In Memory of Teresa Taylor | Former Butthole Surfers Drummer

Uncategorized June 23, 2023

In Memory of Teresa Taylor | Former Butthole Surfers Drummer

Musician Teresa Taylor, an early drummer for Butthole Surfers who also appears in Richard Linklater’s 1990 film, Slacker, has died at the age of 60 from complications of lung disease.

“Teresa Taylor passed away peacefully this weekend after a long battle with lung disease,” Butthole Surfers wrote on Instagram, sharing the news with a photo of Taylor. “She will live in our hearts forever. RIP, dear friend,” they continued. 

Thanks to Brent Marley of Psych Trail Mix we are republishing a wonderful 2014 interview with Teresa Taylor conducted by James Burns, transcribed from audio by Brent Marley. The interview was originally posted exclusively on Psych Trail Mix Issue 9

Teresa Taylor appearing on Slacker poster | Credit: Orion Classics

Teresa Taylor, standing next to King Coffey, was a vital element in the sound of the early days of the Butthole Surfers! Teresa had joined the band in 1983 and really helped kick the band’s sound up to the next level with the dual-stand-up-drumming alongside King. The evolved drumming sound of the Buttholes is probably first noticed on the song “Something” from the live “PCPPEP” record released in 1984; you really can hear the dynamic combo of Teresa and King with the tribal-like drumming on that song. The live shows with Teresa and King drumming together are nothing short of legendary, and you really have to see the live shows to get an idea of just how great the two of them were together. Teresa was a tiny little thang, but she had the energy of the best of drummers as she propelled her little body into the drums with force and punk attitude that nicely melded this psych/punk combo sound that the Butthole Surfers were delving into right around the time of Teresa’s entry into the band. As the only female member of the band, except for their “Naked Lady” dancer who toured with the band for a period of time, Teresa fit right in with this group of Texas freaks who lived on the road like a group of nomads bringing their bizarre show from town to town and turning the punks onto a sound that was bit more three-dimensional than a lot of the “hardcore” going around at the time. I would venture to say that most of the big fans of the Butthole Surfers wouldn’t doubt that there was no better drumming on any Butthole Surfers record nor live show for that matter that could match Teresa Taylor and King Coffey’s unique combination. Thanks to James Burns who conducted the following interview, I am proud to present the most informative interview about the band that Teresa has ever given in this lengthy fascinating interview with Teresa “Nervosa” Taylor.

Photo by Dixon Edge Coulbourne

James Burns: First off, I’m kind of confused on how you met Gibby and Paul for the first time, was that from working at the restaurant or…

Teresa Taylor: Yeah, the Buffalo Gals and Meatjoy had that warehouse on 5th Street in downtown Austin, all that property now is like a gazillion dollar property, but back then we had this big ass warehouse for forty dollars a month. They had just gotten their new drummer King, and they said they needed a place to practice, so they started coming over there and practicing.

Now you were in Meat Joy, now were you in Buffalo Gals also?

No not really, I only played like extra percussion sometimes. I wasn’t really in the band. They were really a three piece. Me and Gretchen kind of did an add-on thing. But we worked at the Pine Street Cafe and that was walking distance over to the warehouse. And in that warehouse we ended up… Hüsker Dü played there. It was like this claustrophobic… Gibby had to bend over to not hit his head…and it was like super hot, there were no windows like totally like a fire death trap…

Right, and Hüsker Dü, the biggest band in the world back then…

Right, and like 800 people packed into that death trap. And we were all like ahhh Husker Du is playing in our own house. (laughter)

So when they started practicing you just kind of got on the drums and started playing and they were like it sounds good…and you joined?

One afternoon Gibby was sitting in there in the rehearsal room and he was just fooling around in the rehearsal room, and I came in and sat behind the guy’s from the Buffalo Gal’s drum set and I started just playing a little drums to what he was playing on guitar and me and Gibby jammed for like 5 minutes, it was real stupid. But then like 2 days later he was like “do you wanna be in our band and come to California?” And I was like hell yeah.

Right, I was talking to Jeff and it was like the same thing, when he joined, it was like he was living in a warehouse and had nothing going on and it just seemed like the thing to do. When he got asked he was like “uh YEAH.”

We were pretty far along…he just joined and got to go straight to Europe. And we toured for like three years straight before we met Pinkus…like just constant grueling horrible tours. When I joined I thought they were really famous because they had met Jello Biafra.

Right. Now was the EP out at the time, or that was just when they were finishing it up it seemed like?

We went up to San Antonio and started recording ‘Psychic Powerless,’ and right around that time it came out, the EP came out. And then around that same time when we did that live show in San Antonio and put out the live EP which was so weird because it was the same songs.

It’s really a move when you need some cash and Alternative Tentacles won’t give you any! (laughter)

We hadn’t even written any new songs and it was like just recording the same songs live! That’ll work (laughter). Yeah, it wasn’t Alternative Tentacles that did that, I mean they were our label but when we weren’t selling records we went to Subterranean distribution, and the guy was like “uhhh whatever, I’ll try to get the records in the store, but you know how it goes,” and Gibby and Paul were like “you gotta fuckin” get our records in the store!’ We had to threaten the guy.

And especially since Biafra was like talking about you guys in every interview back then.

Yeah, that was cool. They had already hung out with him though that was the first time they went out there.

And then they came back to Texas after they went to California and I guess that’s when they were kind of floundering until King joined.

Right, until King joined.

And I guess he wasn’t around too long before you came, I guess he joined just before you came along?

He just moved to town from Ft. Worth. But we went over to Chris Gates of the Big Boys practice space and got ready for the show, got ready for me to play on the show. And the first show with me was opening for the Dicks at Club Foot.

And I guess that was somewhere around like Summer of ’83?

I guess so, I guess you’re right.

Because I guess King joined…well he played on the tracks for the album for the first EP before he really was IN the band, and then I guess the Hugh Beaumont Experience kind of disbanded, because they were caught writing bad checks?

