Recently I had the pleasure of having an informal chat with Jimbo, the bass slapping musician from the Reverend Horton Heat. As the Throttle Guy for Issue 19, he was more than happy to give us a personal look into his life.
Doni: What guilty pleasure do you have in your music collection?
Jimbo: My favorites include the Ramones, which is not very rockabilly but that music really grew from the soul. Girl Groups, I love their melody. I like all bands, even ones that aren’t that good. If it means something and they are trying, stretching themselves – I find beauty in that. Even me! What I lack in talent I make up for in show.
Doni: What are you doing right now during this phone interview?
Jimbo: Honestly, folding laundry. (laughs)(Shit he even does laundry! He’s a normal person!)
Doni: So what is your house like?
Jimbo: I live in a pink house from the 50s. Looking out the back window at okra, tomatoes etc, our garden. Nice to come home and see.
Doni: What is your favorite part of touring? Tell us some stories!
Jimbo: My favorite part of tour is playing. We never get to see anything. One time we pulled up to Niagara Falls, and we got out to look at it. Another bus pulls out, bunch of smoke pours out when 7-8 black guys exit. It was the Wutang clan. Neither of us knew what each other said due to our accents. So we got to see the falls with the Wutang clan. Imagine us, the Reverend Horton Heat and the Wutang Clan nodding to each other. I have a million more stories.
Doni: So, tell us more!
Jimbo: We were playing Fillmore in San Francisco opening up for Johnny Cash and had another quick show. But, due to contractual obligations, we couldn’t use our name. So, we were the Pajama Party Orchestra. Were in dressing room drinking Jack, etc. Cash came by and said hi. He’s like: “I’m Johnny Cash”, and we’re like, Yea you are! June led him out of the room by his earlobe. Apparently he’s stayed too long. She’s taking care of it, we had liquor and she wasn’t having him in that. It was out of love.
Then, there was Little Richard. We were in LA across from the House of Blues at the Hyatt House. For many years, Little Richard lived in the penthouse. We happened to get a room there, and during the day we walked down past the bar. There are a guy in silk pajamas in the bar. He called me little Paulie McCartney. “Come over here” he said – and gave me a hug. He was wearing little Prince shades. We took pictures. Were on either side of him leaning over – looks like Weekend at Bernies.
Doni: Who do you hang with on tour?
Jimbo: We try to see all the bands that we play with. Koffin Kats are coming on the next run. And Unknown Hinson. And of course. Lucky Tubb – good friend of mine. We enjoy MI area.
Doni: How did you end up in the Reverend Horton Heat?
Jimbo: True story – I lived in Houston and had a band called Six Gun. Someone called me and told me to go see this band called the Reverend Horton Heat. I was tired, so I was like, I don’t know. I went to see them and was blown away. Got to talking to them while cleaning up. I chatted with the bass player. I asked, “Can I slap your bass?” I started doing this triple slap thing that apparently they had been talking about. Jim walked up to me and asked for my phone number. I got a call from him a week later and his bass player were discussing techniques. He drove down, I auditioned. Had a show 3-4 days later. Had to learn 2 hours worth of material in a few days and made it through. And to think, I almost didn’t go.
Seriously, playing music for a living makes me the luckiest guy.
Doni: What’s your favorite car, or hot rod?
Jimbo: I am an old truck guy. I like all old trucks. I have a mid 70s old chevy truck that I work on. Jim (Heath) had an old 5 window Chevy.
I also have a Land Rover which holds family and 2 upright bases. I have 3 tattoos of my bases on my legs and an arm. I think I have had 10.
Doni: What are your favorite Reverend Horton Heat songs to play?
Jimbo: Right now – She Likes The Smell of Gasoline. I get to do a lot of slapping on that song. And then there is Wildest Dreams on the romantic side. Now, right now, any aggressive punk song. I don’t get tired of them. We’re getting ready to bring out some of the old songs.
Doni: How long have you been playing?
Jimbo: In band for 28 years. Six Gun in Houston TX. was my first band. That was more punk rock. Then Stray Cats came out. A friend of mine, Finger and I, we wanted to play that kind of music. He stole a bass form a school, dragged across the field and I decided to learn the upright bass. I taught myself.
Doni: What is the background of the Jimbo songs (both of them)?
Jimbo: It’s all Jim Heath. At times I amuse him. He’s a very people person, he soaks in people and their personalities. John Lennon wrote songs on weird stuff Ringo would say. It’s off the wall. I amuse him. He throws stuff together. It’s funny. I am flattered. Just silly things that go through his mind. I like the way the song (The Jimbo Song) slows down, tells a story and then goes into that fun rockabilly. I own all of it.
Doni: What is your family life like?
Jimbo: Married for about 18 years. She puts up with me. 2 kids. Austin and 9 year old Hunter. He’s a wild cat. Oldest plays upright bass in orchestra in music special school. I taught a master class in the school. They all lined up and I taught them to slap it, but don’t think the teacher liked it.
We used to play ¾ of a year before families, but now we are usually on tour 6 months. Going to Australia soon. And, my 16 year old son is set to get his driving permit today.
Doni: What do you think about the concept of a Throttle Gal? What does that mean to you?
Jimbo: Well, I guess because I met you, a gal that isn’t a pinup girl but actually enjoys the car culture and can get grease on their hands and have fun, be part of a goup – love of cars, rockabilly culture. Not uptight. Let your hair down, and be real.
Half the time we meet people they are playing a part. Expressing the love of the culture all the time and not be uptight about it. That’s a Throttle Gal.
You know what Jimbo? We agree. I can’t wait to see you next time our paths cross.
If you want more info on this awesome guy, and the great fun music of the Reverend Horton Heat, check out http://www.reverendhortonheat.com/