“Sometimes it’s like two old kids fighting over the same toy…it’s not necessarily a thing of power, just misunderstandings. I like to describe it as, “We have a CCR relationship.” Called the John Fogerty leaving Tom in the hospital. The last time I left the band wasn’t because of family or anything like that. Just frustrated with the ownership of the basement.” – Mike Lyon of Earl’s Killer Squirrel
Enter the Lyon brothers. One week before their anniversary show, Earl and Mike, have agreed to sit down and talk a little history. 18 years of Pensacola madness that began at Sluggo’s.
It would be impossible to fit 18 years into a 500 word column, but here is a link to my article that ran in the following week’s Pensacola News Journal (Along with the EKS 18th anniversary celebration at Sluggo’s Vegetarian Restaurant, the article includes a discussion with two time Grammy Award winning drummer Tyler Greenwell, who also grew up in Pensacola.)
*** EKS Interview with Earl and Mike Lyon***
MS: The name, how did you come up with Earl’s Killer Squirrel?
ML: That was Earl’s nickname in high school.
EL: My nickname in high school was Earl the killer squirrel. We were looking for a name before we started EKS we were going by 2% Milton and me, my brother and Ted Helmet first started and then nine months later we changed the name. Rymodee joined the band, so we decided we needed a new name and nobody could think of anything really, so the Earl’s Killer Squirrel stuck.
MS: What was your first show?
EL: April 6th, 1993 or 94 was the first one at the Sluggo’s on Intendencia. An open mic night for 2% Milton.
ML: We also played that night with members of PAWG and The Scaries.
EL: And the first official EKS when Rymodee joined the band was about September 25th or 26th as EKS of 1994.
MS: Speaking of shows, what has been your most memorable show?
EL: I like when we played with The Huntingtons.
ML: Yeah, we played with The Hungtingons and also liked the show we played with Boy Sets Fire and Stretch Armstrong.
EL: But one of my favorite shows of all time was-see we’ve had members over the years, we’ve had people kicked out and booted that played one off with us, and one of the best shows ever was playing…they had an all ages show. The two headlining bands that were supposed to play were running behind an hour, so we had to get something up on the stage to keep the kids entertained. And me and my brother were working the show. We didn’t plan on playing, so me and my brother got the drums out of our practice place at Sluggo’s, got the drums and guitar out. Got Doug Gilmore who was one of our guitarists and he got up there and played with us. It was me, Doug on guitar, me on bass and my brother on drums. We got up there and played for 45 minutes and held up the show til Fury 66 and 88 Fingers Louie showed up and that was one of the best shows ever. But my favorite definitely has to be The Huntingtons.
ML: It was also when we played with Good Riddance and Millencolin because Down by Law didn’t show up. And of course, the drums were all kind of messed up, so I wind up using Good Riddance’s drum kit….no, that was Melancholy’s drum kit, Good Riddance’s snare. Really nice guys and we always run into Millencolin every time they come into town to stop and practice or play. It’s been at least four or five years since that.
MS: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done or seen at one of your shows?
EL: Probably him busting open his head with the cymbals.
ML: Yeah, we played a show for about three hundred or more people with a band from Birmingham in 1997. It was April 19th, I believe it was. They had already played and we went on and we were in one of our last songs and I was doing a drum roll and I knocked the symbol stand and I busted Ted Helmet, busted his knuckles open and he slung the stand back and it busted me in the head as I was playing, so as soon as the song stopped, I just grabbed a crash symbol and I proceeded to bust mine open until I just started pouring blood out. That also being the same night I wound up coming from behind the drum set and mooning all three hundred of those people.
EL: Then there was also the night that we played New Year’s Eve and apparently someone forgot to hook up the stage lights, so we played in the dark. We did a good set. At Sluggo’s, probably 99 or 2000. Probably 99, we played with Plaid Girl. They never did turn on the stage lights, so we played in the dark the whole time….(at this point of the interview, a young lady is flirting and grabbing Earl’s butt. He whispers in her ear something to effect that they are doing an interview. She laughs)
MS: She can still grab your booty during the interview. There’s nothing wrong with that.
EL: She ain’t grabbing my booty!
MS: Uh oh. Oh…oh…oh. The anniversary show. Any special surprises? What can people expect to see?
