"It did kind of scare me at first," DeLaughter concedes. "But it seems to me that most people have taken it as a song and haven't seen it as just quirky, like I thought they would. To me, it's a great pop song that translates really well on the radio. But we have other songs, too, and when people hear them, I think they recognize what we're all about."

Certainly listeners in Dallas have picked up on Tripping Daisy's vibe. The act deserves much of the credit for turning a scene that once seemed like nothing more than a shadow of Austin's into something that looks a lot like an industry hotbed. Although his group seems ready to graduate to the big time, DeLaughter remains an energetic promoter of all things Dallas. "We've had six bands signed in the last year and a half," he notes, "and two of them--us and the Toadies--are doing really well. The Reverend Horton Heat is from Dallas, and so are the Nixons, and Hagfish and Brutal Juice. And the Deep Blue Something was just signed by Interscope, and even though they're not my cup of tea, they're a band that's found an audience.

"To me, Dallas has the most versatile scene in America, and one of the reasons is because all of the bands are completely different from each other. I don't know why or how that happened, but it happened. And now, on Dallas radio, which used to only play bands from other cities, other states, they're playing mostly Dallas bands. And a couple of weeks ago I put together this show there that had us, the Reverend, the Toadies, Funland, UFOFU and this band from Seattle, Green Apple Quick Step, and 8,000 people came. So I think it's really starting to happen now."

Of course, the members of Tripping Daisy aren't content merely to reign as kings of their hometown. Since early in its existence, the outfit has toured tirelessly, building a legion of followers throughout the South and Southwest. According to DeLaughter, roadwork helps keep the players from becoming too wrapped up in their sudden rise in fortune. "We would wilt and blow away if we weren't able to tour," DeLaughter says. "And even though the record's doing fine, I'm more focused on the live thing, because that's in our control. It's something we deal with seven days a week, whereas all the other stuff is on the outside of the bubble. And it doesn't really leak in unless I hear it from the outside. People will say, `Hey, you guys are doing this on the modern-rock chart,' and I'm like, `Okay,' and then they'll go, `You're doing this on the Heatseekers chart,' and I say, `All right, well, I'm late for a sound check. Gotta go.'"

So the Tripping Daisy bus rolls on, headed for nowhere and everywhere at the same time. But DeLaughter doesn't spend the hours between gigs carefully considering what words he'll use to fill future songs. When it comes time to compose, he just dips into his memory, scoops out an image or two (say, H.R. Pufnstuf and child molestation) and starts running with it. "Whatever comes off the top of my head does the trick," he says as he watches the yellow lines of an interstate disappear behind him. "To me, it makes all kinds of sense. But somebody else may think, `What the fuck is he talking about?'"

Tripping Daisy, with Green Apple Quick Step and UFOFU. 8 p.m. Wednesday, August 23, Fox Theatre, 1135 13th Street, Boulder, $9, 830-

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