There was also another drummer on the EP. He played on some of the songs…

Right, and I know Brad Perkins from Marching Plague played on some and then that guy Kevin who was hit in the face with the bottle. (laughter)

Yeah, I was there. We were right up front and were like aaaahhh. And then he got hit with the bottle and was a big crybaby about it. And I was like fuck him then, he’s not punk rock. (laughter) That’s what everyone said. The sentiment was that it was a horrible thing, and yet everyone said “he wasn’t right for the band.” (laughter)

That’s what everyone said. The sentiment was that it was a horrible thing, and yet everyone said “he wasn’t right for the band.” (laughter)

Right! Hahaha… You gotta be able to take a bottle to the head. And you know what and we had those theatrical bottles and they were really expensive, we’d get them at a theatrical supply store like in LA or New York, and we’d be carrying them real delicately…and you know they would look exactly like Jack Daniels or something and have the label on it. And we’d be all excited, and we were like ok at this point in the show Gibby is gonna knock Teresa over the head with a fake bottle, and I’m like oh great…so I’m gonna act all hurt and everything…and he came over and he knocked me, and it fuckin hurt! (laughter) I was like DAMN! Brained me! I thought they were just supposed to…

If you’re a stunt man maybe! (laughter)

Do you know about Kathy Alexander?


Oh. When we were first playing New York, the whole band’s first trip to New York…There was this girl, she had little short spikey hair, and she would wear a dog collar and she had these home-made Butthole Surfers shirts with like pen drawn on there, and she started showing up like when we would do soundcheck at the clubs, and she would be at the show and she’d be lingering around after the show, she was really wonderful… I mean besides Jello Biafra…when we really got into touring, she was our first fan. And she had this laugh like heee wuuu wuuu heee Like this super awkward laugh that would like shut the whole room up… But you know she, like many of our fans, there was something about her that wasn’t quite right. And she started following us around, and at all the New York shows, and then she ended up…when we moved to Athens, Georgia she showed up in this shitty old van herself that she had driven…Oh and she spray painted Butthole Surfers across the side of it.. and we were like Kathy where are you sleeping when you’re driving across the country, and she was like “oh I just pull into a truck stop and sleep.” And we were like oh no. So anyway she was down there in Athens when we were all doing a lot of acid, and she was dropping acid with us but she would never say anything, she’d just laugh and she’d laugh at everything… She would stare at Gibby and laugh laugh laugh…But it was right around that time I was going through this phase of reading about women in journalism and Almost Golden with Jessica Savitch and her tragic life had just come out and… I was reading about her television experiences, and I was talking to Kathy about it one day and she didn’t say anything about anything…and a couple of years went by and I can’t remember all of it, but we got news that Kathy had gone all the way up town to her mother’s skyscraper and jumped off, and they said that she got trapped by a fuckin’ fire escape on her way down, it was real bad. So then we fuckin’ find out that Kathy Alexander’s mother is Shana Alexander from 60 Minutes. Saturday Night Live used to make that joke about “Jane You Ignorant Slut” you know with point and counterpoint and it would be a guy with Shana Alexander back and forth.. When it turned out that that was Kathy’s fucking mother and I thought well all that talking that I did about female journalists and she never said that… I thought it was bizarre…And as it turned out Shana Alexander had just released a book and it was about the Patty Hearst trial and it was called “Anyone’s Daughter.” And we found out that in her book it said that Patty Hearst could have been anyone’s daughter, even my beautiful daughter Kathy who I adopted and… Well, Shana Alexander somehow got in touch with us and said ‘I know Kathy loved you all more than anything in this world, and it would really help if I could meet you.’ And we were like, wow this is bizarre. So Shana Alexander flies to Austin, she gets tranquilized and heavily medicated, and we’re so like sort of socially inept…and we’re back in this sort of dive bar in Austin, this like biker, hippie bar kind of thing…just real shitty and one afternoon we went to meet her and she passed around a picture and she was like here’s Kathy, one of the last pictures that was taken of us, and she in her Butthole Surfers hand-made t-shirt. In the years since I thought what a fuckin’ bizarre trip. And that was what sort of set the tone of these fans that were following us around that were unhinged.

Butthole Surfers at Crescent Ballroom in Tacoma, WA, 4-10-87 (Teresa in “69” Jersey) | Photo by David Duet

Yeah, I’ve met several of them in my travels. (laughter)

Oh and if you go on…There’s some photographs from one of the clubs we used to play in all the time was called Tin Pan Alley, and in one of the photos was Kathy Alexander with her little dog collar on and she’s dancing…It’s the only picture I know of her.

Yeah, I think I recall the picture. That’s funny because I had asked her, Keri Pickett if I could use some of the photos in the book, she had some great ones and she declined..

Yeah, she was kind of a snooty photographer (laughter)
Me and Jean had just shaved our heads when those photos were taken. Around the same time as the Scott & Gary show. You know we were totally on acid then.

Well, I called it, you guys were just about to head out on the road and I state that as like your going away party in the studios of the Scott and Gary show (laughter). But I don’t blame the shambolic performance, you know there’s no monitors in that room. They’ve performed higher than that… (laughter)

We’re thinking we’re on TV…it was so bizarre it was like what are we even fuckin’ doing here? We’re on TV and everything was like melting. My friend D. Montgomery, she had died of cancer but the band stayed with her in Austin when we were touring off and on and she was with us in New York and we had just start to trip and we were like ‘D run back to Manhattan and get our dog Farner and bring her here because that’s something we can show on TV like look at our dog.’ But then we started tripping REAL hard and we were like oh fuck it D’s never gonna show back up with the dog. So then we end up filming the whole show and all this heavy shit…And finally hours and hours later D shows up with the dog and she was like…because she was tripping too and she was like ‘you wouldn’t believe what happened.’ And we were like oh yes we do. We believe whatever the fuck you want… Because like she had gone off on her own like you know trip trying to get that dog. (laughter)

Yeah, that’s kind of a surreal thing, run an errand to grab a dog tripping (laughter)

Yeah, then five hours later… (laughter), she’s like you won’t believe what happened and I’m like no I pretty much will.

