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Daily Texan: punk alumni establish musical family ties

By Trevor Wallace - 02/22/1991

What do four classic punk musicians do after Austin punk bands have ceased to exist? They get together to form a classic new Austin band, Happy Family. The group doesn't easily fit into any set category. On the one hand they're punk, on the other they more closely resemble Sonic Youth. Hovering above it all is the hard-edged wailing of vocalist Cindy Widner. The band chats about their various past lives at the Hole in the Wall. "I was in Scratch Acid, playing for them live, when Rey (Washam, Scratch Acid's drummer) would play with the Big Boys until it didn't work out," says drummer Rich Malley. Bassist Julia Austin comes from the best and the worst of Austin punk. "I was in a band called Chlorine," she says. "Please mention them and not the Wild Seeds. I was a founding member of that band." Malley adds sarcastically, "Now there was a ground-breaking band. I was in the Kamikaze Refrigerators, a great band around 1980 to 1983. Cindy and Laura (Creedle, guitarist) were in the Flinchtones." The TV over the bar is turned up, and Roseanne appears. Roseanne's son is showing off his woodshop project, a riotous mass of popsicle sticks. Widner tells a story about a friend who made a life-sized crucifix in junior high and had to lug it home over his shoulder because his teacher was angry because the cross was 5 feet by 7 feet and not 5 inches by 7 inches. This segues into a conversation about Spinal Tap and eventually about Def Leppard. The band's first record, Lucky, attracted the attention of Sonic Youth guitarist/vocalist Lee Renaldo, which led to rumors of Happy Family is opening up for that band on the Eastern leg of their tour. "Lee said he liked the tape, and since he has a lot to do with booking, Jeff (Tartakov, Happy Family's manager) figured we were in," says Cindy. "Yeah, our manager fabricated that story," Rich says. "Jeff is a pathological liar. We didn't like that being said before it was formalized. None of us were actually counting on it until we were actually on the tour bus, which didn't happen. They did ask us to play with them in Austin, according to the liar, but we were on tour." When the group is asked if they agree that many of their songs seem "angry," the rest of the interview decays into a bitch session. But just before the interview ends, Malley demonstrates a groovy way to pick up women using a Zippo lighter and some pretty darn smooth moves. What more could anyone ask? Happy Family will be bringing their unique brand of chaos to the Texas Tavern Saturday night.

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