Something like it could have only happened in the nineties: a supergroup, composed of some of the greatest artists of their time, uniting for what seemed like the perfect combination of power, speed, and artistry. They had talent. They had brains. They had money. In the end it all fell apart due to the one thing they didn't have: friendship. This is the story of their formation, their rise to power, and their downfall. Note: originally published under the pen name "Chuck Klosterman."
Note: Texas and Texas A&M declined all requests for interviews for this piece.
Nebraska. 1995? I was good. Reaaaal good. I mean, I had some money. Some success. Maybe people thought the Big 8 was a little, I dunno...local, I guess? That's how it felt, at least until '94, when Tommie Frazier dropped, and everyone was like, "Whoa, what's up with these corn-eating farmboys?" We didn't ever do anything different. I was just doing my thing.
So we played the Fiesta Bowl, and just killed it. Unstoppable. Thought it would be the peak. I was right, but at the time I was like, "What could be better than this, right?" And I was in Cabo relaxing, humping it up, when Texas called.
Oklahoma: I never liked him. Admired him, yeah. I mean, the showmanship, the size, the flash. He always had that. But you know, it's not like Texas ever really put it together after a while. Like, back in the 80s, our tours would always end the same: I'd kill it, and he'd sit back and cash checks. Some of like making the donuts, and some of us like eating them, right? I can't tell you what to think, all I can do is ask: who's been making the donuts around here more often, right? And who's the one with the powdered sugar on their face? It ain't me.
You don't have to like people to work with them. That's what Texas always taught me.
Nebraska: So he's pitching this...this thing. I'm thinking, yeah, that's. it. We go platinum ten times over in '95, and everyone's still like, you're just Nebraska, and we're like, to hell with this. We can't just...I mean, have you seen Kansas play? I mean, we're on the same stage, but we're not even playing the same notes, right? I thought we needed some challenge, someone to play with who could push us to the Playboy Mansion, you know?
Oklahoma and I we had...we had something. Rivals? Totally. I mean, I know it didn't end well, but I'd like to think we're still friends. We just talked last week.
Oklahoma: [re: Nebraska] I haven't talked to him in years. When you see him, tell him he owes me money.
Nebraska. Then Texas had this idea. A supergroup, man.
Oklahoma: Don't use the word supergroup. I hate that. Like we've got fucking capes and shit.
Nebraska: I'm on the phone, and Texas is talking about the SWC. It's gone, just cracked and completely screwed up ever since SMU died. You want to know who could snort up a freakin' blizzard of dazzle dust? Those guys. It's like they wanted to die.
Oklahoma: I was against it from the start. I mean, I knew them. I knew how they were. I knew that we'd be getting enough problems with just Texas. Sure, they'd say it was a band. But they'd need their own limo, their own agent, their own perks. They'd be this big infant you'd have to deal with, because that's what lead singers are. Infants who demand first-class.
Colorado: I'd really like to help you with this, but I was doing a lot of drugs at the time, and just kind of went with it.
Kansas State: I stuck to the easy parts. It was all I could do. Sometimes I knew I was just barely keeping up. Most of the time I hid it well. I had my moments. Poor Kansas. I don't even know if anyone remembers him being on the stage.
Nebraska: I'm on this call, and it sounds so awesome. I mean, Texas, and then their backup singer Texas A&M, who is weird but whatever: it's Texas, man. This seemed like a way to just line it up and go international.
Oklahoma: I got Texas A&M. I knew they were going to follow wherever, because you couldn't unstick him. You just couldn't. Texas used to just, you know, put cigarettes out on his forehead, and he'd just laugh it off and shit. I never got that.
Texas Tech was fine. I mean, you never really go out looking for a keyboardist/marimba player. They just fall in your lap, and then every now and then they do these crazy Moog solos, and you're like "thanks, bro." Some nights I'd just let 'em play and disconnect their monitor. It didn't seem to make any difference. He was just so far out there, it really didn't matter what you did.
Missouri: I'm...I don't want to talk too much about any of this. Still sort of in between things. I respect everyone in the band. Let's just say that. Wait, I'm sorry. Texas can eat a taint-flavored lollipop. A dude's taint, not some hot lady, okay? They can just eat that all day long, far as I'm concerned. Used to use my bathroom to shit in, and not his own. Every. Single. Night. What kind of an asshole thinks he's too good to streak his own toilet? I mean, really. Ask yourself that.
Oklahoma: I didn't know what to do with Baylor, though. There's this song called "Who Let these Hoes In My Room?" That's what was up with Baylor, I think. I still don't really know.
Nebraska: I don't know. Maybe Baylor was like a LInda McCartney thing. He was there no matter what. Couldn't play. Couldn't sing. No songs, no nothing. At the time I was cool with it, but come check time, you know, you might raise some eyebrows and say, "What's THAT guy doing to get his zeroes, right?"
Baylor: I had photos of Texas and I on vacation in St. Maarten. Very interesting photos. That's all I'll say.
[Baylor then ended the interview, and refused all further requests for comment.]
Nebraska: And man, I don't even know how to talk about Oklahoma State. Just...you know the guitarist who buys like a $15,000 guitar and then plays a $45 solo on it?
That was Oklahoma State, man. I love 'em, but man, just all over the place.
Oklahoma: So yeah, we did it. Just got together and did the damn thing. it worked for a while, to be honest. I didn't know how fast Nebraska would crack, though. That was a total surprise.
Nebraska: I didn't know how hard it was going to be to keep it together. I mean, I was okay for a while, but that night in Boulder, man, I didn't even know how hard the drugs were hitting me until it was too late.
Kansas State: I couldn't believe it. He just looked out on his feet, dazed. He was always a little out of control, you know? But that night he peed into his amp and nearly killed himself, and that was before Colorado decided to kick his ass on the bus.
