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January 9th, 2009
'Beer-sighted' Thrillbillies bang out blues rock

Ace Pepper is The Thrillbillies’ guitarist

Ace Pepper is The Thrillbillies’
guitarist. 

By SARAH STEVENS
Scene Writer

Jack’s Roadhouse in San Marcos has seen many talented local acts grace the stage. The Thrillbillies added to that legend last Saturday night.

Playing a set composed of a healthy mix of the Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly, and Elvis covers peppered in among their blues-rock originals, The Thrillbillies showed their skills in seamlessly transitioning from one genre of music to another. Influences of the band range all the way out from Led Zeppelin and Van Halen to Tom Petty and Dwight Yoakum.

“We got our current line-up up and running about a year ago, but we’ve been going since about 2002,” bassist and vocalist Ed Cooper. Along with Cooper, The Thrillbillies are Ace Pepper (guitar and vocals) and Scott Leidecker (drums).

“I met Scott at an open mic night in Wimberley, at Cypress Creek Cafe,” Cooper said. “We were playing a Rolling Stones song and a guy drew a knife on a cop. I was just like, ‘Dude, that guy is an awesome drummer,’ and we hooked up.

“I write most of (the songs),” Cooper continued. “I’ll actually write the idea and the lyrics, and then I’ll come to the band and we all put the music together that way. I always talk about it like I go home and bake the cake, and then I’ll bring it to Scott and Ace to ice it and decorate it and make it taste real good.”

Said Pepper, “He brings the songs to us pretty fleshed-out, and then I just help him decide where the starts, stops, and breaks ought to be. We put in enough minor chords to make it interesting.”

Cooper said the band’s crowd generally works up over an original called “Beer-sighted,” noting also that, “We have a murder song, because every good band should have a song about murder, and that one is going over pretty well.”

The band’s name came about on a spur of a moment. After a set as the house band of a now-defunct bar in Wimberley, a patron asked for the band’s name. Cooper pulled “The Thrillbillies” out of the air and, said Leidecker, “it just stuck.”

The band put out its most recent album last fall, although, said Pepper, “Being the Internet age, albums are almost irrelevant. We can cut songs any time we want to. When we get something that sounds good we can just throw our mix up on Myspace. We don’t wait to stack up a bunch of songs, though I guess we could. We’re constantly posting new stuff on the Myspace page; song downloads, mixes from the studio, and new stuff we’re working on. We try to keep stuff fresh that way,”

The Thrillbillies are like most musicians in their goals for their band. They want to be able to support themselves without having to worry about maintaining day jobs.

“We would love to go to Europe,” Cooper said. “We’re getting with some booking people to try to get us over the pond.”

Asked to name their favorite playing venue, The Thrillbillies did not provide a surprising answer.

“The Triple Crown is a staple of ours,” Cooper said. “Everybody plays at the Triple Crown. It’s run by musicians and there are always musicians running the soundboard, and there’s music there every night. We don’t have to haul all our gear there, which is a huge plus. They give us drink tickets, and we like that part.” said Cooper.

Said Pepper, “I know all the sound guys there and they really take care of us. Our friends like going there, but mostly the sound system is just great, and the people that go there, go there to listen to music. So they’re fun to play for.”

The Thrillbillies are playing again at The Triple Crown tonight. For more information, or to listen to the songs they have posted, visit www.myspace.com/thethrillbillies.

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