Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends
of West Texas Music
"Indeed, Oglesby's introduction of more
than two dozen musicians who called Lubbock home should be required
reading not only for music fans, but for Lubbock residents and
anyone thinking about moving here. On these pages, music becomes
a part of Lubbock's living history."
Chris Oglesby interviews
Chris: Before we start, do you prefer to be called Doctor Skoob or Doug Haines?
Skoob: Well, Doug is my name.
Chris: Let's clear this up: Are you Doctor Skoob, or is that the name of the band? What is the difference between Doctor Skoob and Doug Haines?
Skoob: I got nicknamed Doctor Skoob by a bass player I used to play with named Jesse Dalton; Jesse plays with Green Mountain Grass now. Jesse is kind of smartass. I had this Skooby Doo T-shirt which I guess I wore more than I realized. My mom has that shirt now because I'm not allowed to wear it anymore. One day when some girl asked us what the name of our band was, Jesse looks up, points at me and says, "Well, that guy over there is Doctor Skoob and we're the Snack-tones." Since we didn't have a name yet, we became Doctor Skoob and the Snack-tones. We eventually dropped the Snack-tones part and the band became known as just Doctor Skoob. That was right around the same time I started playing with Los Sonsabitches.
Chris: You aren't originally from Lubbock; so how soon after you got to Lubbock did you start playing in bands? Go back to how you first got to Lubbock and then tell me about Los Sonsabitches.
Skoob: I came to Lubbock on accident. I was on my way
to California. I have a friend who had inherited a cabin at Lake
Tahoe; he and I were going to live out there and be ski bums.
At that time, I did not play guitar or anything do to with music.
I did own an atrocious looking green guitar, which I had bought
only because I just happened to be driving by a music store right
when I heard a radio advertisement they were having a going-out-of-business
sale, but I had never played the damn thing. I was living in
College Station at the time, where I was an Aggie for two years.
My mother grew up in College Station, so with family ties there,
A&M was the only school I had even applied to. I had taken
a lesson or two on the guitar but it just wasn't really clicking
for me at the time.
Chris: How did you get connected to David Brandon?
Skoob: He was the only guitar teacher listed in the
Lubbock Yellow Pages at the time.
Chris: Briefly describe the Recovery Room.
Skoob: They have these machines on the ceiling which
are supposed to suck out all the cigarette smoke, but they are
never on so it is just a cloud of smoke in there. It's a hotel
bar that looks like something out of a Bukowski novel;
it is dark and shady, built in the 'seventies. It has a great
jukebox. There is always someone in there playing music, and
they are not getting paid shit. It's a great place to drink in
the afternoon because it's dark, so you don't feel as bad about
it. It technically is a hotel lounge.
Chris: How does Los Sonsabitches describe its music?
Skoob: If you go to their MySpace page, it is described as "alternative meta-country." When I first started with Los Sonsabitches, they were trying to be a country band, and they called themselves Bubba Earl and the Panhandlers. Bubba Earl is primarily an artist, first and foremost. As great as Bubba is at writing songs, music was always his side-gig and he never really took it that seriously. When I first joined them, we shot around some other names, like The Drunken Assholes; Faces for Radio was another good one. When someone came up with Los Sonsabitches, I wanted to go with that because, in a lot of ways, it was really the least offensive one. Another suggestion was I Chingaderos, which Bubba had used before but had gotten in trouble with the Lubbock Avalanche Journal because they finally figured out what it meant after they already had been printing promotions for his shows. For awhile back then, we would show up for gigs and play under a different name every time, like the Idalou All-Stars, the Janet Reno Project, or Marty McFly and the Flux Capacitors. We played Einstein's Coffee a lot back then, around 1996-97.
Chris: Did you have good crowds and were you making any money at it, or were you just doing it to get drunk and laid? What was keeping you interested in being in the band?
Skoob: We didn't make any money at all. We were really
just starting out. For me, I had gotten completely absorbed in
music, and I wanted to play all the time. I got pretty good at
lead guitar but I got to the point where I knew that I wasn't
going to get any better at lead. Bubba always leaves Lubbock
in the summers, and he took off about this time. I did one or
two more gigs where I fronted the band and we used some different
guys. That's when I put the Snack-tones together but that band
was not together very long because there were two young kids
in the band, nineteen years old, and neither made their grades
so they both had to go back to their hometowns. While I was in
school, I spent very little time on school work; I'd go to class
everyday, take really good notes, read the notes right before
the test, and I slid through like that. I was spending all my
time practicing and writing music. But I had really never run
a band yet. Jesse, the bass player who named me Skoob, really
ran the Snack-tones, although we did do some of my original songs.
