I am very happy to have the opportunity to interview Texas Terri, the most fascinating and talented woman, bursting with real punk rock attitude, that I can think of nowadays who is still delivering the goods.
I think the best introduction for those of you who don't still know her is her own (taken from her MySpace)
Rachel - Hello Texas Terri, thank you so much for your time. On your MySpace all your fans have read the alarming news that you are considering to quit the music business for good after a new tour and album. We all know about the sorry state of rock music these days, but if you leave,things are gonna get worse. You yourself say that you hate the business, but love the fans... We would like you to tell us why would you do such a tragic thing - leave us. Do shout it out loud, make it public please!
TxT - First of all, I want to thank you for having me! I went to the site and was reading the interview with Ms. Guy of the Toilet Boys. I love Ms. Guy so much. What a talent, what a performer! We did some shows together and they are some of my favourite memories. The Toilet Boys were soooo amazing! So for those of you that weren't able to see them the first time around, if they do indeed get back together for another tour, don't miss them! You'll be sorry if you do. Ok, now for the question. For you I will make it as public as I possibly can without shooting myself in the foot. Because it does have a lot to do with the music business.
Ever since the beginning, I have only wanted to be the "artist", the singer in the band. When fans would want me to put out recordings, I would tell them to feel free to record any of our shows and make copies, sell them at our shows, whatever. When fans would ask for t-shirts, I told them to feel free to make their own, make more if they wanted and sell them at our shows. I just didn't want to deal with all of that. And I felt that was a pretty fair solution, don't you?
Well, time went on. Then my band mates wanted to record, do t-shirts, etc. But they only wanted to do the "fun" part, the creative part. I knew then that I was in trouble. None of them wanted to do the "hard" part which is the business side. I never wanted to be involved with the business part but, unfortunately, I was the only one of the musicians that I worked with that seemed to have a sense for it.....and more importantly, the ambition.
And then there is touring. That I did want to do so I figured out how to put that together. Our first tour of the U.S., I booked and promoted myself. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. For all of you bands just starting out there in the U.S., all you have to do is find bands that are similar to yours, check out their tour routing, the clubs, etc. and contact the club bookers and there you go. Of course you should have a website or MySpace page so that the booking agent can quickly look you up. Have as much press and info on yourself and some mp3's for them to listen to. Then ask the booking agents who to send promo to, which weekly music mags, etc. They are usually very helpful, or at least they were when I was doing this years ago. That tour was very successful and if I had had the time and energy to continue booking my band myself, I would have. I recommend and musician to learn and do as much of this type of work for your own band at first so you know how things work and can carry on conversations with knowledge when you find someone to take over the tour booking for you.
And here I am now, 2 full length releases, a few 7 inch releases, a large handful of compilation contributions, 8 t-shirt designs, a few U.S. and Euro Tours under my belt, and at least 22 band lineup changes. In the big picture, this really isn't much compared to a lot of bands that have many more releases and t-shirt designs, but hey, I’m only one person busting my ass and I'm proud of everything I've done so far. I have searched far and wide for someone to take over the management for Texas Terri so I can concentrate more on the "artistic/creative" side and so far, no results. Doing all of the band work was and still is too stressful for me to do alone. It's exhausting and it finally took all of the fun out of being in a band. I was an am always spread so thin and can't keep up with all of the business side of the band any more and have any sort of life for myself. And having to break in new musicians quite often does not help at all. A lot of musicians join my band for the wrong reasons. More on that another time. And in the past 3 years a lot has happened that I cannot go into here because it has to do with business people. So I'll skip on to the rest of the story.....
I made a decision that if I wasn't having fun doing a band, I should just stop. My bitterness towards doing all of the work it takes to make record releases and tours happen and the stress level was so ugly that it made me totally sick to the point I could barely function. And I just can't live that way. It's not the quality of life that I would choose for myself and I did not like the person I had become. It's always been very interesting how band mates want things to happen, but they don't want to do the work. I have always been the one to get the t-shirts made, get the records out, make sure everything is being done, get the songs in movies, etc. I do understand that most musicians are not interested or capable of doing anything else but playing their instruments and doing shows. Well, I didn't want to be anything more than a singer either. I just made myself learn how to do these other things because I knew it had to be done, and because I have an interest in knowing how the business works so I know what to ask for and can get treated fairly, not because I wanted to do it. Band mates don't realize how much time, effort, and stress this is....or maybe they do, that's why they run and hide or play dumb when it's time to do these things. And then they actually think it's their amazing talents that made all of this happen and get a big ego!!!! Hahahaha! No kidding, it's amazing!
