When I first heard Chavez, I didn’t think that ten years later, I’d be a complete obsessive about the band. Their pedigree (Wider, Live Skull, et. al.) didn’t really interest me, and well, I thought there were better, more interesting bands to freak out about in ’95. Like, say, The Muffs? The Mummies? Supercharger? Blues Explosion? Oblivians? Jawbox? Chisel? Seam? Karl Hendricks Trio? Guitar Wolf? Polvo? Rocket from the Crypt? Teengenerate? I don’t know, amidst those bands Chavez just seemed too obvious to me. I remember getting a copy of Gone Glimmering in the mail courtesy of Matador and not being too terribly enthused with it. Then there was the Pentagram Ring EP. Again, didn’t stop what I was doing to fuss with it.
Then Ride The Fader arrived in that lovely, yet clanky, pasteboard digipak. I remember exactly where I was when "Top Pocket Man" came on. I was sitting in the living room of my shitbox house in north Athens having just gotten home from work and getting ready to do some more writing for the 8th issue of Chunklet. Even on my lousy stereo, I could tell I was about ready to start a love affair with Ride The Fader for the remainder of 1996. And boy, did I ever. Thankfully, I went back and studied the first two releases in more detail and realized how wrong I was about this band.
Unfortunately, I never have had the opportunity to see Chavez. I remember they played the Red Light Cafe in Atlanta the summer I was on tour with Servotron and as is my luck, that was the only chance I had to see them. That next year, my buddy Damon Che did an whole European tour with them filling in on bass. And as was customary for the time, I got a mix tape from Damon upon returning from tour. The a-side were demos for the next Thee Speaking Canaries album and the b-side had the then unreleased Don Caballero 7" that Albini recorded and it ended with a bunch of choice recordings of Damon with Chavez.
I’m hoping that if the band finds out that I’m posting those recordings they’re cool with it because I still love listening to it even 8 years later. As a special bonus, there’s a live recording of "Ever Overpsyched" on the live stuff which (if we’re to believe what the band says) they never played to an audience before.
I also feel it necessary to mention that the entire Chavez ouvre has been reissued on a massive 3-disk set courtesy of Matador being entitled Better Days Will Haunt You. BDWHY includes everything and the kitchen sink, and thank God for that. As a completitst, I already had all of this, but as any Chavez fan will tell you, it’s all essential. One of the more obscure tracks was from the "Schoolhouse Rocks!" compilation with a majestic take on "Little Twelvetoes" which I include just "cuz". Aquarius Records led with a great Chavez review this week which I strongly urge reading if you’ve never heard of the band.
Word has it that there’s going to be a smattering of live shows in December on the two coasts which, fittingly, I will again miss because of a prior obligation. Typical of my luck. Hey, does anybody know where I can get a Chavez t-shirt?
Chavez – Live in Europe ’97
Chavez – Live in Europe ’97 pt 2