Legendary psych-punk sons of anarchy the Butthole Surfers have begun work on their ninth studio LP, their first in more than 15 years.
"It has never been done. No one has put out a decent record 35 year[s years into their career]," vocalist Gibby Haynes tells Rolling Stone. "Well, except for Johnny Cash. But we're not Johnny Cash. It's gonna be a tough road to do a record that's presentable. It's really gonna be hard. … But, given that, looking forward to it!"
Initial writing and recording has begun in the Austin guest-room-turned-home-studio of guitarist Paul Leary for the album, which they hope to release by next summer.
"It kind of feels the same, which is sort of an empty void of all emotion," Leary tells Rolling Stone. "I kind of divorced the thought process from all of it because thinking has never served us well. It's gonna be all over the map once again, there's gonna be rock songs and there's gonna be some ambient things and some really stupid things. So, I imagine in that respect it will probably be like a lot of the other Butthole Surfers albums. … . A couple of old songs will probably make it to the record from our old albums, except done in a completely ridiculous format. "
The new album, their first since 2001's Weird Revolution, will reunite founding members Leary and Haynes with drummer King Coffey and bassist Jeff Pinkus, four-fifths of the line-up behind 1987's debut Locust Abortion Technician. That landmark LP has been name-checked as a favorite of Kurt Cobain, John Frusciante and Dean Ween, sampled by Kid Rock and Orbital, and is partially responsible for more than 30 years of the places where punk, noise, psychedelia, Dadaism and juvenile humor intersect.
"There's some pop stuff, but there's a lot of songs with no real agenda," says Coffey of the new material. "It's like noise with, like, just throbbing beats to it. It's kind of, in a way, what we've always done. We try to scatter ourselves all across the board."
"We're not in a position like a lot of other bands. Like, take Metallica. God bless 'em, I love Metallica. But all they gotta do is put out another Metallica record. The same thing with Foo Fighters. That's all they gotta do is put out another Foo Fighters record. 'Cause, I mean, they've got a sound. Or, they've got a song," says Haynes, laughing. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But, I guess we're just continually broken and in a struggle to fix it. So, it's gonna be a wild one."
Leary says he and Coffey have begun initial recording, with three songs that are "just about finished" and rhythm tracks recorded for about 15 more. Haynes, who lives in Brooklyn, will join them in Austin later this year. The re-energized Surfers have signed to Artist Network Management, which will release the record on their in-house label, Five Music Inc. The label's first release will be a remastered 30th anniversary 10-inch, featuring four songs from Locust Abortion Technician, due this November. The company says re-releases of the Surfers' indie-label albums are forthcoming; Leary is hoping for a box set featuring "a bunch of weird stuff that's never been released before"
The Butthole Surfers spent the 1980s as the American underground's most notorious live act, a nomadic carnival of terror featuring – at different points – strobe lights, footage of autopsies and surgeries, nudity, fire, fake blood, stuffed animal destruction and a wiffle ball bat that flung urine. In 1991, the band fired shotgun blanks over the heads of audiences at the first Lollapalooza tour. As veterans of the counter-cultural rock music that hit mainstream exposure that year thanks to R.E.M., Nirvana and others, the band signed with Capitol as one the unlikeliest major label deals in history.
"Have you seen the footage?" asked Haynes of a YouTube clip from that year, "It's trashing the dressing room at Lollapalooza where it's just like screaming voices and pieces of a trailer just being torn apart. They charged us $20,000, but it wasn't our dressing room. It was Nine Inch Nails and they had a mobile home for their backstage. We gutted the place in seconds and then we attempted to drive it into the ocean. But the cool thing about that one is that both River and Joaquin Phoenix were in the dressing room helping us do that."
In 1996, the Butthole Surfers had a Modern Rock Number One hit with the shimmering rap-rock song "Pepper," and soon David Letterman was saying "Butthole Surfers" on live national television. Their crossover moment, however, proved short lived. They recorded a follow-up in 1997, but spent years in legal purgatory. The band sued (and then were countersued) for the rights of their catalog on indie label Touch & Go, originally secured in the Eighties via handshake deal. Their relationship with Capitol fell apart, and they were contractually barred from recording elsewhere. They were sued by ex-manager Tom Bunch and countersued. Eventually, Hollywood Records bought the group out of their deal and they re-recorded much of the album; it was released as the electronica-tinged Weird Revolution in 2001 to commercial indifference and critical savaging.