People have been wondering why I haven't exposed more about myself in the past 3 years. I used to always be on the front-line with what I was doing and what my plans were. Well, what I can tell you now is that I have met some business people in the past year that are TOTAL Texas Terri fans, that TOTALLY believe in me, that TOTALLY want to help me and are TOTALLY behind me. This is all I can say about this at the moment but it will all unfold on it's own with careful planning. These handfuls of people have revived me enough to continue and have given me a reason to continue. They have brought the fun back for me. Made me believe in business people again (well, some), that they are not all lame. I have had the same guitar player, Olivier "the Inspector" Delajot (ex TV Killers / France) and bass player, Beano (ex Blood or Whiskey / Ireland) for over a year now. And Marina Maniac (ex Bite the Bullet / Berlin) on drums for 8 months. This has made my life easier that's for sure. We all live in Berlin so that is a good thing. BUT, the ongoing factor that has actually kept me going and continues to keep me alive are the fans. All of the fans have continuously let me know that I mean something, not to stop. The fans have always fed me the breath of life. That is why at the end of the show I always let them know by saying, "Without YOU, I am nothing." and I mean it with all of my heart.
So I'm not going anywhere. I'm still trying to find/make time to write my next record. I will write most of it myself: music and lyrics. That's my plan anyway. My next record will reveal so much of my heart and soul that it's a little scary for me, but I have to do it. There are many reasons it has taken me this long to do my next record but I can assure you that when I finally get it done, it will be worth the wait. I won't release it until I am happy with it and I truly believe that if I am happy with it, that there are some of you that will be happy also. Each time an artist releases a record, they are put on the chopping block of music critics, etc. But I always feel that the most important thing is for me to be happy with it first and foremost.
Rachel - You, just as many of your fans and fellow punk rockers need the music like a drug to survive. What are you planning to do if you leave?Maybe focus more on your career as an actress (having contributed in films such as "Hell-bent", "I Pass For Human", and several more)
TxT - It's so nice to know I'm loved! Thank you! Well, as you may or may not know, I moved to Berlin 17 months ago (March 1, 2007). Since being here, I have done a couple of modelling jobs, and a couple of movie/TV jobs as an "extra". You would not believe all of the paperwork I have to do here just to do these jobs! It's ridiculous! Anyway, I'm hoping to eventually get more involved in the acting business here. It just takes time. What I do have planned for the fans and myself is to make a Texas Terri documentary. I have had a person start one, but they didn't finish, they don't have time (surprise surprise!). So I have decided that in order to make a true, honest one, that I would just do it myself. I will be setting up my video camera in my room and when I feel like I have something I want to say or feel is important to share, I will just turn the camera on a say it. I have had all of my 20 years worth of video tapes, mini dv's, DVD’s of Texas Terri shows sent over here to Berlin from the U.S. They are all sitting here in boxes ready to be viewed, edited and put together for "The Life and Times of Texas Terri". I think this will most likely take a year to do.
I will be making a mini version for starters for the fans for the upcoming Texas Terri Euro 2008 winter tour to sale at my shows. I have realized that I'm actually a "door to door" sales person which is really weird considering I just wanted to be a singer in a band. But I want my fans to be able to get what they want and if it's cd's/lp's, t-shirts, DVD’s, etc. then so be it. I will not be going through a "business source" to make this mini-TxT documentary available at this time. It will only be available for the fans to purchase at my upcoming shows this winter in Europe. Well, maybe I will cheat a little for the fans that live in cities and countries I will not be going to can contact me directly for purchase.
I will also be focusing on learning a recording program (for instance pro-tools) so I can become a better songwriter and get songs written faster with good quality. It's really fun once you learn the technology and the freedom it will bring to me to do my own things will be incredible. I hate relying on musicians for things. I really love experimenting with ideas that I hear in my mind that I cannot explain to other musicians without it losing something in the translation. I have been a loner all of my life so it's already alien for me to have to work with a group of people on things. I have always loved being in my own world. I have always been my own "home entertainment centre". I feel really fortunate that I love being alone. I have so much fun!
Rachel - "Your Lips.. My Ass", your latest album released in 2004 is just such a fantastic work of punk rock art. You had some very juicy contributors, such as The Runaways lead singer Cherie Currie, What was it like for you to have her as guest vocalist in Your Lips My Ass? A dream come true situation?
