Knoxville Girls (1998
Knoxville Girls. Photo by Ali Smith.
Knoxville Girls started out with my roommate Jerry Teel and Jack
Martin, who was a long-term friend of mine. And we started doing
stuff together – he played occasionally with Congo Norvell.
They were doing a recording project with Bob Bert from Pussy Galore
and Sonic Youth. They asked me to come play on their recordings.
I said, “Oh yeah, I’ll come put down some guitar.”
And I ended up putting guitar on about everything that they played.
And Barry London was playing some organ. What they were doing was
a kind of… country/no wave was the theory of that. It was
very New Yorky sounding, very garagey, very rock. I came on and
put down some, something I haven’t done in a long time, which
is really loud crazy guitar parts. And it was really fun and really
we made these recordings and people immediately went crazy for them.
Barry Hardy from In the Red immediately wanted to put it out. And
Bob played it for Mark Arm from Mudhoney and he went really crazy
and said, “You have to play with us when we’re going
to play next month in New York.” So we decided, “OK,
we’ll make a live band and we’ll play.”
the restraint of Congo Norvell, it was really fun to play some rock
music again like in The Cramps or something – fuzzed out craziness.
And I like the no bass. There was no bass guitar on it. It just
turned out to be really really good chemistry. I was already a longtime
friend of Jack. Bob Bert was really great and Jerry who ran the
Funhouse studio. Yeah, so that was the start of a recording project
that became a band. We were just having fun and it was completely
natural and completely coo-koo. We were more on a kind of Captain
Beefhearty sort of trip.
role was more sound effect-y than anything else. And it was really
really fun for me because I got to actually be a bit more just expressionist
than having to really play. And I got to play lots of chords and
be loud and raunchy. It was a good combination. I think me and Bob
were the more arty sort of elements and had that kind of view. And
Jerry is strictly a garage-rocker total. And he was very into the
country singing. And he actually was a really great singer. He has
something really great about his voice. Even Lux and Ivy from The
Cramps liked it. And they said, “Wow, that singer can really
was just one of those things in where all of the elements are just
right. Once again, my theory that, if you get the right people together,
then its going to make some kind of right kind of music. And when
we became a live band it was even more proof that it was a good
thing because people really reacted strongly - I think one of the
most popular things that I’ve done in the last years. It made
so many people really happy and the people still ask me, “Are
the Knoxville Girls still together?”
we became really a super-touring band. We did a lot of touring in
America and in Europe and then we made the rounds a few times.
country/no wave thing, like all things - a relationship can always
be really fun at first until you start to really know each other.
So we went to make a second album - In a Paper Suit it
was called. By that time we got the idea that we want to make a
different album than the first album - which is probably not in
that kind of music the thing people want. Some people wanted it
to be more country and more people wanted more no wave. I think
it’s a great album but I think there’s a spirit missing
in it. And I think that’s what people were reacting to. I
think it became apparent to people that that record had a lot of
push and pull on it. And people didn’t react to it in the
way they did to the first one.
was pretty much the ending - the fact that no one could really make
a decision. It was Jerry’s band really. It was his brainchild.
Not wanting to just do the three-chord rockabilly fast thing was
the knife in the water. So the only thing was that the band deflated
in disillusionment and we went on to do different things. Barry
was the first one to go. Barry was not a hundred percent into it.
He was great on the recordings and he was great live. But there
were artistic differences and some people saw it one way and some
people saw it the other way. So when that happens you have to pursue
whatever way you see.
to a free MP3 of Knoxville Girls' "Drop Dead Gorgeous"
© New York
Night Train , 2005