Forgotten series: Travis Shredd and the Good Ol’ Homeboys – 668: The Neighbor of the Beast (1996)

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OK. So, by this point in the review, you should know that these guys weren’t serious. Yeah, I know it just started, but come on, look at that album title — and that’s not to even mention the guy with the mullet in the cowboy hat with the Malcolm X on it.

Travis Shredd and the Good Ol’ Homeboys were born in the 1990s out of bandleader Eric “Travis” Wilson’s desire to be the best at something. To accomplish that, he figured the best thing to do was to create a style of music that only he played. Thus, the world witnessed the birth of Country-Metal-Rap, a sadly short-lived genre that Shredd was indeed the best at. A few people have tried to combine the three since then, but no one quite like Travis and the boys.

Yeah. It’s silly. Completely silly. And yet it’s entertaining as, well, hell. Shredd had me from the opening song on the album, also the memorable hit single, “My Ex’s Lawyer is the AntiChrist.” The song opens with an over-the-top country drawl and explodes into an equally over-the-top heavy metal chorus. After Travis, well, shreds, we get the rap segment of the song, which is, if anything, more over-the-top than the rest. If you’re going to do it, do it big is the motto here, and the band goes whole hog.

The fun continues with the title track which follows a very similar formula with Shredd alternately growling and shrieking the inexplicably infectious chorus. “Die (In a Flaming Car Crash)” has a swinging country segment with a grinding thrash chorus, and “Fire in Her Eyes (Hail Satan)” is a personal favorite as a quaint love song turns into a scene from “The Exorcist.”

As with any comedy record, there are some duds. Occasionally a song like “Rooster in the Henhouse” is more annoying than funny, but then you hit a song like “Saddle Tramp,” which if delivered with a little more seriousness and without the thrash and rap portions might even make a pretty good “serious” country song. “I’m Like a Kenworth,” without the tongue in cheek, has the makings of a groovy rap-rock number. Of course, without that tongue fully in cheek, it wouldn’t be Travis Shredd. And that’s one of the things that draws me to the record. There’s definitely some talent in the band, and you get the idea that if they decided to tackle any of these genres in earnest – well, OK, perhaps not rap – they could have forged a successful career. For some reason, they chose to do this instead, pretty much dooming themselves to obscurity. But I love them for it.

Everything, from front to back, is ridiculously exaggerated and completely goofy, but 16 years later the hooks from some of these songs still run through my head occasionally and get stuck there. God help me, but it’s true.

Travis Shredd and the Good Ol’ Homeboys released three albums in the 1990s – Headbanger’s Squaredance in ’93, this one in ’96 and Nashville Drive-By in ’99. While they all have their moments, this is easily the best. The group disbanded in the early 2000s and Wilson took his act to Las Vegas, where he’s worked as a sound engineer – most notably with Penn and Teller – and as a live musician backing some of the acts that play there. He also has his own show doing live mashups of classic country and rock songs with more contemporary pop songs. Though drummer Steve “MC Stevie-Bob Lethal” Leathart passed away in 2010, Wilson still gets the band together every now and then and released Table Scrapps, a three-song EP of unreleased tunes in 2011.

So maybe we haven’t heard the last of Travis Shredd after all. Who knows? Perhaps the world’s finally ready for the Country-Metal-Rap movement.

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Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelse
Fred Phillips
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