How did the San Antonio underground-turned American punk legends get involved with Austin’s eccentric Daniel Johnston, whose sweet, sincere lyrics and lo-fi pop is the polar opposite of the hardcore, rock out/cock out Butthole Surfers?
The legend goes that Gibby Haynes, lead singer of the BS, had slipped Johnston acid at one of their concert in the ‘80s, intensifying Johnston’s schizophrenia/bipolar disorder. When interviewed on the subject in the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston, Haynes denied the accusations.
Off the appropriately titled Locust Abortion Technician, a bat-shit crazy epic, “Sweat Loaf” stands as the crown jewel amidst the psych insanity. Only a certain duo could come up with a way to out-freak the original, Daniel Johnston and Jad Fair of Half Japanese on their collaborative album, 1989’s It’s Spooky.
"Sweet Loafed" (the altered title) is a trip through hell. “Satan, Satan, Satan” screams an unhinged Johnston, with the two yelling “lake of fire” in semi-unison during the instrumental breakdown. There’s no similarity to the original, no bitchin' virtuosic guitar solos, no production value, but that’s the beauty of it. The purity of “Sweet Loafed,” a song with no trace of pretension, is a glimpse into the mind of Johnston, a mentally ill man whose keen sense of melody and painfully honest lyrics is crucial to his legacy.
"I thought my band was out there, but Daniel Johnston was way out there,” said the Butthole Surfers’ guitarist Paul Leary. An extraordinary feat.