Yeah, we were just on TV I’ll believe anything (laughter)

Yeah, hahaha…the worlds gone crazy!

Bizarro world (laughter)

Yeah. I was in school… Remember the opposite day? And people were like ok it’s the opposite day and everything you say… like when you mean yes, you have to say no and shit like that…like real stupid. Then years later when I was a punk rocker I was like “every day is the opposite day.”

Yeah, live in a van (laughter) That’s funny that Saturday Night Live skit ‘livin in a van down by the river.’ You know…thinking you guys (laughter)

Whatever is really ugly is really beautiful. (laughter)

Right, but only three days later when you can tell a story about it…when you’re living it it’s not…it’s like you know the shithole I slept in last Tuesday is ok (laughter)

Chuck Young…Charles M. Young went to Athens and he was, you know, gonna write a story or something at the time…he was maybe gonna write the book at the time, he was gonna come down and do research. And we were like oh this fancy writer is going to come down to our house to do research for this article…and the next thing we knew, we had gotten this little brand new Sony portable recording device… I think it was recorded on a video-8 cassette if I’m not mistaken. But instead of using some of the sections of the tape for video, the whole audio got spread out on the tape. And all of a sudden we were in the woods in Athens, Georgia and… And then we got it in our head that we were gonna record cicadas. So we were off in the woods…and you would think for a minute are we in Vietnam? (laughter) And then I remember looking over at Chuck Young and his eyes were really wide and he was all scared and shit like what are we doing out here? (laughter) And we were like remember Chuck we gotta record cicadas (laughter) And I think they did end up on ‘Hairway’ that…

Oh yeah? The Cartoon song track?

Yeah. Mm hmm.

“We dropped acid and we were watching this crazy British movie with Terry Thomas called Man With A Top Hat”

Yeah, so when you moved to Georgia.. I guess it was around Christmas time and you decided to bail. Was that just the situation got so…

We were in Seattle at Christmas. And we were staying with a girlfriend of Paul’s who was from San Antonio. And it snowed and me and King watched All My Children…and we were so poor we were like ok we have 6 eggs, so everybody gets one egg to eat for Christmas and you can decide on how you want your egg. I remember I boiled mine because I figured it would be the least waste…so anyway it was bad as shit and we dropped acid and we were watching this crazy British movie with Terry Thomas called Man With A Top Hat and we were laughing and laughing and we started talking about how we needed to get off the road for a little bit. We start laughing and we’re like everyone in Austin hates us and they all think that we sold out and we’re big rock stars and they hate us…so we’re like where should we move to? And I think someone opened the Atlas and just pointed and we landed in Athens, Georgia, and we started laughing because we’re like that’s where the B-52’s and REM are from. And I thought it was hysterical… So really that next week we packed up and moved to Athens, Georgia and rented a house. And then people in Austin were even more pissed. And this girl Tammy Knight, she came down to Athens and we told her we were changing the name of the band, we had really come to this decision that we were gonna change the name of the band to Stargazer…and she was like “no don’t” and she started crying…and we’re like no it’s no use Tammy just go ahead and get used to it, the new name is Stargazer, she was like “no that’s a terrible name,” and we’re like no, we’re really shooting for the big time now, we’re Stargazer…And she like thought we were serious (laughter)

It seemed like you guys used to like to do that to fuck with people.

I feel bad because people like the girls in Frightwig, I heard later that someone would say that Teresa and King really aren’t brother and sister…they had like tears in their eyes and they’re like “yes they are, I know them and they wouldn’t lie.” And I started to feel bad. And then later when I would meet someone in my personal life, and I’d be like yeah me and King are brother and sister…and they’d be like tell me about your childhood. And I’d be like oh it’s a big lie.

You broke down (laughter)… Because I think people still believe it now!

Yeah, mm hmm.

I feel like a big buzzkill mentioning it. I even wrote – even now someone reading this still believes they’re brother and sister. Gibby is always like that in the interviews… And I was talking to Jeff about that, he had mentioned that Gibby never really liked to give interviews, and if he did it was always just to get a laugh and not to talk about the band.

We had told Chuck Young for about 5 straight years about…like San Antonio didn’t really have a punk rock scene at all… And Austin had one… Oh, they used to tell… Gibby and Paul would tell Chuck Young all about these bands that would play in San Antonio and they’d give him fake names…they’d be like “oh there’s this wild scene out in San Antonio and they’re all slam dancing… there’s like a cripple out there and a girl with one arm, they’re all dancing around and like this band and that band are playing, and they were just making up names,” Chuck was sitting there with a pen and a little pad you know taking it all down, you know documenting the San Antonio scene. We were thinking he was really going to write an article about the San Antonio scene, and I think years and years later when he found out he was like crushed that we had been such big liars. (laughter)

I have this interview with this radio station in Minneapolis that was I guess conducted at Grant Hart’s apartment in like 1984, and Paul was like “you gotta hear this band Abe Lincoln’s Bush and they sick monkey’s on the audience” (laughter) And you can hear these guys completely enthralled.

Yeah, people are like damn things are wild down there (laughter)

I was thinking, when you guys were in Georgia, and after Kramer had left, then you left and they stayed back in Austin and got Cabbage on drums.

Oh, well we were living at this club called the Metro in Atlanta, we were playing there and we were literally sleeping on the floors.

Right, and then after that is when you found the house in Winterville (Georgia) and I guess…

We already lived the whole time in Winterville, and then when the rental on that house was up we put our stuff in storage at the main record store in Athens. We went up to Atlanta and we were playing different shows at the Celebrity Club where Ru Paul hung out and Larry T, the original club kid guy that moved to New York.

Yes, right…Larry Tate. Yep.

