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Amphetamine Reptile Revisited – Cows

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One of America’s great degenerate punk rock bands – All Music Guide

Fan Site

Trouser Press Entry

Grunnenrocks Page

Driven by dissatisfaction with everything and everyone (including themselves) and a desire to outdo some of their most extreme music peers, Minneapolis, MN Cows became attained nearly legendary status  for their grotesque live performances and equally strange and frightening studio output. Yet, they also had a healthy sense of humor (albeit, a bizarre one), as their shows became legendary for the use of stuffed animals, football uniforms and shaving cream, among other things.

Cows debuted in 1987 with “Taint Plumbus Taint Unum”, which came out on Treehouse Records.  It was described by Trouser Press website as “an elementary introduction, a noisy storm of electrified steel wool that rushes through roughly cut songs like “Mother (I Love That Bitch)” and the instrumental “Summertime Bone” (Eddie Cochran sent to trombone hell) with more enthusiasm than effect.”

Two years later the band record “Daddy Has A Tail”, their first album for Amphetamine Reptile label. All Music Guide website commented on the album – “Daddy Has a Tail showcases a band experimenting sonically, finding their voice — at least trying to — much in the way Butthole Surfers did with the messy Rembrandt Pussyhorse. Daddy Has a Tail‘s guitars are an overdose of distortion; the bass trembles and wails far too much, and the songs just aren’t quite there yet. Beyond that, Shannon Selberg hasn’t fully manned his screwball vocal chariot. That would all slide into place on subsequent releases. However, songs like “Chow” stand out as Cows classics.”

90s saw the band delivering a whole string of new records, including 1990 “Effete & Impudent Snobs”, 1991 “Peacetika”, 1992 “Cunning Stunts” and 1993 “Sexy Pee Story”. The band’s swansong – “Sorry In Pig Minor” – came out in 1998.

Trouser Press commented on “Peacetika” and “Sexy Pee Story” albums in the following way – “On Cunning Stunts the songs are peppered with its unusual, warbly depressed punctuation marks. Cows’ lyrics create an environment of distance: the thoughts, actions and lives are described so brutally you can only hope they’re meant to be ironic. Sexy Pee Story continues in this mode, adding themes of being cheated — by yourself, your pals, the boss, the government — to the usual torrent of hopelessness and disgust. The band’s previous musical jabs gives way to a toppling cascade of instruments.”

The band’s final album – “Sorry In Pig Minor” – was produced by King Buzzo from Melvins (“a likeminded Cow if ever there was one”, according to Trouser Press). TP pointed out that “comes across less as eleven individual songs than as a prolonged symphony in adrenalized guitar wang (with accompanying bugle).”, while All Music Guide commented that the album “rocks back and forth like a strait-jacketed lunatic (“No, I’m Not Coming Out”) or bursts forth like an unleashed psychopath (“Cabin Man”).”and that it catches “Cows at their cathartic best.”

After the band’s demise, Shannon Selberg joined Heroine Sheiks, a band with a rotating line-up that at various points included members of Hammerhead, Death & Taxes and Swans. Freddy Votel became a member of Seawhores and he also played with TVBC and Funnyuns, among many others.

Kevin Rutmanis became a member of Tomahawk (along with Mike Patton, John Stanier from Helmet and Duane Denison from Jesus Lizard / Denison-Kimball Trio). He also was a member of Teenage Larvae along with David B. Livingstone from God Bullies.

Final Line-Up:

Freddy Votel

Kevin Rutmanis (Fantomas Melvins Big Band, Teenage Larvae, Tomahawk)

Shannon Selberg (Heroine Sheiks)

Thor Eisentrager

Former Members:

Norm Rogers (Jayhawks)

Tony Oliveri (God Bullies)

Fun Facts

  • Most of their material is out of print
  • Lead singer Shannon Selberg’s trademark is that he has a tattoo illustrating the game Hangman on his body that reads “F_CK” and another tattoo of an anchor with the word “DAD” on top of it.

  • One reviewer wrote about the band’s shows, “I have no doubt that The Cows know how to play their instruments. What I don’t understand is why they refuse to tune them.”

Discography:

Taint Plumbus Taint Unum LP (Treehouse, 1987)

Chow 7″ (Treehouse, 1988)

Daddy Has A Tail LP (Amphetamine Reptile, 1989)

Slap Back 7″ (Amphetamine Reptile, 1990)

Effete & Impudent Snobs CD / LP (Glitterhouse, 1990 / Amphetamine Reptile, 1990)

Peacetika LP (Amphetamine Reptile, 1991)

Peacetika / Daddy Has A Tail! CD (Amphetamine Reptile, 1991)

Plowed / In The Mouth 7″ / CD (Amphetamine Reptile, 1992)

Woman Inside 7″ (Insipid Vinyl, 1992)

Cunning Stunts LP / CD (Amphetamine Reptile, 1992)

Sexy Pee Story LP / CD / Cass (1993)

Cow Island 7″ (Amphetamine Reptile, 1994)

Orphan’s Tragedy LP / CD (1994)

Erase Yer Head No.2 (Split with Headcleaner) (1994)

Old Gold 1989-1991 CD (Amphetamine Reptile, 1996)

Whorn LP / CD (Amphetamine Reptile, 1996)

The Missing Letter Is You CD (Thick, 1997)

Sorry In Pig Minor LP / CD(Amphetamine Reptile, 1998)

Orpheus Travesty (1998)

Selected Compilation Tracks:

“Chasin’ Darla” on Crunchouse (Glitterhouse Records, 1989)

“Almost A God” on Dope, Guns-’N’-F—ing In The Streets Volume 1-3 (Amphetamine Reptile, 1989)

“Danny Is A Faggot” on Scumbait #1 (Treehouse Records, 1989)

“Cartoon Coral” on Dope, Guns & F—ing Up Your Video Deck Volume One (Amphetamine Reptile / Atavistic, 1990)

“Good Cop” on Endangered Species (Glitterhouse Records, 1990)

“Big Mickey” on Ugly American Overkill (Amphetamine Reptile Europe, 1991)

“You Are So Beautiful” + “How Dry I Am” on Amphetamine Reptile – Peel Sessions (Dutch East India Trading / Strange Fruit, 1992)

“Hitting The Wall” on Dope, Guns & F—ing Up Your Video Deck Volume Two (Amphetamine Reptile / Atavistic, 1992)

“My Girl” on Smells Like Smoked Sausages (Sub Pop, 1992)

“Sugar Torch” on 1993 Sampler (Amphetamine Reptile Europe, 1993)

“Milk For Pussy” on Milk For Pussy – A Compilation (Mad Queen, 1993)

“Woman Inside” on Vital Juices (Insipid Vinyl, 1993)


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