Below is a August 8th 2000 chat with John Schooley from mighty fine Texan combo The Hard Feelings. They have
recently issued their top notch debut on the Sympathy For The Record Industry label entitled 'Fought Back & Lost'.
It's a hot document of roots rockin' & guitar wailin' which we highly recommend. We have it in stock on LP ($17) or
CD ($24). Many thanks to John for spacepostin' with us. Contact em' at:
S: Take us back to the Revelators,when did you wind all that up,& how did you yourself & the other members all come together in Texas?
The Revelators broke up right after we recorded the second album.The original drummer quit before we were going to record,so we got Bill Randt (then of the
New Bomb Turks) to play on it.Then,afterwards,Jeremiah quit.So they left me high and dry. After the Revelators breakup I wanted to start another band,
but I knew I couldn't do it in Missouri.The second Revelators album was recorded in Austin,and I had gotten to be friends with Mike Mariconda,who produced it.
He encouraged me to move,said Austin would be a good town to get something started. He introduced me to Andy Martin,who had just quit the Bulemics &
we rented a practice space.Trey Robles used the same space,he was in about three different bands that played sporadically.Trey had been in the Distractors
(who have a 7" on Big Neck),the Young Losers (on Rip Off),and quite a few other combos.Fucking drummers,they whore themselves out to anybody ! But
he played guitar too,he was the frontman for some of those bands.We played with him & really clicked. He eventually quit all his other bands ('cuz we made him)
and we got him to concentrate exclusively on The Hard Feelings. The three of us just immediately sounded good together,both Trey & Andy had enough
experience,they knew what worked and what didn't. I had a bunch of songs already half written,and all I had to do was show up,say "I've got this riff…"& 5 mins
later we'd have a song.We got our shit together pretty qquickly,we'd released the first album before we'd been together a year,which is pretty amazing in retro-
spect. Then Andy had some problems. Right after the album came out in May,Andy had to quit.He had trouble with drugs & alcohol as well as depression.He left
town to live with his parents in Dallas,& we gave it a couple of months to see if he'd turn around. It sucked,because here our record had just come out & now we
had this down time. We spent all of May and most of June sitting around on our asses. We played a couple of shows with ,ariconda on bass which was a lot of
fun.When it looked like Andy wasn't going to be able to continue in the band,Trey and I started looking for another Bass player. We were going on tour in August
and needed somebody by then. Having to replace a band member sucks ! Andy & I had played really well together,and I hated to start all over with somebody
new. But we got lucky. We hadn't been looking for long when we got a call from Will Glenn,who had just moved to Austin barely three weeks before. We played
with him,& once again,great chemistry. He picked up on all the songs quickly. It was pretty tough,cuz we had 14 songs on the album,plus some covers & newer
songs we'd been doing. Will had to learn about two dozen songs in a really short amount of time. He's a really good player & also a lot better looking than me
or Trey,so now maybe some girls will want to watch the band. So now it's me,Trey, and Will. We're gearing up for our first tour next week,we're playing the
Vegas Shakedown and then going up the West Coast. The Revelators never toured on the West Coast so I'm looking forward to it.
S: Are you having a blast with the new band ? And how has been the general response from pals and audience members?
This is the best band I've ever
been in,it kicks the Revelators ass as far as I'm concerned. I've gotten a lot better as a songwriter,and we can do so much more musically with a Bass player.
