I was on a state highway in Texas. It was about 10 PM. I listened to the radio for the last 40 miles into Denton.
It sounded like the Texas I knew, all right. Twang, metal, hype. How ‘bout them Cowboys!
I was going to Denton to shoot some videos and record some songs with Bob Hate and Stephen Thomas, roughly two-fifths of The Eddy Band.
Stephen’s first band nickname was so obscene it actually became cool over the years. It was succinct and entirely filthy.
It cannot be written here. But sometimes words you leave out are just as good as words you leave in, I think.
We had to come up with a second, less offensive nickname, yet one that captured our bitter resentment toward lead guitar players who were always too loud and got all the girls.
Bob decided on “Dave Thompson.”
If you don’t get that joke, then you cannot possibly understand the long, tangled history of Bob Hate and The Eddy Band.
Bob Hate is his own choice, the last of many inventions, the one that stuck. (My favorite was Bobby Arizona, but it had too many syllables, I guess.)
In The Eddy Band, Bob has always been the frontman, the Big Train, the straw that stirs the drink. He’s not a hateful guy. He is, in fact, a real charmer.
Like me, he had driven ten hours to make the sessions. He’d been in Albuquerque that morning.
We were staying in the same hotel on Denton’s main drag. I’d just finished unloading my gear when he knocked on the door of my room.
“Chet!” That’s my nickname. It goes all the way back to the band Bob and I had in grad school. The band was called Chet. The band broke up after we nearly got kicked out of school for rehearsing in College Hall. But the name attached itself to me.
None of those guys knew that one of my grandfathers was named Chet. That was the crazy thing about it. You can run, but you can’t hide. I didn’t mind being Chet. It was a good name for a demented hillbilly bass player.
We were all out of our minds back then, a state of affairs, some might say, that continues to this day.
Bob Hate and I stayed up late yapping. It was the first time we’d seen each other since we finished the last Eddy album, 2010’s Six Foot Length of Rope. It was mostly new tunes, recorded in a Music Row studio in Nashville, with some “greatest hits” tossed in.
We had a lot riding on SFLOR. Pre-production was intense. I knew it was the best collection of material we’d written. Bob and I had been writing songs together since the first Clinton administration. In recent years, Stephen and Bob had teamed up as writers, too.
Expectations were high. If we can’t sell the band, I thought, we can sure as shootin’ sell these songs. The tunes we selected for the Nashville sessions were that good.
But the industry, generally speaking, had not loved SFLOR. We did receive the occasional burst of positive feedback, like this note from a legendary A&R veteran in Austin:
I liked the music a lot. You guys can play. No doubt about it. Did you ever run across or work with Doug Sahm in your past. It feels like you may have … You all made a great demo. The songs are first rate and you play like some old road dogs. Best of luck out there.
Luck was all we needed. Luck was in short supply, though.
Bob had taken it hard. He’d done most of the heavy lifting on the project, first as writer and arranger, then as singer, guitarist and producer.
The Denton trip was really just an excuse to hang out for a few days and shoot some videos for Stephen’s new project, The Wicked Messengers, an all-Dylan cover band.
Bob had made it clear he wasn’t going to be doing any playing or singing. Stephen had lined up a nice auditorium for the shoot. We’d have great lighting and plenty of room to work.
But I was still a little surprised Bob hadn’t brought a guitar.
“We’ll have three stationary cameras and I’ll be moving around with a fourth,” he said. “Between that and the audio, I’ll have my hands full.”
“Come on, man,” I said. “It’s Dylan.”
“Yeah. We should’ve done this fifteen years ago, when we all lived here. It would have worked.”
I let it go. For the rest of the night we talked about everything under the sun except music. We both had plenty of stories to tell.
The shoot went like clockwork. We even had time that weekend to demo a couple of new songs at Stephen’s house.
My next stop was Austin. Back on the road, I had lots of time to think about all that had happened in the last 48 hours.
That was freakin’ awesome, I thought. I love those guys.
I couldn’t be sure, but I had a strong feeling the world hadn’t heard the last of The Eddy Band.
Maybe the luck we needed was out there, biding its time.
Maybe we already had it, in spades. It sure felt that way to me.
Show business is John Hicks’ life.