TxT - Cherie Currie is one of the most wonderful people on the planet and she TOTALLY loves and appreciates each and every one of her fans. You know she does "chain saw art"? It's amazing to see her using chainsaws. Check it out if you haven't already www.chainsawchick.com and www.cheriecurrie.com . Cherie is a dream to work with in the studio. I learned a lot from her. She knows a lot about recording and mixing in the studio, not just singing! She gave me a super compliment. She said working with me reminded her of working with Joan Jett. Now that's pretty cool! Cherie is such a real person, no rock star attitude, just 100% rocker. I would love to work with her again someday. I have also been rolling some ideas around in my head for my next record. I have always wanted to do a duet with Jayne County so let's see what happens with that.
Rachel - It has been said that you wanted Lemmy Kilminster to be a guest on
the album as well, is that true? Do you plan anything with Lemmy? The two of you in a song would be very exciting!
TxT - I had hoped it would work out for Lemmy to be on "Your Lips....My Ass!" but it just seems the timing was bad. When the record came out, Lemmy told me, "Damn, Tex, I should have been on this one. On the next one for sure!” We shall see if he remembers saying this and maybe we can make it happen. He was very good friends with Wendy-O as you know. At a party in L.A., Lemmy told me that I reminded him a lot of her as a person, very misunderstood. I took that as a compliment (I think! hahaha!).
Rachel - Have many of your rocknroll dreams already come true for you in this life?
TxT - Absolutely! I think I've done just about everything I've wanted to do except for going to Japan. Anything else that happens now will just be icing on the cake. I am so grateful for all of the things I have been able to do so far. If I did have a wish list, and I do, I suppose this is what it would be: playing on all of the big rock festivals around the world on the main stage to really really large audiences so I can reach more people. I just love to entertain and would love to do it on a larger level. I love meeting people on the road! It's the best! And to have someone like minded in or outside of the band that could help me with managing, planning for the band, etc. so I don't waste my time making stupid business decisions (and I've made many of them!).
Rachel - Would you tell us why you decided to leave Los Angeles and live in Berlin instead? What do you find in Berlin so that you plan to stay there forever more (according to your MySpace)?
TxT - I was stagnating in Los Angeles. My heart and soul were dying of starvation. I love Los Angeles more than any city in the world so having to leave was heartbreaking for me but the call of the wild to be a woman of the world was there so I had to follow that call. I had been talking about moving to Europe for a couple or three years, so it was time to put my money where my mouth was. I didn't want to be a "talker" like so many other people. So I either had to shut up or put up. I really wanted to move to Stockholm. I love it there so much. But I chose Berlin as my first step. Reasons being that I knew more people here and it's easier to get started here. It's a big step to move to another country in the first place. Then not knowing the language and having to learn to adapt to how another country does things, etc. was going to be a challenge and it has been and still is a gigantic challenge but well worth it. If you really want to get to know what you are made of, move to another country where you don't know the language. Talk about getting to know all about yourself, man! It's the coolest to be confused, terrified, ignorant, and helpless all at once. Really builds character. And I love that I can keep a closer look on what's going on for me here in Europe and I can tour more often. I am getting better connected here and I feel so alive!
Rachel - As a very experienced woman who's been in the r'n'r business for more than 20 years now, what would you say you love the most and hate the most about it?
TxT - What I love the most is travelling and being on stage, meeting the fans, seeing the world, making that emotional connection with the fans from the stage.What I hate the most is the constant struggle and endless bullshit I have to go through to make this happen. The egos. The planning, the babysitting. Things you really don't want to know about trust me.
If I had it to do all over again, what would I do differently? I would have learned how to play the guitar and bass for starters so I could express my ideas easier and wouldn't have to rely on other musicians who would make me more independent and confident. I would have learned more about recording in the studio for the same reasons. Knowledge is power. I would have found someone to help me with the business side from the beginning so I could have hopefully sidestepped some of the business mistakes I made that have slowed down my success.
Don't get me wrong, I totally appreciate the musicians/people in my band, especially the ones I am working with currently. But these are musicians that I got to go on tour with me. I don't even know if they will be the ones I write songs with. I'm going to give it a try though. There has to be chemistry there. And I just have a weird schedule. Sometimes I need to work on things in the middle of the night, or an idea comes up at a moment that is inconvenient to call someone else in. So it's always been hard for me to make appointments with musicians to write songs. I loved working with my guitar player/best friend Demon Boy because when we got together to write songs, he had so many ideas to choose from, so many great ideas, natural born creative chemistry with each other. So it was always a fruitful session. I'm sure we will write again sometime in the near future.
