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Butthole Surfers’ ‘Strange, Grotesque, Unparalleled’ Early Catalog Reissued by Matador Records

The Butthole Surfers were probably one of the most confrontational rock bands of all time, bursting out of Texas as a hardcore act in the early 1980s before mutating into an acid-drenched surrealist nightmare, with famously unhinged concerts featuring blinding strobe lights, nudity, feedback and deafening volume. The group eventually developed a more commercially friendly sound (relatively speaking) and scored an alternative-radio hit in the 1990s with “Pepper,” which cleverly combined a psychedelic rock sound with vocalist Gibby Haynes’ talk-rapping.

Yet there was a lot of chaos before that hit, and Matador Records has reissued most of the band’s recorded output from its first decade: the albums “Psychic…Powerless…Another Man’s Sac,” “Rembrandt Pussyhorse,” “Locust Abortion Technician,” “Hairway to Steven” and “piouhgd,” along with EPs and other material recorded during the band’s “strange, grotesque, and ultimately unparalleled first decade,” according to the announcement. The albums, owned by the group but licensed by Matador, are all now available on streaming services; information on physical releases is expected in the coming weeks.

A feature-length documentary about the band (pictured above in 1984) is scheduled to premiere next year.

The group was formed in 1981 by Haynes and guitarist Paul Leary, with drummer King Coffey joining in 1983, and they remain the band’s three constant members. The group was profiled by Michael Azerrad in his book about the 1980s American indie scene, “Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the Indie Underground 1981-1991” (Little, Brown, 2001).

“The most surprising and rewarding chapter to write was the Butthole Surfers chapter,” he told the A.V. Club. “I’d always thought of them as a bunch of drug-addled reprobates – which maybe they were – but it turned out to be more complicated than that.”

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