ML: We’ll be unveiling a good friend of ours and fellow musician from the Pensacola punk scene and so…Eve and I…
ML: Shane Langseth. Very great guitar player. He’s going to be joining us on bass. So, you know, we’re probably not setting down together at each practice, he’s practicing on his own. That it in itself is going to be a surprise that night seeing how, as we usually go show to shows without practice, yet usually come tight out on top.
EL: Earl’s Killer Squirrel has a history of practicing maybe one time a year.
MS: Any plans for another EP or album?
EL: Definitely. We’re going to see what happens this summer.
ML: See about hitting a little, mini Southeast tour hopefully sometime in June, July if not even May. Just see how things are going to go. Go with it.
MS: As brothers go, I know its one thing to grow up together, what is it like to be in a band together?
EL: We’ve had our animosities definitely. We definitely have. We’ll give ourselves some looks. “That’s not how that song goes!”
(Hendrix’s “Hey Joe.” Has started playing on the jukebox.)
ML: Sometimes it’s like two old kids fighting over the same toy.” Sometimes, it’s not necessarily a thing of power, just misunderstandings, but sometimes I like to describe it as, “We have a CCR relationship.” Called the John Fogerty leaving Tom in the hospital.” We kind of have a CCR relationship every now and then. But the last time I left the band wasn’t because of family or anything like that. Just frustrated with the ownership of the basement.
MS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
ML: For me, I think that best advice as far as what the band came from…a dearly departed friend of ours guitar player Pat Ross. He gave me great insight on-I was on drums at the time-as far as stops and rolls and beats, and watching my hand and eyes while playing, keeping my foot in sync while playing. He helped us with a lot of our sound and with a lot of our style, for a short time he was there with us.
EL: A couple of months I played with the late Pat Ross, played with The Apathetic Band and Distant
Silence. He really added a lot to the band. Played a couple of shows with him. Played at the Little House in Mississippi. We played at Sluggo’s too. And we recorded some of it.
ML: He was definitely the most handsome member that EKS has ever had too.
MS: How did you get into music?
EL: I listened to plenty of punk rock bands like The Descendants and The Ramones and then I first started playing the bass and then I played drums, then I realized that if you want to get anything done music wise, you’ve gotta be the front man. And you can’t play the drums and be the frontman and be really noticed.
ML: I don’t know, Cowboy Mouth did it.
MS: Genesis and Phil Collins.
EL: I taught myself how to play guitar in one month. Then we did our first open mic.
ML: I’ve probably been playing guitar and drums. While I was playing drums a lot earlier, but I’ve been playing guitar…started out acoustic when I was 14 or 15 years old. I taught myself string to string and from there I was going. About a month in, I could take a song and play it by ear in about five minutes just off the radio. I don’t read sheet music, but since then I’ve progressed on my own, saved a bit on lessons too. Yeah, we had a lot of favorite bands, you know. More than just supporting music coming through, we wanted to be a part of that. Not for money or anything like that, because it’s something we love and have fun doing. Like any kids, with their dreams, we started out beating drums and playing wooden guitars in our garage.
EL: About every EKS song is about-everyone of them is a ripoff of a riff of one of our favorite bands. Almost every one of them.
MS: Speaking of favorite bands, what are your favorite…
EL: Well, the band that influenced me the most is early Green Day before “Dookie”. With Kerplunk, 1,039 Slappy Hours. Watching them play, seeing how easy it was. I went home and I was like, man this is a lot of fun and we can do this and keep it simple.
MS: Have you ever opened for Green Day?
EL: No, we’ve never played with Green Day, but I’ve hung out with them plenty of times.
MS: I remember the story about the shirt…
EL: And Courtney Love…
MS: No I’ve not heard that story….
EL: So every year for my birthday in the early 90’s …………..
(For the next 10 minutes, the brothers share a crazy New Orleans adventure with Courtney Love that is so off the record, you’ll have to get the details from the Lyon brothers yourself.)
ML: And another thing that people can expect from EKS right now is, aside from the 75 songs we’ve have yet to work on, there’s a whole bunch more being added. There is going to be a recording, new equipment. Look for a refreshed EKS, something more with life. More life than what we have had. In our age, we’re working out! We’re getting in shape…
MS: Like Rocky Balboa.
ML: There may be a little something for the ladies. After a few drinks, we may look good to them. They might think we’re Creed after they’re done drinking!
-Michael L. Smith