We were playing shows there, and playing shows at this punk, this hardcore club called the Metro and we were sleeping… I was sleeping like literally on this stage like I had a sleeping bag on the stage and then we would get up in the morning and be like ahhhhrhg like all miserable (laughter)

I was confused because I thought that was where Terence… Right when you guys first moved to Georgia is when I thought you lived at the Metroplex and then found the house.. and then I guess we’re living with the Barbecue Killers for a while and then found the house in Winterville. Is that a wrong chronology?

No, first we moved to Winterville and hung out with the Barbecue Killers, then we put our stuff in storage at the record store, then we were sleeping at the Metro, and the reason I remember this ius because I woke up one morning at the Metro and there was a fucking giant rat in my fuckin’ face. I opened up my eyes and I was in contact with this big fuckin’ rat.

So then who was your bass player at the point that you were at the Metroplex? Because I guess that’s after Kramer had left and before Jeff had joined?

Well Kramer didn’t really live in Georgia we would pick him up in New York to take him around…I think… Oh, we had Trevor Malcolm.

And then there was Juan right, there was Juan and then Trevor. I mean Juan and Kramer.

We had to draw straws for who got a bedroom. It was like a 3 bedroom house, there were 5 of us, no there was 6 of us, and we drew straws and I remember thinking if I don’t fuckin’ draw a bedroom straw I am gonna be at the end of my rope. And then I drew a straw and I got a bedroom. So the whole time we were in Winterville I was like in the bedroom with the door shut. We didn’t have any furniture or anything, there was like nothing there… An 8-track and…

Just equipment (laughter)

Right, there was no furniture or anything like that. I would go in the room and close the door and think like oh thank god… Then we ended up at the Metro, and I saw that rat. Gibby goes “do you wanna eat, if you wanna eat you have to go with us now and if you don’t wanna eat then you’re not going to eat later because we will have already eaten.” And I was like just go ahead, and I went and got on the plane. I called my parents and they wired me money to Atlanta, and I just fuckin’ flew home. Then we got the stuff out of storage. My Dad drove me all the way to Georgia and we got the stuff out of storage and I came home and got a job at a restaurant and my goal was to buy a video camera. We had a thing earlier in Georgia where I was asking Gibby if we could buy a video camera and he was like ‘we never ever buy a video camera.’ So I went and got this job in Austin and saved up the money, back then it was like 800 dollars. The kind of video that drags the lights, you know what I mean, a spotlight it’ll drag it. Shortly after I came back I was horrified that Cabbage was playing.

Now did you know her before she joined the band?

We met…umm let’s see, I think we met Kathleen and Cabbage with that celebrity crowd…that would later be club kids.

So you met Kathleen in Atlanta, or in Georgia…

I’m trying to think… I know where we got Kathleen, she was working at Sex World in New York as Ta-Da The Shit Lady, that’s where we picked her up and got her, but there was some weird connection because she turned out to be…she had this friend, who I think was in New York with her and that’s where we met her because she was Cabbage’s…it was kind of this group of people from Atlanta that all went to New York City at the same time, and Ru Paul was one of them, and Larry Tee…

And Lady Bunny.

Lady Claire. There was Lady Bunny, and then there was Lady Claire who was a real woman, like a fag hag . She was a real woman but she acted like a fuckin’, you would think she was a drag queen, but she was a real woman. I said to Lady Claire how do you make a living? And she said ‘I’m an Evlis impersonator and I shoplift.’ (laughter)

She had it down.

Yeah, it was incredible. Then we played a show at the Celebrity Club with that guy Benjy that died, Benjy…Jem Cohen made a movie about him…he umm… Or is that Lady Bunny… I get em’ mixed up. There was a guy named Benjy and he jumped up and said, after the show he goes “why y’all were playin’,” I jumped right up there on the bar and showed the whole… I spread my cheeks to show the whole club my ASS-HOLE’ (laughter) It was called “The Celebrity Club” with all glitter…and what was weird was that they weren’t just drag queens, they were like drag queens that would like make a dress out of an inflatable life raft, things like that, weird shit. And I guess that later they all merged into the club kids. We met Cabbage… I don’t know I get confused about… Well I wasn’t there when they asked Cabbage to play drums, so I’m really not sure if it was in Atlanta or New York.

But you were familiar with her before she joined the band, through the Easturn Stars?

Oh yeah Easturn Stars… Yeah, that’s where I met her at the Celebrity Club. Now that you say that I remember, it was the Easturn Stars how I met her.

So then after, I guess you’re a glutton for punishment and you joined the band again (laughter) after…

I wanted to come back, my whole trip was that I was gonna get a video camera and become a documentary filmmaker. But with the amount of drugs and alcohol that I was doing it never kinda panned out for me.

But that happens… The band has lost a lot of members, everything from trying to set themselves on fire to you know.. to growing up. You know, so that certainly makes sense that you’d wanna, after years of being on the road with no home, you would need a little break, especially around Christmas time.

Do you know that story about Albini in Chicago? 


