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BIO

“Who are the Surreal McCoys? Your favorite new cowpunk band.” —LA Weekly

The Surreal McCoys are a gritty band of hardcore troubadours who worship at the moonlit crossroads of Americana and punk rock. Which sort of makes them an Americana Punk band… to the degree that’s even an actual musical genre.

THE BACKGROUND

The McCoys are a roots rock outfit with one foot in the garage and the other on a tippy roadhouse barstool. Their songs recall an era of lesser hygiene but greater guitar riffs, and come wafting through the car radio static of some far-off station as the band careens down the lost musical highway that connects the odd-numbered Hank Williamses to The Replacements.

“The Surreal McCoys are a unique blend of pretty much any musical styling that is cool—nods to The Stones, The Clash, Johnny Cash—and all performed with energy and a whimsical middle finger held high. Best played extremely loud, and with at least two tequilas already in the bloodstream.” —Billy Morrison (Billy Idol, Royal Machines)

The five-piece has played sweat-soaked shows to ecstatic and inebriated audiences all over America, and recorded two full-length albums of original songs: their debut LP, The Bottle & The Gun, and their latest, The Howl & The Growl (street date of September 18, 2015). And they’re not above using the stray music industry insider term like “street date” to show just how “insider” and “street” they can be when challenged.

The band formed at Notre Dame before going their separate ways to pursue vague notions of adulthood, then re-banded several years later after realizing that they were powerless to the gravitational pull of their ragged rock ‘n’ roll collective.

THE SOUND

The blue collar “Johnny Clash” sound of their debut album The Bottle & The Gun vaulted them onto XM Satellite Radio’s X-Country’s Top 50 LP list, and earned them two songs (the title track and the cowboy ballad “$10 Hooker in a $5 Town”) in heavy rotation. The LP is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, and in your finer truck stops. They’ve shared the stage with everyone from Camp Freddy to Robert Earl Keen to the Bottle Rockets (with whom they’ll be playing at the Americana Fest in Nashville on September 17th).

For their new album, The Howl & The Growl, they teamed up with veteran producer and alt-country/rock legend Eric Ambel (Del Lords, Bottle Rockets, Steve Earle, Ryan Adams, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts) at his Cowboy Technical Studios in Brooklyn and unearthed a more muscular vintage sound. They went in to make a traditional cow punk disc in the vein of Social Distortion; what they came out with is a raunchy rock ‘n’ record straight out of Muscle Shoals in 1974.

The band release the new album on Sept 18, 2015, the day after the band plays a show with Bottle Rockets at the Americana Festival in Nashville.

“No matter what is going on in the outside lives of the Surreal McCoys, when they come together and start howling and growling, they morph into a singular 3-car garage monster that’ll rip you into pieces if you don’t sign on to their fun.” —Eric Ambel

The band’s sound on The Howl & The Growl is swampy and streetwise, evocative of both the red clay of the Mississippi Delta and the alleyways of the Lower East Side. Except more litter-strewn. The rhythm section is full and bombastic, possibly even arrogant. The guitars are heavy and anthemic and were mostly played sober. Soaring harmonies, lap steel, harmonicas and the occasional Hammond organ add texture, while, the songwriting tackles traditional “love and hope and sex and dreams” rock ‘n roll terrain with wit and masculine swagger (but the kind of swagger that clearly isn’t overcompensating for anything).

THE BOYS

The band is anchored by a propulsive yet adequate rhythm section featuring the thunderhammer bass of Clint McCoy and the Redbull-fuelled drumming of Billy Saul McCoy. These two forge a (largely) stable foundation for lead guitarist Elvis McCoy, who shifts from lilting jangle to power chord crunch while exploring the sonic range between Telecaster twang and Les Paul power.