The response has been real enthusiastic here in Austin. There is a small but active Rock'n'Roll scene,people really come out and support the bands. It's nice
that we have a core group of fans who always come out to see us,even on a weeknight. I'm surprised anybody remembers the Revelators,'cuz I didn't think we
made that big an impression at the time. But of the folks who knew 'em,if they liked the Revelators they like the Hard Feelings too 'cuz it's got the
S: The album is a fiery brew of over a dozen fine moments,for me holding a great old style Rock'n'Roll spirit. Is there a few particular players/
bands you yourself hold up above others which help to mould the Hard Feelings sound ? and why
I think it has that spirit 'cuz I listen to a lot of older Blues & Country and stuff,the same things that went into early Rock'n'Roll. I get annoyed with a lot of
bands that sound like they never heard anything older than they are. The Clash seems to be a good stopping point for most people. Nobody seems to
go back further than around 1977 ! Or they only know the songs from covers done by later groups. When the Revelators used to do "I wish you Would",
people would always say " Cool Yardbirds cover",7 I'd be thinking " Yardbirds?" It's Billy Boy Arnold ! I never even heard the Yardbirds version
until later,because it took me awhile to accept that Clapton could have been good at one time ! It's hard for me to pin down particular artists, 'cuz so
many things have affected me. I'm a Record Collector nerd,& there's an endless list of stuff I've come across that I really dig. There's a firm foundation of
really rootsy stuff,& there are the bands that came along later that have that same kind of soul,& have that fire of Rock'n'Roll as well. But I can go thru the
album & tell ya the bands I think of myself when I hear ceratin songs. Not of 'em,but here's a few…….. Fought back and lost - I really had the Real
Kids in mind when I wrote this one. Lyrically it is kind of a tribute to them & The Remains,kind of a more pessimistic response to the optimism of a
song like "Better be good". I mean,John Felice, Barry and those guys made some of my all time favorite albums,but for them it must be really frustrating,
'cuz they never achieved any recognition beyond a very small group of people. They must have asked at some point " Was it worth it ?"
Fox in the henhouse - Link's " Run Chicken Run " mixed with " Chicken Stuff " by Hop Wilson. Roger Peterson's Blues -Probably the hardest to pin
down. Some Gun Club in there,& I had been listening to Captain Beefheart a lot,& even tho' it doesn't sound like that at all,it is the result of
that. I was looking for a similar feel,in that at first it sounds real chaotic & crazy,but you realize the more you hear it (like a lotta Beefheart) that it was
actually planned….they meant it to sound that way. The Dirt - An AC/DC styled number certainly. Vicoden Blues - I always thought this was a
stupid title,but it was Andy's idea. We had been listening to " Black Monk Time " a lot and loved that fuzzed-out bass sound,& the fucked-up-ness of it all.
Also lots of Link Wray in the guitar. Like Link playing slide. The echo on the woodblock is probably the closest you'll get to any kind of Reggae/Dub
Influence on the Hard Feelings. It's like something from a King Tubby record. Vietnam - Bo Diddley and The Stooges.
Who's that knockin' -Originally I envisioned this as a Hound Dog Taylor stomper, but w/: the echo Mike put on the chorus it made it something else.
One Woman Man - Johnny Horton is one of my favorite country singers. I could never hope to aspire to the likes of a George Jones,a Lefty
Frizell,'cuz those guys are really godlike. Couldn't really cover one of their songs in a Rock'n'Roll context. But Horton has a good natured,laid back,
everyman quality that makes him more approachable. He ( and Ernest Tubb) are to country what Slim Harpo is to Blues (tho' without the
greasy,Sleazy-ness). Of course George Jones covered this song too,and KILLED it ! Girl on my Mind - I always loved it when a band had the guts to
slow it down. I really wanted to have a ballad on the record,just for the contrast. It's slow,but still loud and powerful. I love Buddy Holly,but when I
was singing it,I didn't approach it like a pop song as it was originally done. I sang it more like a Soul/R&B number. I was shooting for Arthur
Alexander, Solomon Burke, Nathanial Mayer. Course,it still sounds like me,but I had those guys in mind ! Deed I do - a Bo
Diddley cover ( I worship Bo !),tho' it doesn't really sound much like Bo at all. Probably the most Oblivians sounding number. Since I toured with
em', I probably saw the Oblivians more than any other band in my whole life,so yeah,that had it's effect. Cold Cruel World - I thought the lyrics on this
one were so stupid,but still good. Think Angry Samoans. Juke box Padlock - Obviously ,the riff is in the style of The Saints. Kind of a reverse
"One Way Street" or sumthin'. The backup vocals I wanted to sound like that Jarhead chorus at the end of " Good time Rock'n'Roll" by Rose Tattoo.
