Archive for April, 2014


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Most Messed Up AMA

Here and Now



The new @Old97s record makes me want to drink excessively, have lots of sex and play loud rock and roll… even more than normal. -@hayescarll

This new @Old97s album is hammered. And gettin’ handsy. #SmartLyricsAboutDumbDrunks -@ThumpAndGrowl

The @Old97s “Most Messed Up” is a brilliantly boozy, masterful mess of rock. It’s like a greatest hits album of all-new music. -@cj_keith

New @Old97s is surf, garage, jangle, booze, sex, longing & regret–all on one very rockin’ record. I know I’m gonna wear out the LP. -@MsSemicolon



Win an autographed limited edition vinyl version of Most Messed Up. Details >


The most excellent thing about the internet is that every lead guitar player can write a review of his own album and people can actually be duped into reading it. Here is my song-by-song, narcissistic, self-absorbed stab at reviewing Most Messed Up, complete with a guitar and amp played.

Most Messed Up Commentary pt 1

– Ken Bethea, Stage Right


Longer Than You’ve Been Alive

The thesis statement of our album, this is simply my favorite song Rhett has written in years. I’m not going to spend that much time on it as I may write a whole blog just on this one song at some point. I will say this:

“And I might butt heads with the guys in my band
But I never once went to work for the man”

Makes me snicker every time.

Gretsch Tennessee Rose > Matchless Chieftain blended with a 50’s era Gibson Les Paul amp

Give It Time

My goal with this song was to get a buzz-saw guitar sound. So I played my guitar part more or less exactly the same with different amps and guitars. I went into this album with the goal of doing that a bit more than I have on the other Salim-era albums, but wound up only doing it here.

Guitar 1 – Black Telecaster > Matchless Chieftain blended with a 50’s era Gibson Les Paul amp

Guitar 2 – Tobacco Telecaster > Fender Princeton

Let’s Get Drunk and Get It On

When we were first working on this song in May, we were playing fairly straight shuffle-country. Salim suggested we switch it up a bit like something off of London Calling. I was channeling Jimmy Jazz and the song really began to gel.

On the verse after the first chorus, Rhett sings about a cheap motel on the interstate. I step on a pedal on that verse called The Wiggler which makes my guitar sound like a Baldwin Fun Machine Keyboard. I love the idea of the couple in the song drinking at the bar and listening to lounge music.
The opening lyric “Your eyes are the color of the Earth as seen from outer space” was a possible album title. A little unwieldy and pretentious, but still a great way to start a song.

Black Telecaster > Matchless Chieftain blended with a 50’s era Gibson Les Paul amp

This Is The Ballad

“This is the ballad of try’n to grow flowers
so life will seem like it has meaning and stuff.
Finding out all of those beautiful flowers
will never be anywhere close to enough.”

For you songwriters sitting at home, that’s how it’s done in the big leagues. 22 syllables followed by 22 syllables. Done in 6/8, “duple” time. And sad without sounding sad. Well played, Miller.

This was the last song to be included from the pre-production sessions, but from the moment the band played it, it was a no-brainer. Love it.

Guitar 1 – Black Telecaster > Matchless Chieftain blended with a 50’s era Gibson Les Paul amp
Guitar 2 – Tobacco Telecaster > Fender Princeton

Wheels Off

In the 80’s, students could get an emergency loan at the University of Texas for $100. You had 1 month to pay them back $101. In the Spring of 1985 I spent $75 of my loan money on a 1960’s Harmony Rocket at a Pawn Shop on Guadalupe. For years it was my only guitar, but by the time the 97’s started, its wiring was messed up and it found its way to my attic. A year ago I got the wiring fixed and for the first time every, the old Harmony gets a starring role in one of our songs 🙂

Hook ’em.

Harmony Rocket > Not sure on the amp. Probably my Matchless.


