The FM Cowboys came from rural, small-town Pulaski, NY. I saw them play in the nearest city, Syracuse. Syracuse itself is surprisingly isolated for a city you've probably heard of, and this was in the late 1990s, before MySpace even. And so a great band like the garage/blues/punk FM Cowboys had little chance of being heard by anyone outside the immediate area. That's why I'm sharing their music here, including their entire tape/album, which still sounds amazing to me. Check out the first track, which summarizes their mission with the line "I wanna save this rock'n'roll world":
The FM Cowboys were high school friends who were always into indie rock (at the time that meant Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, etc) and then discovered country and blues. Their band was a ripping merger of lo-fi garage rock, country & blues, and an indie pop sensibility. It's not too far from the kind of style that The White Stripes and The Black Keys have since popularized. The style merger is summed up by their song "Sonic Blueth." (which contains the lyrics "God bless Thurston Moore, Goddamn Lou Reed, I wanna see him bleed") There was a garage rock scene going on elsewhere in the world at that time, but the FM Cowboys still seemed out of step. Wrong place, wrong time. Except for those of us who were at their shows, we got to be at the right place at the right time.
I first saw the FM Cowboys when a rock band I was in played before them at a Syracuse show. We spent the entire set talking crap about how no one else in town knew how to rock. Then, of course, the FM Cowboys came out, tore it UP, and blew us off the stage. Members Scott Spicer and Martin Scoville would switch back and forth between drums and singer/guitarist duties. Martin seemed like the wildman rocker while Scott was the loveable joker. A true buddy-movie pair. Their still-existing MySpace page tells their story in some more detail, including an explanation that they broke up because one member found Jesus. Perhaps there was a dispute over the aforementioned damning of Lou Reed? In any case, I'm glad that a document exists of them in their rip-roaring heathen days.
Download their sole album tape here:
FM Cowboys "FM Cowboys" album
Scott Spicer is also now in a band called Old North based in Pulaski, NY which is more low-key but seems to contain much of the same influence.