, after my folks split up. Colorado was a pretty easy choice for us. The
urgency of this move, way back in April of 1992, was prodded by the ugly fact that I had
just done some 45 days in the Harris County Jail for possession of a prohibited weapon.
The weapon in question was a small scrap of sheet metal that more or less resembled a
throwing star. Ridiculous? Yes. But the police in Texas take a very proactive approach
to law enforcement, and I had quite a history with them by that time anyway, so I was
jailed. After this, I had totally enough of such bullshit and, rightly and understandably, so
had Michelle. They let me out of jail on a Thursday; upon the following Monday
morning we had our trucks packed up and were hitting the road to new country.
Sometimes, every now and again, I wonder what my life would have been like
had I not moved away. By now, I might be writing for Rolling Stone. Or I might be
doing a hell of a long stretch in TDC. No way to tell, no way to investigate those other,
non-taken paths. We know no reality except that which is actually real.

This, then, is what I really want to talk about in this column. Not how or why I
moved to Colorado, but rather the memories of the Houston scene that I have carried and
tried my best to share all these years. There are some people here who are as cool as we
all are. The music I brought with me is either on vinyl or cassette tape, neither of which
is particularly viable these days, yet I share it still, as best I can. My old life is gone, noncorporeal,
a distant memory, covered now in dust. The minor celebrity who once was the
Rivethead reporter known as Andrew “C” is now a jerk-off underpaid line cook. All the
enjoyments of that previous life are now as vague to me as the thinning smoke wafting
above a well-packed hookah. Yet it is that very life that now inspires (re)View from the
Past, and all of the people who made the entire experience so real and so very special.
Not ‘special’ in a short-bus kind of way, but like something that I will never know again.

Speaking of the people who made the music, and the scene, there is no way I can
wrap up my debut revival column without shouting out to some old friends. The list is by
no means conclusive, and no doubt others will come to mind as more installments get
written, and I’m sure as hell sorry if I forgot you, but for now I gotta say howdy to, in no
particular order: Jeff Mikel, Marty Jaquette, Niki and Vicky mentioned above; Tony
Watson, Brian Nelson, and Mike “Shoe” Schulenburg of Urban Assault Squad; Ray
Banks; Romeo Reyna (you still got my Cowboys bass?); Joe Claytor; Ashley Henson and
Chaz Chadwick of Red Ink (my only mention ever in liner notes); Chris Downs; the Axiom;
Janis Joplin (both the singer and my late cat); Catfish Standlee (I owe you a bud, bro);
After Dark club; Dan Hunter (formerly of Zrock); Damon Gill (Wake.), Greg Main, and
Academy Black; Molly Malone’s (too many nights there to count); deadhorse (horsecore
available on CD yet?); Kevin Stanley and Tim Cooper of Rock City; Whataburger (we
ain’t got ‘em up here, always a treat when I get down there); Headbanger’s Ballroom;
Chris Jackson (vicious death metal player); and finally Shiner Bock, the only truly Texas
beer still brewed in Texas and only recently available in Colorado. Before that I could
only drink it when I was down-home, and whatever happened to Pearl? Not on the
shelves anywhere last time I was down. Oh well.

Anyway, cheers now as I lift a shot from the foothills of the majestic Rocky
Mountains and the home of the Denver Broncos. Watch the Rivethead page for more
installments. I ain’t promising anything like a regular deadline, but as the mood strikes
and the memory screams, here it will be! And because I always ended my old column
this way, I gotta say it to you now: Don’t forget to tip those bartenders and hard-working
waitresses, yo! Peace out, H-town!! Love y’all!!!   --Andrew “C”

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