Stuck on Repeat: Big Boys’ “We Got Your Money”

Stuck on Repeat

Sometimes a song from Austin’s past won’t get out of our heads and we’re forced to share it with you so it will get stuck in yours too, like a music nerd version of It Follows. Today we’re stuck on the Big Boys’ “We Got Your Money,” the lead off track from the seminal Austin punk band’s second LP, Lullabies Help the Brain Grow, which got the reissue treatment from Light in the Attic records last year.

For a band like the Big Boys, you can’t get a much better album kick off than “We Got Your Money” and its opening couplet “I want to be a problem/I want to make a scene.” The pioneering Austin punk group had been doing just that the moment they emerged thanks to frontman Randy “Biscuit” Turner’s larger than life personality and taste in stagewear, namely his signature pink tutu and matching cowboy boots. But “We Got Your Money” isn’t a celebration of being a dedicated proponent of Austin weirdness, it’s a conflicted examination of the cost of being a spectacle and the artistic concern that you’re catching on with the wrong audience for the wrong reasons. After that opening couplet, the internal conflict becomes clearer, culminating in the song’s chief message: “I’m the big question/You’ll never understand.”

Turner’s lyrical assessment was on point, as the Big Boys remained more influential than successful, inspiring everything from queercore to the unfortunate funk punk subgenre, never quite getting their proper due outside of Austin in their own time. Turner might have been conflicted with the view of him by the “frat boys” coming out to watch the spectacle of his band, whose money the band is gleefully taking in the title, but even without outlandish stage antics, the Big Boys would have stood out from their punk peers. “We Got Your Money” begins with a guitar riff so completely alien from the world of hardcore Lullabies producer Spot was most associated with at SST that it sounds more suited to the current era, vaguely Afrobeat in its twistiness and cheery tone, happy in isolation in the high end of the spectrum, away from the sluggish bass and big beat.


Vocally, Turner is more clearly “punk,” yelping out his condemnations of the audience with the backing of a whoa-oh-oh choir and layered vocals. The song doesn’t have a chorus in the usual sense, instead it lifts from “Twist and Shout” and swells into a growing primal scream. That wordless climax fits the message, a musical complaint about something that isn’t so easily put into words, that need to do your own thing and be recognized for it but also to have some control over who comes out for your art. For the Big Boys that had added meaning due to their conflict with behind the scenes figures at stalwart punk venues like Raul’s, where ownership had shifted to a group that didn’t quite share the Big Boys’ views on culture versus commerce.

Struggle is good for artistry, though, and a few decades down the line “We Got Your Money” remains a defining Big Boys achievement, showcasing the band’s ability to bring together frustrated and ostracized groups to inspire and build off them while also spotlighting the band’s still unique sound. The Big Boys’ legendary showending demand that fans start their own bands instantly proved they made good on their need to “make a scene” in more than a spectacle sense. In the 21st century, that’s the kind of making a scene we desperately need.

Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics. You can also flip through his archives at  Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with his friends and enemies on twitter: @Nick_Hanover