The Eddy Band roared out of Texas in the mid-nineties on the strength of hits like the downbeat highway anthem “Shreveport” and the psychobilly-meets arena-rock of “Sin Crowd.” To the cognoscenti, it was always simply Eddy, also the name of the nomadic character at the center of the band's songs.
“It was a concept with a small C,” Chet Hix recalled, speaking from an undisclosed location. “We followed through on it even after we'd sort of forgotten about it. Eddy was a band, but at the same time it was this made-up guy we were writing about.”
By 1996, the band had reached critical mass. The lineup featured Hix (whose erratic behavior included going AWOL for a number of important dates), band founder, singer and guitarist Bob Hate, guitarist Stephen Thomas, and bass player Buck Rudo. But precisely at the point when the band was wowing audiences and music scribes, The Eddy Band disappeared.
“We'd crossed the Rubicon,” Hix said. “There's a line, and, once you've crossed it, you're just cashing in. It wasn't about the music anymore. We were all out of our minds a little bit. Success is a hell of a drug.”
For 15 years, the band released no new music.
“We weren't exactly speaking to each other,” Hix said. “I don't really know what the rest of the guys were doing [during that time]. Once I heard Buck was flying
planes for the CIA. That sounded about right.”
Then, to the astonishment of the music world, The Eddy Band reemerged in 2011 with “Six Foot Length of Rope,” a startling collection of new material and greatest hits. Somehow, the band had managed to pick up where it left off without losing a step.
The reunion was also notable for its turbulence.
“Everyone had a score to settle,” Hix explained. “You've got open sores that festered for 15 years, right? There was lots of [expletive]-talking going on in the studio. And that got out of hand. We just went to our corners, so to speak,after that, and then gradually we started working again, but long distance.”
Again, against all odds and reason, the band has reportedly finished a new disc, tentatively titled “Spanish for Medicine.” Hix confirmed that it will be The Eddy Band's swan song. “It's all new material, I think,” Hix said. “I never know what the tracks are going to be until it's out. I’m just happy when I recognize a few tunes.
During the band's long hiatus, the internet arrived in full force, making new fans for the band around the world.
“In Belgium, we're pretty much gods,” Hix pointed out. “Fiji, Kenya, you name it. We're like the Stones in Norway. The downloads add up.”
So why is The Eddy Band calling it a day, now that the band's popularity is at an all-time high?
“Ask Bob,” Hix said. “There's no Eddy without Bob. We spoke a few times about it, but his mind's made up. I wish him the best. I mean, the guy saved my life in 28 states. We’ve got our [expletive]-you money. I've done all right for a guy who was living in a bus station 20 years ago.”
It was 4 a.m. when the phone rang. That could only mean one thing.
“I pushed them all away.” It was Bob's voice. He sounded tired. It was no surprise that he was up already, hiding in his small studio well before the sun would come up over the towering adobe walls at his New Mexico compound. “They never understood me. My self-loathing. I made Nixon look like a piker.”
I knew this call would come soon because I'd heard that the band had splintered again. After some stellar sessions in Nashville, Bob retreated with the master tapes to ruin the mixes with reverb and piano.
“They deserved better,” Bob said. “Lemonds. He couldn't even look me in the eye when I left. Stephen at least let me shake his hand. Then he wiped it on his pants. Buck was the first one to go. 'Gotta catch a plane!' Yeah, yeah, we get it. ‘You're the pilot!’ Chet had one more beer with me at the end. That was nice. He just wanted to know if I still had a KISS t-shirt he left at my place in 87.”
I heard sounds in the background, guitars, drums. Then they stopped. The clicking of a mouse. “I should just erase it all,” he said.
But he didn't. Two weeks later I got a call to meet him at a campsite outside City of Rocks, NM. I found him in a folding chair, the nylon straps buckling under the weight. He was smoking. His face looked puffy, his eyes runny. He gave me 2 master discs, enough songs for one more album. “It's the best stuff, some from the summer, some from a hundred years ago.”
We talked about nothing until dark. After a long time I thought maybe he'd fallen asleep in that chair. I moved closer until I could see his face in the sliver of moonlight. He was smiling. I sensed he would say something, something that would bring it all together maybe something I could bring to the rest of his fans. Maybe he’d just tell me how he loved the fellas, how he’d miss them, how they’d made him a better musician, a better man.
It was dead quiet until he spoke. “You think, maybe, you could get the fuck out of here so I could get some rest?"