Back to early-getting-to-know-Kyle stuff… During the time Pantera was apparently recording VDOP, Kyle told me Phil had invited him and some pals over to party at his pad to hear some of the tracks.
The story goes that after Phil passed out, Kyle and his friends dubbed a cassette copy of that demo they had heard and recopied a bunch for themselves, and Kyle sent me one. (What a pal!)
On it were unmixed/unmastered versions of Walk (with no vocals), Hostile (vocals but no guitar solo – and not the vocals of the finished version), and By Demons Be Driven. Just those three. I lost the cassette somewhere along the way. I bet Kyle still has his copy though! Just typing this brings back those memories about how music was so important back then or seemed so important. From ‘92 through to 2000, Pantera was the hottest thing on the planet. That’s just a fact, whether you were a fan or not, they were unstoppable in the 90s.
I just thought it super cool that my buddy knew these globally known rockers, who were well on their way to superstardom, but that it was no big deal to Kyle, or, according to Kyle, to them either.
Part of what kept Kyle and I engaged was not only our love of music by other artists/bands, but we decided to start recording our own music. In 1992, he and his buddy Jerry Tarpley (RIP) wrote a few tunes and sent me the music. I learned the stuff, and went to Texas to record. We went to No Mountain recording and recorded four jams. I uploaded a couple of them to YT – the project is called Bonesaw. Jerry was a rippin’ lead guitarist, and Kyle did his best Phil impression over our Pantera-sounding jams.
The following year, in 1993, we did the same thing, but this time, it was just Kyle and me. (Who needs guitar solos??) We went back to No Mountain recording, where the engineer left us for about 3 hours to rehearse and get super tight, while he left to go do a bunch of cocaine and have sex with his girlfriend (literally, what he told us he was doing).
He came back and we recorded each tune in one take. This project is called Grench and it’s our doomy/stonerish project. I never uploaded this project to YT, but Kyle included one tune on the Pumpjack jump drive when they used to sell those. So if you were lucky enough to get one of the “definitive collection” Pumpjack jump drives, the tune “Bitter” is from the Grench sessions.
So anyway, time goes on and Kyle and I remain in occasional contact through the years, from 1993 to 1995, but I start going to school and my focus becomes less on music and partying and more on school-related things. Around 1996 or so, I heard from Kyle. We’d been out of regular contact for a short while.
He’d sent me a cd of a band called Pumpjack. In the mail was his note that said this was his new band, that they’d recorded in Dime’s studio and had help with production from them, etc, that I should check it out.
Pumpjack is a breed unto itself… southern deep-fried, KISS-obsessed, BBQ’g, beer-drinkin’, weed smokin’, good ol’ Texas boogie-woogie, in the vein of ZZ Top with a heavy dose of metal that resulted in a bunch of hard-rockin’ anthems for the everyman and everywoman.
They have an edge to them and I kind of think you either get on the Pumpjack train or you don’t. The cd, Kyle, I mean, “Thurber”, sent me is titled “The World Ain’t Perdy.” It’s freakin’ awesome and can be found on all the major streaming outlets but also YT.
Oh yeah, so about this time, Kyle had assumed a new persona – Thurber T. Mingus.
The Kyle I knew was no more… introducing Thurber T. I couldn’t tell for sure, over the phone at least, if this was for real or if it was part put-on. In reality, I think it was a bit of both, until I got back with them a few years later, and learned that indeed, Kyle had fully transformed into Thurber. This is to say, more than a tad redneck-“identifying”, voice dropped a few octaves, sporting side beard chops, and just way more T E X A S in every way. He was, as he used to like to say, “livin’ the lyrics.”
Back when I visited Kyle in the early 90s, I met a bunch of his pals, but he has about 4 million friends so I just didn’t get to meet the PJ guys back then. But in ’99, when I went back to “audition”, I met the family – Boz, Lance, Bob, Stevie B, Roach, Clay, Trey, J.D, Monty, Sterling, Stroker (again), Super Dave (again) and of course the ladies, LaFonda (again), Nicol, Erika, Candy, Sandy, and all their close kith and kin who were all very much on the Pumpjack train.
It was later that I discovered the love for Pumpjack was deeper and wider than I knew, and they fueled the white trash culture through the shows they put on (BBQ’g on stage, throwing out chicken wings to the audience, bringing up guest players, working up cool cover songs, having fun on stage, and generally, giving the audience an experience).
From 1996 to 1999, Kyle/Thurber and I remained in sporadic contact but I later learned that they were actually really busy building the Pumpjack brand, having grown even tighter with the Dime/Vinnie camp. During this time, Pumpjack would see themselves tour with Pantera on a short run through Texas, sign a production deal with Vinnie and Dime, and record a second full-length demo, again with the brothers at the production helm.
That second demo sounds amazing – they’d been coached a bit by Dime in terms of songwriting, and the result was a 10-song masterpiece, in my humble opinion. Enjoy the “Proud to be American” full album below – pretty sure most of those 2nd demo tracks are on this.
It’s just so pro-sounding. And the songs are great with Dime adding a solo here and there. Stand-out cuts are Drinkin’ Man Do, Gonna Last, Ain’t the Way It Is, Last Time, and Drinkin’ with the Lord – all searchable on YT. Radio-friendly heavy rock. That they were unable to land a proper deal with these tunes is a total shame.