Reverend Horton Heat
Reverend Horton Heat
Jim Heath, the frontman of the seminal rockabilly act, preaches on.
“I been wearing creepers since ’82,” says Jim Heath, a.k.a. Reverend Horton Heat, with a hint of Texas drawl. He’s enjoying some down time before the full North American tour in support of Rev, his band’s first album in four years, and musing on rockabilly fashion—all the greased hair, hot rod tattoos, and pin-ups in polka dots you see today.
“The Stray Cats, the Cramps, and the Blasters had a lot to do with fusing rockabilly with punk. When the Blasters came through Dallas in 1983, my friend called it the ‘Great Rockabilly Scare of 1983,’” Heath remembers. “Rockabilly lasted through the swing movement. I loved those bands, but the people got a little snobbish. The rockabilly scene can feel that way to a degree. But by and large those are my people and I’m into the culture.”
The vocalist and guitarist grew up in Texas and formed Reverend Horton Heat in 1985, building a retro, distortion-laden foundation for a sub-genre of alternative with two albums on Sub Pop Records. They’ve put out 10 records and worn plenty of pavement since. “Our last album was really country. It was fun to do and it’s a cool album, but modern country people, they don’t really give a crap about Merle Haggard or Willie Nelson. They just listen to this bad rock and roll that they call country. We like playing wild, fast, rock ’n’ roll shows.” Victory Records is putting out the new album, but the Rev doesn’t sweat that the label is best known for its catalogue of hardcore bands. “I just need their promotional machine—which is based around us playing live gigs—to keep this whole thing running.”
Although he doesn’t have sleeves of devil girls or sailor tats, the band members do have some very classic ink. However, Heath warns against getting the logo of your favorite musical artist as a tattoo. “Say you have a Gary Glitter tattoo—you never know when someone is gonna get hauled off to jail for being a pedophile! The whole [tattoo] kind of hinges on their future behavior,” he laughs.
So what is a night out with the Reverend like these days? Fast women and a car chase?
“It used to be that way—a few broken bottles—but I’m a husband and a father now. I play so many shows myself. But if something special comes through, my wife and I will go out. And actually, the last time we did get in a barroom brawl.”
Check out the newly designed Official Reverend Horton Heat website: reverendhortonheat.com