An interview with Chevy Heston and Chic Curtis
by Nik Rainey
photo by Rich Rodichok
I Reviewed a Chevy Heston Show… And Lived!
(An Allegedly True Story)
The Myth, the Legend that is Chevy Heston brought nightcrawlers of all stripes and exoskeletons out to the Rat on a cold Tuesday in February, drawn like iron filings to the high-intensity magnetism of Boston’s fave Exiles on Indie Street. Though still classified as a “local band,” each of its four members has, for sundry reasons, relocated to different areas of the world, only coming together in times of maximum global strife to anoint the faithless with an album (like Destroy, their second release for CherryDisc) or a tour. And it was here, of all the rock clubs named after rodents in the metropolitan area, that I had my own rendezvous with Hestony. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Arriving late after an unfortunate altercation between Captain Morgan, Dr. Pepper and myself, I withstood the turgid genericisms of one opening act and the pissed-off, money-grubbing whines of another just long enough to catch the Vision: Bandleader C. Heston himself, being led gingerly in by his drummer/co-lyricist/de facto manager Chic Curtis and flanked on all sides by four Nation of Islam bodyguards rented specifically for the tour. I tried desperately to flag him down, hoping against hope that he’d remember me from the book tour following the publication of Pamela Des Barres’ exploitative memoir, I’m With Chevy Heston. But all to no avail – the Man refused to acknowledge my crazed semaphoric pleas and Curtis responded with a single-digit gesture of his own. Fine. The world-exclusive interview I was sure I could get could wait until after the show.
Just after eleven, Chevy mounted the stage. After being lowered by cherry-picker into a broken director’s chair (to massive applause), Heston and the band that bears his name tore into the rippling instrumental that kicks off Destroy, “The Day Begins.” From there, they slammed through the album in its entirety, combining one-chord pop fragments like “Young Pussy Advisor” and “That’s What Drugs Are For” with all the wistful lyricism their names imply. The rabid masses frothed as one. Their classic “Transmission” tied off the crowd’s collective arm, the ascending guitar chords of “Destroy” cooked up the glory, and “I Am The Singer Now”(their first-ever encore, I’m told) drove the plunger home and satisfied my dope-analogy quota. The world swooned. Curtis threw a velvet cape over Heston’s trembling form and spirited him away. The show was over.
If only it had ended there.
Twenty minutes later, I was standing at the bar, forlornly slopping down my tenth beer-laced water (the “house brew,” don’tcha know), when I was roused by a tap on the shoulder. I turned. A jeweled fist greeted my face. Blackout.
I awoke thirty-six hours later in the median strip of Davis Square, head all a-throb. A business card reading “Dr. Caster: Unnecessary Examinations At A Reasonable Price” had been inserted into my nose and my micro-cassette recorder was halfway down my throat. I coughed it up and the tape played. It appeared I had gotten my interview after all. Here are the highlights:
Chevy. Chic. Destroy. Why?
Chevy Heston: Because it’s something that needs to be done. There’s so much shit around that’s just falsely constructed, modes of behavior imposed on everyone, certain ways you’re supposed to act and react, and people should take it upon themselves to tear it down. We’re all responsible.
Indeed. Anything to add, Chic?
Chic Curtis: (Pause) No. (Long pause) No. (Longer pause) No.
Well said. Incidentally, do you think you could loosen these ropes a little?
Chevy: Absolutely not. If we did that for you, we’d have to do it for all the journalists.
Chic: Brett Milano had the ropes on, Greil Marcus had the ropes on… We’re not about to change our policy for you.
Fair enough. Tell me about the origins of Chevy Heston.
Chevy: Well, Chic and I were both show-biz kids from the get-go.
Chic: Just after the get-go, actually…
Chevy: Yeah, right. Chic was playing keyboards with Sly and the Family Stone. He had written most of their better songs and was basically screwed out of the publishing rights…
Chic: What could I do? I was only three.
Chevy: …and I had just come back from a South American tour with Santana. We met in Philly at the Second Fret, discovered we both used the same kind of pacifier, wrote twelve songs in one night, and the rest is history.
Chic: It’s not been without its problems, though. Management troubles…
Oh, I’ve heard about this.
Chic: Shut up or I’ll reattach the electrodes. We had this fucking psycho working the phone room for us…
Chevy: Ray Strausss. S-T-R-A-U-S-S-S. “The extra S is for ‘suck my fuckin’ dick,'” he used to say.
Chic: Around the time of our first album, we were using Ray to set up a tour for us. We were taking more of a telemarketing approach to touring – “Hello, I’m from Chevy Heston, are you interested in either a concert or some aluminum siding?”
Chevy: But he was using the Heston organization as a means to support his lidocaine habit. He would’ve bled us dry if we hadn’t, uh…
Chic (ominously): Taken care of him.
They both laugh.
(Gulp.) Oh, ah, um… I really liked your show tonight.
Chevy: Could you hear us singing “fuck” and “pussy” clearly enough?
I think the music is very revolu…
Chevy & Chic: COULD YOU HEAR US SINGING “FUCK” AND “PUSSY” CLEARLY ENOUGH?
Chevy: That’s all that really matters, you see.
I was just wondering why you only played two songs off the first record tonight.
Chevy: We don’t own them anymore. That discolored little prick Michael Jackson does.
Chic: Asshole. It’s not enough that he’s stolen our best ideas, like the whole Leni Riefenstahl military-propaganda thing, now he has to rip off our whole back catalog. You know that song “Black or White?” He stole that from us. Changed the lyrics and most of the music, but it’s ours. Actually, the original title was “I Sodomized a Dead Llama.”
Chevy: A love ballad. But we’ve had problems with ex-band members. David Koresh was in the band for a while, but that didn’t work out. His stuff was too sentimental for Chevy Heston.
Interesting. So now that Destroy has gone quintuple-platinum and has been praised by statesmen and mental-health officials the world over, what’s next?
Chevy: We’re going in to record our third album in March, tour through July, then we’re playing Chelsea Clinton’s birthday party.
Chic: Yeah. It was Hillary’s idea, actually. She’s no fool. She keeps up on things. We’ve summarily replaced Fleetwood Mac as the White House’s band of choice.
That’s fascinating, since the structural parallels between “Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)” and “High School Cock Smell” are inescapable.
Chevy: Most of our songs are transparent rewrites of Fleetwood Mac songs.
Chic: That and Jimmy Buffett.
Okay. Well, I’d better wrap things up soon. Do you have a message for the youth of America?
Chevy & Chic: “You do shit, and then it’s done, and then you die.”
(Sniff) That’s beautiful. Oh, and one more thing…
Chevy: I think that’s enough questions.
Chic: Yeah. Let’s throw him out of here. See you in Hell, Mr. Rock Journalist!
Chevy: Cogito, ergo sum, motherfucker!
Hey, wait! Don’t! I won’t bother you ag…