A twisting path through Austin’s underground music scene in the twentieth century’s last decade, narrated by the people who were there.
It’s 1990 in Austin, Texas. The next decade will be a tipping point in the city's metamorphosis from sleepy college town to major city. Beneath the increasingly slick exterior, though, a group of like-minded contrarians were reimagining an underground music scene. Embracing a do-it-yourself ethos, record labels emerged to release local music, zines cheered and jeered acts beneath the radar of mainstream media outlets, and upstart clubs provided a home venue for new bands to build their sound.
This vibrant scene valued expression over erudition, from the razor-sharp songcraft of Spoon to the fuzzed-out poptones of Sixteen Deluxe, and blurred the boundaries between observer and participant. Evolving in tandem with the city’s emergence on the national stage via the film Slacker and the SXSW conference and festivals, Austin’s musical underground became a spiritual crucible for the uneasy balance between commercial success and cultural authenticity, a tension that still resonates today.
The first book about Austin underground music in the ’90s, A Curious Mix of People is an oral history that tells the story of this transformative decade through the eyes of the musicians, writers, DJs, club owners, record-store employees, and other key figures who were there.
Greg Beets is a music journalist and musician who wrote for the Austin Chronicle and performed as a vocalist with the 1990s Austin bands Cheezus, Noodle, and the Peenbeets.
Richard Whymark is a documentary filmmaker and the executive producer of the documentary series A Curious Mix of People.
A Curious Mix Of People digs way deep and miraculously conjures up the feeling of Austin in the early '90s, a place I never thought I’d get to visit again.
~Britt Daniel, Spoon
This lively oral history made me feel like I’d stumbled into a tiny bar filled with all the Austin bands that mattered in the ‘90s and eavesdropped upon all the wildest gossip that outsiders weren’t meant to hear. It's funny, moving, exhaustively reported, and hard to put down.
~Melissa Maerz, author of Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Dazed and Confused
A Curious Mix of People stitches together our collective memories in carefully curated sections; it's as if your favorite zine has graduated to become a DIY dissertation. Greg Beets’s meticulous music criticism and Richard Whymark’s documentarian insights combine to immortalize the musicians, bands, clubs, managers, producers, engineers, DJs, and others who made 1990s Austin what it was. I was a baby pop-punk riot girl sweetheart and I was coddled and loved by many in Austin. To be reminded again of this community is a blessing.
~Rebecca Cannon, Sincola
Featuring members of the Big Boys, Butthole Surfers, Spoon, and more – including the unsung ladies who made Austin DIY more than a boys club – this new oral history should be required reading for all contemporary scenesters interested in learning more about the slacker generation.
~The Austin Chronicle
Introduction. Nobody Here but Us Wounded Chickens
The Cavity: The Cavity Creeps
Emo’s: Johnny Cash Sat Here
Radio: None of the Hits, All of the Time
Hole in the Wall: Cheap Music, Fast Drinks, Live Women
Blue Flamingo: Those Horses Do Bite!
Chances: We’ll Just Rock for Ourselves
Sweatbox Studios: Sweatbox Is Burning (or, Honk If Dick Cheney Shot Your Landlord in the Face)
TV and Video: Raw Meat in the Studio
Zines, Flyers, and the Press: Putting the Word in the Streets
Sound Exchange: Bitter People with No Future Selling Music
Record Labels: Bitter People with No Future Starting Labels
Trance Syndicate: Love and Napalm
Electric Lounge: My Childhood Hero Is Getting Pelted with Roses
Liberty Lunch: By the ’90s, We Were Rocking
The End: It Doesn’t Go On Forever
Cast of Characters
100 Essential Underground Releases of the 1990s (in Chronological Order)
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