An Interview with Dave Nobody (David Duet) from El Pathos…by Wendy WWAD

An Interview with Dave Nobody (aka David Duet)elpathos - band shot

WW: So I believe that I first met you when you were on tour with Catbutt, which hailed from Seattle. How long were you with those guys? Weren’t you on Subpop?

NOBODY: Well I started writing the songs in the fall of 86 and the band started playing in the beginning of 87. Then we burned like dragster fuel and came to fiery end along with the decade a few short years later, or very long years depending on who you’re asking. We put out our first single as a dual release on Empty and Penultimate. Empty was based in Germany and Penultimate was a Bay area label. We did the “64 Funny Cars” single with them. Danny Bland, who was not on the single but had since join the band and myself booked a West Coast/Gulf Coast tour off that single through all the connections we had made through our punk rock youth. Sub Pop was very impressed by this and ask us to be on the label, which led to tracks on several comps including “Subpop 200” and the “Journey To The Center Of ” 12 inch. They bought a bus for our “Swapping Fluids Across America” tour with L7. Us and the ladies sharing every intimate detail of life on the road.  They were so impressed with the tour we booked that they started Terminal Booking, a booking agency which Danny ran, and I was his Boy Friday. Through Terminal we were able to get a few bands on Subpop, L7, The Reverend Horton Heat, The Dwarves, Supersuckers and so on. I remember being called in a office by one of the Bosses and ask to listen to a demo. I did. Then I was ask if they should sign this band called Nirvana, I said yes.  

WW: You spent a number of years in Seattle. How do you think it affected your style musically?

NOBODY: That’s a interesting question. I think I was meant to go to Seattle. As a kid I had varied musical interests that did not fit in with all my hard core friends. I had a desire to mix punk rock with blues and jazz, fuzzy 60s garage and country. I moved to the place that produced The Sonics and The U-Men. I was ask to sing in the band Girl Trouble shortly after arriving there, and became good friends and later worked and toured with The U-Men. On a lark I auditioned for Cornish, a very hoity toity art school and received full scholarships, and through my connection with Larry Ried, the U-Men’s manager and coordinator of The C.O.C.A (Center of Contemporary Art) I was able to become involved in the lively underground art scene which walked hand in hand with the music scene. The grey skies, wet cobble stone, strong beer and coffee and other strong substances, the melting pot of a old sea port city, the unbelievable used vinyl orgy at the plentiful thrift stores mixed with the juvenile delinquent attitude of the North West youth was very inspiring. I moved there at a perfect time, I saw the stuff no one knows about. You can read about it, but unless you were there you don’t know. I saw the fuse lit, then I saw it blow up.        

WW: What year did you move to Austin? What prompted the move?

NOBODY: Seems like folks get confused about that. I moved from Austin to Seattle when I was very young in Nov. 83. I came from the old Austin BIG BOYS, INSERTS, DICKS, STAINS days. I would come back for visits or on tour. When CATBUTT broke up I went to visit my mom in Houston for a couple of weeks and ended up joining a band and staying for three years. That was DASHBOARD MARY. I ended that one when I fell in love with the guitar player’s girl friend and jumped on a train to Seattle with her.  I left Seattle in 2005 for L.A. I started working on movies. I worked my way up to key grip quickly and had a lot of fun. I worked with a lot of cool people like David Carradine and Dick Van Dyke but mostly with folks like P Diddy or Usher. That could be a real drag. I decided to move back to Austin after a Christmas visit. Something clicked, it felt like the right thing to do.   

WW: Since 2009 you have been the lead singer for El Pathos. How did you guys hook up?

NOBODY: On that Christmas visit my old friend Rob Buford heard I was in town and called me up. He told me he was starting a new band and he thought I should sing. He sent me some songs he had recorded and I wrote lyrics for them. Then we wrote a few new songs. It all happen real quickly and painless, kind of magical, the lyrics just appeared. I took it as a sign. I went back to L.A. packed up and was back in Austin around a month or so later and we went to work.

WW: What’s it like playing with Austin legends Buxf Parrott (Dicks) and Pat Doyle (Offenders)?nobodybufxbufordel pathos -  dave and bufx

NOBODY: Amazing. We had a different bass player at first and it didn’t really work. When we found out Buxf was available and into it, we were kind of shocked. Buxf Parrott of The Dicks wants to play with us! I was nervous at the first rehearsal with him. I was already playing with one of punk rocks  legendary drummers, but now I was standing next to one of my childhood heroes. We had a good thing, but now we had a dream rhythm section,  When Pat Doyle and Buxf Parrott have your back you’re standing on very solid ground.

