A local rocker and the owner of Carver neighborhood restaurant, Cobra Cabana, has released a heartfelt cover version of "I Walked With A Zombie," a classic track by Texas psych rock pioneer, Roky Erickson, who passed away last Friday at 71.
A colorful, well-liked character, Herbie Abernathy, aka Valient Himself, is known for his frontman work with the hard rock band, Valient Thorr. He posted the Erickson song on bandcamp noting that it was recorded in Feb. 2018 in Austin, Texas with another band, Austin's Riverboat Gamblers. Abernathy added in the post that he had been waiting to put it out, but the time felt right considering Erickson's recent passing.
Proceeds from the song will go to an Austin-based mental health organization. This is fitting because Erickson was once subjected to electro-shock treatment at Rusk State Hospital after facing a decade in prison for an arrest in the late 1960s stemming from a single joint of marijuana. Often described as an acid casualty, Erickson suffered from paranoid schizophrenia for much of his adult life, but always managed to stay true to his musical muse and had been performing more over the past decade with different young groups backing him. He found many supporters, including Henry Rollins, who allegedly bought him a new set of teeth.
Abernathy provided Style with more details on how the track came to be and how he feels about the influence of Erickson's music:
So, back in 1998 I had a band called Lo-Fi Conspiracy. Someone somewhere told me I sounded like Roky Erickson or Jeffery Lee Pierce singing for the Dead Kennedys. So I looked up who those guys were.
I knew of 13th Floor Elevators but at 18 hadn’t discovered Roky’s story or solo career. I first got ahold of a Halloween live tape he had recorded somewhere that still has the best version of "Bloody Hammer" I’ve ever heard. Then we got into all of it from there. "Two-Headed Dog"?! I should’ve recorded THAT song, but we literally had less than an hour to throw these couple jams together last year and take advantage of this opportunity to record that this man had offered us. That kind of became a challenge. Do we have all the parts? Can you guys meet me? Can we pull this off in less than 12 hours notice? Anyway.
I saw him with the Black Angels backing him in 2012 at Jazz Fest in New Orleans. It was incredible. He literally played every song I wanted to hear. So many creepy songs but also just as many love songs. My wife and I love “Anthem (I promise)”. He was a gentle soul. I also got to see him twice in Austin at his semi regular SXSW Ice Cream Picnic. Billy Gibbons got up and jammed with him. Valient Thorr was down there and we were super psyched because that was just after the big documentary came out and he finally started gigging again. I hope someone enjoys this 1/100th as much as I do when I hear Roky wail it through the night.
Rest In Peace Roky, and May your jams keep blaring forever.
In other news related to Abernathy's restaurant, Cobra Cabana is now offering Gay-Fil-A Sundays, featuring a chicken sando, waffle fries and poly sauce. Ten percent of proceeds will go to local LGBTQIA non-profit, Side by Side. So, if you don't like supporting certain chain restaurants, but still love you some chicken sandwiches, Valient Himself has got you covered. Props to that man.
Below, the trailer for the 2005 music documentary, "You're Gonna Miss Me," about Erickson's life: