Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Live, loud and lewd

Butthole Surfers remaster their first three albums
Bela Ross

The Butthole Surfers are more than just their wacky, explicit name and hellbent live performances; they are one of the few bands that made it out of San Antonio. Now, 45 years later, their albums are being remastered and re-released on vinyl and streaming, making their talent all the more known. 

According to the book “Our band could be your life” by Michael Azerrad, Paul Leary and Gibby Haynes met at Trinity University during the late 1970s. Haynes was captain of the basketball team and, after graduation, gained a position at a Texas accounting firm. Leary was working on an MBA degree. In 1981, they published a magazine titled Strange V.D., filled with photos of abnormal medical ailments with fictitious names for the diseases. After being caught with one of these pictures at the firm, Haynes quit and left for Southern California. Leary dropped out of school during his senior year and followed Haynes. Together, they attempted to make a living selling clothes emblazoned with Lee Harvey Oswald’s image, but this did not prove profitable and they soon made their way back to San Antonio.

The duo played shows under different band names in San Antonio, their first being at Bonham Exchange in 1982. But it was not until they bought a van and played in San Francisco that their name became known when, at the Tool and Die club, Dead Kennedys’ frontman Jello Biafra signed Butthole Surfers to his label, Alternative Tentacles Records

The band returned to San Antonio to record their self-titled album, with new members Bill Jolly on bass and King Coffey on drums. Soon after, Teresa Nervosa joined as the band’s second drummer. Both she and Coffey, who claimed to be twins, played standing up, adding to the band’s chaotic performances. 

Not only were these live performances chaotic, they were unpredictable and often violent. According to an episode from the Highway Hi-Fi Podcast, a typical performance would begin with a stage filled with smoke, constant strobe lights and graphic footage of botched surgeries projected on every wall of the venue. The strobe lights and films played were so hectic that Nervosa had to quit the band for two years due to vertigo, convulsions and vomiting. The band would start playing for several minutes until the crowd realized that the sound was coming from them and not the bowels of the venue. The lead singer would shout into a bullhorn, wearing a dress with his hair covered in clothespins. 

“These were the freaks nightmares were made of,” Joe from the podcast explains. “And yet it was the lead singer who drew all of the attention with his glazed-over Manson-like stare and a voice that sounded inhuman.” 

Shows also frequently featured fake blood, the cymbals of the drum set and the lead singer himself covered in fire and unreleased songs that the crowd had never heard before. 

All of this insanity is channeled into the Butthole Surfers’ first two full-length albums, “Psychic…. Powerless…. Another Man’s Sac” and “Rembrandt Pussyhorse.” But, after recording these albums at BOSS Studios in San Antonio, Alternative Tentacles Records could not afford to buy the master tapes. 

Butthole Surfers instead released the EP “Live PCPPEP,” featuring live performances of the songs from their debut self-titled album, on Alternative Tentacles out of financial desperation. 

All three of these albums have now been remastered and re-released under Matador Records. Their bizarre hardcore punk, experimental noise can be enjoyed in the finest quality via streaming platforms, and the vinyl LPs will be available through Matador Records’ website on March 22. 

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About the Contributors
Lauren Hernandez, Assistant Arts & Life Editor
Lauren (she/her) is a second year English student at UTSA. After graduation she plans on attending law school. Outside of The Paisano you can usually find her at a concert taking pictures, hiking in the woods, watching movies or thrifting with her sister.
Bela Ross, Staff Writer
Bela (she/her) is a first-year psychology major and CAP student from San Antonio. Outside of school and writing or creating graphics for The Paisano, she enjoys playing guitar, watching movies and embroidering. This is her second semester at The Paisano.

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