Galactic Cowboys Reunion Interview, Part 2: Ben and Monty – The Past

Galactic Cowboys (Alan Doss, drums; Ben Huggins, vocals; Monty Colvin, bass, Wally Farkas, guitar) will be playing their first live dates in 10 years less than one month from now. Three dates in Texas in three nights: Aug. 13-15; Dallas, Austin, and Houston. The band agreed to talk with GonzoGeek in advance of these dates to let you know what’s going on.GC debut

Part 1 of this three-part interview saw Monty and Ben discussing the reunion. This second part—still with Monty and Ben—addresses the past: good memories, the tour with Overkill, getting dropped from Geffen, Dane Sonnier’s departure, and ‘Machine Fish.’ In Part 3 we’ll hear from Wally and Alan. Get your time travel here….


GG: When you look back on Galactic Cowboys’ career, what are some of the highlights?

MC: “Getting signed initially by Geffen was really exciting. Going on MTV. Playing some of those really huge festivals in Europe. We actually did a couple in the US too that were pretty cool. All that kind of stuff was really fun. We had some really good times just hanging out on tours. Photo shoots, magazines, videos. All that stuff is a lot of fun.”

BH: “You forgot one of your favorites.”

MC: “What’s that?”

BH: “In Orlando?”

MC: “Oh yeah! We sang the national anthem for an Orlando Magic game.”

BH: “I gotta tell you, cuz I saw it from the outside, and Monty was shaking in his boots, like ‘I don’t wanna do this.’ Am I wrong Monty?”

MC: “No Ben. You’re exactly right.” [general laughter]

BH: “He was the one that like even up to an hour before was saying ‘I don’t know guys, maybe we oughta cancel this.’ And I’m like, ‘We can do this. It’s four-part harmonies. It’s what we do.’ And we’d been practicing for 4 or 5 days. Something like that.

Anyways, they send a limo down to House of Blues, where we were, to pick us up. And we’re all kind of like ‘Oh, hey, ooooo, check it out, we’ve got the limo.’ We pull up to the arena a get out, and are walking down the vomitorium when suddenly it hits Monty. We walk onto the court and he’s like ‘I’m standing on the court’ and ‘Look there’s Penny Hardaway and there’s Bo Outlaw….and there’s Larry Bird!! Oh my god!’

So now he’s drifted off into basketball heaven. And then a ball breaks loose from shoot-around. There’s this guy who’s trying to tell us what’s gonna happen: [nasal announcer voice] ‘OK you walk out here. The microphone’s gonna be over here. The lights are gonna come up….’ And Monty’s paying no attention. This ball rolls over and Monty picks it up and just shoots. And the guy helping us just goes white as a sheet; like ‘Oh. Oh no! He just shot the ball. Nobody’s ever shot the basketball from here!’ And I’m like ‘Wow. Monty just shot the basketball!’”

GG: A major breach of security.

BH: “The first shot was just an air-ball. But Bo Outlaw was like, ‘Man, you gotta take your time when you’re shooting’ and gets the ball back to him and Monty takes three 3-pointers in a row and just swishes ‘em.”

MC: “Now…I know I hit the next one…”

BH: “I thought you hit at least two.”

MC: “Maybe I did.”

BH: “So suddenly Monty’s floating on a cloud. He doesn’t touch the ground for the rest of the time we’re there. ‘I shot 3-pointers here. On the court!’

MC: “That what from being something I just didn’t wanna do, to being the greatest day of my life.”

GG: I’m sure, so-buoyed, you just sang like an angel afterwards.

BH: “It was fine. It wasn’t the best or worst performance we ever had. We accomplished it. What was really cool though was the 17 or 18,000 people in the place that just went [giant crowd going crazy noise]. Like ‘Wow. Thank you. Thank you ver’much.’ And then we’re going up the vomitorium, leaving, and who do we see….Monty?”

MC: “We walked off the court. And who is standing there, but Dr. J.”

GG: Nice. You don’t get bigger than that.

MC: “Yeah. We met Dr. J. Larry Bird was also there that day and we got say ‘hi’ to him…”

BH: “But Dr. J actually shook our hands and was like, ‘Great job fellas,’ and we’re all like [high, excited voice] ‘Thanks, Dr. J! Dr. J!?!’

MC: “That was a surreal, very good night.”

