The man, The myth, The lonesome Bill p. Trask Bedortha, Eugene Weekly
If you don’t live in Oregon, you might be saying, who the hell is Clayton McCune? Well, he is the lead singer of local Portland Band, the Lonesome Billies. He is also a sales rep in the Northwest for some of your favorite brands, including Airblaster, and unlike many current inhabitants, he actually grew up in Portland. I sat down with Clayton During SIA at the Airblaster booth and picked his brain about music, its connection to snowboarding, and the reason country music can be bad ass.
The Lonesome Billies and snowboard parties of Portland go hand in hand. How did your connection with the snowboard industry start?
Well, I’m a sales rep, so I’m a shameless slut.
I feel like one of the first things we ever did was play at the Airblaster sales meeting, and we played for Salomon and Bonfire at one point, and then did some skateboard and snowboard video premiere party type stuff. Put out a record, and then put out a CD, and just kept playing. And then we met other bands. It’s definitely through all the shops and my relationship with them, and knowing all the people in the snowboard industry, so it’s just like get in where you fit in, kinda thing. And no one is in a country band – no one’s doin’ it! But we don’t really think of ourselves as a country band. We think of ourselves as like… Well one person told me we were the Ramones of country music, and I like that description.
When did the band start? And how did it start?
Ok, so, it’s four dudes and we’ve all known each other since we were like…ten. Michael and Glen Scheidt, Jeff Gaither and I are the members. I met Mike and Glen, who are brothers because we all played little league and we lived in the same neighborhood, and Glen was the substitute on my paper route when I was like twelve or thirteen. Glen was the first local kid I saw that had a double tipped skateboard – a new school, freestyle skateboard. That was in the early 90’s and it just melted my brain. Glen was also in the best band that any of us ever knew in high school. This band called the Knuckleheads and they just had anthem-like punk rock songs. There would be like 200 kids there on a school night, sneaking in 40s and singing along to all the songs, and it was just the raddest shit ever. I’d say that the Lonesome Billies are four dudes in a country band that grew up listening to punk rock and Wu-Tang. I didn’t ever wanna associate with country music, but then I would secretly listen to it, because I thought my friends would make fun of me. Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, I found this guy Roger Miller, but it was a lot of the outlaw like tough guy stuff. When Jeff and I started jamming tunes I was like, I wanna write a couple of country songs, but I wanna have swagger, I wanna think about it the way rappers think about themselves. We have bigger dicks than you and more money. Just the “We don’t give a shit about what you think,” kinda vibe. So the first song we wrote is I’m the Best Damn thing to Ever Happen to You. Which is like the attitude is still totally like a cowboy song.
The skull is kind of like their mascot. p. LB’s Facebook
That’s a good title for a country song.
Ya, one time I heard this old guy having an argument with his wife in a bar. They were bitching and moaning, and he leans in and he raises his voice saying “Your mama never liked me anyways, I’m the best damn thing to ever happen to you!” We went and wrote that song the next day. And it was just the two of us writing songs and doing our Simon and Garfunkel type singer-songwriter stuff. Mikey got in and he was playing tambourines and shakers, but his brother, Glen, plays drums, so he came in and got on drums and Mike picked up the bass. We started in 2010 as a two-piece and a year and a half later Mike came in and then a year after that. We put out our first EP Useless Bay in the fall of 2012. And Glen came in at the very very end of that and added drums on a couple songs.
So it’s been two years since that EP, are you guys working on recording any new stuff?
We’re workin’ on It’s Good to be Lonesome, by the Lonesome Billies, and it will be 12 or 14 songs with a vinyl release. We didn’t know how to record songs when we did the first one so we started with the guitar and then we did the rhythm and then we did the vocals, and it’s totally backwards. I don’t think anybody can really tell the difference but we know. Are you familiar with David Allan Coe?
I don’t think so
Ok, well there’s the old school cowboys, like Hank Williams, and a hundred dudes that came after that, that kinda all fit into that category. Then there’s Johnny Cash, who carved out country music with the rock ‘n roll attitude. And then behind him is like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings and then David Allan Coe came right behind Willie Nelson and Waylon and those dudes, he’s like a late 70s guy who’s definitely like a weirdo rock ‘n roll cowboy guy, and we’re opening for him.
So we’re now doing not only snowboard events, but also playing with other respected, I mean, David Allan Coe is a fucking legend, and like real, real country bands, whatever that means. So we’re like a fake, real country band.
The Gang in front of Wallenberg Traditional High School in San Francisco. p. LB Facebook
You mentioned being heavily influenced by rap as well as snowboarding. Why has there always been this connection that snowboarders feel with hip hop?
Well, I think that it’s just music in general, and hip hop is just one of them. With hip hop specifically, I don’t know. Lemme think out loud about this for a second. There’s an element to snowboarding and skateboarding that is not just the physical going up on hill, but the creative how you look at things and once you start snowboarding and skateboarding, you start looking at things differently. There’s an underground element to it. Not as much I feel like in snowboarding anymore, cuz it’s so like normal, to snowboard now.
Yea, now, I mean, John Kerry does it.
Right, but when we were kids, it seemed less popular. I remember in high school I had this thought process out at the beach when I saw these guys wearing totally ridiculous baggy shit. I remember thinking they looked so stupid, and then realizing that they didn’t really care what I thought about it. That’s when the light bulb went on. I liked the idea that they didn’t care what anybody thinks about them. So I went home and I stole some of my dad’s pants and I cut the bottom off, and I wore them to school and I got some skate shoes from the mall, and I was a skateboarder. I went to school and this kid tried to make fun of me and I just laughed at him. I was like ‘I don’t fucking care what you think. You’re not cool, you’re not into this shit.’ And then I just discovered the magazines and the videos, and through the magazines and the videos you learn about independent culture, independent music, independent thinking, independent art, and all these like sub cultures that then I’m sure a ton of people had that same epiphany through snow.
Pretty good out loud thinking!
I’ve thought about this before. But then also, snowboarding is mostly white kids that wanna be down with this cool other culture. There’s a part of that that, I dunno if we’re supposed to talk about that.
We can totally talk about that.
Haha. How old are you?
So I’m almost ten years older than you, but by the time I was in High School, the Chronic, and Boys in the Hood had just come out. And all this shit was sold to the white kids in suburbs. I’m not hard. Haha, but I just like the swagger of that attitude. Another connection is the whole “fuck authority and grown ups” part of snowboarding and skateboarding that fits with that music. And the same can be said about punk rock. Punk rock and rap music are probably the most “fuck the man” type of music. That’s your answer. Right there. The “fuck authority” thing. You have to have a little bit of that to be a snowboarder or skateboarder. Besides the fact that it’s awesome…That was a pretty long answer.
I thought that was great.
Do you have any plan to include your bands music in any snowboard videos?
Um…I think that’s something that we’d like to do, and that’s why we got the cards made. And we got a bunch of the EP CDs and early demos of the tracks from the full length, that I’m trying to get some guys working on video project stuff, to use our songs in their movies that are comin’ out next fall.
Band vibes. p. BIll Frost
But the only thing that’s definitely in the works at the moment, is that Brixton is using one of our songs for one of their little edits that they make. We tried to do our songs for the Respect your Elders, but we didn’t know how to record music live, and we never ever once offered our music or talked about it, and that was a missed opportunity.
Next time, man. There’s always next time. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. It’s much appreciated.