Glenn Hughes

THE LAZY COWGIRLS
I’m Going Out and Get Hurt Tonight
Reservation Records
by Todd K. Smith

We want an idea that we believe in to be in each of our songs. Pat Todd

Roaring back with both guns blazing are West coast punk giants The Lazy Cowgirls. Much like their East coast contemporaries: the CBGB’s crowd including The Ramones, The Dictators and The New York Dolls, these Cowgirls take pride in getting better with age. “We can appreciate why people like our early stuff like ‘Tapping The Source’ (1987) and the pre-‘Radio Cowgirl’ stuff,” says vocalist Pat Todd. “But to me, the records after ‘Ragged Soul’ (1995) just get better and better.” With each release the band continues to win fans and inspire a wave of up and comers. Recently The Demons, The Turbo A.C.s and The Riverboat Gambles have all claimed The Cowgirls as an influence.

Todd is the original spirit of the California quartet. Raised in Indiana he comes with his own take on teenage rebellion, which includes a strong affection for outlaw Countrymen Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. “You don’t get up and rage all day,” says Todd. “There needs to be an ebb and flow that fits it all together. That’s what I always liked about vinyl albums when they were done right. That’s what we try to do.” Formed in late 1984 The Lazy Cowgirls were complete opposites of the LA glam scene. They were a road-hard biker gang merging buzzsaw guitars with first-wave punk. They stood out because of their sneering attitude of '60's garage rock, their honest honky-tonk, and their “Exile on Main Street” era Rolling Stone swagger.

“We were all a bunch of kids,” says Todd. “We didn’t know much – we barely knew how to be a band. But we knew what we didn’t like and that’s where we got it – the gut reaction. Ya, see songwriting is your relationship with the world and ours is what we see and think and feel.” Months went by before the Cowgirls saw any label interest. Finally Chris Desjardins of The Flesh Eaters was impressed enough to hook them up with Restless Records and the band cut their self-titled debut. It was raw and dirty but had a lot of heart. Most importantly it fueled the struggling band and encouraged them to march on. It would be another three years before they would record again- but when they did it was a monster.

1987’s Tapping The Source wasn’t a chart topper, nor did it boast any hit singles - it’s not even considered their best record, but it was their first great one. Caging their high-octane frenzy tracks like "Can't You Do Anything Right?", "Goddamn Bottle" and stripped-down covers of "Justine" and "Heartache" saw the band enter a significant milestone in their yet early career. “We got in there and bared our soul,” says Todd. “When you look back at your life, all the things you really care about are the ones where someone opens a vein, bares their soul and shares it with you.”

That theory reached its zenith with the live release of Radio Cowgirl (1989) – a show recorded for KCSB-FM in Santa Barbara. Remembers Ryder, owner and operator of Green Noise Records in Portland, OR. “They were one of the greatest band’s I’d ever seen live. They had this energy and intensity that was different than any other band out there. Honest, polished and full of fire.” The live record captured forever a space in time. How It Looks – How It Is (1990) followed two years later but the years of touring began to take its toll. Five years would laps and two original members, Clark (d) and Telligman (b), the band’s rhythm section, would walk away.

Some thought it was the end of the band’s greatness. Amid the chaos and a revolving rhythm section, Todd regrouped stripping away the band’s very foundation exploring elements of his songwriting yet untapped. The result was the critically acclaimed Ragged Soul (1995), a smart twin-guitar, old-school punk opus. The tight "Frustration, Tragedy and Lies" and "Bought Your Lies” resurrected belief in the old dogs and put them on the road once and for all. “We have a certain aesthetic for what we do,” says Todd. “A certain drum sound and certain guitar tone – a way of touring and playing that represents us. Everything we do is for a reason. We decided in ’95 this was what we would do till we drop.”

Finally stabilizing the line up with Leonard Keringer (b), Bob Deagle (d) and Eric Chandler – later Michael Leigh (g), Todd took center stage and drove the band through one classic after another. There was A Little Sex and Death (1997), Rank Outsider (1999), Somewhere Down The Line (2000) and the band’s second live record, Hear and Now Live (2001) which featured a surprising twist of acoustic tamer versions of previous LP tracks. Todd states, “I don’t have a problem with the past but it’s like talking about grade school. What’s the point? I think the new record is the best. I know a lot of bands say that, but I really think it is.” Todd claims the key element is Michael Leigh, the perfect combination of Chuck Berry, Keith Richard, Johnny Thunders and Johnny Ramone on guitar and the great Leonard on bass who can go from a stoic Bill Wyman stance during one song to bouncing off the walls on the next. Both add a tremendous texture in harmony and backing vocals. Current drummer is Roy Morgan.

I’m Goin’ Out and Get Hurt Tonight is the latest Lazy Cowgirls. A return to their 20-year-old punk roots with just enough Hank Williams to mesh with the rock making it a truly quintessential release. From the slowed-down version of "Goddamn Bottle" (first recorded on 1987's Tapping the Source) to the amped up "Burnin' Daylight", "Are You Ready" and "You're The Thing" the disc proves that the Cowgirls are just as relevant today. “This is by far the best record we’ve ever done,” restates Todd. “We spent more time on the arrangements and Michael’s playing is outstanding. In fact we’ve already had two songs picked for the next Dwight Yoakam/Gina Gershon (Pretty In Pink, Cocktail, Showgirls) movie Three Way Split. The movie studio went for the acoustic numbers “Swept Across The Borderline” and “You Might Be Lost Now”.” Both song feature the forging pedal steel of Chris Lawrence (Mike Ness, Paladins) and put a blue-collar stamp on the record.

Says Todd, “There’s no real difference in “Burning Daylight” and “You Might Be Lost Now” – the same kind of songwriting, the same subtleties are there. Like the way the melody twists and the harmonies in the guitar playing. To me all music is connected. If it has feeling and soul it works for me. We’re even talking about making the next record an acoustic album. Were going to call it “The Outskirts of Your Heart” and hopefully will be out later this year.” Yet, it is the honesty of the music that stands as a bold representation of the Cowgirls. “I write about my relationship with the world,” continues Todd. “One of the new songs I wrote for the record was ‘Suicide Note’. A friend of mine had a sister who was going through a rough time and was contemplating suicide. The emotion of that experience was so intense. I tried, in some small way to write about what she might have felt like and give her hope.”

It is on the road that the band finds their greatest inspiration and support. “We’ve toured more since ’98 than anytime before that,” says Todd. “I’m more motivated now. It’s more satisfying and, to be honest, it’s the best I’ve ever been. It feeds itself. Every year we gain a few more fans and we might lose some too. But, that’s how it goes. We have to be true to ourselves. We’re the ones that write the songs, play the songs and promote the songs. In the end you’re either with us or not. I really don’t care. What I’m most proud of is our hard work and the quality of our songs.”

Get your batch of “quality songs” by picking up I’m Goin’ Out and Get Hurt Tonight on Reservation records. It’s the one with the picture of the band in the middle of the street surrounded by an orange/yellow glow and a classic shot of a 1930’s National steel guitar on the disc. Vintage gear played by a REAL high-energy rock and roll band. All this and more rolled up and packaged with a 22-page booklet. Timeless masters, The Lazy Cowgirls are cynical, hopeful, irreverent, tender and hard-nosed with an understanding of life’s many contradictions. Best played LOUD.

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