Our dear friend and longtime Pop Culture Press features editor (mid 1990s – mid 2000s), Kent Benjamin passed away May 14 at his home in Hot Springs, Arkansas after a long illness. Kent was a lifelong music lover, in particular 60s and 70s artists, power pop, and the lesser known music of the Deep South. He was a huge fan of The Who, The Jam, and The Small Faces, and championed overlooked and up and coming bands. He helped SXSW Music Creative Director and good friend Brent Grulke organize the last minute Big Star Tribute at SXSW 2010, when Alex Chilton died suddenly that week, and helped book the many Pop Culture Press SXSW day parties over the years. Paul Weller’s new album was released on the day Kent passed, which seems kind of fitting. I hope he got to hear it.
Kent’s interview with the much-beloved Austin garage rock band Doctors’ Mob originally appeared in Pop Culture Press Issue #48.
By Kent H. Benjamin
Photos by Pat Blashill
Pop Culture Press convened a meeting with one of Austin’s most popular bands of the 80s and 90s, appropriately enough at a pub. Famous for their motto “show up drunk, show up late, or don’t show up at all,” it was fitting that bassist Tim Swingle was a no show. The band briefly reunited last summer (1999) to celebrate the long-overdue CD release of Last One in the Van Drives (Hoedown Records, 1999), which includes their two critically acclaimed albums Headache Machine (Wrestler Records, 1985) and The Sophomore Years (Relativity Records, 1987). Doctors’ Mob was formed in the early 1980s, with founder Steve Collier, Don Lamb, Glen Benavides, and original bassist Jimmy Doluisio.
“The name came from The People’s Almanac,” explains Collier. “I was looking for a name that absolutely no one else could come up with because I didn’t want to have to change the band’s name after finding out someone else had already used it. There was an article about the first American riot, and it was called The Doctors’ Mob of 1728. We just thought it sounded cool, and it didn’t mean anything, and it didn’t lock us into any genre. Of course, the apostrophes got moved all over the place. And we became Doctor’s Mom, and Dr. Mom, and stuff like that.
From day one, Doctors’ Mob became one of the most beloved Austin bands, famed for their drunken, rowdy shows. Musically, they were like some inbred offspring of The Replacement and The Jam. They starred in one of MTV’s first live music specials from Austin in 1984 (I.R.S Records The Cutting Edge). After a hit local indie album, and a record deal for the second album, they broke up while on the road, and limped home to find new lives. At the time of this interview in 1999, Lamb was the longtime manager of Waterloo Records, Collier had a day job and fronted the Sidehackers, and Benavides drummed for Alejandro Escovedo’s band, Buick McKane. If you’ve never heard them, check out Last One in the Van Drives.
We spoke with Doctors’ Mob on Aug. 4, 1999. The interview features SC= Steve Collier (vocals, guitar), GB= Glen Benavides (drums), DL= Don Lamb (lead guitar), and BG= Brent Grulke (roadie, who went on to be the Creative Director for SXSW Music, and passed away in 2012). While those outside Austin may care nothing about a defunct band’s history, we think you’ll find these typical road horror stories entertaining, and musicians everywhere will identify with them.
“The name came from The People’s Almanac. I was looking for a name that absolutely no one else could come up with. There was an article about the first American riot, and it was called The Doctors’ Mob of 1728. We just thought it sounded cool.”
The Best Horror Story
GB: Northern California. Freezing our asses off. We were driving from L.A. to San Jose. We’d just played a show with Junkyard at Club Lingerie. The sun’s coming up; we’ve got a long drive.
DL: I was so drunk I wouldn’t give anybody else the keys to drive.
