Stress Jingle/Station ID #20: Paul Leary

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Paul Leary is a guitarist, producer and the co-founder of the legendary experimental rock group Butthole Surfers.

In 1977 Leary met Gibby Haynes in San Antonio, Texas. Together they formed the Ashtray Baby Heads, who would later become Butthole Surfers after a radio announcer mistakenly took the title of an early song to be the group's name. In 1981 they signed to Jello Biafra's label Alternative Tentacles and two years later issued their debut EP Brown Reason To Live (aka Pee Pee The Sailor).

Butthole Surfers long reigned among the most twisted and depraved acts ever to bubble up from the American underground. Masters of calculated outrage, the group fused the sicko antics of shock rock with a distinct and chaotic mishmash of avant-garde, noise, punk rock and Texas psychedelia. Their bizarre live gigs - a travelling freak show combining two drummers, strobe lights, nude dancers, film clips of sex-change operations and Hayne's pyromaniacal behavior - began to win a devout cult following. Throughout the '80s they issued a steady stream of cult classics and, by the mid-90s, they were left-field Top 40 hitmakers, success perhaps their ultimate subversion of mainstream ideals.

Kurt Cobain was an early fan and mentioned the Surfers as being an important influence on the Nirvana sound, particularly Leary's guitar playing. The group's experimental approach and their smart-dumb ethos can still be heard in contemporary bands like the Liars.

Besides the Butthole Surfers albums, Leary has also produced records by Meat Puppets, Daniel Johnston, The Reverend Horton Heat and many others. In 1991 he released a solo album entitled The History of Dogs, where Leary sings about the Gulf War, Native American rights and space travel. His new band, a psychedelic blues group from Austin, is called Carny.

"Paul Leary's playing is completely innovative and breaks every rule in music theory and scales. His leads will go in any direction, but they fit so perfectly. His playing on albums like Locust Abortion Technician is very eclectic. Every song is different, weird and fucking amazing."