Friday, July 25, 2003

My band has been fortunate to have a notable celebrity help us out with our new biography (

At first, I was shocked when TDS asked me to be their official biographer. How could I capture the brilliance? How could I capture all of that rich history? How could I ever pretend to describe the cathartic experience of seeing them on a good night? Like when Matt goes flying around the room on one of his extended tap-on guitar solos? Or when Scott leaps over the drum set to get to the mic for his signature tune, “Lick My Chaps”? Ah, good times, good times.

Well, down to brass tacks. TDS was formed in 1977 in Leeds, England by the mysterious Jimmie Lee Slade. Legend has it that the extraordinary Leeds band the Mekons named one of their early songs after Slade’s band, but the reality, according to those in the know, is that the Mekons never even heard of Jimmie Lee Slade, given that he performed exclusively in his bedroom for his beloved pet rock, Jive Jake. If Slade were still alive today, he would certainly explain that the whole “Trouble Down South” situation between himself and the Mekons is just a coincidence. Unfortunately, however, Slade accidentally electrocuted himself during an inept attempt at auto-erotic asphyxiation in the bathroom of a Journey concert in 1980. Some conspiracy mongers have attempted to prove that Slade intentionally did himself in during the third encore of “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” but all empirical evidence refutes the notion.

Three hours before he died, TDS released its first single, “(Do The) Emu,” a collaboration between Slade, Doug Ewe, and a handful of very angry 8-year-olds. A group of bands playing emu-core music briefly sprang up in the wake of the single, but, sadly, all of them were backing Elton John within the year. Ewe and the former 8-year-olds (by this point 13) kept the TDS name alive with the 1985 album Squeegee, but due to the dubious ontological claims of the indie label which released it, the album currently only exists in the minds of rock journalists.

Ewe met his own tragic end in 1988 when he attempted to push the World’s Largest Hairdresser into a swimming pool after an overdose of heroin, barbiturates, nutmeg, and banana peels during a recording session with Phil Spector.

The remaining members of the band (now in their mid to late teens) met and decided to continue as a band with the venerable TDS name, but as a hardcore punk band, figuring that their three-letter acronym would give them the edge over any hardcore bands with only two letters in their acronym. Then tragedy struck again in the form of college.

It took the young TDSers well into their late 20s and early 30s to shake off the existential ennui that had taken hold of their souls and forced them to waste their youths in a boozy, overeducated haze. They decided that the way to rock & roll stardom would be to get day jobs, spouses (except for one notable holdout), mortgages, and debt.

And these are TDSers I admire so much today. They have taken public personas carefully conceived to drive their fans into buying frenzies whenever they get around to releasing bobbing-head dolls. They have constantly challenged themselves with greatness while playing happy hour slots during which the bartender and the patrons shush them. They have written their names across the sky, but erased them again quickly so as to avoid a citation from the local police. Trouble Down South is:

Matt Baab, the Violent One. As the other members of the band learned, Matt is quick to whip out his blade and cut the other musicians whenever they make mistakes.

Hayden Childs, the Mildly Retarded One. We’re all proud of Hayden for learning to change his own adult diapers and for being able to grasp foreign policy a bit better than the current President.

Scott Wiedeman, the Gassy One. Ah, many times have I delighted at one of Scott’s onstage bon mots, all punctuated by a well-timed gust of wind.

Julie Wood, the Acerbic One. Who hasn’t received a tongue-lashing from this one? You had just better watch your step around her!

All I can say is that I am proud to be associated with such a wonderful group of people.

-Gore Vidal


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Cary, NC, United States
reachable at firstname lastname (all run together) at gmail dot com

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