"That was a pretty painful experience, that whole record," says Leary. "I think it was like getting an albatross off from around our necks. … We were on Capitol and nobody at the label really knew how to handle us. … And we were just kind of weird to them, so they always just left us to do our own thing. And then we this radio hit in 'Pepper' and next thing you know, there's people lined up around the block tellin' us what to do and how to do it."
"We were so ground down by the whole process of putting out that record," says Coffey. "We just wanted to take a break."
"It was just so nice to go sit home and take a breath and do some other things besides what we'd been doing for the last ten years," says Leary.
That break turned into years of near-silence. Leary continued producing other bands, while Haynes released an album in 2004 as Gibby Haynes & His Problem.
Says Haynes, "I think everyone just associated the band with, like, unpleasantries."
"Our booking agent would always be calling us saying we've got offers for shows and my answer was always, 'No, I just don't wanna do it,'" says Leary.
Starting in 2008, the band began tip-toeing back into the limelight, doing a handful of shows with the classic 1987 lineup, including second drummer Teresa Nervosa. (On why Nervosa isn't currently joining the band for the upcoming album: "It's easier to record one drummer instead of two," says Coffey. "It's just us being lazy, I think. She may join us at some point, but for now we're just taking the path of least resistance.")
These dates included the infamous All Tomorrow's Parties show where, in 2009, festival founder Barry Hogan said, "Killing Joke and the Butthole Surfers will never play ATP again, and they can both suck my balls."
"All these fans made me drink a bunch and I was just tooootally hung over and I went to get breakfast. I probably hadn't been to sleep but 15 minutes," explains Haynes of what he perceived as the defining incident. "I was sitting across the table from King and I was just totally nodding off. I was asleep basically. I'm sure it wasn't that great of a look, but some security person came up to me and started really hassling me. Sort of unwarranted. And then she pushed me, so I wet my finger in my mouth and then put it in her nostril.
"I remember we were playing two shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco [that year] and I told my buddy John Frusciante, I was like, 'Dude, come up to San Francisco because it's gonna be the last show we play,'" says Haynes, "I felt real bad … because then we played a couple show in L.A. a year or two after that. I think we had enough fun getting together again and playing those shows that we wanted to play some more."
The Surfers have played in the years since, most recently at Houston's Day for Night festival in December of last year, but warn fans not to hold their breath for a full tour supporting the 2018 LP.
"Our last tour was six or seven years ago and it felt terrible," says Leary with a laugh. "I will probably never tour again, it's just not fun. It was more fun back in 1986. It seemed like the nicer the hotels and tour buses the less fun it got."
Though they won't return to life as a travelling virus of chaos, the band does see similarities to their scrappier days in the new music.
"We were living in a van half the time," Coffey says of the scrappy 1986-era sessions for Locust Abortion Technician, "but also in Winterville, Georgia where we didn't know anyone, and there was no furniture in the house and there were sparks flying across the room because the electricity was so bad. Paul got an ancient 8-track one-inch machine and we began recording stuff in little bits and pieces. Almost all the drums on that are really just one floor tom and one snare, because we only had eight tracks to work with. Definitely we have better accommodations now, and a better studio and probably more knowledge on how to record. … But I think the approach really isn't that different as far as doing it bits and pieces and grabbing ideas where we can."
"It's just like back when we were recording ourselves, and putting out the records on an indie level and just having fun, with really no pretense of trying to write a hit or be commercial," says Leary. "We're just doin' what we wanna do, so it's been very, very fun."
Sia has announced her new seasonal album Everyday Is Christmas, a collection of 10 original tracks the singer wrote alongside producer Greg Kurstin.
Everyday Is Christmas, the festive follow-up to Sia's 2016 album This Is Acting and her first album for Atlantic Records, arrives November 17th. Pre-orders for the album begin October 30th.
