Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Editorial: "Outsider Music" Complete in Austin in 2019 Part 1 "The Best Worst Band Ever"

        For as far back as I can recall, I've always been drawn to the obscure, the underground, the bizarre, and the unknown. Growing up in the 80s,  in South Texas, you simply weren't exposed to much unless you had your special, hook up people. I made it a point to acquire such friends. You'd trade tapes, VHS mixes, some weird but awesome black and white zine. You would spend a whole weekend at your friends house trying to figure out Zelda 2 the Adventure of Link while listening to some King Diamond and talking about movies like Dead Alive, Evil Dead 2 or Frankenhooker. But not everything had to be morbid or evil for us to acknowledge the fantastical uniqueness of something. There were also comedies and over the top performances that appealed to me. I can most definitely appreciate both Monty Python and Wrestling in the 80s and early 90s. The ideas were absolutely insane and silly. But nothing could prepare me for the internet, where my curious mind took me on profound journeys into  digital labyrinths. Each pathway took me into corridors that led to treasures like Wesley Willis, The Kids of Whitney High, Daniel Johnson, Mark Gormley, the list goes on.
       Now, let's go back to how this fascination was able to be formed in the first place. As a child, I had been introduced to Zappa, which led me to  Tiny Tim, Captain Beefheart, and a lot of psychedelic rock. These were often go hand in hand with my crazed, drawing sessions. Or when I would obsessively paint Ral Partha Miniatures at a late night book store called " Yo Books and Games". At the age of 5, I was shown the  movies " Fire and Ice " and "Wizards". So, a lot of this made absolutely, perfect sense to me. I was just remembering how I used to try to trade or buy Heavy Metal Magazine when I was a kid. These sort of things help us escape a considerably boring reality. I always longed for more.
       So let's get back to the mid 2000s. I was often using questionably legal file sharing programs, making mix cds, jumping on Yahoo chat, trolling a forums. This became a very standard norm.  On one fateful eve , I was shown an act by the name of Complete on Youtube. It was found footage of them performing a piece called " Hot as Hell".  What I saw was a group of middle-aged men; one of which wearing a  Cat in the Hat headpiece. I can recall those were easily available in the mid 90s and became a "thing" for a hot minute.  One of my friends, Juan Guzman, owned a few- one of which was green and white and had a huge pot leaf in the middle.  Those were a few of my immediate thoughts before noticing  the most visually striking element in this video - the front man. Curt Low, dominates the stage with a carefree confidence that most front men could never achieve.  Then you hear his voice - a combination of shrieked wails and scratched, guttural grit peppered with a Texas twang. While the video, itself, seems to suffer from that " copy of a copy of another copy" syndrome, one can get a general sense of the compositions. In fact, I feel that the VHS dub adds to the mystique and charm of experience. One of the more notable, and interesting elements is the fact that the Bass, Guitar, and Drums seem to be playing different things in unison. I often notice how the bassist, Creecher, remains focused on what he is playing rather than adhering or adjusting to what the guitars and drums are doing. It's in an entirely different key.  The drums tease a particular rhythmic direction but keeps looping as if he was constantly getting the song started. The guitars build a solid foundation while incorporating quick licks that he expands on each time they are played. Then the singer, confidently delivers primal screams that echo the souls of our primordial ancestors. This is what completes COMPLETE.   The untrained ear would immediately label this as "bad music" so much that they have been pinned as "The Worst Band Ever" which of course, is one of the most incompetent things one could say about Complete.  I will accept that they can be considered to be "The Best Worst Band". But still, one must consider what really IS bad music. I'd rather be forced ot listen to Complete every day for the rest of my life then to listen to one more minute of Limp Biskit, Nickelback, or Sugar Ray. But that will have to wait for another article.

    So my first experience with Complete naturally came with certain influences. They brought me joy, laughter, confusion, and excitement after watching their videos about 20 times in a row. This pretty much,  is where my obsession began so much that I started getting in contact with  the remaining members of Complete, convinced them to begin doing shows. I booked a few in Austin, TX and even assisted them with their first, SXSW showcase. Ever since then, we have been in contact with each other. I have been following their releases, watched new videos, and attended shows whenever they come through the area. All of this is a long story that I will get into further  in PART 2 . In the  meantime, do yourself a favor and enjoy Complete's Hoogie Boogie Land, Hot As Hell, Beautiful Sunrises, Dreaming, and my favorite, Into the Night.