Goatboy McCoy overlays rhythm guitar, harmonica, lap steel and sexual tension, and well, let’s just say that if you could bottle it, you’d make a fortune. (Okay, admittedly, it’s surprisingly easy to bottle and we haven’t made one red cent.) But his impish charm and frontier banter add levity and are on full display at live gigs, where he roams the audience sparking spontaneous gyrations in an occasionally legal fashion.

The vocals of frontman Cletus McCoy—equal parts saloon singer, carnival barker and untrustworthy narrator—howl and growl over tales of romance and revenge, over-indulgence and messianic delusion. At live shows, he prowls the stage like a speed-addled panther in heat, and yes, we actually just typed that. And layered over everything are Byrds-like harmonies and a low layer of distortion, for an overall result similar to that old-timey footage of the train falling off the bridge. You know that footage—the one in grainy black and white. Damn, that thing’s funny every time.

THE THRILLING CONCLUSION

As the late Morgan Freeman once observed, “it’s a thin line that separates the sacred and profane/ when your only love’s a highway or a train.” Similarly, the music of The Surreal McCoys seeks to explore both the gutter and the stars, and all the barrooms in between that connect the two.

But in the final analysis, The Surreal McCoys are a genre-bending (and, when tequila’s involved, gender-bending) Americana Punk band that stirs an array of influences into a sonic stew that is distinctly their own. As the closing line on the new album notes, “they’re trying so hard to define me/ with words that I’d never use/ like Red and Yellow and Black to the core/ but I’ve always preferred The Blues.”

That said, they’re not technically a Blues band. Not in the traditional sense.

Also… as it turns out, we’ve been informed that Morgan Freeman is very much still with us. Sorry about that. Who’s proofreading this? Moreover, that’s not one of his quotes. It’s from the new McCoys song “Leaving to Stay (in Love with You),” a travelin’ man torch song which name checks several of the towns the band has been “asked” by the town elders to leave and never return. Bastards.

“Straight out of parts unknown, come The Surreal McCoys—a fun and exuberant cow punk act that goes all out in the name of joyful irreverence, and pure rock and roll.” —OC Reloaded

“The Surreal McCoys... any band that covers both The Replacements and Johnny Cash is a band you should pay attention to for the sheer uniqueness of their approach (and their originals are pretty good too).” —DCist



LYRICS
Click song to expand/close lyrics
You Can’t Afford It


Words: Erik Huey
Music: Tim Smith

Bad news sounds better
From a pretty mouth
You headed West
The minute things went South

They say it's worth it
But I got my doubts
I see you standing in
The line to sell out

If you
Have to
Ask how much
You know you can’t afford it

Ask how much
You know you can’t afford it
Come on

They’re selling souls
And they’re going cheap
They’re heading down
To the wall to weep
You’re learning fast
But the curve is steep
You’re much too shallow
To be in this deep

If you
Have to
Ask how much
You know you can’t afford it

Ask how much
You know you can’t afford it
Come on

Oh come on
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Come on
Can’t afford it
You know you can’t afford it

You got a new excuse
For old regrets
The race was over
When you placed your bets

Ain't told the truth
Since the day we met
Yeah, I don't do favors
I just cash in debts

If you
Have to
Ask how much
You know you can’t afford it

Ask how much
You know you can’t afford it
Come on

Turn and Run
Words & Music: Clint Feddersen

Baby Blue, I do intend to
Have and hold, love and defend you
Cherish you
Until the day you die

But if you ever cross me up
I'll bring the darkness
When the sun comes up
And I’ll make it ten times worse if you lie

Don’t go staring at the white-hot sun

Don’t go peering down the barrel of a gun
And if I catch you messing with another mother’s son
You’d better turn and run, turn and run

Don’t go staring at the white-hot sun
Don’t go peering down the barrel of a gun
And if I catch you messing with another mother’s son
You’d better turn and run, turn and run

Baby Blue, I’m gonna teach you
That fire can burn
And fire can reach you
Touch and see that I'm a burning flame

