Butthole Surfers Launch Vinyl Reissue Campaign With Matador Records

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Butthole Surfers Launch Vinyl Reissue Campaign With Matador Records

The Texas rock band will kick things off with remastered versions of Psychic…. Powerless…. Another Man’s Sac, Rembrandt Pussyhorse, and PCPPEP

Butthole Surfers band photo

Butthole Surfers, photo by Pat Blashill

Butthole Surfers have launched a career-spanning vinyl reissue campaign with Matador Records. The bizarro rock group will kick off the multiple-record series with remastered versions of Butthole Surfers’ Psychic…. Powerless…. Another Man’s Sac (1985), Rembrandt Pussyhorse (1986), and 1984 live release PCPPEP. The digital formats of each record are available now on digital streaming platforms. The vinyl LPs arrive on March 22. Check out a remastered version of the track “Butthole Surfer,’ as well some thoughts on the band by music critic Byron Coley, below.

Butthole Surfers were formed in San Antonio, Texas, in 1981 by vocalist Gibby Haynes and guitarist Paul Leary. Drummer King Coffey joined in 1983. The trio has remained the group’s core members throughout the decades. The visual for the updated edition of “Butthole Surfer” includes band photos shot by Gail Butensky during the 1980s.

Byron Coley on Butthole Surfers:

More than four decades after the fact, I still remember walking out of my live introduction to the Buttholes in a state of happy confoundment. By 1982 there were already plenty of bands who’d ostensibly begun as part of the American hardcore scene but were now headed in other directions. One such unit was Austin’s Big Boys, whose mix of gender-bending skatepunk and funk readymades were addictively brilliant. We went to see them at L.A.’s Grandia Room with low expectations for openers, the Butthole Surfers, who we’d figured were just another thrash band from Texas with a “shock” monniker.

The Buttholes had already begun their set by the time we got there, and it was immediately evident their sonic approach was far from what we’d expected. Some of their songs resembled a better, weirder version of the Dead Kennedys, but the comprehendible snippets of lyrics sounded great as hell – “There’s a time to fuck and a time to crave/But the Shah sleeps in Lee Harvey’s grave!” And the singer and guitarist looked like they were competing in the nuts boy sweepstakes. Even with the Grandia Room’s impossible sight-lines, the band made a real impression. I asked Mike Watt what he knew about them and he just said they were, “out there.” Which I took as a good sign.

When their records started arriving, I bought them even though they were on Jello B’s label (which I usually boycotted). ‘PCPPEP’ (actually recorded after the protean version of ‘Another Man’s Sac’) sounded more whacked-out than the studio record that preceded it, and was also the first to feature the power of the band’s classic two drummer line-up (King Coffey and Teresa Taylor). The synchronized percussive brutarianism of this pair (falsely rumored to be siblings) provided the perfect base for the unhinged blurt of the guitars and vocals then being shared by Gibby Haynes and Paul Leary. We didn’t manage to see the Buttholes again until they played the East Coast in ’84, by which time a few bassists had come and gone, and the band had evolved into full freakout mode.

The early-mid ’80s had their share of insane combos – The Birthday Party, Black Flag and Minor Threat had the raw power to melt your mind in seconds. SWANS, Einsturzende Neubauten and Big Black created enough overwhelming sonic pressure their sounds might actually flatten you. And Sonic Youth displayed such a dizzyingly unpredictable mix of art, pop culture and violence you’d sometimes leave their shows drooling. The Buttholes shared elements with all of these groups, but added a wild psychedelic edge and a propensity for bizarre spectacle.

By the time they started touring to preview and then support the revamped version of ‘Psychic…Powerless…Another Man’s Sac’, the Buttholes’ live show was an berserk, evolving extravaganza of strobes, smoke, clothespins, naked dancing, bullhorns, raving lunacy and music that was as madly mind-blowing as that of any band who ever lived. ‘Another Man’s Sac’ was also wildly advanced over the previous records. Parts of the LP swaddled their punk edge inside so much oink and babble you almost couldn’t discern it, with other segments stretching out into a mutant form of garage blues, and others just swirling out of control.

This first batch of reissues is certain to raise the roof for a lot of people who thought they had a pretty good handle on the outer realms of the ’80s indie-rock scene. And while the recordings are not the fully immersive experience of the Buttholes in concert, you may still feel as though you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole the size of Texas itself.

This is the sound of the Butthole Surfers before they were name-checked by Kurt Cobain, and signed by Capitol in a frenzy to not-be-left-out of the indie-rock sweepstakes. Before they had an actual Billboard hit with “Pepper,” from their 1996 LP, ‘Electric Larryland’. Before people saw them as something like a progenitor for theatrically oddball outfits like the Flaming Lips and Animal Collective. The Buttholes’ early recordings for independent labels, and the shows they played throughout the 1980s, stand as pure exemplars of the most cussedly Dionysian vom ever spewed.

Yippie Yi Yo!

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