I can't really copy Chris Bailey,tho' so I didn't try.
S: So how is life in Texas ? Is it much easier to exist there as opposed to one of the bigger
Cities & the continued 'Old Neighbourhood Cleansing' which seems to be blowin' thru -pushin' the knife edgers out & movin' the upwardly mobile in ?
Well, Austin has it's problems but it is still way better to be in than anywhere in Missouri as far as being in a band is concerned. I mean,where the
Revelators were from we'd be lucky to play once a month,probably at a party or sumthin',getting a paying gig at a club was a rarity. And there is NO
Audience for Rock'n'Roll at all. A little in St Louis,NONE in K.C.,maybe in Lawrence Kansas a small scene,but that's a few hour's away. Really dead. In
Austin,there is a huge college,so you get some 10,000 or more new kids moving in every year. And there are some clubs to play in,lot's more bands
per person (both good and shitty) than most cities. And there are actually people who wanna go out and see a Punk Rock show,a Rock'n'Roll show.In a
lotta cities that's dying,everybody goes to nightclubs to hear Gay Disco shit,but here people still think going out to see a band is a good time. And there
are some big cities within a few hours drive,so you can play to some different folks. Austin is changing though,'cuz lot's of computer companies are
moving here,& over the years lot's more musicians & slacker types have moved here,so it's getting really crowded. Rent is expensive,traffic is getting
worse. The cost of living is driving more of the artistic/bohemien types out,which are who made the place interesting in the first place. But at the same
time,the fact that it's such a boomtown makes it easy to find a job,& places have to pay more. Some old clubs have closed,but new ones are opening up.
It still remains to be seen if it can remain a cool town for Rock'n'Roll (Right now it look's as though the yuppies are winning tho').
S: What was it like for you to kick it live in RL Burnside's band?
It was fucking amazing,'cuz here was a guy I really liked,& was into way before I
ever played in a band or anything. A few years earlier I worked at the booking agency that set up dates for Fat Possum bands,& I remember I went to
some Blues Festival & saw R.L. & I was all excited 'cuz I got to go backstage and get my picture taken with him ! I thought that was great,and then like
three years later I'm onstage with him ! I was already really into that first album "Too Bad Jim" before the album with Jon Spencer came out,& I
was like " What the Fuck" ! I thought I was the only guy who knew about him !. On tour,the crowd was a weird mix of old fart Blues Society types and
these Indie rock kids who heard "A Ass pocket of Whiskey". We played at these lame blues bars,& we played at some punk rock clubs. It was wild. And
playing with R.L. was a fucking blast! All the songs are real simple,I mean the whole set was in two keys : E and G. But when you'd lock into a groove
and play that single riff,man -I could do it all night. I got the gig 'cuz Kenny Brown,the usual white guy who plays with R.L. got a drunk driving
ticket & lost his licence. So he couldn't drive the van,& they weren't making enough at the time to afford to hire somebody just to drive. The Revelators
had played some shows with the Neckbones,& the Neckbones told em' about me. I was going to go out with em' again,not to play,but just to drive
the van,but Kenny was scared that I'd (I'm not making this up) " Steal his Licks" & wouldn't go on the tour if I drove the van ! He left threatening
fucking messages on my answering machine & everything ! He's a total redneck dumbass,ya know. I thought the whole thing was really funny 'cept
that I was out the dough,& playing with R.L. is the only time I've ever really made any money by playing guitar ! But I guess he was threatened,
thought that I was gonna take over playing with R.L. or sumthin' & I got the impression he didn't have a lot of job skills if he lost that gig. Somebody
videotaped one of the shows I played with R.L. in Europe & the guy never sent me a copy of it ! If you ever hear of a tape of R.L. Burnside playing
with "Unknown crazy guitar player" send me a copy !!