And if you play with dynamite
There’s a fuse I will ignite
I got gun powder
Ragin’ through my veins

Don’t go staring at the white-hot sun
Don’t go peering down the barrel of a gun
And if I catch you messing with another mother’s son
You’d better turn and run, turn and run

Don’t go staring at the white-hot sun
Don’t go peering down the barrel of a gun
And if I catch you messing with another mother’s son
You’d better turn and run, turn and run
Hey—Baby Blue, I’d hate to harm you
And I don’t want to falsely alarm you
But I'm gonna have to warn you
In advance

That if you stray, you’d better hurry
‘Cause I will be your judge and jury
And don’t think that
You’ll get a second chance

Don’t go staring at the white-hot sun
Don’t go peering down the barrel of a gun
And if I catch you messing with another mother’s son
You’re gonna turn and run, turn and run

Don’t go staring at the white-hot sun
Don’t go peering down the barrel of a gun
And if I catch you messing with another mother’s son
You’d better turn and run, turn and run

You better turn
You better turn
Turn and run
Turn and run
Turn and run


Blonde-Sided
Words: Erik Huey & Tim Smith
Music: Erik Huey & Tim Smith

I’m having double bourbons
And second thoughts
Trying in vain to recall
All of those forget-me-nots

The bar was half empty
Though my glass was half full
Was gonna call it a night
Then got spun ‘round on my stool
A blonde of five eleven
Asks for a Lite
Says I’m the only person here
Looking to flirt more than fight

Mentions a cheating boyfriend
As she orders some shots
“Revenge is best served cold;
tonight I’m serving it hot”

I’m getting blonde-sided
Quarter to four
Sometimes you come in to browse
And wind up buying the store

I’m getting blonde-sided

Out of the blue
In a late night bar
Where there was nothing to do…
Except me
A plan was set in motion
Without making move
She said “You're coming with me?
You're night's about to improve”

Out the door like horses​
Trying to win, place and show
I said “let’s go to my place”
She said “I know where to go.”

You’re getting blonde-sided
Quarter to four
Sometimes you come in to browse
And wind up buying the store

I'm getting blonde-sided
Out of the blue
In a late-night bar
Where there was nothing to do…
Except me

Well we skipped the main course
And went straight for dessert
And then she healed me in places
I didn’t know I was hurt

She didn't serve me breakfast
She threw clothes at my face
“Now don't stay here too long
This is my boyfriend’s place.”

I just got blonde-sided
Quarter to four
I went in just to browse
And wound up buying the store

I just got blonde-sided
Out of the blue
In a late-night bar
With nothing to do…
Except...
Blonde-sided
Quarter to four
I went in just to browse
And wound up buying the store

I’m getting blonde-sided
Out of the blue
In a dead-end bar
Where there was nothing to do…

I’m getting blonde-sided
Quarter to four
I went in just to browse
And wound up buying the store

I’m getting blonde-sided
Out of the blue
In a dead-end bar
Where there was nothing to do…
Except me

Nobody but me
Nobody but me
Nobody but me

Leaving to Stay (in Love with You)
Words: Erik Huey
Music: Tim Smith

It's a thin line that separates
The sacred and profane
When your only love's
A highway or a train

I been down some dark roads
And endured some endless nights
Then I felt you beckon
Promising me light

Oh you're everywhere that I'm not
Don't believe anyone feels the way I do
Every time you're thinking of me, babe
Know that I- I-I... I'm thinking of you

When something feels this perfect
Then you know that it can't last
Forever's doomed to
Fade into the past

Am I running toward something
Or just running away
There's no way to keep it perfect
if I stay

On the statehouse stairs of Springfield
Down in SoHo in the rain
In the gin-soaked bar rooms of Memphis
Passing through Folsom on a train

Though you're everywhere that I'm not
Don't believe anyone feels the way I do
When you wonder why I'm leaving
It’s to stay... stay in love with you

