Twenty or so years ago I spent part of an evening with a Detroit cowpunk band called Goober and the Peas. They were playing a gig in my town’s mining union hall, a big old space that smelled like old workboots and cheap draft beer, so they were right in their element. In their official photo, they’re kind of cowboyed up, with those hats and rhinestoned shirts, but when I was with them they were in road mode, sweats and sneakers and jean jackets.
So we did our thing for an hour or so, talking about the history of the band, their sound (I believe I called it “urbanized rurality,” or maybe the other way around, because I was young and kind of flashy like that). I remember the young drummer didn’t say much, just slouched there strumming an acoustic guitar as Goober or whatever his name was carried on with the interview. Just another day on a rock critic’s beat.
I still have thousands of old black-and-white 8x10s of bands from the 80s and 90s, all from press kits sent to me by labels and publicists. These days, I usually just get a .jpg and a link to a Soundcloud file, so I still enjoy sorting through my old photos. Especially when the bands were either funny-looking or really, really full of themselves.
So I came across this Goober and the Peas shot a while ago, and something twigged with me. Putting two and two together using decades of writerly knowledge and also Wikipedia, I realized that the kid on drums way back then was John Gillis, better known today as Jack White of the White Stripes, he of Blunderbuss, one of the best rock albums I’ve heard this century. You can see him in the photo; he’s second from left, grinning like a dork in true Peas fashion.
Nothing beats a secret celebrity encounter.
We all know what Jack White did with his musical career after leaving the Peas. The other guys still get together from time to time, and they’re worth seeing live if you get the chance.
I’ll keep rooting around in my photo files for other neato shots. There may be a new Turds of Misery in there …
And here’s some Goober and the Peas to wrap things up.