One of my favourite artists of today is Peaches. She is a great example of a fantastically talented, clever, and creative woman in rock. She has the nerve and confidence to do anything she wants and does. She also started off doing all of this without any other musicians on stage. I love her show! She commands an audience more than anyone I've ever seen. She is clever, she is brilliant.
It would be so much more fun for me if I could just travel around and entertain people by myself. It's a lot of work to organize a band and be in one yourself. I don't just get to be the singer but I suppose there is something to say about being the one that calls all of the shots. But I suppose if I had learned to play an instrument in addition to being a singer, I may not have become the front person I am today. Everything would have been totally different.
I must sound like a real bitch! Hahahaha! Well, I think that after years of having to run a band and keep one together, all the details I have to constantly keep up with has just worn me out. I now just want to be the little princess of a rock & roll band. That is one of my biggest dreams! I'm tired of being the big, bad wolf!
And if it sounds like I am complaining, I probably am a little. But believe me, I am grateful for these problems. They are much better than the ones I'd be complaining about if I had a different life. And these things I am discussing, there are solutions for, and I'm doing my best to find those solutions and apply them.
Rachel - When you were a young growing punk rock chick, before you started your first band, who, or what did inspire you the most?
TxT - My parents had 2 LP records that I remember. The first was Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass. It wasn't the music as much as it was the album cover. The cover had a naked woman covered in whipped cream. In fact, I believe that was the name of the record, Whipped Cream. As a young child, I was so impressed with this cover. I thought it was so cool! The second record they had was the Nancy Sinatra record with "These Boots are Made for Walkin'". It had a picture of her on the cover with her white go-go boots on. She looked so cool on that cover! She looked like a sexy, tough chick, and still does! She's amazing! So those would be my first memories of music and images that tainted my mind. The next thing I remember was getting the Rolling Stones Record 12x12. Another killer cover, this time with sleazy rock & roll boys. Let's just say all of this was in my blood ready to be awakened. When I was about 6 or 7, I remember being in my bedroom, standing in front of the mirror, singing into my hairbrush handle, hoping my parents or brothers would not come in and catch me. I would have been so embarrassed. I was living out my rock & roll fantasy already, playing to sold out crowds that were cheering for more! And I barely even knew what rock & roll was at that point. I remember when I started singing in my first punk rock band, my father laughed at me and said, "You're not a singer!” I told him "Fuck you, thanks for the support you asshole. And you wonder why I don't tell you anything or like you very much?” Then to my surprise, both he and my mother showed up to my first show. They were late so missed the set, but it was the thought that counted. Was I surprised! And to be honest, I'm kind of glad they missed it, hahahaha! But through the years, they have shown up to my gigs as I would tour through Austin, Texas. They became very supportive and still are.
My father died from cancer almost 2 years ago now. I miss him a lot. We had become very close. He loved my sense of adventure and fearlessness. I got my "fight" from him. That guy taught me so many useful things about living life. I have a bag of his ashes here with me in Berlin. I keep them in my Dolphin Cookie Jar.
When I was growing up in Austin, Texas, I got to see so many of the masters of rock & roll in their early days. For instance, The Rolling Stones, Little Richard, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Thunders, The Ramones, Iggy Pop, Jayne County, The Stranglers, Gang of Four, B-52's, and on and on. All of the early rock & rollers and the first round of punk rock. And I got to see all of the great blues players like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy & Junior Wells. Crazy stuff. Stevie Ray Vaughan and his brother Jimmie were friends of mine in Austin when I was growing up. The Dicks and The Next were my favourite local punk rock bands in Austin. Killer stuff! I am blessed to have seen so much at a young age. A lot of these people are still out playing and are still better than most of the younger bands in my opinion, and they are legendary! Great influences.
Rachel - Do you think punk rock is gonna somehow take over the music business again hopefully, o do you see us all real music fans still vomiting everyday at the sight of the nauseating state of music? Is there asalvation? Is the salvation coming as usual from the underground and is it gonna win over all the corporate shit? (I know, this sounds like Star Wars haha!!) And about rock girls, do you see more bands with attitude-ridden and talented girls such as you leading, coming to the surface and succeeding?