I pray that what we found together
Outweighs what we will have lost
Every pleasure
Has a corresponding cost

When something starts to fade
You try to hold it so much nearer
Now my only love
Is in the rear view mirror

On the statehouse stairs of Springfield
Down in SoHo in the rain
On the unmade bed at the Chelsea Hotel
In the morning when I leave on a jet plane

Though you're everywhere that I'm not
Don't believe anyone feels the way I do
When you wonder why I'm leaving
To stay... to stay in love with you

Leaving to stay
Stay in love with you

Leaving to stay
Stay in love with you

Leaving to stay
Stay in love with you


Whole Lotta Folsom
Words: Johnny Cash
Music: John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Willie Dixon


Country Drinking Song

Words & Music: Erik Huey

They tried to save the world with Prohibition
Made drinking alcohol a crime
I guess I’m also on a mission
To rid the world of liquor… one bottle at a time.

Trying to master the 12 bar blues
I’m only 4 bars into the night
Sometimes you steer the car with your knees
Other times you gotta grip the wheel so tight
I hear people say, “must be a better way
To set your spirit free…”
But I’ve taken more out of liquor
Than liquor’s taken out of me.

Some people call it a hangover
I just call it waking up
When people tell me I've got a problem
I just tell 'em that sobriety is a crutch

Some people call it transcendence
Some people call it a cry for help
You can call it what you want, but
I’m gonna keep drinking… until I like myself

I hear people say, “must be a better way
To set your spirit free…”
But I’ve taken more out of liquor
Than liquor’s taken out of me.

We’re all serving life for killing time
Trying to find some meaning in the night
All the barstool poets on my left and right
Say if loving the bottle’s wrong... I don’t wanna be right

I hear people say, “must be a better way
To set your spirit free…”
But I’ve taken more out of liquor
Than liquor’s taken out of me.

I hear people say, “must be a better way
To set your spirit free…”
But I’ve taken more out of liquor
Than she's taken out of me.


The Howl & The Growl
Words & Music: Erik Huey

Left my senses
Five in the morning
Baby found me
Side of the road

Just take flight
Without any warning
We can’t stay here
And now there’s no going home

Woah-woah-woah-oh
Woah-a-woah-woah-oh
Woah-woah-woah-oh
Woah-a-woah-oh
Wrap your arms
Round something that’s moving
Give in to
The Howl & The Growl
It’s a perfect night
And it’s only improving
I can save your soul
But you don’t wanna know how
Got no reason
Babe to doubt you
You’re like breathing
I can’t live without you
It surrounds you
It’s within you
Don’t know where one of us ends
And the other begins, now

Let’s get moving
Lights are upon us
Clear everybody outta the way
Reunite with the chaos that spawned us
Every place looks better when you’re running away

Woah-woah-woah-oh
Woah-a-woah-woah-oh
Woah-woah-woah-oh
Woah-a-woah-oh

Dive down into
The Filth & The Fury
Rise up into
The Heat & The Light

We’re the only ones
Gonna finish this story
Can’t go out
Without a hell of a fight

On the inside
And the outside
Every road baby
Leads to the Dark Side

It’s Salvation
Wrapped in sin
Don’t know where one of us ends
and the other begins, now


A Real Nice Time
Words & Music: Shawn Ryan

I know your friends talked you into this
A blind date, coffee, hit or miss
I thought we clicked, an instant bond
I shouldn’t have said: “I wish you were blonde”

And when I made fun of NPR
And blew that smoke from my cigar
I think maybe I read you wrong
Don’t chicks dig guys who write them songs?