We were somewhere like Kentucky…like different states have different laws about fireworks. So we were driving through Kentucky at one point…actually we had found a place on the map called Big Bone Lick Kentucky, and we pulled over because we wanted to go to Big Bone Lick Kentucky, and there was a sign that was like “Fireworks-Cheap” so we packed up the van with all these fuckin’ fireworks and we were not sure what we were gonna.. we thought we would probably set off a few fireworks at each show as we’d go along. That was the plan. So we got to Chicago and they were supposed to have a big show, but the promoter called and he said “Ya’ll will get your guarantee, I’ll pay you, but I didn’t promote the show because I’m doing Aerosmith at the stadium.” At first we were like whaaat? And then we were like oh we don’t have to play, and we get paid? And so then he was like ‘to throw in the deal I’ll give you all tickets to Aerosmith, front row tickets to Aerosmith.’ We were like oh hell yeah! We each had like a liquor bottle in our pocket, and Cory and Lisa from Touch and Go.. and we were all like yeah! And then the “Dude Looks Like A Lady” tour.. and we were all standing up drunk and we were like “duuuude looks like a lay-day!” (laughter) And we had this great time and we were all fucked up and oh we were with Steve Albini. And we were out in the alley after the show, and somehow we ended up just throwing every fucking batch of fireworks out of the back of the van, stacking them into a pile, and the thing was that Albini was supposed to be this bad-ass. And we were like Albini, we’ll see how bad-ass you are, and Gibby just lit the whole, and it just went bam, bam, bam, bam… and just everywhere sparks and shit, and I remember I started going… I told Cory Rusk, I said ‘I’m going to go into the disco,’ and he like grabbed me and pulled me back out as I was trying to go toward the fireworks. And I was like “I’m going into the disco.” (laughter) And Corey was like “Teresa be careful!” So the cops were there and the fireworks were STILL going off. Oh and the whole deal was the minute he dropped that match, Albini ran like a little girl. And we were like that proves Steve Albini is… But me and Gibby and Jeff were still like 18, and we had to go to the jailhouse and bring us in this room and then the cops told Pinkus to get down on his hands and knees and to wipe the poop off the bottom of his shoe with a paper towel. And there was like this whole weird sexual thing going on, the cop was all like “clean my boot real good.” We were like uhhh how weird. And we were still all drunk. I was like if I get thrown in a women’s jail are you all gonna bail me out? One time we were in a Jewish graveyard in the middle of the night in New York and we were walking around and we were all tripping, about 10 people… and I said to Gibby if I get arrested what should I do, and he said “pretend you’re a boy.” And everyone was like that’s kinda weird, pretend like you’re a boy.. I was like I wonder if that would work for me (laughter) I was all afraid of going to a women’s jail somewhere and them all just taking off. They were always… What I want to say is that they were always wonderful gentlemen to me. They protected me from everything.. from all the shit that could’ve happened, it was always insulated by them wanting to take care of me. And I appreciate that. 

Yeah, and it definitely seemed like it was the band above all.. you know obviously your friendships above everything.. above success (laughter) It gets to the point of you know we should all live off of one pot of money and.. you know, that gets hard to do (laughter) I guess it’s one for all and all for one ya know? But it’s difficult when you’re eating an egg for Christmas.

Yeah. We ran into the Chili Peppers, and they had their first round of success…and Flea told us they all went out and bought a car…like a retro kind of car. We were like nooo… Really the only way we were able to keep recording was to not take money personally… We would have fallen apart.

But I guess you see a band like Red Hot Chili Peppers getting famous and Jane’s Addiction and whoever else, The Pixies and you start to say you know – we’re headlining bills with bands that are on major record labels and getting some tour support, and some money and you guys were.. I don’t know if it was because of your name or what… it just seemed to be like you know you guys were ignored or you were the dirty little secret that everyone would listen to but nobody would think of ever signing.

Yeah it was… You would never dream that we would ever be signed. It was just – how much of a stir we can make of the underground scene. But like bands like Sonic Youth that sold more records than we did, they opened for us because they said when we played we would just shut the place down… fire, smoke and strobes… And no one was willing to play after us.. Sonic Youth was like no we’ll open.

Right. I know you guys played that show in San Antonio with them and Firehose, and it was funny to see them below you guys on that bill because it was like you know November of 86′ when like Evol and Sister and those records were just coming out when really they were at their biggest point really, and in New York it would have been a more, you would have been more likely to see Sonic Youth as a headliner of a show like that but obviously.. who wants to follow you guys (laughter)

The real awakening was our first trip to Europe. That was a huge awakening because we had been on the road non-stop except for 6 months in Winterville… for 3 years. And we were treated like shit everywhere we went. And it was just one disaster after another. And people trying not to pay us and just bullshit… People trying to shut us down and all this… And we got to Europe and they were like… Then the record company, we were on the same label as Big Black and Sonic Youth, Blast First Records and we got over there and they were like he’s all your separate hotel room keys and this nice ass hotel and they were like we’ll do press and you’ll be meeting with New Music Express, and at 2 you’ll be meeting with this magazine, and different clubs and… all of a sudden we were like whoa this is like being a rock star.

Right this is what it’s like…it’s that bizarro world that you were talking about.

Oh, you have no idea… They treat bands with a different kind of respect than they did in America at that time.

Right. And I think when you first went over there, you know the first time you went over there with Kramer… And I was thinking, when you look at what was on the charts at the time you know Wham! And all that stuff, it was like there weren’t any guitar bands… It’s almost like we’re gonna go to Europe with a bunch of guitars (laughter) what are people gonna think of you know seeing a guitar again!

Right. Nobody was doing heavy guitar leads anymore… And Paul would get out there and like wahhh wah wah…

Right. When he still played that stratocaster that he used to attack (laughter)

Yeah. Do you know how he got fired from the Pecan Street Cafe?


We were all… We were like dishwashers. But the waitresses would bring you beer all night long, so you’d get drunker and drunker while you were washing dishes and there was a bell that rang when you opened the back door going into the alley where the dumpster was. And right when the restaurant was closing down the main kitchen supervisor heard that bell and they were like why would somebody be opening that back door at closing time? And they went out there and Paul had neatly made a steak out there… And he’s like I’m gonna go home and cook that steak. They were like you’re fired! You put a steak in the alley you stupid nut! (laughter)

A man’s gotta eat! (laughter) I was saying to Jeff when he joined, it’s like a fast food existence at that point.

I fuckin’ love Jimmy man. When people ask about when Kathleen was on the road with us how it was having another girl there, I was thinking the other day that I had found solace in Denny’s bathrooms. I would go into Denny’s bathrooms and I was like ahhh I can decompress for a minute and I’d just hang out there. And the first day that Kathleen was in tour with us she came in one of those bathrooms and she was like la-de-da and twirling around and I was ohh no, get the fuck outta my bathroom! (laughter)

I just wanted to veg out to the fan for a little (laughter) Yeah, it’s like a luxury at that point from being in the van so long.

