How I Fell in Love With Rusted Shut

One the first times that we played in Houston, TX we were exposed to one of the most incredible bands I’ve ever seen, RUSTED SHUT, a three piece consisting of a husband and wife team (Don – guitar and Sybil – Bass) and a drummer. Don and Sybil were both in their late 40’s or early 50’s. Don, I believe, was a music teacher and Sybil was a librarian or something. They had been a band for almost 20 years and had never really left Houston, and were bitter about it. 

The night before we had played in Austin at SXSW. Because the festival was still going on, most of the local people were down there and since it was one of our first shows in Houston, there was nobody at the club. That’s not quite true, there were maybe 5—10 people there, one of whom we learned was the brother of the guitar player in ZZ Top. He was wearing a patchwork leather, southwest themed, Tweety Bird & Taz jacket and was acting like a real asshole. He was eventually thrown out of the bar for fighting with his wife and was actually yelling something about ZZ Top on the way out. The rest of the people there were the members of Rusted Shut, the bar’s staff and Dave the promoter. (I’m pictured with him below this post.)

Rusted Shut was one of the best/worst things I have ever seen in my life. Don was throwing temper tantrums on stage, berating his wife and the drummer and screaming into the microphone about how they’ve always been ripped off, never got any respect, and how SXSW was keeping their demo tapes and then giving all the shows to bands from Seattle. He hated us, Nirvana, Sub Pop, and anything from the Northwest. The most vivid memories I have of one of his tirades was after stopping in the middle of one song and screaming at the drummer for fucking up, he turned to the room and with his fingers pointed at his temple like a gun  and yelled, ” GYYAAAA WHY DO WE PRACTICE?!?!” They were amazing.

It turns out that Dave intentionally booked us with them as a joke on us because he knew that no one was going to be at the show, and he thought it would be hilarious. He was right. From then on whenever we went to Houston we always put Rusted Shut on the guest list, and they almost always came and were always really nice … at first. Inevitably by the end of the night they would be totally pissed off at us and going crazy. Every time. It ruled.

Anyways, the guy in this photo is Don’s brother, or cousin or some kind of relation, and I’m pretty sure he was wearing a wig. He claimed to have played organ with the Rolling Stones in their touring band or something … it never quite made sense. Now this guy really hated us (not our beer though, he loved our beer) and he was going nuts. You can see in this photo that he is about ready to attack Leslie. I can’t remember exactly what sparked it, or what the details are about what went down, but I think that moments after this photo was taken he totally lost his shit and started to destroy things backstage. I could be wrong, and I beg of anyone else who was there to help me fill in the details, but I think that we had to try to sneak out of the club, run to our van, and peel out of the parking lot with this guy and Rusted Shut running after us, cursing us, throwing bottles and with all of us laughing our asses off. 

I love Rusted Shut.

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