On January 9, 1978, The Sex Pistols landed on stage at Baton Rogue’s The Kingfish Club and forever changed the Louisiana capital’s punk scene. But whereas many local punks were drawn to the Pistols and UK scene, The Zoomers focused on a more oblique sound that drew from the Modern Lovers, The Velvet Underground, post punk, and random weirdness. Using phasers, delay effects and songs about getting blasted, their music was more suited to dropping acid then huffing glue.
Their lone 1981 single, "From the Planet Moon" was reissued last year by New York label Mighty Mouth and is now followed by a vinyl release of the their album Exit, that until now has been available only on a DIY cassette.
We sent some questions to the band's George Barr to find out more about their music and the Baton Rouge scene of the time.
Noisey: What do you think of your music described as, “Way too smart to be outsider music but probably too drug-addled to be anything else”?
George Barr: Sounds like a Möbius loop with drugs on one side and money on the other. It’s hard to win a game of poker when all you’re holding is “one of a kind”.
What was Baton Rogue like in the late 70s? Was there much of a punk scene?
It was a point in time when conventional wisdom took a back seat to the “new reality”. It was a continuous party and coming of age experience. Chime Street was ground zero for all the action. Plus, there was the Kingfish on Highland Road where The Sex Pistols played along with Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Ramones, Talking Heads etc. But the best show I ever saw live there was John Cale’s, Sabotage Live. Plus, I was hanging with my new best friend, Gino Lutti, who fronted The Times, Baton Rouge's most popular new wave band. Gino would make sure that The Zoomers were always his opening act, often to the disgust of their fans.
Was Lou Reed much of an influence?
Like everyone else I had heard “Walk on the Wild Side” as a kid and loved it, but didn’t really think much about it until my cousin played me Rock & Roll Animal which I thought was the coolest thing I’d ever heard! And then one night after playing a gig with The Shit Dogs, we dropped LSD, went to the Dog House, and listened to the Velvets White Light – White Heat and then the Banana record. I was completely blown away by the sound I was hearing. It sounded just like the music I had been hearing in my head since sixth grade!
There is a certain exoticness of a late 70s punk band from Louisiana.
Well, it makes sense when you consider all of the exotic types of music that have come from Louisiana, that the 70s punk sound should also develop there.
Is “Let the Starving Egos Bleed" about any person in particular?
Obviously, it’s about me and anyone else looking to address their inner megalomania.
What did you think of those Hyped to Death records?
I was honored that my good friend Chuck Warner of Hyped to Death took the time to search through 10,000 records at the Amoeba warehouse and found only two that he deemed worthy to re-issue. One being The Zoomers' Exist.
'Exist' is available now on Mighty Mouth records.