She would masturbate in those bathrooms. One time I looked under the stall to see if she was there, to see if her shoes were under the stall, she had both legs up on the… I couldn’t see any feet, so I said “Kathleen” and she said “yeah.” She had her feet up on the walls of the stall. So I was like well I’ll just talk to you later (laughter)

I actually just spoke to her today.

Oh yeah, how’s she doing?

She’s doing well. Yeah, she was walking her pup in the park and she’s married…

She’s become real normal now.

Yeah, you know she was really very open and…

I met her again on the reunion tour and she was like totally a normal human being. And when she was with us she was reading the book of Urantia. Have you ever read that shit?


It starts out and it’s like ‘this is not the planet earth, it is truly the planet Loo-Foo-La and Christ was a prophet and came to tell us that deep in our hearts we all know we’re aliens.’ And it’s just bizarro shit. And Kathleen would like studying it and like underlining and highlighting passages. And then she went through that no talking thing. I was like Kathleen, you can talk! I was like some people in the world can’t talk, but you can fuckin’ talk! She would just write down in her little pad what she wanted to say.

I was just thinking that…like you’re the only other girl that I can relate to, can you please say something (laughter)

Yeah. She would not say one word for a year…and when the Madonna craze was really in full swing…Madonna was touring Europe the same time we were one time… And I was going on and on about Madonna this…and I was buying magazines at truck stops that had Madonna on them. And then one day we were just driving along in Europe and all of a sudden in the back of the van Kathleen goes “Madonna” (Teresa says it real fast), then she put her hand over her mouth, and she hadn’t said anything for a year (laughter). And we were all like whoaaa.

And then you guys were speechless (laughter)

Yeah. She accidentally let it slip.

So that was her first word back, “Madonna.”

There was a point when we went to Kathleen’s parent’s house, well this may have been when I had come home to Austin. I can’t even remember if I was there or not… I think I was. We went to Kathleen’s parent’s house, and we were like now we’re gonna finally find out what the deal was, if she was like a really strange child, or if she just took acid at some point and… We went to her house and all the pictures and everything it was like a perfectly normal suburban Atlanta home. There were like normal pictures up on a wall of a child..- And her brother was there and we were male ballerinas. We could tell the parent’s were really trying to keep it together, and not fully understand that they had a gay son and that the daughter had gone completely off the hinges. But they were all normal, and they were trying to keep up the facade. Nothing strange about our daughter, nothing odd (laughter) We were like whaaa.

Yeah, I was always kinda curious about your relationship, as the only other female touring.. and it seemed like you were along for the ride because you never really knew what she was gonna do.. when she was gonna pull out. I guess you were along for the ride as much as the boys were.

Yeah, sometimes people refer to her as the stripper. And I’m like.. I try to be really clear to people that I was never in a band with a stripper.

Yeah, that diminishes absolutely…

Not a stripper at all. She would glue that green beard onto her chin.. Some shows she stood on her head the whole show and shit like that. So we called her the naked dancer. But I never liked it when people would say y’all had that stripper. I wasn’t in a band with a stripper. The weakest part of the barbecue movie is when that woman is dancing in the end, I never liked that part.

Right, because it was much more than that. I had to explain that to Kathleen because I said.. I posted this really funny picture of Gibby wearing a.. it looks like a Mike Brady wig, or Marlboro Man…it’s kinda like a tight blond perm wig that he’s wearing. It’s a hilarious photo. It’s just hilarious.

Do you know that he used to put raisins in his teeth? He would look like a big ass hillbilly (laughter) People in the crowd would be like “I heard they’re from Texas.” And he would come out and have big black raisins in his teeth and he looked all fuckin’ gnarley, like from the backwoods of Texas, ya know no dental care.

That’s hilarious. What I wrote under that photo was “that’s creepier than Ta-Da ever was.” And I guess and Kathleen saw it and she took it to mean like I thought she was creepy and I was like no, it was more explaining like there was.. in her dance there was more of a horror.. it was sexy and creepy you know.. it was all over the spectrum (laughter) You know, it’s like she didn’t even realize…

Teenage boys…that was the first live naked woman they ever saw. And so their jaws would be dropped, but then at the same time they’d be repulsed.

Yeah, and she didn’t seem to get it when I first wrote it she just you know.. she misinterpreted what I said.. I was like no there was a creepy-ness, it was sexy and creepy and horror.. and it mixed all sorts of things. And she said “I never really saw it that way.” It’s like wow, how did you see it? (laughter) Because it certainly was… when you are gluing beards to…

You know when we went snorkeling in Florida?

No. Oh I think I heard that…didn’t she like diarrhea on the ship or something?

Yeah. We went down… every now and then.. you know instead of doing what the Chili Peppers did. You know, going out and each buying a car. Sometimes we would treat ourselves to little vacations so that you know it wouldn’t be so horrible. So we’d save up a little money as a group and then go do something cool, but you know we always did it together. So we went down to.. we stopped in Key West and looked around, but we kept on going down the Peninsula and we ended up in Key Largo, which was a Humphrey Bogart movie. We rented a little… I don’t know what you would call it, cabana… like a thing that had a kitchen in it. It had a couple of rooms and a kitchen and we went to the snorkeling store and bought flippers and snorkelers for everybody and when we got on that boat and then I threw up as soon as we got out there. I started to throw up in my snorkeler and I thought I was gonna shoot vomit up through the tube into the air… I had to get back on the boat and I was like blaaaah. But that’s when the captain started acting real weird, and he had been real nice. He started acting real weird and we came back into shore, then like the whole next day Kathleen was like ‘I had a dream that I was gonna have diarrhea and it came true’… Every now and then she says shit like that and we’d have to say what now?? She was like I had a dream that I was gonna have diarrhea and it came true and we were like when? She was like “I had diarrhea in my hand on that boat and it was so beautiful and I showed it to the captain.” We were like ohh no! (laughter) We all wondered why he was acting weird.

