Lazy Cowgirls: increasingly addicted to the open road. (courtesy photo)

SoCal punk veterans the Lazy Cowgirls make Texas their adopted home

The Lazy Cowgirls are a Los Angeles-based anomaly - a band with no need for convenient music industry labels. Even as an emerging act (way back in the cooler-than-thou early '80s), the band found genre distinctions suffocating, and decided to forgo short-lived appeal in favor of substance and durability.

They rely on attitude and the emotive aspects of music, drawing inspiration from a dizzying array of disciplines - Sinatra to the Stones, the Ramones to Ray Wiley Hubbard, the MC5 to Merle Haggard. Singer Pat Todd's gravelly vocal style solidifies the Cowgirl's sound as an evocative blend of blues-tinged garage rock, with the ever-so-slight but audible sway of early punk influence.

The Lazy Cowgirls formed in 1983, when second-generation punk SoCal bands ruled the underground music scene. The best of those hardcore combos are legendary today - Misfits, DRI, Black Flag, the Circle Jerks - but the majority faded into oblivion, their members trading combat boots and spikes for penny loafers with tassels, and quietly joining the ranks of the anonymous masses.

Despite lineup changes, and the gradual mellowing in sound and temperament that comes with maturity (if one ages wisely, that is), the Cowgirls never lost the DIY spirit that defined their formative experience. They simply converted that attitude into a mature aesthetic that could carry them into the next millennium - sans obligatory nihilistic rage and limited dress code.

Yet, after spending 20 years cloistered in the unending urban sprawl of greater Los Angeles, the Lazy Cowgirls find themselves growing increasingly addicted to the open road. Whether it's the atmosphere, the landscape, or simply the cheap beer, one thing is certain: This band just can't stay away from Texas.

The Cowgirls' scheduled Friday, October 24 gig at Taco Land marks their fourth show in San Antonio this year - a plugged-in follow-up to their recent stripped-down acoustic set.

"There is an undeniable mystique to Texas, both geographically and creatively," explains Todd, revealing his band's serial touring habits as a subconscious way of placing themselves near the state's impressive musical legends.

"Also, these days, there's a network of underground music venues all across this country," Todd adds. "That was a pipe dream back in the early '80s. Back then, bands were limited to playing large cities like LA, Chicago, and New York if they wanted to draw any sort of a crowd or build up a following. I think that trend has reversed. Nowadays, in smaller cities, it actually seems like there is more steady support for bands like us, simply because we're not constantly competing with some large act playing down the road every night of the week."

Friday, October 24
Taco Land
103 W. Grayson
Certainly, being paired with an exceptional local act like the Sons of Hercules doesn't hurt. The Sons have played an integral role in luring the Cowgirls to Texas so often this year, hardly a surprise, considering their parallel musical influences.

On this particular trek through the Lone Star State, the Cowgirls are touring in support of their 11th, and latest, record: I'm Goin' Out and Get Hurt Tonight, on Portland, Oregon-based Reservation Records. With song titles like "Burnin' Daylight," "Swept Across the Borderline," "Goddamn Bottle," and "Boerne Girl," the album reads like the self-loathing lament of some poor schmuck who woke up on the side of I-35 after a night of hard drinking.

Although well-produced, the record retains a decidedly rough-hewn quality, avoiding the tendency of digital overproduction so prevalent in the indie recording industry.

"We try to approach the studio the same way we do the stage," Todd says. "In most cases, the vocals on the album were done in one take along with my guitar part."

His message is clear: Just because a band can re-record a song five times in the studio, doesn't mean they should - an axiom that any struggling band should take to heart. •

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