God And Texas
Mick Brennan- Drums
John Humphrey- Guitar, Vocal
Chris Farmer- Bass (1990-1992)
Matt Fields- Bass (1992-1994)
Hometown- Athens Ohio (1989-1992), Chicago Illinois (1992-1994)
I first ran across God And Texas in the spring of 1990, playing outdoors one afternoon at some sort of university sponsored event in Athens. They had just self-released a 3 song 7" EP that had been compared to Husker Du and Black Flag, and I was curious to hear them. Unfortunately, the band (at that time with John's brother Pat on bass) seemed to have engaged in some recreational pharmaceuticals and were utterly unable to make anything resembling music- I remember John beating on his guitar and screaming unintelligibly while Mick flailed away at his drumkit (which was falling apart anyway) with utter indifference to what John was doing. Pat struck the occasional note on his bass, but spent most of his time doing interpretive dance and making evil faces at the crowd.
It was amusing, but I left after about 10 minutes. I kept hearing good things about them though, so I picked up the 7" (which I later learned was recorded in the basement of an apartment building on a 4-track)- it was raw and primitive, but underneath the crud you could hear there were actual songs and riffs. 1991's "Industry Standard" LP (this time recorded after hours in a comic book store by Royal Crescent Mob soundman Montie Temple, and with Chris Farmer on bass) showed the band sounding like later Black Flag- a mix of punk and metal that sometimes bogged down in plodding riffage, but contained enough great moments ("Grist For The Mill", "Shit House", "Mood For Self Indulgence") to be worthwhile.
God And Texas toured relentlessly (often accompanied by soundman Lowell Jacobs) and by 1991 had met Chicago producer Brad Wood, who would produce the remainder of God And Texas' output. Trivia: Wood later achieved notoriety for producing and playing on Liz Phair's "Exile In Guyville". "History, Volume One" was a giant leap forward for the band, both sonically and in terms of songwriting and playing. Any past hints of instrumental sloppiness are gone and the songs are succinct. Some of the tracks are lengthy and there are enough layered guitars to sink a battleship, but there isn't a wasted second and the fat has been trimmed. A lean, mean, fire-breathing dragon of an album, easily God And Texas' best (as a bonus, the CD includes the track "1066" and the entire "Industry Standard" album).
Their next album "Criminal Element" was released just before the band relocated to Chicago with bassist Matt Fields. This time they tightened up a little too much, and the end result sounds a bit like prototype math rock ala Helmet. Not a bad record, but the claustrophobic songs wind up grating on my nerves long before the record's over.
For "Double Shot" God And Texas made a radical shift towards... I don't really know what you'd call it. Jazz? Lounge? Whatever it is, "Double Shot" adds a dollop of John Spencer Blues Explosion to the band's hard rock along with sax player Steve Golub. The result is a unique hybrid that goes off in all kinds of unexpected directions, but somehow it all works.
The band broke up in 1994. John played in Cash Money (later Cash Audio), and is now a recording studio manager in Chicago. Matt has played with several Chicago area bands including Those Bastard Souls (a sort of Chicago area supergroup). God And Texas was recently voted "Not Crap" by a margin of 75% in a round of "Crap/Not Crap" on Electrical Audio's messageboard.
Grist For The Mill.mp3 from "Industry Standard", 1991
Join Or Die.mp3 from "History, Volume 1", 1992
Red Room.mp3 from "Double Shot", 1994