WW: So, as most people in Austin know, you had an accident involving your hand that ended up being a much bigger deal than you ever expected. Can you tell us what happened?

NOBODY: It’s a long story. I was in the hospital for thirty two days and have had thirteen surgeries so far. I’ll try to keep it short and condensed. I was putting a deck on a house when a piece of freshly cut tin siding sliced my right hand to the bone. I went into shock. The tin severed a tendon and there was a surgery to repair the tendon. One of the many reasons this sucked was that I was trying to finish an art show that was planned to be up for SXSW, and now there was no way that was going to happen. We had six shows at SXSW that year and I thought I would be able to pull those off, turns out that wasn’t going to happen either. A few days after the tendon repair the pain was very intense. Instead of decreasing it was increasing. I went back to the surgeon to get it checked out. After removing the splints and bandages it was easy to see the finger was in trouble. He said that he needed to do a emergency I & D (irrigation and debridement) surgery right away. He told me that normally he would do this in a operating room while I was put under, but there was no time. He was afraid that the infection would spread into the joint and that it could easily get into the bone or the blood after that. He said there would be pain but he thought it was necessary that it be done immediately. I agreed and we started. He gave me six shots in the top of the hand and then the nurse started to prep the surgical area. That is when I noticed that I could feel everything. He said when there is that much infection the numbing medicine doesn’t spread, so it doesn’t work,  Medical instruments were stuck into the wound and then forced up the inside of my finger toward the main knuckle and then pulled back to scrape out infection. It was unbelievably horrible and liberating at the same time. That kind of  blinding pain blocks out the wicked world. For a moment there is nothing else, just you and your pain. The doctor told me that I would have to do it again the next day and if it was getting better I should be able to play our SX shows. The next day the infection had spread into the hand and I was taken to prep for surgery in a real operating room. After I woke up from my third surgery the doctor told me that he believed that when the tendon was severed the tin had also penetrated the joint and injected the seven different kinds of bacteria they had found into my joint, and then the tissue closed after the metal pulled out…sealing the joint. A joint is sealed and there is no blood flow, so there are no white blood cells, nothing to fight the bacteria. So the bacteria went crazy eating the inside of my joint, mutating and building a huge amount of pressure, till finally the joint ruptured and ripped through the freshly repaired tendon. They eventually had to cut me open in several different places all the way to my wrist, cutting out all the dead tissue. Two of the bacterias were resistant to antibiotics and very scary. It took them several days just to identify the bacteria and almost a week to find the right drugs to kill it. It was a roller coaster ride. I almost lost the hand twice and found out later that my Doctor was having private talks with my friends about what kind of emotional support I would need after they took my arm. It was that close. The Doctors tell me that I have a incredibly strong immune system. The fact that stuff was in my joint for that long and did not get into my bones or my blood really seemed to blow them away. The fact that I got to keep the arm amazing, the hand a miracle. My strong immune system did cause some problems though. They tried to rebuild my tendon a second time using a high tech piece of lab grown tissue, a bovine stem cell material, but my immune system attacked and destroyed it and it had to be removed. Punk rock living makes a body strong.     

WW: How’s the hand healing up?

NOBODY: Well it’s moving in the right direction but I still have a long way to go. After my body rejected the bovine stem cell tendon the Doctors decided to let me heal for a while before doing anymore surgeries. My thirteenth surgery was a skin graft. When I got out of the hospital you could see the bones and tendons in my hand. I could touch them. I had to carry around a machine called a wound vac that was stimulating tissue growth and keeping it clean as it grew. After enough tissue was grown they took a piece of skin from another part of my body and grafted over the new stuff. Now they want me to go through a year of hand therapy to make the hand as strong as possible so they can see what works and what doesn’t. The goals is to fix all the remaining problems with one surgery if possible. So now it’s lots of painful therapy and meds and staying positive. Gotta keep my mind right.

WW: With so many surgeries plus bills and whatnot, how have you managed to survive financially? Were you covered by HAAM?