GG: Excellent. Your first big tour when the debut album was released was with Overkill. Even as a casual fan, it seemed like an odd pairing. And I’m curious to what degree it struck you that way as a band and what you did to overcome it, because I’m sure it’s a circumstance a lot of other bands have had to face.

MC: “I really didn’t think it sounded that bad at first. We wanted to go on sort of like a Faith No More or something like that. But none of that was available at the time and so they were like ‘Well, there’s Overkill.’ For some reason I didn’t think it would be that bad till we got out there, and then I could tell, ‘Wow, their audience and what we do just don’t mix.’ We had some pretty rough nights on that tour. But one of the things I think back on is, we were on Geffen so I think we thought it was just the beginning. You know, first you go out with Overkill, then you go out with Aerosmith, then Guns n’ Roses…We never thought that was going to be pretty much it for that first album. They sent us out with them, and we did a run with King’s X, but there just weren’t the big tours that we thought we were going to get with Geffen.”

GG: Did you find yourself pulling together as a result, or was it more a distraction or divisive somehow?

BH: “We had some shows where it was rougher. I remember Cincinnati being really bad. We didn’t finish the set that night. I wanted to finish the set just to say—well, I’m not going to say it—but just to show them that they weren’t going to drive us away. They were throwing quarters and things like that.”

GG: Ouch!

BH: “I’d just pick ‘em up, put ‘em in my pocket and laugh at them. We got on stage, and it was probably…I don’t remember how many people it held, I think maybe it was Bogart’s in Cincinnati, but there was a core of people there who wanted to see us right up by the front of the stage, then there was this big gap and then all the people facing the other direction. And occasionally they’d run up toward the stage and just chuck something at us. So we were like ‘We don’t care. Forget it. I don’t care if you want to listen or if you want to throw stuff at me.’ But it got hard. I got hit in the head. I think Monty got hit a few times. So was finally just said, ‘No. Let’s not finish. Let’s get out of here fast.’”

“The other rough night I remember, well there were two other nights. One night was Pittsburgh. They were spitting and doing stuff like that. I’m playing the acoustic guitar and someone grabs it and they just pull me in. I think they’re going to rip my head off. I’m in the crowd and my guitar’s getting yanked on, my hair’s getting yanked on. They’re pulling at my clothes and I’m like ‘OK. This is it. I’m probably going to die.’ Then they shoved me back up on the stage, and next thing I know everybody was like, ‘Yeaaahhhhh!!!!!’ They just wanted to sacrifice me to the crowd and now I’m OK. From that point on everyone was cool. They were all just jumping around; they started a mosh pit and they were fine.”

MC: “They just hated that acoustic guitar!”

GG: It was burning their eyes.

BH: “The other night that was really rough was Anaheim. We played a theater in the round—I think we had half of it—and it’s not like a club, it’s pitch black. You can’t see anything because the stage lights are set up more like a theater. I’m singing, I can’t remember where we were in the set, but suddenly I’m dazed. I’m like ‘What just happened?’ I feel my head and this lump came up. I turn to Dane and he’s like “Dude, your head!” And this lump up there is just growing like a cartoon. I stood up on something between songs and said ‘You guys want to throw shit? Go ahead!’ And then it was just raining down on us.

Those are like the three nights I remember, where we just said ‘Screw this. We’re going to do it anyway, whether you like it or not.’

MC: “I remember you guys pretty much trashing their set the last night of the tour! That was pretty funny. They weren’t happy about that, but…[laughs]”

BH: “We were playing paddleball on stage!”

MC: “You guys were playing golf. They were up there like trying to be heavy metal guys and you guys kept walking through with your golf clubs.”

BH: “And Bobby Blitz and one point says: [nasal NYC accent] ‘Hey, that’s great guys. Galactic Cowboys are leaving now [more laughs].”

MC: “I’ll have to say it probably did toughen us up a little bit. There probably weren’t a lot of worse shows after that tour.

GG: Wow man. Some high-resolution recollections!

BH: “Yeah and I’ve remembered what hit me in the head at the Anaheim show. It was a toilet paper holder, one of those industrial ones; a big, heavy plastic thing with two metal things sticking out of the ends.

MC: “That must have hurt bad.”

BH: “It was a pretty good knock.”

GG: It sounds like it. Continuing in the Geffen vein though…To what degree do you think the choice of ‘If I Were A Killer’ as a single/video from ‘Space In Your Face’ played a role in your eventual departure.

BH: “I had never heard anything about a connection, had you Monty?”

