Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Gospel According to the Rev. Horton Heat

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Gospel According to the Rev. Horton Heat

Article excerpt

THOUGH people generally describe the Rev. Horton Heat's aggregation as a rockabilly band, the reverend himself (real name Jim Heath) will tell you the music really isn't as simple as that. In fact, some of the group's fans have quite divergent views of it.

"Our rock 'n' roll and punk rock friends tell us, `Horton, y'all are the best straight rock 'n' roll band in the world,' " Heat said. "You know, young kids and things like that. Then the rockabilly guys, straight rockabilly guys, will say, `Well, you guys are the only speed metal band I'd really want to listen to.' So we're in a funny, funny zone there, but at the same time, it's just us doing our version of American music."

To an extent, it's easy to see how musicians with those different backgrounds and tastes could have such opposite descriptions.

The hyperfueled brand of rockabilly played by guitarist Heat, drummer Patrick "Taz" Bentley and bassist Jimbo Wallace is certainly harder, faster, louder and more twisted than anything Carl Perkins or Elvis Presley would have dreamed up. Even a latterday 'billy band like the Stray Cats never got as raucous as the Rev. Horton Heat.

The style began to take shape about five years ago when the three hooked up in their home city of Dallas. The Rev. Horton Heat persona that is such a part of the group's image was a preordained marketing plan, he said.

"It was a club owner in Dallas named Russell Hobbs. He just made it up," Heat explained. "I worked for him. I was a sound man. And he never even heard me play or sing, and he saw me playing and singing and came up with this whole idea. I used to do some kind of tongue-in-cheek gospel songs. I'd do `I Saw the Light' sometimes and `Amazing Grace' sometimes. But mainly I did these stupid gospel songs.

"He said, `You be Rev. Horton Heat.' And I'm going, `Well, Russell, you gave me a gig,' but I just thought, `Man, I don't know. I'm just going to show up and play.'

"I was down there 30 minutes before the gig saying, `This reverend deal, Russell, I don't know.' And he's going, `Just trust me, just trust me. It's going to work.'

"So I said OK, and about an hour and a half later, people were going, `Reverend! …

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