Let It Ride

Silver Scooter glides down a familiar path but sounds good doing it.

One of the combo's most memorable gigs was an ill-advised date in Spartanburg, South Carolina. "The sound guy was a Nazi skinhead," Hunt says. "We totally didn't belong there. When we rolled into town, went in the club, looked at the people and looked at what was going to happen--a sort of foreshadowing--we said, 'Well, we can get back in our van and hit the road and go to the next town, or we can just play and sink deep into the culture and try to survive the night.' And that's what we did."

"We ended up swapping stories with the sound guy," Garred elaborates. "He shared with us his ideology about life--how he was really passionate about the Nazi skinhead movement that was happening in the South. And he talked about his ex-wife and the warrant out for his arrest in Georgia, and how HBO made this special called Soldiers in the Race War and how he was in the documentary bringing out this cake with a swastika on it and white chocolate chips."

"In the beginning, before we had had much beer, we were fearing for our lives," Hudson confesses. "Then, when we finally committed to the fact that we were going to be there for the rest of the night, we thought, 'We'd better sink into this. Otherwise, they're going to sense our fear and we're going to be killed.' So we just threw the beers back and went with it."

After a few encounters like this one, the novelty of blind-date touring wore thin; Silver Scooter has since secured the services of a booking agent. But the band's Web page still features an open call to anyone who'll allow the boys to curl up on their couch. "Just because we have an agent doesn't mean we have places to stay," Hudson says.

The simplicity of this logic is echoed in the band's sound, which was recorded on The Other Palm Springs by Austin's Dave McNair. "We were very fortunate that Dave McNair is a producer and engineer in town with a very good reputation, and he happened to think we were the greatest thing going on at the time and still does," Garred boasts. "He recorded the album on whatever small budget we could come up with."

McNair isn't accustomed to working on indie projects; his credits include albums made by the late Stevie Ray Vaughan and Sheena Easton. Because the Scooters realized that the oozing Easton treatment would embalm their cheery, ragged numbers, a certain strain arose in their dealings with McNair. "It was good, though," Hunt says. "That kind of tension helped us to explore more avenues, even though, for the most part, we just went back to where we came from."

"I think Dave Mr. Superhero Producer learned quite a bit in that process as well," Hudson suggests. "I mean, he's just now discovering this class of music that's been going on for years that the college scene is listening to. And I think he's starting to understand, from our point of view, where a lot of those people are coming from, recording-wise, as far as really stripping down and taking away effects."

"You don't have to record an album with eight different guitar amps and five different drum kits, or record the drums first and then the guitar player comes in for three days to record the guitar parts," Hunt insists. "Dave let us record everything live--just captured what we do best live and then polished it up."

Silver Scooter's appearance at South by Southwest, which Garred paints as "an industry-fueled mess where there's no place to park and you have to wait 45 minutes to eat anywhere," was a test that the band passed with ease. "It was great," Garred allows. "It was a packed show." Just as important, the gig demonstrated that the same old thing can still stir when it's in the right hands. Silver Scooter's verse-chorus-verse formula isn't new, but the pointy heads who crowded Austin's Bates Motel found it to be as gratifying as a Happy Meal.

Silver Scooter, with Acrobat Down. 9 p.m. Sunday, April 12, 15th Street Tavern, 623 15th Street, $5, 572-0822.

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