So much hope – back in to mid-‘90s, Houston’s GALACTIC COWBOYS were the next hyped jugger-not, charging out of Houston signed to Geffen after 14 companies watched their showcase. Metal Blade’s Brian Slagel had the good taste to pick the band up after the major deal was done and the “baby KING’S X” had a good run of under-rated albums before a final album in 2001, aptly monikered, Let It Go.
Will they fly again? Hard to say, but as lead singer Ben Huggins explains, there is a much talked about reunion show coming up...
“The news is, Galactic Cowboy show on September 13—which happens to be a Friday—here in Houston, at a club called the Acadia Bar And Grill, on the north side of Houston. And you know, we’re hoping to get a good response. Right now it’s just the one show, but you always kind of hold out hope that something may happen again. So you never know. Can’t make any promises.”
“Oh, that’s a tough one,” laughs Ben, asked what everybody in the band is doing with themselves these days. “Alan (Doss) is still actually in the music business. Alan still records and mixes and engineers for bands around... I’m not sure if it’s just Houston, or if it’s… no, actually, definitely around the country. I don’t know if it’s international, but he’s been staying busy in music. Monty (Colvin), of course, still has CRUNCHY, and he’s up there in Kansas City, and Dane (Sonnier) has also been doing a lot of solo stuff. He doesn’t played with THE SONNIER BOTHERS anymore, but he plays around a lot, doing solo gigs. I’m probably the only one who really hasn’t been doing any music. The last thing I did was a project with Dane’s brother called GRISTLE, and that was a digital release on iTunes, a couple of years ago. But I’ve been pretty much being a sound man for a while. Right now I’m working with The Lion King. I’m in Houston, Alan is also in Houston, and Dane is in Houston as well, so Monty is our only long distance Cowboy.”
Right now it’s just playing live, and only the one show.
“Well (laughs), a few years back,” continues Ben, “actually, before our last reunion event in 2009, Monty and I had corresponded, and he’s been sending me some songs, and I’d been putting some lyrics on them, just sending them back and forth, or he would send me something that already had lyrics, and I’d sing some vocals and send them back to him. So we were corresponding, but you know, it’s tough to do the long distance thing; it’s tougher than you think, and I’m not against the idea. I’d love to do it. It’s just hard to get four guys that are hundreds of miles apart—at least one of the guys of the four—together, to do something like that. But I’m not saying it won’t happen. I’m just saying it’s difficult.”
OK, well what about taking the show on the road?
“Well, I know for myself, I’ve got lots of time where I can go out and do shows, which I would love to do. But everybody has different commitments, because over the years, it’s kind of turned into something that is, at least for me, this kind of dream that maybe we’ll get back together and maybe we’ll something. But maybe has become more difficult as the years go by, because everybody’s got commitments and stuff like that. Again, not saying it won’t happen, I’m just saying it’s harder the farther we get away from what we were at that time. That’s why shows like this, if there’s energy and excitement, people... because even right now, I’m kind of getting pumped about the fact that we’ve got a lot of people on Facebook—which, not everybody is on Facebook—but there’s a lot of people on Facebook and they’re getting excited about this particular show, and they’re going, ‘Hey, come on, record something, hey, c’mon, play a show in... you need to come to Europe, you need to come to somewhere’ (laughs). Back in the day when we had record companies behind us helping us to stay out there, it was easier to do, but we have yet to have promoters and booking agents and stuff like that are willing to go, ‘I’ll get out there and book some shows for you.’ But one-offs here and there are definitely not out of the question.”
“I’d have to say there’s just a uniqueness to the way that things come together,” muses Huggins, asked about the band’s sound and why there is renewed interest in the band. “I know, for instance, there’s a lot of people who do heavy music with, you know, harmonies on top—now. At the time we were doing it, I would think it was probably us and King’s X. And with King’s X, the difference was like, you know, you’ve got the guy with the really big voice up front doing the soulful stuff, and we were kind of four white guys doing all these harmonies, and it had more of a BEATLES influence. But why does it remain something that people want to hear? I don’t know. I think it was pretty special, but that’s coming from someone who did it and is looking back and is very nostalgic about it. It’s something I never wanted to let go of. But I think it was just something really good, and people miss it.”
But you’ve got to think that there’s a sense that the band went over everybody’s heads. The mission was a little complicated, a little provocative, which comes though in a song like ‘I Do What I Do’ (or at least Ben’s reading of it!) from the second and last with Geffen, a masterwork called Space In Your Face.
“Yes, well, Monty wrote ‘I Do What I Do’ and I believe it was a response—I may be wrong; I’ve been known to be wrong in interviews before—I believe it was a response to people asking why are you doing that, why do you do that, why do you do this? Basically it’s about our music, questioning why aren’t you just being a heavy band? Or why aren’t you a pop band? And then another thing too, coming from basically... most of us were coming from a Christian background. Well, why aren’t you doing gospel music? Why don’t you do ministering? And then on the other side it’s like, why do you write music that has a message? Why is there… It was basically just all these why questions. And then Monty’s response was, ‘I do what I do’ (laughs).”
“I think there was some confusion pretty much about everything about us, including where to put us,” reflects Ben, in closing. “Because I remember, when we first went out with OVERKILL on that first tour, it was not a good fit. It was not anywhere near, and we knew it, when we were going out. We were just so tired of sitting around, we wanted to get out and tour. And I think we made some fans on the tour, but still it was a difficult... it was forced to happen. It was kind of like, ‘Well, this is where we’re puttin’ ya—get out there.’ And we’re glad we did it, but there were so many other good… I would love to have gone out with FAITH NO MORE, at a time like that. To me, that was the kind of thing where you had a band that is doing more than one type of sound, more of an eclectic thing. And I mean, we ended up going out with DREAM THEATER on the second tour—which to me was a better fit—but there was still a confusion about who we were and what we were doing. I remember talking to fans that were very honest with us. ‘You know, the first time I heard you, I hated you. And the second time I heard you, I was just like, why? The third time, I was like, this is pretty good. Fourth time, hey, I get it now.’ So it was something that seemed like the response was it had to grow on people.”
The moral of the story: if you’re local to Houston, be there or be unaware—of one of the great alt.metal bands of the ‘90s. And if you’re from away, and have some power to make things happen, then make them happen and maybe Galactic Cowboys can come sing for you on whatever planet you are from.