And I had played with Bubba and tried to use his band while he
was out of town; there were some great moments but there were
also some train wrecks. So I was getting my first taste of being
in a band and all that.
Chris: Was your plan to start making it now as a professional musician? Recording more? What were you going to do in Lubbock?
Skoob: I don't think I had much of a plan still. That
same first week, I picked up a job from Jason
Courtney, who was the brewmaster at Hub
City Brewery; he and his wife Sarah
owned the home brew supply store across the street. They asked
me if I know how to use a scale and I said yeah, so I was hired.
We'd get maybe two customers a day, and half the time one of
those was trying to walk into the barber shop next door or people
who were just curious. All the customers who actually did homebrew
knew exactly what they wanted so really all I had to do was work
the register and weigh out hops, one of the easiest best jobs
I've ever had. I did that until they sold the store.
Chris: Okay, so tell me, how was this helping your career?
Skoob: This helped my career because Fletcher Murchison, the mandolin player, walked by when we were doing this. He was going in to see Sgt. Steve Monday. That was the only time I broke character. I ran over and grabbed him and told him I was starting a new band and would he be interested in playing with us?
Chris: Yeah, the guy in the monkey suit
Skoob: Well, Fletcher and I already knew each other.
Fletch had tried out for Doctor Skoob and the Snack-tones on
guitar but the problem with Fletch was that I was the lead guitar
and he's far better than I was, so I couldn't let him in the
band at that time. Actually, another guy named Brian
Hamilton (everybody calls him Bone, like hambone)
tried out for the Snack-tones and didn't get it for the same
reason, and he's now the amazing guitar player in a band called
which is pretty big on the jam band circuit. Bone grew up with
Jesse, the guy who named me Skoob. I could do an entire interview
about great players who tried out to be in my bands. But getting
Fletcher in the band was the start of putting together Doctor Skoob and the Acoustic Groove.
Chris: That's interesting, because I frequently hear people say that to survive playing music in Lubbock you have to play cover songs because that is all anybody wants to hear but then the bands that end up being really popular are the bands with the balls to play their original music.
Skoob: Yes, you're right. It is tough, but like I've told Andy Eppler, you just gotta keep doing it. Andy is good; he's holding true. It's like giving a kid medicine; the audience may not want it so you have to sweeten it up so they'll like your stuff. You react to the crowd and play off their emotions, sense what they're into and take the show more that direction; interact with the audience. We've done as well with teenagers as with much older crowds, y'know people older than me.
Chris: So you developed a good crowd, earned the respect of your musician peers, things seemed to be going fairly well for you in Lubbock. I may be jumping ahead here but I'd like to know how you made the decision to become another Lubbock musician in Austin?
Skoob: By that point, I was already fully committed
to music. There was nothing else I could do, or at least nothing
else I was that good at. I was making a living at it, not a great
one but I was making enough money to survive just playing music.
Eventually, I wanted to be on the road and tour. I felt that
if I kept playing my original music in Lubbock, then everybody
was going to get sick of me. I wanted to get on the road and
get the songs out there because nobody is going to hear them
unless I play them. I had gone on a four or five week tour with
Los Sonsabitches up through the Pacific Northwest and back down
the coast; we played about twenty gigs. And my band hit Taos
and Houston and Austin. We came down to Austin fairly regularly.
I knew we played well to diverse crowds because we had always
done well every place we played, so I really wanted to be on
Chris: I've noticed that since you've been in Austin, you have played in Lubbock several times. In fact, I believe you're going back to Lubbock for another gig tomorrow. I don't mean this facetiously but do you ever play in Austin, now that you're here?
Skoob: When I got down here, I don't think I realized
how burnt out I was. I was playing easily two hundred and twenty
shows a year for the past three or four years.
Chris: Shad is moving to Austin; so Lubbock is losing another good guitar player to Austin, huh?
Skoob: Shad, a/k/a Kid Shadow was a fifteen year old
phenom. When he was a kid he would play on stage with people
like Jr. Medlow and the Texas
Texas Belairs wanted to take him on tour when he was
only fifteen but his mom wanted no part of her child traveling
the country with the Mings
brothers. But he was that good then. He grew up and played in
Orange County and a couple of other bands. He moved to a town
in Illinois near Chicago where he got a job working for Washburn
Guitars. He eventually came back to Lubbock, where I met him
Bee, who played drums for me and Los Sonsabitches, and
now he plays for Cellus and the Loose Grip. Mike introduced Shad
to Bubba because they needed a guitar player. Shad have never
seen me play but apparently had been talking shit about me, saying
Doctor Skoob is over-rated. When we met, we got along much to
Shad's surprise. Later, he came and saw us play and he actually
liked the show. There came a time when I needed a bass player
at the last minute and Mike suggested Shadow. I asked if he could
even play bass, and Mike said, "Dude, Shad can play anything."
