"When the dust settles and the smoke clears, it still seems pretty dusty and smoky.”
The Loco Gringos story began in 1985 when Tom Foote ( a.k.a. Pepe Lopez) decided to start a band with his brother, drummer Don Foote( a.k.a. Pablo Cruz)of Dallas proto- punkers the Devices and longtime friend, bassist Grant Sheffield (a.k.a. Pancho Cuervo). Since none of them wanted to be front man, the duties fell to the tall, ruggedly handsome and naturally charismatic Tom. After all, it was his idea. During a couple of all-night binges Tom and Grant came up with the core of what would be the Loco Gringos ideology and repertoire. They penned two of the band’s best known songs: “Nurture My Pig”, and “Fruit Fly”. They had a lot of ideas those nights, but the main idea remained- “ROCK THE KIDS !”
The band started playing gigs and quickly developed their distinctive style, a wry, sexual, lurching cow-punk with underpinnings of island and latin grooves, along with a growing family of devoted fans. There were beers and smokes to bum, girls to boink and sofas to sleep on. The Locos and their pad, “Gringo Manor”, were hosts to the never-ending party.
Along the way, the Loco Gringos seemed to gather a lot of “stuff”. Most were pieces of the overall “Mexican Desert” theme; cow skulls, cactus, sombreros. Others became Loco Gringo icons; the short bus painted like a Mexican flag, the Day of the Dead-themed and tequila bottle- mohawked Hearse (which received a haircut in a drive-by shooting ), corn dogs(deep-fried both on and off stage), “FUCK YOU, WE’RE FROM TEXAS” T-shirts, the Posada “Don Juan” painting , the burning burro. “Fuck You” shirts and corn dog sales brought in even more money than the paternal issue credit cards courtesy of the seemingly ever-present and endless gaggle of nubile girlies. Schaeffer was the beer of choice, although anything other than Coors or brands containing the words “Light” or “Lite”, would do.
Early in 1988 Pancho left the band, but would return later as second guitarist. In his stead came bassist Mark “Crash” Chambers (a.k.a. Paco T. Blanco) fresh from the Cookin’ Ones, and so began the era of the band’s trademark dreadlocks. The band played a lot and drank even more. Pepe had a propensity to go missing in action, foregoing shows, rehearsals and interviews on numerous occasions. Nevertheless, the band remained an in-demand mainstay of the burgeoning Deep Ellum scene and even attracted the attention of Capitol Records reps at one point in time (although the reps’ expense accounts were probably heavily scrutinized by their higher-ups back in Hollywood). The band was more than capable of churning out an ass-kicking set of rock and roll, but with seeming indifference, rarely did. The usual Gringos show more closely resembled a haphazard ritual piece of performance art staged in the red-light district of a bordertown whose well had been spiked. It was a tragi-comic rock and roll circus that would have left Bukowski and Burroughs grinning and Springsteen and Huey Lewis slack-jawed blushing. The party was at its peak.
On Saturday, June 16th, 1990 the party came to a grinding halt with the untimely passing of front man Tom Foote, which brings us to the record. The Loco Gringos were a live band, a lifestyle, a carnival of the senses that could never be fully appreciated in the context of a studio recording and as such this disc can offer only a sonic glimpse into this fuck-all freak show; however here are the legendary Loco Gringos – a band whose likes we shall never know again.
Barry Kooda con Jeff Smith