Colorado: Again, I don't remember a lot of this. I'm trying to come to all of this from a place of peace now. It's been a rough decade for both of us. I don't judge him. I hope he doesn't judge me.
Nebraska: I deserved it. It was steroids, barfighting, booze, the Solich. I lost count of everything.
Oklahoma: I don't even remember when he started using Callahan. All I know is that I've never seen any drug like that. It didn't even look fun.
Nebraska: Callahan. Yeah, don't ever do a drug you find in Oakland. Ever.
Iowa State: The band's fine. I don't know what you're talking about. Do you know how important a coronet is to the success of a band? You music writers are all the same. Couldn't make it in a band, so you just tear them down. The coronet is integral to our success.
Oklahoma: Seriously. Do you know how hard it is to work that fucking midget trumpet into every song?
Missouri: That was always one of the downsides. It was like every song had an English monarch marching through the middle of it. Whatever I do next, no trumpets.
Nebraska: I just lost the thread there for a few years. Totally lost it.
Oklahoma: It's a testament, I guess, that he functioned at all, really. Had a hit or two in there. But there were nights when Kansas and Texas Tech played better than he did. Shit, one night Iowa State just soloed right over him.
Nebraska: That's when I knew it was over. The trumpet night.
Oklahoma: The trumpet player just blew you off the stage, bro. Right off the goddamn stage.
"HE WAS OUR YOKO."
2005 was the last hurrah for the Big 12, and the beginning of the end, as Texas won their national title.
Oklahoma: This was hard to admit at the time, but I was having some serious mental problems. We could play clubs, and even mid-sized shows, and I was there, every night. But the big places, they just started scaring me. The lights, the people. I got stagefright. I mean, I'd outperform our charming lead singer night after night. People knew I was the Noel Gallagher of the band, but I wanted that lead singer cred, man.
And when it came time to sing my lines, nothing came out.
That will fuck with you like nothing you've ever seen.
Colorado: I just remember how hard it was for him. I wasn't sober--I was in and out of jail, missing gigs, just barely there at all--but i do remember that. I tried to get him some Ayurveda for his problems, but I got too high and forgot it and fell asleep in the woods for a few years. That's not a metaphor. I lived in the woods for four years from 2006-2010. I ain't goin' back, either.
Missouri: I can't say I didn't enjoy it a little. Don't tell them that. I'm not in the position to piss anyone off right now, so don't print that, please. But I did enjoy it.
Nebraska: Then Texas has this crazy hit, and the 2005 tour they just kill it. I mean every night. He's mostly this lazy, entitled piece of shit, you know? I didn't know that about him before, but now I know, and that there's a reason for it: he's brilliant, and thus lazy. He'll coast most of the time, just happy to be himself. But when he puts it on, man. It almost made being in the band worth it. That was the beginning of the end
Texas Tech: I'm working on this theory of time and space you'd be fascinated with, I'm sure. First I'm going to have to ask you to put this on your tongue. It's not acid. Well, not acid-acid, exactly. You ask a lot of questions. Have you ever read One Hundred Years of Solitude in the original Chinese? What? No, I'm afraid you have Marques all wrong. There's a lot to explain. Perhaps we don't have time today for that. Or do we?
[/SPACE LASERS NOISE]
Oklahoma: Texas owned 2005, and that screwed with me for a while, but it really screwed with him. Once McConaughey showed up, we had our Yoko. Suddenly he was Hollywood, and we were the Entourage. With an E. He thought that show was cool. He called Texas A&M Turtle. He'd cry for hours over it. That show is shit, by the way. Total shit.
Missouri: That guy was everywhere. Never wore a shirt. Told Texas he needed an agent, a separate deal. I can spoil some things for you, ladies. He smells exactly like hot dogs, and not the good ones, either. He's like walking around with a horrible cheap convenience store following you around all the time.
Kansas State: I...I got involved in a pyramid scheme. Things went bad for a while. There was some litigation. I really can't talk about it. Let's just say I'm focusing on one day at a time now.
Oklahoma: And then they got their deal. I'm still stunned, but not as stunned as when Texas A&M finally left.
Nebraska: The SEC? I dunno. I've heard it's less like a band, and more a cult or something.
Oklahoma: I don't want to talk about that. You never know.
Missouri: I've heard it's nice.
Oklahoma State: Yeah, I know where they went. I'll just show up to jam. Just point me in a direction and I'll rock.
Nebraska: I was so messed up, and Texas just sucking up the royalties, that yeah, I had to get out to something more wholesome. It's quiet up here. They make a lot of casseroles, you know? Just some place where you can do work, heal, focus on the job, right? We all get the same check. We're all even.
Colorado: I'm in this jam band now. Way more chill. Way more my style. I never was very good on the road, so I'm just trying to keep it simple, take care of the home front now, work myself back up to touring. Someone told me the other day I beat up Nebraska once, and you say: maybe I could do that again, man. I don't know.
Oklahoma: I haven't decided. I really haven't. I don't think Texas has, either. Their solo thing--it's not selling, is it? Right? How's that going? I'd like to as him about that. Not gonna lie: last year was really good for me. Really, really good. Not so good for my old lead singer.
Maybe it was better when there was nothing on the line. When it was just about us, and our little farmboy thing, and once a year we got to play a one night stand and then go our separate ways.
Being in a band's like being in a marriage. Texas cheated. I'm mad. That's the story. Always will be.
Nebraska: Was it fun? Yeah, it was fun. Damn near killed me, though.
Kansas: Wait, wait: I was in a band?
The Big 12's Management responded to this story by mentioning that it has not formally announced its breakup, and still plans on touring for the 2011 concert season.