talk about you. Where do you come
Billy : We were
born and raised in Beaumont, TX
did you start playing music and
what is your musical background?
Billy : I
started playing electric bass
when I was 14 and upright when I
was 16. Im self taught.
Bobby : I got my
first guitar around the age of 13
or 14 and struggled with it for
about three years. Thats
when Billy finally got a bass and
I had someone to play with.
you begin whith honky tonk/western
swing/rockabilly or have you been
in movements like punk/garage or
things like that?
Billy : I was
never into punk or garage at all,
which is unusual. My first record
I bought was a Buddy Holly record.
I played in a lot of blues bands
in my teens.
Bobby : I was
never into punk or garage. My
neighbor loaned me a Stray Cats
record and Elvis Sun
Sessions and all I can remember
is thinkin «Man, I like
Elvis a lot better than I like
the Stray Cats». Then my
neighbor bought the complete
Buddy Holly box set on MCA and I
was WAY into that for the longest
time because he wrote some
fantastic songs. I was also
listening to Gene Vincent and
(or what) was the shock that
decided you to pick an
Billy : My
brother needed a bass player and
I really liked the bass, so it
was a natural fit.
Bobby : Im
not sure--maybe it was because I
saw a blues band at a picnic for
my dads job and I just
thought it was the coolest thing
Id ever seen. That was
probably the first time I had
seen a live band.
what are your main influences (past
and present), your «masters»?
Billy : As far
as harmony singing goes, the
Louvin Brothers are my absolute
favorites. Im also a huge
fan of Jimmy and Johnny and the
Bobby : As far
as pickin goes, I love
Grady Martin, Chet Atkins and
Jimmy Lee Fautheree. Lately, Ive
been listening to a lot of the
Mills Brothers, Tommy Duncan and
the Everly Brothers.
approach many styles Honky Tonk,
Western Swing, Rockabilly, Jazz
stuff, Swing and even a touch of
Blues. Where does this eclectism
Billy : I listen
to all that sort of stuff. I
think all that music has a lot in
common. I like everything from
Roy Smeck to Count Basie to Bob
Wills to Lefty Frizzell to Gene
Vincent to Johnny Guitar Watson
to Johnny Paycheck.
Bobby : To me,
it all shares a common feeling.
Listen to Benny Goodmans
version of «Air Mail Special»
with Charlie Christian then
listen to Jimmie Rivers
version. Ones jazz...and Im
not sure that the other one isnt,
too! Its good music, ya
know? Western Swing seems to
attract jazz pickers--guys like
Jimmy Wyble, and even Tiny Moores
mandolin pickin (or Jethro
Burns for that matter!)-
they were awesome improvisors. So
I think it comes down to the fact
that we like good music played
with feeling.You cant fake
you tempted by other style (like
Deke Dickerson when he plays surf
instrumental and rockabilly on
the same album)
Billy : Has
he done that? I like other stuff,
but I like when all the
influences are absorbed as a
whole( like Big Sandy).
Bobby : I agree with
Billy on this one--I like it when
you incorporate it all in to your
own style. I dont feel the
need to think «ok, now Im
gonna play blues or now Im
gonna play a 50s honky tonk
song». We try to play naturally
and a lot of those things come
your recordings, Id like to
know what happened between your
first album (Its Bobby and
Billy) and «Roll Back the Rug».
It seems that you found your
sound, the good way to sing
together and even your lyrics
changed (with more humour). Is
there a link with the fact you
moved to Austin TX?
Absolutely. We made that first
one when we were still living in
Beaumont and didnt really
know what we wanted to do. Our
vision really came together in
Austin thanks to Shaun Young. Hes
the one who convinced us to move
here. He also told us we should
concentrate on the harmony thing.
Hes been probably the
biggest influence on us and our
direction. I cant say
enough good things about him.
Bobby : That
first record was the end of our
Beaumont days. We went ahead and
released it under the Horton
Brothers name so we could
get things goin for us. It
should of been released under the
Fender Benders moniker.
But, like I say, we were aware
that if we did that no one would
know who the Horton Brothers were.
Shaun Young took us under his
wing when we decided to move up
to Austin and I cant thank
him for it enough. He has been
quite a help to us. Hes
always steered us in the right
direction and we still do shows
with him. He was an influence
before and continues to be an
influence on us to this day.
you work hard to get that
authentic sound or was it natural
Billy : Hmmm. We worked
hard to learn how to play our
instruments. We just wanted to
sound like the records we
listened to, so in that way it
was very natural.
Bobby : Like
Billy says, we just work hard at
could you tell us more about the
musical scene in Austin?
Billy : Austin
has always been a roots music
mecca. In the 70s it was
bands like Asleep at the Wheel
and Willie Nelson. In the 80s,
the blues scene was big with the
Fabulous Thunderbirds. Now theres
definitely a big roots country
scene going on here. Its
reputation attracts even more
players to our little scene.