Until you threw that drink on me
I had a real nice time
Until you slapped me cross my face
I had a real nice time

I don’t know what I did for sure
Well maybe an idea
I don’t know if you’re busy, girl
But I’d like you in my world

I should have held that door for you
There’s really no excuse
I usually pay for my fair share
I left my wallet home somewhere

And when I said that Jane Eyre sucks
I meant the movie, not the books
I bet she’s really cool, like you
I promise next time to wear nice shoes

Perhaps I heard you wrong
But hey, I wrote this song
I’d like to try again
You just tell me when

Until you threw that drink on me
I had a real nice time
Until you slapped me cross my face
I had a real nice time

I don’t know what I did for sure
Well maybe an idea
I don’t know if you’re busy, girl
But I’d like you in my world


Sweet F.A.
Words & Music: Erik Huey

Back when this whole thing started
We were the hottest pair around
We couldn’t stand to be apart and
We couldn’t wait to hit the town
Our legs wrapped ‘round each other
From the dance floor to the stalls
But before I met you baby
All I had was sweet fuck all

Sweet fuck all
Sweet fuck all
Don’t leave me with
Sweet fuck all
Sweet fuck all
Sweet fuck all
Don’t leave me with
Sweet fuck all

We lit the darkest nightclubs
And we closed down every bar
When the morning hit the city
We were still swinging from the stars

When you can’t get any higher
The only way down is to fall
When I asked what I’d do without you
You just answered “Sweet fuck all”

Sweet fuck all
Sweet fuck all
Don’t leave me with
Sweet fuck all

Sweet fuck all
Sweet fuck all
Don’t leave me with

Sweet fuck all
Oh you love me
so sweet
Don’t leave me with
sweet fuck all

Our steamy acrobatics
And all those sweat-soaked nights
Gave way to loud dramatics
Our passion gave way to fights

One day you got restless
And said “it’s over, babe, that’s all”
Girl you used to leave me breathless
Now you’ve left me with sweet fuck all

Sweet fuck all
Sweet fuck all
Don’t leave me with
Sweet fuck all

Sweet fuck all
Sweet fuck all
Don’t leave me with
Sweet fuck all

Oh you love me
so sweet
Don’t leave me with
sweet fuck all

Now all tomorrow's parties
Had to fade into the past
Thought you'd stay with me forever
But now I know forever never lasts

You used to drip with honey
So sweet and indiscreet
Your kisses used to taste like candy
Now the taste is bittersweet

Sweet, sweet
Sweet, sweet
Sweet, sweet

Sweet fuck all
Sweet fuck all
You left me with
Sweet fuck all

Sweet fuck all
Sweet fuck all
You left me with
Sweet fuck all

You used to fuck
all sweet
Now I'm fucked with
sweet fuck all


God & The Devil
Words & Music: Erik Huey

God and the Devil
Catch me on the road
Down by the juke joint
As the sun is sinkin’ low

God and the Devil
Say they’d like to have a word
When I tell ‘em “I ain’t got the time boys”
The evening air begins to stir

God and the Devil
Both fighting for my soul
Say I can choose to rise above
Or end up way down in the hole

God and the Devil
Sometimes don't know which is which
So I’ll just play one off of the other
And at the right time make the switch

God and the Devil
Like Hellhounds on my trail
As I walk into the juke joint
Grab my guitar and start to wail

God and the Devil
I used to say they don’t exist
Just be sure of what you’re claimin’
Or you’re gonna be remiss

God and the Devil
They catch me at the closin’ hour
The say “it’s time to make a deal, boy”
As their mood began to sour

God and the Devil
Know whichever way I run
Gonna end down at the crossroads
Where the final deals get done

God and the Devil
Both of them been making plans
As I fall down on my knees
I know it’s time for shakin’ hands
I fall down on my knees
I know it’s time for shakin’ hands

I just fall down on my knees…
I know it’s time for shakin’ hands


Lust Vigilantes
Words & Music: Erik Huey

We met on Ludlow Street
She threw a brick through the window
Said “They deserved it”
Then “What are you into?”
Her t-shirt said
“I’m not with stupid
Anymore”
She had a clean streak
Which made her seem dirty
I had raw teenage angst
Well into my Thirties
And I couldn’t stand to spend another
Night alone

