The beginning of TSC started years before we were ever called Thrift Store Cowboys or ever composed the open, cinematic sounds you come to know today. Back then, we were snot nosed sophomores in high school. Colt Miller had recently picked up the guitar to play with his dad, Ben (who is still one of my favorite singers). He recruited the only drummer worth his salt at Borden County High School to slap the skins. Enter in Ryan Grant. He then convinced his cousin and my best friend, Clell Knight, to pick up the bass, an instrument he had never laid fingers on. All they needed was a singer. I loved to sing from an early age but had never done it in public before. The band had a gig at the Coyote Opry and was still predominantly instrumental. So they asked me the night before if I would be available to join. I was in.
The other fellas had already decided the band name. We were called "The Boheimers", which was what Clhell called little lizards referred to as mountain boomers when he was a child. He couldn't quite say "boomer" so it came out "Boheimer". We practiced up our best four songs and got onstage. The thrill of standing there about to do something I had never done before was better than any drug. To say we were a bit nervous is a massive understatement. However, once we started playing, I knew this was where I belonged. Here is the set list from that first show:
Silverchair - Tomorrow
Bush - Little Things
Better Than Ezra - Good
Bush - Glycerine
So now we were a band. We continued to play small parties, church gatherings, high school dances, the Gail "Lighting of the Star" during Christmas and of course, the Coyote Opry. During this time we welcomed a new member into the band. I knew Jeff Dennis since we were toddlers going to the same babysitters. He was always huge to me (he finally quit growing at 6'8"). His love for The Doors and all things alternative fit right in with us. It was also during this time that we started working on and recording some originals. These ranged from sappy high school pining love songs to the ridiculous, including a version of "Do Your Ears Hang Low" that had 17 verses. We would spend most Saturdays at the Miller house practicing in Clint's old room while he was away at college. We would record on a karaoke machine I got for Christmas in 8th grade with the microphone taped to the ceiling. Suffice to say, they all sound pretty terrible.
Throughout the years, we changed the name of the band nearly as many times as we played. Here are just a few of our band monikers we went by in high school:
Elop Bopp and the Durocs
Tator Reds and the Wonderful Ibex Fabrication
For Christmas during our Senior year, our parents gave us studio time at Studio 84 in Lubbock to record. We ended up recording 6 songs (five originals and one cover) in one day. It's not a gem by any means but it was a great experience for us to get into an actual recording studio. Those recordings have and will remain "lost" to the public. That year, we also played the FMX 21 and Under Battle of the Bands. This would be the first of many Battle of the Bands that we would lose. We played under the name "Tator Red's and the Wonderful Ibex Fabrication" and had a keyboard for a drummer at that point. No wonder we didn't win. The end of our high school music days came to an end with the Coyote Opry once again. The crowd was underwhelming but we did our best. Here is a video of that show:
Once high school ended and we all went to different college destinations, the future of the band was in jeopardy. Little did we know that this was only the beginning!