As great a lead guitar player he is, Shad is probably the best
bass player I have ever worked with, and I have played with some
really top-notch bass players. Shad has a great ear and knows
when to play and when not to.
Skoob: It varies. It is always pretty much the same songs but always different versions and takes on them depending on who I have playing with me that weekend. Regarding music and lyrics, it's both; how the music makes the lyrics work. A lot of the lyrics to my songs are kind of sad but playing in bars, I learned early on, you can only get away with playing so many sad songs before you lose the audience. The lyrics may be sad or pissed off but we present them in funky upbeat versions, to make it more listenable. When somebody asks me to describe our show, I stumble because I don't really give it much forethought. I have absolutely no idea what genre we are but I call it Cosmic Americana; we are probably a folk-rock band at heart. I don't think about what message I am trying to convey; I just write the songs as they come to me without really thinking about what anyone should get from it. Usually the presentation is just how we feel that night. Its just music; I try not to overcomplicate what it means.
Chris: Do you prefer people to be dancing and not listening to the lyrics or do you prefer that they stay seated and listen to the words?
Skoob: I prefer to see people get up and dance, then you know they are having a good time and that I've done my job as an entertainer. Cary Swinney has said that he likes my music but he can't understand the lyrics; that's cool with me. That's why people are supposed to buy the albums, because in a crowded bar, odds are that you're not going to be able to understand me.
Chris: Speaking of lyrics, I wanted to ask you about one song in particular which I really like on your Gringo Sol record: "Vegan Interior." Tell me about the origins of that song and where the title came from?
Skoob: That is a perfect example of a rare song where
I actually was trying to say something rather than just tell
a story. It's about making fun of the pseudo-hippie culture that
you see now, because I was part of that culture. I had dreadlocks
at one time, and I went through that phase. I was kind of coming
out of that phase around the time of my second move back to Lubbock.
The story about where the title came from is a funny story. I
was traveling on Interstate 94 going from Chicago to my sister's
house in Milwaukee. A friend of mine who was with me had noticed
a car which had passed us several times which had a bumper sticker
that says "Go Vegan." They all had dreadlocks, and
were all hippied out. I said, "So what?" And he told
me to look at the interior of their car and it was all leather.
That's where the name "Vegan Interior" came from.
Chris: I lived in northern California for awhile and a lot of those people think Jerry Garcia is Jesus Christ and they are worse than Baptists, in that if you don't dress the right way and know the correct canon of the Gospel of Jerry, then you are an ignorant, unwashed outcast. To me, they are naive hypocrites because it is obvious they don't get a word Jerry Garcia was saying. No wonder he was a heroin addict and put himself into a junk food coma for several years. Jerry had a this horde of worshippers who weren't even hearing a word he was telling them, which is to live their own life and not follow the standards of society or some charismatic leader.
Skoob: That is exactly what "Vegan Interior" is about. The first line is "So you say you want to be a hippie..." and the whole song is calling these people out on their hypocritical shit; like these tour kids who drive across the country for a show in their range rovers and SUVs, or they preach to you about saving the environment while handing out thousands of paper fliers which end up in the trash.
Chris: When you're performing that song, is it popular with those kids?
Skoob: Actually, I lost the hippie crowd in Lubbock over that song. It has a reggae beat, and they liked it at first but pretty soon they caught on and they all thought I was Judas. The deejay who took over my Electric Kool-Aid show at KTXT played the song and afterwards said, "Wow, that was kind of harsh," and as far as I know they never played us again.
Chris: Can you sum up how your experiences in Lubbock had affected you as a musician?
Skoob: Straight up, I would not be a musician if I
had never come to Lubbock. Lubbock is one of those towns where
the artsy musicians and cool kids all find each other somehow.
It's always been like that, even back to the days of Buddy Holly or later Joe
Ely. You just end up meeting other people who love music
and can play. Lubbock is small enough that coincidences inevitably
lead you to meeting other people who share your love of music.
My whole life and career have been by accident. I never had a
plan, I just wound up there. Same with the way I write my songs,
I don't have a plan when I write them but they eventually evolve
into something after working them out with other musicians.
Doctor Skoob at virtualuubock.com party 2/14/08
Return to Interviews
|home||Interviews||Stories||video||Did ya' know?||
2007 - 2008
All rights reserved