If you head east on Belknap, you’ll end up in Haltom City. You’ll know because the scenery turns into a seemingly never-ending loop of pawnshops, used-car lots, and shade-tree mechanics.
It’s a little like being in a cartoon, if said cartoon were directed by Wasteland poet T.S. Eliot. Sometimes the surroundings are broken up by a Vietnamese café here and a Mexican restaurant there, but mostly the “city” is about as industrial as a suburb can be — the kind of place where folks might sleep on conveyor belts and eat rusty rivets for breakfast. Haltom City ain’t bad. It’s just, you know, Haltom City.
This is where The Me-Thinks are from. When you hear them, it all makes perfect sense.
Every year since forming a couple of years ago, The Me-Thinks have been voted by Weekly readers as the best hard rock band in our annual Music Awards. If you had to describe the band in two words, I suppose “hard rock” would work, but it doesn’t do any justice to the poetic inebriation that makes them my favorite band in town, a group I loved even before my band, Darth Vato, began gigging with them. Instead of describing The Me-Thinks’ sound as “hard rock,” here are some alternative suggestions:
“Smog collected and sculpted into grinning, slaphappy gargoyles who go forth into the night to hump assorted legs, urinate in backyards, and skip bar tabs, and not always successfully.”
“The sonic manifestation of the bong rip you took right before puking.”
“An ’82 Monte Carlo painted by Earl Scheib and driven by Rat Fink.”
“Smart, coherent burnouts.”
“Perpetual adolescents who have extended their glory days instead of merely pining for them.”
Basically, The Me-Thinks are funny, they’re loud, and they bask in self-deprecating wit while remaining untainted by precious, cutesy, hipster-irony.
And they also travel with their own fog machine.
The band used to be a three piece but is now a quartet (that means four guys). Ray sings and plays bass, and for the past three years, his subversive takes on pop art have appeared on pretty much every poster for every rad show in town. Marlin shreds the guitar and is fog machine engineer. Will used to play drums, but now he trades solos with Marlin. Will’s also an incorrigible smart-ass. You’d think that to be hip and campy the twin lead guitarists would coordinate cock-rock poses à la Judas Priests’ Glenn Tipton and KK Downing, but that would be entirely waaaaay too much work for Will and Mar.
The latest addition is Trucker John, who has filled Will’s vacant drum seat/upside-down drywall mud bucket. He’s in a billion other bands. Most of them are some form of hardcore.
The guys in The Me-Thinks have been friends since junior high school, and they make their own fun. Whether it involves booze, pharmaceuticals, or vintage amps, they still manage a good time. For the past 800 years or so (by my estimate, anyway), The Me-Thinks have been trying to put together a representative musical snapshot of their good times — and they’ve just now finished. Make Mine a Double is so named because it’s actually a double-e.p. If making a double-e.p. rather than a single album strikes you as a cleverly moronic thing to do, you’re absolutely right. It’s reason No. 108 why The Me-Thinks rule. “Bands, dude” make full-length albums. Goofs make “double-e.p.’s,” and God forbid anyone ever confuses The Me-Thinks with a “band, dude.” They’re goofs. Period.
The record is uniformly awesome. I’m biased, but I defy anyone to find a better blend of stoner-garage-punk around. Songs such as “Burnout Timeline” and “Permanent Krokus” perfectly encapsulate life in the HC in its entire, gritty splendor. Next time you have a no-tell-motel party (and I aver that you will), the soundtrack to your bacchanals should be Make Mine a Double. It’s that kind of album. Excuse me, double-e.p.
People tell me that my band plays party music, and I always respond with, “Thanks, but you clearly haven’t heard The Me-Thinks, have you?” Our partying is bush-league compared to theirs. I don’t mean to sell Darth Vato short — I love my band — but I’m OK with playing second string. We’re in illustrious company, after all.
So I love the Me-Thinks. Even though they claim to be Fort Worth’s “shittiest band,” everyone knows different. Sure, they get ripped, but they also are amazingly focused, and they’re one of the few bands that can do both at the same time, get shit-hammered and play tight, that is. They have a funny rule, though: They don’t headline. I know because I asked. My band has a show with them in December. Since I think they’re pretty much the kings, I suggested they take the midnight slot. But Ray wasn’t buying it. “Nah,” he said. “We’re only functional drunks past eleven. By twelve, we’re totally useless.”
Since their uselessness is widely known, The Me-Thinks get a lot of mileage out of the Asian Media Crew, two dudes who wear matching jump suits and serve as the band’s stand-ins/documentarians/press liaisons. They’re as much a part of The Me-Thinks as any of the musicians. There is video equipment, and I have seen it used before, but mostly the AMC guys just drink and cut up. During our Weekly Music Awards trophy presentations last year, the Asian Media Crew accepted the award on behalf of the band. I recently asked Ray where he and his bandmates were. “I dunno,” he said. “Probably at home, being lame or something.”
In Haltom City? I doubt it.