Skate Rock may have been one of the defining sounds of Southern California in the late ’80 / early ‘90s, but its origins were in another time and place. It began, in fact, in post-Outlaw Country 1970s Austin, Texas. That’s where singer Randy “Biscuit” Turner, guitarist Tim Kerr, bassist Chris Gates and drummer Greg Murray were mixing the prevailing trend of playing hard and fast with playing loose and funky.
The Big Boys came from the same scene that spawned Scratch Acid, The Dicks, and MDC, but stood out with music that ventured far beyond post-punk angularities and hardcore machismo. With features in the earliest issues of Thrasher Magazine and coveted spots on their influential Skate Rock tape comps, Big Boys were the first band to be labeled “skate rock.”
Originally released on David Bean’s (of the Judys) Wasted Talent label, their debut album Where’s My Towel / Industry Standard is a classic of American independent music. Lyrically inspired by the group’s growing dissatisfaction with the local hardcore scene and how the release of their Live at Raul’s split record with the Dicks was handled, musically the album showed a move from the prevailing sound of the time. In this, the album’s sound has roots in funk, rock and avant-garde noise guitar as much as punk.
But the record only tells part of the story. Big Boys shows have gone down in history as theaters of chaos, frequently involving stage invasions, food fights and the sight of occasional cross-dresser Turner wearing a tutu or dress – or even a string of Christmas lights. Years later, Kerr told an interviewer of a gig where Biscuit performed with bagged sandwiches pinned all over him, which he went on to throw into the crowd. At a gig six months later, a member of one audience threw the by-then-moldy sandwich back at him. The band also frequently extended to include a horn section, The Impromptu Horns, led by Chris Gates’ brother, Nathan.
Famously, the Big Boys would end with the foursome shouting, “OK y’all, go start your own band.” This DIY attitude continues today in Tim Kerr’s art, which instead of being signed with his name is inscribed “Your Name Here”. The list of fans who did go out and start their own band includes the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who opened for the Big Boys in Hollywood in their club years. After five short years and three albums, each of the four Big Boys departed too, taking their own advice: each member went on to play in numerous bands like Poison 13, Monkeywrench, Jack O’Fire, Junkyard and many more. They are also featured in the critically-acclaimed documentary American Hardcore and appear on its soundtrack. In 2005 Biscuit died of complications from Hepatitis C. Tim Kerr continues to play music and his artwork has been seen all over the world. Chris Gates continues to play music in his band Chris Gates & Gatesville.
“We never really decided to ‘break up’, it just happened,” Kerr said, five years after the split. “We had been on a two month tour and it got to be exactly like being in a station wagon with mom and dad with your brother and sisters… lots of tension and everything.” That won’t come as any surprise on listening to the album: the tension’s what makes it so very vital.
Now y’all, go start your own band…
- Hand-numbered edition – limited to 3,000 copies world wide
- 180-gram wax with 2 color variations available
- NEON Yellow/Green (packed at random)
- WHITE (packed at random)
- Includes reproductions of a rare Big Boys sticker (shown above), original inserts, plus a new insert with a note from Big Boys founding member Tim Kerr
- Original album art expanded to a gatefold “tip-on” jacket with spot UV gloss
- Interior gatefold jacket features an unpublished 1982 photo of the band by artist Bill Daniel
- Includes download card for 320 Kbps MP3 of entire album
- Cassette co-released with Burger Records and limited to 500 hand-numbered copies.