We were in Nashville a couple of years ago and Rhett disappeared for the day to write this song with some old man. I really don’t know anything else about it, but in a way, that old guy became Rhett’s muse for the album. He came back laughing and swearing and sang this song over and over in the van. It was obviously going to be a wicked, Pogues-ey, barn burner for the band.

There’s a big solo, which I pretty much spend the last 5 or 6 seconds of it just trying to get out of it without getting bucked off. Fun.

Black Telecaster > Matchless Chieftain blended with a 50’s era Gibson Les Paul amp

I’ll do the second half the album next week. See you then……………

Curious as to why the decision to go to the “no holds barred” approach to songwriting is coming about now. Does it have anything to do with aging and wondering how long you’ll continue to do this at such a speed? With wanting to “get it out of your system” or “do it to say you did it” so to speak? -Chase

MURRY: The songs are autobiographical and honest, and so they get the head-on treatment both in the writing and the playing. We tend to sound like this every night anyway, so it’s nothing new to our ears, at least.

What’s your favorite song to play from this record? -Daniel

KEN: “Guadalajara.” Surf guitar. I hope it moves into the set list. We have’t played it live yet.

MURRY: So far it’s been between Intervention and Nashville… once we get going, I can’t wait to get into “Guadalajara” and “Most Messed Up” and a heavy live version of “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive.”

What’s the best part about making a record, and on the flip side, what the most messed up thing about making a record? – Sarah Chastain Siener

MURRY: The best is making a song better than it was, and hearing a new song back for the first time ever, and that first moment when you realize what the “sound” of the record is going to be. And I have to say… the period between finishing an album, but before it comes out, is probably my favorite period—it’s just so full of hope and potential, like the days leading up to Christmas.

KEN: Getting together with everyone in one place is fun. We had a great time in both El Paso and Woodstock when we were working on Too Far. Every night after the session we watched this 8-hour Beatles documentary.

Worst part of making records by far for me is that most of my real work takes place on the back end, after they are done. I usually feel out of place when I’m actually recording with the guys.

Did you guys let Ken sing lead again?? – Ari Kirsch

MURRY: Not this time. Ken has some real nuggets though, that hopefully we’ll all hear over time. On this one, since it was Rhett singing about Rhett, we all wanted him to have a longer arc to get it all out. That’s why I show up only once this time around.

How many f-bombs are dropped on the album? -@zuanne

MURRY: Like, a billion?

Are you going to release any “clean” or “bleeped” versions of songs with naughty words so they can get radio play? If not, why not? -Kenster999

MURRY: There is a clean version that the radio stations got. The words don’t bleep, they just drop out. I haven’t heard one of those yet—will be weird to hear it like that.

Who decides where y’all go on tour? -Sandi Jo Kennedy

MURRY: We have a booking agent that knows where we like to go and where we don’t as much, which makes him a genius. And yes, we tell him what works and what doesn’t, but he has great ideas, too, and we usually try just about every one at least once.

Does touring get easier or harder as the years go by? How do you pass the time while touring now as opposed to in the past? Does social media / technology make traveling more tolerable? -Julie Strehle

MURRY: I LOVE TOURING. I miss my family and all that, but I love it. Computer time is my favorite way of passing the many hours of waiting. Lots of music listening. The other guys like video and board games.

KEN: I still like touring. It’s especially better when we are in a bus, which is about half of the tours. We watch movies together (typical boy stuff, Lebowski, Office Space, Idiocracy, Dazed and Confused, Jackass and yes we have synched up Dark Side with the Wizard of Oz), play board games (Power Grid is the all time favorite—Google it), and just eating breakfast are all things I like doing with the guys. My Facebook posts go from about one a week to daily on tour just because of boredom. We used to play tons of XBOX and Playstation. For years we had either a Madden or FIFA tournament pretty much every night. But that was when Noah, our old merch guy (East Side Pies in Austin—Google it) worked for us. Now it’s this and that. We had a huge stint about two years ago with Marvel vs. Capcom.

What’s your favorite town to perform in?

KEN: The Big Apple. I grew up on a dead-end oil road in a forest in East Texas. The idea of just visting New York City, much less playing a big sold-out show there, was pretty far fetched. It still gives me a feeling of accomplishment every time we play there.

Will there be any songs that you haven’t played in a while that you will be playing on the new tour? -Wil Watkins

MURRY: Can’t say, but there usually is. Don’t know which ones yet… they all get some time eventually.

KEN: There aren’t too many songs that don’t get touched on every tour at least a time or two. I have a few songs I’d like to get back into playing. “Going, Going, Gone,” “Marquita/Bright Spark” “The Easy Way,” “Bird in a Cage” and “Color of a Lonely Heart is Blue” are all fun songs for me to play on guitar.

What’s the biggest crap hole you ever played, and why? -@Hotrodrjr

MURRY: There was a show we did early on in Boston where we were like number four on a five-band punk rock bill. We played in the middle of the night, and I had the flu real bad. THAT was a total shithole, but we’ve played a few dozen shitholes, mostly early on.

KEN: Hmmmmmmmmmm… We’ve played our fair share. One of the worst gigs I remember was us and Slobberbone in about 1999 in Albany, New York at some place that was upstairs a narrow hallway. We were on Elektra at the time and there were some reps in the club putting up balloons, streamers and posters in order to get the local radio station to play our song (probably “Murder”). The show was a complete stiffer. Ten people showed, at best. I remember looking at a security guard who had been hired to keep the screaming throngs off of the stage was sitting in a chair in front of me with his hands over his ears and staring at the floor. To top it all off some local waitresses got on the bus that night. One of them was blown away that we had toured with Third Eye Blind and kept going on and on about how cool that must have been. Just a looooong night.

I’d like the backstory to Rhett’s once missing, now gold tooth. -Wende from KS

MURRY: He busted his teeth out on the fork of a four-wheeler during his teenage years. It was pretty gnarly, as the kids say…

How did Holy Cross get left off of TFTC? It’s the most underrated 97′s song. -Nicolai Dunger

MURRY: It’s a great song all right. Not sure why—it might have just been outnumbered by all the other good songs, but I don’t remember…

Does anyone have a dog, and if so, what kind? -Sandy Melhorn

MURRY: I have a wired-haired dachsund named Buck. He’s brown and very cute.
KEN: We have three cats and a few fish.

You guys remember Studio D? Saw lots of bands there. -Skip McCraw

MURRY: Frank Campagna! I just talked about Studio D in a recent interview. I saw my first real hardcore show there August 6, 1982. I had just turned 18. Dead Kennedys, MDC, Stickmen with Rayguns, Butthole Surfers as a three-piece, and the Hugh Beaumont Experience. DK’s went on about 2:30 in the morning, and I didn’t get back to my parents’ house until almost 6am, because I had to drive over an hour to get back home. I was in a serious bunch of trouble for that, but it was one of those life-changing nights that was so worth it.

The upcoming show at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas is going to be the official release part for Most Messed Up!


The new album will be available for sale at the show — 10 days before the public release date!
There will also be new, never-before-seen merch. Shirts! Buttons! Stickers! Koozies! Edible underwear!*

The fantastic lineup includes:

Black Joe Lewis

The Mighty Slobberbone

Madison King

Join us for a night you won’t remember.

*This is probably a lie.

If you want to take advantage of the cool pre-order deals that include t-shirts and/or posters in the bundle, get your order in by Tuesday! After that you can still pre-order a CD or LP but no more bundle opportunities.



All pre-orders include:
– Instant free download of the unreleased track “Career Opportunities”
– Early digital MP3 download of the album on Friday, April 25

The Most Messed Up t-shirt is a limited edition unisex shirt that will ONLY be available via these bundles.

The poster is the first in a series of three from the upcoming tour, a limited edition lithograph revealed here for the first time:

MMU Tour Alien Poster