Texas Terri

Lone star and band of indie punks crash Trash Blast 3

But there's a temporary up side to this current multimedia consumerist inferno: The independent labels and mom-and-pop organizations are as authorized as anybody else to work the -- and I loathe the word Internet -- "new" technology. But that doesn't mean good music will get to the right set of ears. And no matter how big the "Net" explosion is, it certainly won't alter the arithmetic of the record racket.

"I'm just happy that all the big labels are having so many problems," Laird says, laughing. "I just think it's hilarious. So why be signed to a major if you're gonna be hanging?"

Since moving to L.A. from Austin 16 years ago, Laird has lived in the same legendary Hollywood apartment building that distinguished debaucher Joseph Kennedy built for Gloria Swanson seven decades ago. In later years, the residence was known throughout Hollywood for its legendary parties. It's the exact site where, in 1988, Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Hillel Slovak OD'ed. On the night of his death, Laird was the one who called for help. She's the one who broke the news.

With this comes an understanding that rock 'n' roll -- ironic or not -- was/is all about celebration, not dumb disregard. A notion Laird handily grasps as much as anybody can. During the '80s, Laird's exploits as a drunk were semi-legendary in some Hollywood circles. As was her appetite for speed. She says she went from being a fun and amusing drunk to one of annoyance and, ultimately, plain pathetic. For the last nine years, Laird has been sober.

"I wanted to remember my life. I wasn't remembering what I was doing too much of the time. I loved alcohol, especially whiskey. Without being drunk, it's hard to deal with the really big drunks, because I think drunks are really fun in general. Then there's always that couple that act like I used to when I was drunk that are really annoying. And you just wanna go, 'Ya know what? The evening would have been perfect if it wasn't for these two drunks that wanted to dominate my time.' I wanna just slug them. But nobody slugged me then, so I guess I can't slug them."

Before the Stiff Ones -- the band name is lifted from the title of a porn novel whose plot involves a debased undertaker operating a morgue and seducing widows of the deceased -- Laird fronted the Killer Crows, a band that garnered a big word-of-mouth buzz in Hollywood. Later came Baby Bird, which morphed into the Stiff Ones. Together for nearly five years, the Stiff Ones -- its constants being its two writers, Laird and guitarist El Don Hubbard -- have seen veritable graduating classes of Hollywood underground elite come and go through the band's ranks.

After pitiless gigging and overcoming struggles just to stay together, TT and the Stiff Ones landed a deal with the microscopic Burning Tree Records. Last year saw the release of the band's debut, a disc aptly dubbed Eat Shit. The record is a tree-shredding slab of twin-guitar shout-alongs that falls short of what the group is capable of live, yet is miles better than whatever crapshoot you lay your paws on at the local store. The songs trade on the idea of personal ruin/salvation exchanging leather-pant-wearing sentiments and bolstered with plenty of '77 nods. A rousing cover of the Dictators' swell "Baby Let's Twist" gives the disc a hearty thumbs up at the tail.

It's not shocking that Laird is comfortably in touch with her male side as a singer. James Brown and the Stones are what blow her skirt up. It should be predictable that Iggy be noted as well.

"I never went to see Iggy until the last few years. Went I finally went to see him, I understood that feeling of it just coming from your guts. That's what I feel like. And the way Jagger always worked off of Keith Richards. Keith has always been like my favorite. Really, the ones that I am attracted to are the ones that throw their whole fucking heart and soul into it. I'm not crazy about front people that don't look at the audience."

And the band's all-age shows are not without scrums of teen boys trying to figure stodgy ways to cop cheap feels off Laird. Describing one such incident in Maximum RnR, Laird said, "I had all kinds of teenage jailbait fingers up my poon. They put me down and I screamed, 'You little fuckers. I am going to get you after the show.'"

Yet being a rock star seems the furthest thing from this woman's mind. For her where it's at is summed up in the adage coined by a DJ more than 40 years ago; he said, "You gotta take the music to the kids."

"We're like a trash-rock band and we're just gonna keep going. Touring our asses off as much as we can. And ya know, in a way we are like blackest of the black sheep, because of the shit we do. We have to work our asses off for anything."

Texas Terri and the Stiff Ones are scheduled to perform on Saturday, November 20, for Jeff Dahl's Desert Trash Blast 3 at the Green Room in Tempe, with Gwen Mars, Jeff Dahl, and the Peeps. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.

Contact Brian Smith at his online address: bsmith@newtimes.com

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