Q&A: Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers - Rolling Stone
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Q&A: Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers

Butthole Surfers lead singer talks about life and their latest album ‘Electriclarryland’

Gibby Haynes, Butthole Surfers

Gibby HAYNES and BUTTHOLE SURFERS; Gibby Haynes performing live on stage, 1993

Ebet Roberts/Redferns/Getty

GIBBY HAYNES, the hedonistic Texan and ranting frontman for the noisy and cheerfully perverse Butthole Surfers, has made an art of being a drunken and disorderly redneck prone to onstage antics such as breaking bottles on his head and firing a shotgun above his audience. The Buttholes, pioneers of the indie-rock underground who have been pushing the boundaries of good taste since 1981, bring us a new album, the right tasty Electriclarryland.

What’s the best rumor about yourself that you’ve ever heard?
Shit. Mm . . . that I was a bad fuck! [Roars with laughter] Of course, only a rumor [laughs]. 

What albums do you think everyone should own?
Let’s see. Probably Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors and Surgical Penis Clinic’s first record.

That runs the whole spectrum of music. What is something you would never do?
Oh, man. I’ve done so much weird shit that the mind just goes! [Laughs] I’d never eat an entire scab. Although it’s OK to eat half a scab.

Why did you have to change the new album’s name from Oklahoma! to ElectriclarrylandI think Rodgers and Hammerstein were really on our shit about it. I don’t know what the deal was; they were just thinking there was some kind of conflict. I think Kenny G could have called his record Oklahoma! but not the Butthole Surfers.

Tell me how you first met Johnny Depp, who is a member of your side project P.
I met him at a Halloween party in Austin [Texas].

What were you dressed as?
Gibby Haynes. I had puffy cheeks and a piglike nose, and I was drunk! So this guy comes up to me and goes, “Hey, man, you’re Gibby, right? Man, ‘Jesus Built My Hotrod’ is one of my favorite songs.” I was like, “Oh.” I was doing that I’m really-cool kind of thing. I glance over, and I go, “Hey, aren’t you . . . ?” And he says, “Yeah.”

Give me an NC-17-rated story about Ministry’s Al Jourgensen.
One time we spent a good eight hours doing nothing but making up fake headlines concerning the whereabouts, the existence, the origins, the history, the future of clear spiders — CLEAR SPIDERS FOUND IN THE SCALP OF AN OLD LADY! — for eight hours. When we finally came out of it, we were just dying laughing. I’ve had some good times with that guy.

True or false: You were a business major in college.
Yeah. Accounting and economics.

You were a basketball player, too, right?
Yes, I was captain of the basketball team. And I was president of a fraternity. It was kind of done as a joke, but it was a beautiful thing. I probably made the power move to be president because the presidency came with a cannon operated by real shotgun shells, and I was into this exploding thing. I’d fire it off at, like, 4 in the morning and wake up the entire campus.

When was the last time you shot some hoops?
I was always a real good shot. I may still have records in high school, but I made, like, 80 percent free throws and 50, 60 percent field goals and . . . what was the question? I was bragging. Oh, when was the last time I shot hoops. Oh! Lollapalooza II, the one Ministry played on. And Pearl Jam. Those guys in Pearl Jam were playing basketball at a gym near the dressing room, and I was like [slurs], “Hey! Gimme the balll!” And I remember I just totally fell flat on my face, and these guys were looking at me, going, “Oh, God.” I was just so pitiful.

Give me a weird fan encounter.
Oh. Oh. Oh. Besides the obvious? There have been some real tragedies. Um. Oh! I know a good one. I met Ellen Barkin after the Academy Awards a couple years ago. She found out I was in the Butthole Surfers, and she said that when people asked her 3-year-old son what his favorite group was, he’d say it was the Butthole Surfers, imitating his mother. It was really funny because she had on kind of a metal chain-mail gold dress. I was like, “Helen” — I was calling her Helen — I said, “Helen, that is such a beautiful dress. My mom used to have a purse like that.” So I’m facing her, and she’s sitting down, and she lifts up the front of her dress and goes, “Yeah, it’s neat material.” So there’s this light that came from over my shoulder and went right smack dab onto her bare crotch. I go, “Helen, man, I fully saw your vagina.” [Barkin’s publicist counters that Barkin was, in fact, wearing underpants.]

And how did she react?
Oh, she laughed. She said, “I hate that word.”

What’s the first rock show you ever saw? Do you remember?
Shit, yeah. It was John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu Orchestra, then Dr. John, then the Allman Brothers, just after Eat a Peach came out. I saw a bunch of cool shit, man. I saw Elton John when he just rocked butt, when it was really street, hip people going to see Elton John. But the McLaughlin show was pretty amazing because it got out at 3:30 in the morning. You know how they don’t let ’em go past 11 nowadays? I came out of that place, and there my father was, waiting to drive me home. My dad waited out there for three and a half hours.

Was he really mad?
No. No! He’s, like, the nicest guy in the world.

What’s the best advice your dad ever gave you?
Oh, boy. [Chuckles] He stressed a lot over the years to just be yourself. That actually had a lot of effect on me.

In This Article: Butthole Surfers, Coverwall

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