NOBODY: Oh yeah, HAAM is amazing. They are one of the best things about Austin. You can’t say enough good things about those people and the folks who donate to them. I doubt I’d have a hand with out them, but my bills are pushing at three quarters of a million dollars, and they keep on coming. HAAM is a blessing but I don’t know how much they can do. I’m trying not to worry, but it’s hard. I have not been able to work since February. My main worry has been the day to day life stuff, rent, bills, dog and cat food, gas and meds and copays. Those last two are killing me. I’ve been trying to get some kind of assistance, but not having any luck. My employer has denied any responsibly and turned their backs on me. If anyone has any tips let me know, please!

WW: I know that there has been a slew of benefits for you…are there any coming up?

NOBODY: There have been a few and I feel very lucky and grateful for them. I’ve been living very modestly and stretching the donation as much as possible but I have reached the end of those funds. There has been talk of more benefits and I would be very grateful for them. I feel a little bit weird about being involved in the planning. Maybe that’s silly of me. Somethings got to happen real soon though, getting a little scary on the financial front.

WW: How would you describe El Pathos’ sound to the uninitiated?

NOBODY: I always think that if I could describe the band I would not want to be in it, but if forced, I don’t know. It drives out of Detroit and straight down through the Delta, crawls through the Cajun swamps and gallops across Texas, it flies across the high deserts, thrashes through the California coast and nods out in the dingy basements of the North West, how’s that for corny? Someone said it was like Tom Waits and The Stooges doing a spaghetti western sound track, I don’t know.

WW: Hate & Love (Saustex) was your debut album. Are you guys presently recording / working on your next release?el pathos - hate and love cover

NOBODY: Yeah, everything’s been a little delayed, but we have a world of new material. One thing were working on is a release of our acoustic show, been having a lot of fun with that. We will have a song on the Planned Parenthood benefit record that’s in the works, new stuff is on the way.

WW: I guess touring is out of the question until you’re all healed up. Any plans for touring in the future?

NOBODY: Well we will being doing regional stuff. We’ve done Alpine and Marfa since I’ve been out of the hospital. We are planning on heading all the way up to Seattle after the holidays.

WW: What do you like about the Austin music scene?

NOBODY: Well, I like the way we take care of each other. I like the variety of folks and styles that come together here, I love the history. I feel a duty to live up to the standards set by folks like The Dicks, The Big Boys, Poison 13, The Buttholes and The 13 Floor Elevators, you know that kind of stuff.

WW: Dislike?

NOBODY: Shitty pay and all around poor treatment of the live music makers who make this the live music capitol of the world, that and boogie butt blues, hate that stuff.

WW: What makes El Pathos unique?

NOBODY: The massive variety of influence and ability to transform that in a wide spectrum of song styles, but keep it cohesive. I’ve been told that even with our wide range of song styles, it some how manages to always sound like

El Pathos.

WW: If El Pathos had a mission statement, what would it be?

NOBODY: Rock till you drop, I’ll be singing in my coffin if I can.

WW: Who are your major influences?

NOBODY: Robert Johnson, Howling Wolf, Gary Floyd and The MC5. I guess it kind of depends on the mood I’m in. Love the Gun Club. el pathos - duet

WW: What’s your definition of success in rock-n-roll?

NOBODY: To leave a mark. It would be good to know that you wrote one song  that got some one through a bad time. I’ve had those kind of songs in my life and I’d love to leave one.

WW: Are you involved in any side projects? Are the other guys?

NOBODY: Life is my side project currently, getting better and keeping the roof over my head has been keeping me a little busy, but I am open to anything. Pat has Ignitor  and Buxf plays with Shoulders.,

WW: In addition to rock-n-rolling, you are an artist as well. What is your primary medium? Subject matter? I guess art has been put on hold due to the hand injury?

NOBODY: Trying to get back at it, I need it to stay sane, just like music. I’m all over the place in mediums, styles and subject matter. I kind of change everything every so often. I get bored.

WW: Is there a website where people can make donations to help save your hand?

NOBODY: Yes Rob Buford set up a Papal site for donations and people have been very kind, if anyone is interested it’s

WW: What have you learned as a result of your injury? I’m sure that the threat of losing your hand can be quite an eye opener!

NOBODY: All kinds of lessons learnt when something like this happens, but the big one is how amazing and kind people can be. The care and love I felt has restored my faith in humans. It’s really been over whelming, and it makes you want to be a better person and do good things. nobodycast

WW: What does the future hold for El Pathos fans out there? What can we look forward to?

NOBODY: The best original music we can produce and a damn fine rock show. If you’re not careful you just might learn something.

WW: Final words of wisdom?


Stay free, rock hard.

el pathos - dave screaming

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