GB: So we were driving up the road, and Scott’s driving. Scott (Anderson, road manager) does some of his best sleeping when he’s driving. The trailer with our instruments popped a flat, and Scott didn’t notice it. He just kept driving. People were pulling up beside us and telling us the trailer was throwing off sparks and catching fire. And we were just waving at them and going “Yeah, we’re from Texas and we’re in a band. Come to our show!” So finally we noticed and we pulled over. It was 7:00 in the morning and there was an ice storm in California! So we had to load everything into the van in an ice storm and leave the trailer! There was barely enough room for us on top of the equipment inside the van. We were freezing cold, hungover, and on top of the equipment in the van, but it was like “It’s cool, hey man, we’re in a band!” And then Scott said “Man, we need to find a gas station pretty soon.”
DL: He never looked at the gas gauge.
SC: We barely made it to a station and saw the newspapers and they said it was the worst storm in California history.
DL: People died on that road! We drove back by the trailer on the way back. We’d taken the plates off so no one could figure out it was ours. We had to have the record company wire us money for a new trailer in San Francisco. At least we had major label support.
GB: It was just more money for us to owe them! They didn’t care. Buy two trailers! That was when we first started to feel worn out. We never had any kind of professional management, or anyone to take care of things like that for us.
The Infamous Bunny Story
BG: The Mob was big in Oklahoma City, and we had a show there on Easter. We got there the night before, and two of the people we were staying with worked at the bar and had a rabbit suit! The bar had rented the bunny outfit so that a girl who worked at the bar could dress up as the Easter bunny and hand out drink tickets. Steve got hold of the bunny suit, and Steve is the master of pantomime. He looked better than any Disney character you’ve seen walking around in the bunny suit.
SC: We found the suit in the club in a plastic bag, so I put it on. We were drinking Michelob at the club, and we took a Michelob box and stuck it over one ear like a hat.
BG: Steve decided to wear it for the second set. We duct taped a microphone into the mouth. Before the set, we cued up the record and he lip synched to the record! People didn’t know it was him. Then the band came out and we did the whole set with Steve in the bunny outfit. After the gig, we were up all night at the club drinking and partying, and as the sun came up, he was still wearing the suit. There was a church down the street, and all of a sudden, Steve got spotted by a whole gang of kids who were there with their parents. The kids started cheering and everything, calling out to the Easter bunny! And their parents thought it was really cool that someone had dressed up as the Easter bunny for the kids.
SC: I was pretty drunk, so I didn’t think I could really talk in front of kids, so I just struck a Bugs Bunny pose with my leg crossed, one arm on my hip and stuck out the other arm and propped myself up on the van. And everyone was applauding!
SC: Brent and I had a wager that if I’d perform a song in the nude, he’d work the soundboard at a club in the nude.
BG: I was able to get Steve to actually perform nude, and I reneged. It was the last night of the tour.
DL: We did it at a show in Jackson, MS at a place called W.C. Donn’s.
BG: The sound set up was so primitive that there were only three faders. Push ‘em up and leave ‘em. So I’m of course doing my usual thing if there’s no sound to be mixed, chatting up the girls. All of a sudden all the women in the club rushed to the front of the stage, which I could not believe. And Don and Tim are trying desperately to knock Steve’s strategically placed guitar out from in front of him. Steve was playing in the nude, and I missed it!
DL: Steve got really drunk and took his clothes off onstage, then ran over to their beer stash and puked all over it.
GB: Then ran back onstage and did “Sweet Emotion” with no clothes on! We sold more T-shirts that night because of the nudity!
SC: Yeah, but I’d eaten some bad oysters in Louisiana the night before, and I was really sick from it.
BG: I reneged on doing sound with no clothes on. But at that Easter gig, I figured I didn’t really know anyone in Oklahoma, and with the bunny head on, no one would recognize me, so I went out wearing nothing but the bunny head.
GB: And we promptly locked the door behind him so he couldn’t get back to his clothes. He was locked outside the club pounding on the door, wearing nothing but a bunny head.
Doctors’ Mob reunited at La Zona Rosa, Austin, Texas on March 21, 1994. This video was produced by the Austin Music Network, where Kent Benjamin was head of programming.
The complete crazy article, plus others by Kent Benjamin, are available here at PopCulturePress.net.