Time made the big difference for Reverend Horton Heat on his new album, "Rev," which is due out Jan. 21. Heat (aka Jim Heath) tells Billboard that recording with his latest trio mostly in the group's rehearsal facility, Modern Electric Recorders, near Dallas allowed him luxuries that he hasn't had on his other 10 releases.
"We did some of it in a commercial studio, but by and large most of it we recorded ourselves, so that meant we could spend more time on it without having to pay studio costs and all that stuff," Heath says. "So we did kind of take our time doing it. There are several songs on the album we would completely trash and re-do the song, like, four times. That made it a little stretched out, but it's a good thing to be able to do that. It's not like we did a lot of overdubbing or anything like that, but it's always been a little frustrating to be pressed into a situation with most of our albums where we have two weeks, three weeks to do everything. This gave us more of a chance to knock the songs around a little bit more and make sure our performance was right on where we wanted it."
The gray cloud within that silver lining, Heath, was that "other bands rehearse in that building, so we had to do our stuff early in the morning. Sometimes we'd be in the heat of things, cutting a song, and the drum lessons next door would start up and we'd have to say, 'OK, let's come back tomorrow.' But most days we wouldn't stop. We'd go ahead and keep going, even if we knew there might be extraneous noises all over it. We didn't want to stop if it was going good."
"Rev," his first for Victory Records, kicks off with the high-speed instrumental "Victory Lap," while Heath blends a variety of real-life experiences with offbeat, often humorous observations. "I guess that's one of the things about being older now; I've got a lot of life experience and a lot of stories," Heath notes.
A case in point, "Spooky Boots" (listen below), a true tale from a friend in New Mexico who used to be the group's lighting tech. "One day he started telling me this story about his girlfriend who left him, the best girl he ever had," Heath recalls. "He told me all this stuff she did for him, and he said her name was Spooky Boots. He never knew her last name or if it was her real name or whatever. She was a Native American girl, Spooky Boots. He told me, 'One day I woke up and she was gone, and I haven't seen her since,' and he's been going to the town square in Santa Fe every Saturday ever since to try to find her. I was gonna tell him, 'Hey man, it's time to get over it,' so I asked how long it's been since she left, and he said, 'Oh, 1969.' (laughs) He was too far gone to even suggest it was time to give it up. It just seemed like a really sad story, so I wrote a song about it."
Reverend Horton Heat is currently on the road in the U.S. with dates booked into April, and Heath says he'll gradually work new material from "Rev" into the sets. Meanwhile, Motorhead's legendary Lemmy Kilmister has revealed that some of the material he's recorded with Heath and company is targeted for his upcoming solo album, which both pleases and surprises Heath.
"The songs we recorded with him were quite awhile back, but maybe we'll get back in and do some more stuff with him," Heath says. "They're pretty cool songs, like his take on vintage rock 'n' roll. We work really well with him; he comes in and does gigs with us sometimes. He'll sit in and we'll back him up for fix or seven songs in the middle of our set, which is pretty exciting. I'm glad to hear these songs we (recorded) may be coming out."