Yeah, that would explain it! (laughter) And at least you didn’t have to feel self conscious anymore.

Yeah, that throwing up was the least of our problems.

Teresa Taylor and King Coffey | Photo By Dixon Edge Coulbourne

In case ya thought it was you, you were one upped (laughter)

Kind of a drag though, because we spent all that money… Sometimes we’d spend money and try to have a good time, but I think because of some of our issues and alcohol and drugs, we’d end up in the middle of something that we meant to do, but one of us would have some kinda breakdown. And then it would be like oh no we spent money and…

I’ve been there. That happens with all families. (laughter)

It does, yeah. Yeah, you think you’re gonna have this great trip and you were gonna do something that was gonna be so much fun, and then you’re like ahhh that didn’t turn out.

Right. Yeah you tried. (laughter) And so when you finally decided that you had had enough, what was your…

I was in the midst of a full blown nervous breakdown. I was doing drugs…mostly speed at that time. And going away from the band in Austin and doing speed on the side. I’d come back and be all frazzled…it was like I’d skip town and show back up and they’d be like “what have you been doing?” And I’m like nothing! I started having horrible fear of plane crashes. And not only was I gonna crash on the plane, but I was out at my parent’s house…my parent’s had gone outta town for like three months, and I was housekeeping out there and I kept like taking cover under tables and stuff because I thought a plane was gonna hit the house… So I wasn’t doing well. I ended up clearing up later when I decided to stop drinking and got on medication. And I had brain surgery.

Right…and it’s always said that you quit the band because of the strobe lights. I mean and that always seemed so simple.

I’m sure that’s not really true…I told Spin Magazine that because I thought it seemed funny at the time. Well it is strange that to this day when they give me an EEG and test me, they put really fast strobe lights on me and it does provoke seizures. I had a ballooned out artery and I said is this because of drugs? And they said no, this particular type of brain aneurysm, you’re born with it, and at any point in your life you can just drop dead, and we only find it in autopsy. So you could sort of look at it two ways like considering everything I’d been through it was a miracle that I just didn’t drop dead. I didn’t know that I was like a ticking time-bomb. So they showed me this little thing and it looked just like a little roach clip and they said we’re gonna put this into your brain, and I was like oh ok, weird. (laughter)

You say so, you’re the doctor (laughter)

Now I read shit about brain chips, and I worry. Alex Jones says that… I better not talk about Alex Jones. He’s a crazy conspiracy theorist. He’s famous all over the world, but he’s based in Austin.

There was a woman here in New York, I don’t know if it got press anywhere else, who went to a psychic 16 years ago who told her she should buy win for life tickets, and she’s been buying every day 2 a week for 16 years, and she hit last week.

Oh my God.

I was like God! That’s creepy! Right, that’s creepy. I told my kids, that’s the only time a psychic has ever been right. (laughter)

I knew this girl named Kneel, she spelled it K-n-e-e-l… and me and her were hanging out and she was like I need to go to this… she had tons of money her parents were super rich… Aspen, Colorado money… she said “my parents are Maxwell House,” I was like what? She’s like yeah, my parents are Maxwell House, I was like dang… And then I sang their little song dweedle deedle deet deet da deedle deet dee… Their little coffee jingle… We were going around and she was like I need to go to this psychic so that I can bring back my jam box – I was like what? So we went into this psychic. The psychic said come down the street to this door and bring me a carton of cokes and a carton of cigarettes and I’ll tell you your fortune. She did that and she came back…and Kneel said “I need you to tell this guy who has my jam box to bring it back.” And the psychic was like it’s done, and Kneel was like oh I feel so much better. When we left I was like that was a bunch of bulllll shit. (laughter) And we go to the apartment and this fucking guy comes to the door all scraggly and he was like “Kneel I know it’s been months but here’s your jam box.” And I was like no fuckin way! (laughter)

I’m fuckin’ leaving and I’m not coming back! (laughter) Yeah that’s weird that’s why when I heard that I was like ya know, that’s craziness… So she’s on retired police officer pension and a thousand dollars a week for life, that’s not a bad story. So I got my mega millions ticket and (laughter) I appreciate you talking with me.

Sure man. I just wanna feel like I’m part of all this.

Absolutely, and this is a labor-of-love. I’m totally not… I’ve been a fan of the band for so long and this is not any way for me to make money. Obviously, I’ve been writing it for four years because I want it to be accurate and fun and have input from just about everybody. I mean Gibby won’t, but… (laughter) I mean everybody else…

Gibby won’t do an interview?

I don’t know what happened… He gave Paul his contact info and Paul gave it to me and said to try to contact him. And then I tried to and he never wrote back so I kinda stopped so…I don’t want to… I don’t want to disturb any privacy issues he may have or whatever, he doesn’t want to talk about it. I was like you know… you don’t wanna let Trevor be the person who defines the legacy, because I really think that this book is… the narrative of it and everything, it really shows the struggles of a band rather than all of the blown up you know… it’s better almost to show how much you guys struggled to get to where you were, than it is to have like “This Band Could Be Your Life” which is just so like glossy and not true (laughter)

A couple of anecdotes… I do want you to know there’s this unspoken code, and this is sort of what happens in a dysfunctional family, but we had a code among us that nobody told what the deal was… If we knew how Gibby got an inspiration for a lyric, and then later someone said “hey what’s that song about?” We’d be like shhhh… And that was how that song ‘Perry’ came about. Because everybody kept asking Gibby what his songs were about, and he was like it’s about this it’s about that. Oh now…it was that… ‘Sea Ferring’.

Right, it’s like a tick farm, it’s like…yeah.