I said “You’re my deus ex machina
You’re my sine qua non”
She said “instant gratification
Just takes too long
When you can find the meaning of life
In a two minute song”

She said “I wanna rob banks with you
Go on the run like Pistoleros do
I wanna live a life of crime
Sex, drugs, and wine
And never utter regrets

You make me wanna shoot heroin
And waste away til we're razor thin
I wanna savor every breath
As we dance with death
Along the edge of the knife.”
I’m not looking
For a lifelong companion
But I’m in serious need
Of some reckless abandon.
And who the hell
was I to really
disagree?

She said “Caution’s too risky
And prudence is folly”
Her words drip with gin
And sweet melancholy

We climbed a rusty
fire escape
into the night

I said “You’re my deus ex machina
You’re my sine qua non”
She said “instant gratification
Takes too long
When you can find the meaning of life
In a two minute song”
She said “I wanna rob banks with you
Go on the run like Pistoleros do
I wanna live a life of crime
Sex, drugs, and wine
And never utter regrets

You make me wanna shoot heroin
And waste away til we're razor thin
I wanna savor every breath
As we dance with death
Along the edge of the knife.”

We were tethered together
As we tiptoed the ledge
We howled into the darkness
And went over the edge
As we fell without hitting the ground
I still remember the words that she said…
I still remember the words that she said…

I may be nostalgic
But I’m not sentimental
I’m not here to buy
This is more like a rental
That’s no song
the caged bird’s singing
it’s a scream.

I said “You’re one of those girls
Who does whatever she pleases”
She said “I don’t want your words
I want your diseases.”
And then she bit
my lip until we
tasted blood

So we guzzled the wine
But rejected the host
So timeless, yet fleeting
So distant, yet close
Now she’s only a memory
But she haunts me like ghost

She said “I wanna rob banks with you
Go on the run like Pistoleros do
I wanna live a life of crime
Sex, drugs, and wine
And never utter regrets
You make me wanna shoot heroin
And waste away til we're razor thin
I wanna savor every breath
As we dance with death
Along the edge of the knife.”

Talkin' Messianic Paranoid Agitpop Blues
Words & Music: Erik Huey

An outcast when the sun set
Then I woke up a saint
With people layin’ claim to all that I am
While I hold on to all that I ain’t

Now everyone’s seeking a savior
Guess nobody wants to be bored
They flash you the peace sign with one hand
While the other one hands you a sword

So step right up
And read all about it
Shout it out loud
So no one will doubt it

Sing out strong
Like you’re spreading good news
We’re all talkin’ messianic
Paranoid agitpop blues

Now you speak for a whole generation
Who project all their slogans on you
But before you’ve even opened your mouth
They already wrote the review

How can I have any answers
When the questions keep comin’ out wrong?
How can I speak for the voiceless
Singin’ somebody else’s song?

So step right up
And read all about it
Shout it out loud
So no one will doubt it

Sing out strong
Like you’re spreading good news
We’re all talkin’ messianic
Paranoid agitpop blues

They’re watering down their salvation
As they stare up in sweet disbelief
They came here to be delivered
But they greet you just like a thief

They march in the street with their crosses
And cheer as they hand you the cup
Then crucify you for the soulless crime
Of not having the faith to drink up

So step right up
And read all about it
Shout it loud
So that no one will doubt it
Sing out strong
Like you’re spreading good news
We’re all talkin’ messianic
Paranoid agitpop blues

Oh we’re all talkin’ messianic
Paranoid agitpop blues

Some people will put you in shackles
Then ask why you can’t be more free
Let me know when you make up your mind
On just who you want me to be

They’re yearnin’ so hard to define me
With words that I’d never use
Like “Red” and “Yellow” and “Black to the core”
But I’ve always preferred The Blues

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© The Surreal McCoys 2015 / Across The Aisle Music 2015