Oil Tasters – What’s In Your Mouth / Get Out of the Bathroom

Oil Tasters – What’s In Your Mouth // Get Out of the Bathroom (Oil Tasters Records) 1980. In an alternate universe the Oil Tasters would be a household name among Midwestern-based post-punk fans. All three of us. I mean, here was this band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin of all places mixing surrealism, jazz, rock, and funk. Bassist and vocalist Richard LaValliere and drummer Guy Hoffman both had been in the famous KBD Milwaukee band The Haskels of Taking The City By Storm fame. The band had no guitar player but instead saxophonist Caleb Alexander’s thrashing sax took the leads and solos, while LaValliere strummed the bass like a rhythm guitar. If this approach sounds reminiscent of anything at all it is probably the “low rock” of Morphine who started playing similar music in the 1990′s in Boston. Now I am not trying to call Morphine derivative, Mark Sandman’s low and breathy vocals were definitely different than LaValliere’s nasally whine but I am pointing out that the Oil Tasters were mining similar territory a good ten to fifteen years before Sandman and company. The trio, founded on Milwaukee’s East Side, released this 7inch in 1980. It included What’s In Your Mouth backed with Get Out Of The Bathroom, a track which also appeared on the Sub Pop 5 cassette compilation in 1981. That same year, a second 7inch EP entitled That’s When The Brick Goes Through The Window, was released. The Oil Tasters then released an LP recorded for Thermidor (1982), a Berkeley, California-based independent label associated at times with SST Records. A few years ago, Henry Rollins was actually going to reissue that Oil Tasters on the 2.13.61 label, but then it went bankrupt. Guy Hoffman of the band had to go to Rollins’ offices to get the masters. All of the bands material were subsequently re-released on the Australian label Lexicon Devil and is available on the Forced Exposure Website. Hank by the way, was cool about it; he plays it sometimes on his radio show. Quite a CV for a band that most of us have never heard of, no?

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4 Responses to Oil Tasters – What’s In Your Mouth / Get Out of the Bathroom

  1. Tom G says:

    Boy, oh boy, this one (Get Out of the Bathroom) has been in my head since I lost track of my Sub Pop roughly 25 years ago. (Seriously, when I saw the title, I was saying to myself “Please let this be the same song, please let this be the same song…) Had no clue of the band’s origin, but always dug the sax. Thanks tons for putting it up.

  2. jonder says:

    Amen to all that, Joe. I lived near MKE til ’83 and was fortunate enough to see the OilTasters onstage (killer live band), and spoke with Richard a few times (nice fella, very funny). Guy Hoffman went on to greater success drumming for two other Wisconsin bands, the BoDeans and the Violent Femmes. But for my money the OilTasters were one of the best bands ever from the Midwest. The Lexicon Devil comp is full of great original songs like “Let Me Sleep on Your Couch”, plus the OilTasters did a version of Hot Chocolate’s “Emma” years before Urge Overkill covered it.

  3. peckenpaugh says:

    i was lucky enough to see these guys play a few times at clubs in Chicago and thought they were brilliant. the first time i saw them, i remember this girl kept yelling out “What’s in your mouth!” repeatedly. since i didn’t know their material yet, i didn’t realize that was a song request and not a question, so i kept looking to see if one of them had something in his mouth… until they played the song anyway.

    at the time, i was struck by the ingenious combination of drums, bass & sax w/ no guitar. loved the sound and, not surprisingly, became a big Morphine fan later. for yet another take on this combination, be sure to check out Evil Beaver. they’re just bass & drums, no sax, with a female vocalist. Evie Evil runs her bass thru effects and it’s just amazing how full she can make the band sound. obviously, that’s even more true when seeing them play live, but you can get a sense of it from their recordings.

  4. Stephen Silvestri says:

    Just to let everyone know, Richard unfortunately passed away recently. I just heard this news. I used to work with Richard in a Manhattan bookstore. He was a really cool dude. Email me for more information, which I am receiving as it comes.

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