No, it’s on ‘Perry’… “It’s about lovin’ yourself, it’s about lovin’ your mum” that was all because people kept asking us what the songs were about. And we just had an inter-thing where we didn’t talk about the… we didn’t talk about the way that we came about inspiration, that was a secret. And I can see that Gibby’s still… he’s an artist, he’s a very talented artist. And I think he has trouble letting people inside of that world.

You know, and a part of me really understands… because of all the inaccuracies you know, and everyone thinks they know what they’re talking about. But because I’d been talking to people for so long, a lot of the articles get written and I’m like they could have just gone to my site and gotten quotes straight from the people who were actually there and you know…who performed.

I’ve been telling the press that your site has all the dates of the shows, because there was a time early on where I had a little calendar and I was like I’m gonna write down every show and what band we played with. And I think I tried to get that up for a couple years… and I was like all high and drunk and like “whatever happened to that calendar” (laughter)

I have like over four hundred recordings you know..


Yeah, so I’ve been…really just because I love the band you know not really…it wasn’t like a collection and then I was like, I started doing the site and I as I was talking to people I would start to develop a narrative…you know it was a lot of bad rap because of the lawsuit and you always felt like you had to justify you know…my love for the band to people and I was like you know what I’m gonna write it down and like see.. show people why you know you guys were more important than you’re given recognition for, and I started doing that and I got like five pages in and I was happy with it, but I never really knew the story of the band. The more I started talking to people I got the narrative down… Except for the Georgia part, which you threw a monkey wrench in (laughter) I spoke to Cheryl Dire for a while and just a lot of people who… Terry Tolken and just a lot of people who got the narrative down, and I was like you know what I’m gonna start writing…and I just started asking Paul and King casually over the website…questions and you chimed in a couple times and…

I kind of followed the thing on the forum… you know…what’s it called a thread that was called the book…

You know, so I just started asking questions and Paul and King really ya know were helpful. And finally Paul contacted me out of the blue and was like ‘look if you’re gonna write this it might as well be accurate, so go fire away!’ (laughter) And he was really helpful. So through that I think I got the narrative pretty straight as far as where you were and when…and a lot of that through the dates of the shows and through talking to people as well. Because obviously people’s memories… I mean no one was really keeping track. (laughter) I was thinking if Chuck Young couldn’t do it, you know…it was like, I’m pretty humble about it because like you know Chuck was pretty close to you guys, and he couldn’t pull it off.

He had stacks of these little notepads, that were just full of notes.

Yeah, I think it’s almost better that I’m separated because you know when Gibby and Paul were talking about the San Antonio scene and mentioning all these fake bands (laughter) it’s like you have to weed through that a little bit. You know if you’re too close you almost get…

He tried, he thought that he was in the fold, and that we were being dead serious. And it got to be kind of a game where we were like thinking up things to tell Chuck Young.

Right, so it’s almost better that… I met some guy the other day and it came up that I was writing something, and he’s like ‘what makes you the authority?’ And I guess like the fact that I’m outside of this all sort of… (laughter)

You didn’t have to go through all the bullshit that Chuck Young did.

I got twelve different versions of the story, but they’re from all the people who were there, and I can kinda widdle it down to some sort of…rather than having to go research Abe Lincoln’s Bush (laughter) So I do appreciate…

I’m glad I got to tell you about that…being in Seattle, pointing at the map. Because people are like, how on earth did ya’ll end up in Athens, Georgia?

Yeah, it always seemed like it was the REM connection.

It was totally random.

(laughter) that’s funny…

Once we got there we realized that people there just worship Michael Stipe. And it got us into that vein of ????

I always thought the relationship of you to like REM is funny because they were able to get popular with that southern thing, and you guys had that southern thing and were always really struggling, you know you almost look at Michael Stipe like, we can do it! (laughter)

Yeah. Well were weren’t… we just weren’t… I don’t know what to say. I was thinking about that song “everybody hurts”…whenever we did “this one goes out to the one I love,” the best part we did on that was Gibby would pour the alcohol on the cymbal… and go “firrrrre”

(laughter) and smash it… I always love when you guys played that festival and they were just across the way and you played the song again after years…that’s great.

They could hear us from over there (laughter)

Those fans in the back were hearing in stereo… (laughter) quadraphonic.

You heard the story about Amy Carter right?


There was a girl in Atlanta who was like “Amy Carter this and…”

Oh yeah! Right right right…about Gibby dicking her suitcase.

Yeah, and all these Secret Service cars pulled up and we were so stoned on hash and watching Live Aid on TV, it was the day Live Aid aired and there was all this hash smoke and we thought this girl was crazy talking about Amy Carter, then all of a sudden Amy Carter comes down the stairs, all these Secret Service pull up, and there’s like a cloud of hash smoke, we open the door to the garage and all of the Butthole Surfers are standing there you know…in a line and there’s Jimmy and Rosalyyn Carter. (laughter) it’s just bizarre! (laughter)

Like you said…it’s opposites day…everything that’s ugly is beautiful (laughter)

Yeah, and I saw him and… you know sometimes when you see someone famous, they’re so recognizeable that they look like a cardboard cutout of themselves… This is like three in the morning…and the deal was that they thought Amy’s parents weren’t home, that they were totally out of town and she was upstairs with a boy. And she didn’t know who we were, but later we heard that she said “oh I remember when the Butthole Surfers were over and I hung out with them.” She was a lot younger than we were. It was just bizarre. I mean how many people get to stand face to face with a president? And it would be our whole fuckin’ band standing there.

Teresa Taylor and King Coffey | Photo By Dixon Edge Coulbourne

At least you know that’s the one place the cops aren’t going to raid. (laughter)

Right. While we were smoking hash…the Secret Service guys… (laughter)

James Burns

Headline photo: Photo by Pat Blashill

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  1. LAYGO says:

    Thanks James/Brent for getting this out there!

  2. The Triumph of the Thrill says:

    One of the funniest and oddest interviews in the site :-). The Butthole Surfers were truly one of a kind. R.I.P.

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