MC: “Nooo…You know, at the time we were with Concrete Management. They had Pantera and White Zombie and I think they wanted to push us kind of maybe in a metal direction. They wanted a video for ‘Headbangers’ Ball.’ I think we got a budget of like 20-grand or something to do that. Which sounds like a lot now, but it was a pretty cheap video by Geffen standards. I think they spent a hundred-grand on our first video. They were just kind of like, ‘Yeah, go do a video for Headbangers’. We went out in the desert and did it. That was it. And the next thing you know….We got dropped after that Dream Theater tour.”

“But I don’t think they had anything to do with each other. A lot of people left Geffen who were there when we got signed. Gary Gersh, the guy who signed us, left and once he was gone we were kind of left out to dry.”

BH: “You’ve got to have a fan on the inside, because everybody’s got their own pet bands. At the time, everybody was going alternative, grunge, or whatever, and we didn’t have anybody in there to fight for what we were doing. And once Gersh left Geffen—along with our radio guy Marco Babineau—everybody else just sort of went with what the general flow was.”

GG: That happens a lot. Bands get caught up in that sort of cycle once the turnover starts. Speaking of which…I had heard that Dane left because he didn’t want to sign with Metal Blade; thought it was a mistake, and wouldn’t do it. I was wondering to what degree this was the case—maybe combined with his desire to get his own thing going—or were there completely other factors at work regarding his departure from the band?

BH: “I know, just from talking with Dane, that it was something like that. But I don’t think he thought it was necessarily Metal Blade that was a mistake. They weren’t willing to….mmm, what’s the word? I think he was afraid that everything was going to kind of get cheaper, and cheaper, and cheaper. Which it did. But a lot of the things—like our producing ourselves—were now one of the questions, because we’d been doing our own demos…”

“I think Alan did a great job. But for pop music’s sake, when you get a name producer it carries some weight. And I think what Dane was afraid of was we were going to get stuck with Alan producing. Which we did; but I thought that was a good thing and Alan did a great job. But Dane was concerned that we weren’t going to get the all-star attention we’d gotten at Geffen. Which was true, but…

GG: Well yeah. But I thought you guys actually ended up making a fair bit of hay with ‘Machine Fish’ at the time and I still like the way it sounds when I play it now.

BH: “When we’ve been going through songs getting ready for the show…That record just sounds raw and realllly angry. You know what I mean?”

MC: “I’m not crazy about the vocal sound…”

BH: “They’re kind of buried.”

MC: “Yeahhhh…and I still like the bigger, layered vocals of the first two albums. That was a lot of Sam [Taylor] and stuff like that, but it’s still just a personal preference of mine. And as I’ve gone back and just sort of analyzed all of the albums over the past year, that was one things I noticed…that on the albums in the middle we didn’t really layer the vocals a lot and…I don’t know, that’s my only thing.”

“But I think overall Alan’s done a great job. I thought [‘Machine Fish’] was really heavy, and yeah, it was supposed to be angry! [laughs]”

GG: How was it that Wally ended up being the right person to fill Dane’s spot when all of that went down? He had been Dane’s tech for a while right?”

MC: “Yeah, but only really on that very first Overkill tour.”

BH: “I’m glad you asked that question! Actually Dane recommended him. He said “You oughta get Wally to do it. He already knows all the songs. It was pretty natural to get Wally, don’t you think Monty?”

MC: “Yeah. He was the guy I wanted. I thought he’d be perfect. I actually didn’t really hang out with Wally when he was on tour with us. I didn’t really know him then. Ben knew him first. He used to work at a music store in Tomball, Texas, that Ben used to go to. I liked Wally but didn’t really hang out with him. But then for some reason, after ‘Space In Your Face’ I started going to shows with him and got to know him pretty well. So I was all for having him join us after Dane left.”

GG: Cool. Anything else you feel like sharing?

BH: “I think Monty wants to crush everyone’s skull with some old-fashioned rock n’ roll [laughs]. Am I wrong Monty?”

MC: “’s gonna be a rock n’ roll party!”

BH: “For anyone that lives outside of Texas….Get to Texas! And get to the shows!”

MC: “Yeah. Definitely. Because this will be the last time you will ever see us! So you better get to these shows….”

BH: “Hey, didn’t we blow that one earlier Monty?”

MC: “This will never, ever, ever happen again [laughs]….and then we’ll see what happens.”

BH: “Yes. Then, and only then, will we see what happens!”

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