TxT - I have been observing this situation for a while now. Just sitting and observing. What I notice is that the music business will fuck everything up for themselves eventually. Their day will come. Let them eat their own. It's important for the masses to be exposed to bands such as myself and others that come from the heart and the guts of human emotion. Imagine how blown away the masses would be. But the masses are scaredy cats. They want the "play it safe" music. So until people tell them that it’s "cool" to like the real heart and soul music, things will remain safe. In the world these days, the "punk rock fashion" is so in fashion, but it's just fashion. And yes, it's always the underground that keeps the music alive for those of us that need the "real thing" so we just have to keep searching for that which keeps us strong and makes us feel alive. So, I repeat, fuck the music business. Let them eat their own. It's going to be interesting to see what happens.Rock girls will always be around, you just have to keep your eyes open for the strong ones that aren't afraid to really let it out. One thing that we all know has changed the music biz is technology. Now everyone can record their own music, make their own films. MySpace and YouTube has made a lot of things interesting, for instance, our ability to see what's going on worldwide, connect with each other, and a way to expose and express what's on our minds. Very interesting. Of course, it has also made it possible to flood the market with pure shit! But every once in a while you find a real gem out there that makes it worth the search.
Rachel - When can we all fans expect your new album to be out? Will you play the new songs during your upcoming European tour later this year?
TxT - I am hoping to have 3 new songs for this coming Euro Tour set. Finding time to write new songs and work them into the set has been a trying thing seeing that I am still dealing with getting myself sorted out here in Berlin. I just woke up a little while ago and was actually thinking about all of this. If I am able to keep my focus, I'm hoping to get a lot of things done. On Sept. 25, I have a meeting at the alien's office to see if they will give me another visa to live and work in Germany. I'm hoping they will give me one for 2 years this time but I will really have to present them with a lot of proof of income, etc. for them to let me stay so that will be keeping me busy until then, putting together my "presentation to stay" folder. Everyone please wish me good thoughts on that day! This visa stuff is really nerve racking. I will also be going back to German class mid Sept. for 5 weeks. That is part of the deal with the alien's office for me to stay and I want to learn the language anyway so I can be independent to take care of my own life again. I have had to depend on a lot of very good friends to help me with a lot of this official German red tape. I'm so grateful to have these friends!
To answer the question about another TxT full length release, I would have to say I don't think I will have everything together to go into the studio to record until sometime in the spring of 2009. So that would put a release of the record probably in the fall of 2009. But it will definitely be in 2009. It has to be.
I am pulled in so many directions as I mentioned above. I really want to finish my German classes and when I do these classes, its 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, then 2 to 6 hours of homework per day. That is why I usually only go for 5 week periods so I can get other things done. But in Jan/Feb 2009, I want to try to go for 10 weeks straight through so I can finish my commitment to the alien's office so that will be a killer.It's really important to me to take care of my survival first and foremost.
I have started a night where I DJ at a bar here in Berlin called Texas Terri Night: Mittwoch Madness! It is every Wednesday at the BreiPott. (For info go to www.myspace.com/breipott or www.breipott.cc ). And I plan on getting some other DJ jobs around town. This will be my new job for now and my new source of income. Unfortunately, my rock & roll career does not pay for me to live yet. Perhaps together we can make that happen so I can focus all of my attention and time there and get things done faster and be out touring more!
Rachel - And now we would like you to say whatever the fuck you really want to say right now, to everyone reading this, Anything you want!
TxT - Hmmm. My favourite saying these days, for myself, is "NOW is NOW". If I (you) don't do things now, then when am I (are you) gonna do it? Will we really have another chance? Take that chance. Go for it! Risk looking stupid, who cares! Have some fun (without hurting others)! Hope to see you all at one of my shows don't blow it by not being there. I will not be around forever. No one is.
Rachel - Thank you Texas Terri for your very valuable words and time, I have been truly honoured to “talk” with you. We all really do hope you never give up because music needs people like you and your fans need you as well!
TxT - And remember, without you, I am nothing. I love you all from the bottom of my heart. Thanks again for the opportunity to spill a little of my guts and to the people that took the time to read this. Big kisses and love, Texas Terri.....NEVER SHUT UP...ALWAYS WANT MORE!
Texas Terri Bomb at MySpace: www.myspace.com/texasterri
You will also find all the up-to-date info on her new 2008 European tour and CD.