Touch & Go’s toxic
Texans discuss their reunion and meditate, sort of, on why it’s destined to be
short-lived. On the couch: David Yow and David Wm. Sims.
BY RON HART
at BLURT were justifiably ecstatic to hear about the surprise re-reunion of
legendary Texas pigfuck/noisemongers Scratch Acid for a brief holiday trek in
November and December across North America (itinerary is listed here; the band
wrapped a few dates this past weekend and will commence again December 8). It
marks the first time they’ve performed since 2006, which itself was a one-off
for the Touch & Go Records’ 25th anniversary shows. In addition,
they’ll be returning to the UK
for their first show in England
since 1987 for the Jeff Magnum-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties. And when we
reached out to the head Scratchers, Davids Yow and Wm. Sims for comment about
the impending festivities, they were more than happy to discuss at, er, length
their first full-on tour since Ronnie’s jellybeans graced the desk of the Oval
Yow and Sims responded,
respectively, via email. Yow – who currently operates as a visual artist –
added a brief personal note that read, “I hate typing. I’m no good at
it. But here’s the interview. I wish you nothing but the best.” And
likewise to you from BLURT, sir.
BLURT: Who initially
contacted you about getting Scratch Acid back together for All Tomorrow’s
Parties? Did Jeff Magnum reach out to you directly?
DAVID YOW: I believe Jeff Mangum contacted Barry (who runs
ATP), or one of his partners, who in turn contacted our booking agent who in
turn contacted me. Yep, like that.
DAVID WM. SIMS: Our booking agent contacted us. I believe he
was contacted by Barry, the guy that runs ATP. I know I’m supposed to know who
Jeff Magnum is; sorry.
Was there talk about
some kind of full-on reunion following the 2006 shows prior to the invite to
All Tomorrow’s Parties?
YOW: No, there was not. We’re all kind of surprised by this
reunion, I think.
Who were some of the
music acts who influenced Scratch Acid when you guys first got started?
YOW: Led Zeppelin. PIL. Killing Joke. The Birthday Party.
Fear. Wire. Gang Of Four.
SIMS: There were a lot of them. We started the band on the
heels of an amazing period in British punk and New Wave, and that was a big
factor: Gang of Four, PIL, Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, etc. We were
in Austin at a
time when there were amazing local bands to draw on, like the Dicks, Butthole
Surfers, and Big Boys. And, we didn’t turn away from the rock music we’d been
fans of before punk came along. Led Zeppelin was a big deal. There’s a bit in
our song “El Espectro” that’s an, ahem, homage to a riff in a Brand X
song. So, it was a pretty mixed bag.
thrash was getting bigger at the time, and most of us hated how predictable and
monotonous the tempos and lyrical themes were. There was an element of
“anything but hardcore” to what we were doing when we started.
Do you have a
particular memory from Scratch Acid’s first six years that sticks out most in
your mind? Please divulge…
YOW: (Gosh, I
wish I had a better answer for this.) Um, no, I don’t. Sorry. That’s
sorta funny, though, huh?
Now that people are
talking Scratch Acid again, has there been any conversation between you guys
about reissuing your catalog?
YOW: No, there has not.
SIMS: I haven’t heard any.
Would you be
interested in doing any new recording with Scratch Acid?
SIMS: Probably not. I think we all have enough other
projects going on to keep us busy.
YOW: Personally, I would not. I don’t really feel like
creating music these days. I guess I’m only recreating. It’s recreational for
If you could curate
one of these All Tomorrow’s Parties festivals, what acts would you be
interested in reuniting to play it?
YOW: The Huns. Terminal Mind. Sharon Tate’s Baby.
Are there any young
bands that you feel keep the Scratch Acid legacy alive in 2011? What modern
acts do you listen to?
YOW: I really don’t keep up with what’s going on with young
bands. I don’t think I’m the guy to ask.
SIMS: I don’t know of any, but I don’t listen to much of
that kind of music anymore. A lot of the stuff I listen to now is
experimental instrumental music, like Rhys Chatham, David Daniell, Noveller,
and Aidan Baker. I have a solo bass project called unFact that skews that
2012 will mark the
30th anniversary of the band. Are you guys going to be acknowledging the
milestone in any way?
YOW: Good question. Probably not.
An edited version of
this interview appeared in issue #11 of BLURT.
[Photo Credit: Niles
J. Fuller/via Touch & Go]