Bobby : Theres
definitely an accepting attitude
here in Austin. You can play
original music and nobody gets
bummed out if youre not
playing «Blue Suede Shoes». We
are all striving to write better
songs and I think its a big
inspiration to be here. Theres
a lot of comradere.
Austin the anti-Nashville?
Billy :Well, weve
got Willie Nelson, and hes
Bobby Probably so--but not
intentionally. While some guys
are always bad mouthing Nashville
(Wayne Hancock) the rest of us
dont really give much
thought about whats goin
on up there!
there old people who knew the «original»
artist in your audience ?
Billy : Bob
Wills daughter Rosetta
shows up at our shows from time
to time. Herb Remington just
payed steel with Wayne Hancock
the other night. I saw Johnny
Gimble playing with Hot Club of
Cowtown a month ago. James Cotton
lives in town. So basically, not
just people who knew the original
artists, but the original artists
themselves are still goin.
Bobby : When I
used to play with Deke we would
run into guys who used to be
friends with Joe Maphis and Merle
Travis. But, like Billy says,
theres a lot of the old
timers who are still around--blending
in with the current scene. The
Lucky Stars backed up Glynn
Duncan (Tommys brother) a
few weeks ago, we get to see Herb
Remington play steel with Wayne
Hancock, Johnny Gimble fiddles
with Hot Club of Cowtown every
now and then, Claude Trenier got
on stage with Deke to sing «Poontang»...you
get the picture
opening for «alternative»
artists such as Mike Ness and
Cake, Deke Dickerson proved that
you could please a punk/rock/pop
audience with good old recipes.
What is your reaction. Is this a
third way between Nashville pop
and authentic circuit ?
Billy : I
think that a lot of that audience
hasnt been exposed to this
sort of stuff, so it is
definitely a novelty to them.
Certainly someone like Deke would
be the guy to pull it off because
he is extremely talented and puts
on a great show.
Bobby : Deke
puts on a good show that appeals
to a lot of folks. I did a show
with him in a small, neighborhood
bar in Jacksonville, Florida, and
the locals loved it. Hes
really good at what he does. I
know that Big Sandy has opened
for the Mavericks and the
Reverend Horton Heat. I think it
comes down to the fact that Big
Sandy and Deke play good music
and people pick up on that and
respond to that.
about Nashville, do you know what
does the establishment think
about bands like yours ? Are they
interested in young blood since
the success of BR5-49?
Billy : No. They
dont really care. BR549 was
more of a novelty than anything
else. They dont seem to
think that they could promote a
band who does authentic stuff
because it would be so different
from what is out there now.
Bobby : Nah, I
think BR5-49 was their one
attempt at the «retro» scene.
They think the rest of us are
backwards hillbillies! I dont
know what they think and I dont
really care. I have never strived
to make it in Nashville
heard that Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite
Boys and The Hot Club Of Cowtown
played the Grand Ole Opry. Is
this the beginning of something ?
Billy : Nope. I
think they have a good publicist
and are a novel concept for the
Bobby : Well
see--I know they want to get
those guys back on there. But you
still run into problems like Dale
Watson not making the televised
portion because they want to put
Billy Gilman (some 10 year old
kid--who, oddly enough, sounds
like any 10 year old kid singin!)
you think what happened for swing
could happen to authentic
Billy : I
hope not. The «swing» movement
was terrible and I think turned
off a lot of people from real
swing. None of the bands which
claimed to be swing were swing.
They were merely rock bands with
horns. Maybe thats why it
connected with a mass audience.
They could identify with the rock
sound but it was a little
different so it was novel. No
authentic music could ever
achieve that sort of success
because it would be too different
for most people. People are used
to hearing rock, and when you
introduce music where the drums
arent the main rhythm
instrument, they dont quite
know what to think of it.
Bobby : The
swing scene was a big
cartoon over here. Regular folks
got to smoke cigars and play
dress up while they
went to see a punk band sing
about zoot suit riots and
drinking martinis. It was pretty
you know what bands of the
generation before you (like
Commander Cody, Asleep at the
Wheel think about the new scene ?
And what do you think about them
Billy : I think
they did a lot for the music at a
time when no one cared. On the
other side of the coin, I dont
think they played it particularly
well. Im not sure what they
think about the new scene, but Im
sure its very removed and
foreign to them.
Bobby : Im
not sure theyre in touch
with whats goin on. I
think they did their thing and
kept the music going but it wasnt
played that well until three
bands came along--Big Sandy and
the Fly-Rite Trio, the Dave and
Deke Combo and High Noon. I
believe those bands have really
spearheaded this current scene
and deserve a lot of the credit.
They were writing original music
and had great musicians in their
you had the chance who would you
like to record and produce ?
Billy : As far
as people I would like to work
with...hmmm... I would love to
record Jimmie Vaughan. Hes
fabulous. Other than that
probably Big Sandy I think I
could do a good job with them.