The LP features holiday-themed songs like first single "Santa's Coming for Us," "Candy Cane Lane," "Underneath the Mistletoe" and "Snowman."
Entertainment Weekly spoke to Kurstin about Sia's Christmas LP, with the singer's longtime collaborator revealing that "there's some really fun uptempo Christmas jams, and then there’s also some Sia ballads."
“She is unbelievable,” Kurstin said. "I don't know how she comes up with song lyric and melody ideas so quickly. She's like no one else… What really blows my mind is just that she wrote these new Christmas stories, in a way and it's kind of amazing that she did that."
Kurstin, who is Jewish, also worked on Kelly Clarkson's 2013 Christmas album. "I'm still sort of new at this Christmas thing,” Kurstin told EW. "I have some sleigh bells in the studio, so I can get in the mood pretty quickly."
Everyday is Christmas Track List
1. "Santa's Coming For Us"
2. "Candy Cane Lane"
5. "Ho Ho Ho"
6. "Puppies Are Forever"
8. "Underneath The Mistletoe"
9. "Everyday is Christmas"
10. "Underneath The Christmas Lights"
Ed Sheeran's Divide tour is in jeopardy after the singer injured his arm in a bicycle accident Monday morning in London.
"I've had a bit of a bicycle accident and I'm currently waiting on some medical advice, which may affect some of my upcoming shows," the singer wrote on Instagram next to a photo of his arm in a cast. "Please stay tuned for further news."
The BBC reported that Sheeran broke his right arm in the accident, with the Mirror adding that a car struck Sheeran while he rode his bicycle in London. The incident is the latest in Sheeran's bizarre collection of injuries, which include slicing his face in a fake knighthood ceremony and melting the flesh off his foot at a hot spring.
The singer was currently on a break between legs of his Divide Tour, which was scheduled to resume October 22nd in Taipei, the first show of an Asian leg that runs through mid-November. The final 2017 dates on Sheeran's itinerary are November 19th in Mumbai, India and November 23rd in Dubai.
Sheeran will return to the road in 2018 for a stadium tour.
Considering the severity of the injury, it seems likely that Sheeran will miss at least some of his shows as the singer is dependent on his right arm to perform; the Divide tour has seen Sheeran performing solo onstage, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar and loop-making programs.
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"I am inspired by the women everywhere who are speaking up online to tell about my experience with a Danish director," Björk wrote.
While the singer didn't outright state the director's name, considering she only starred in one feature film – 2000's Dancer in the Dark, directed by Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier – it was apparent who she was talking about.
"It was extremely clear to me when I walked into the actresses profession that my humiliation and role as a lesser sexually harassed being was the norm and set in stone with the director and a staff of dozens who enabled it and encouraged it," Björk wrote. "I became aware of that it is a universal thing that a director can touch and harass his actresses at will and the institution of film allows it."
Björk added that whenever she turned the director's advances down, "He sulked and punished me and created for his team an impressive net of illusion where I was framed as the difficult one. Because of my strength, my great team and because I had nothing to [lose] having no ambitions in the acting world, I walked away from it and recovered in a years time. I am worried though that other actresses working with the same man did not."
However, Björk added that following her confrontations with the Danish director, his relationship with his leading actresses in subsequent films was "more fair and meaningful."
As Pitchfork notes, Björk and von Trier were often at odds on the Dancer in the Dark set, with the singer disagreeing on wardrobe choices to the point where she reportedly tore up a dress and ate its shreds. Despite the troubled production, the film won the Palme d'or at the Cannes Film Festival.
In a 2011 GQ interview, von Trier revealed that Björk wrote Nicole Kidman a letter advising the Australian actress not to star in the director's next film Dogville. Kidman still took the role.
Bjork wrote of working with Von Trier, "You can take quite sexist film directors like Woody Allen or Stanley Kubrick and still they are the one that provide the soul to their movies. In Lars von Trier’s case it is not so and he knows it. He needs a female to provide his work soul. And he envies them and hates them for it. So he has to destroy them during the filming. And hide the evidence."
"Let's hope this statement supports the actresses and actors all over," Björk wrote in conclusion in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. "Let's stop this. There is a wave of change in the world."