The Earps
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The Earps

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The best kept secret in music


"Valley Veterans The Earps Are Ready to Resume Their Cross-Country Hellraising"

When Earps frontman "Hotwheels" McGregor compares his band to Spinal Tap, he's not referring to his band's music (although a song like "Hoggin!" might owe at least a small debt of gratitude to Tap's "Big Bottom"). It's just that the Earps' recent travails remind McGregor of the near-constant onslaught of bad luck that befalls the fictional heavy metal band.

After a productive 2007 that saw The Earps ink a deal with Colorado indie label Big Bender Records, release their debut album, Here Come The Earps, and tour the country, last year was "the fuckin' worst year for us, ever," says McGregor. With gas prices hovering around $4 per gallon, The Earps couldn't afford additional touring to support the album. To make matters worse, the band learned in late 2008 that longtime lead guitarist "Ump" was moving to Oklahoma for family reasons. With no money to tour and no guitarist to even play local shows, some fans assumed the band had called it a day.

"There's been a couple people who were like, 'Are you guys still a band? What's going on?'" McGregor says. "Out of sight, out of mind, I guess."

The band placed an ad on Craigslist and auditioned several potential guitarists, but ultimately, it was a recommendation from Ump himself that led them to their newest member, "Denver" Dane. Dane, who has honed his chops playing for local acts Oktober, and Chad Freeman and Redline, and has even sat in with national artist Jason Ringenberg (of Jason & the Scorchers fame), turned out to be a natural fit for The Earps. Dane was drawn to the band's blend of glam-metal distortion and debauchery tempered by old-school country twang.

"It works out perfect for me, 'cause I can play straight-up country, like real traditional country, and I can also play Zakk Wylde, fuckin' hardcore metal," Dane says. "So it works out great 'cause I get to go all over the board . . . As a guitar player, this is probably the happiest I've been."

Onstage and on their album, The Earps embody the hard-partying, devil-may-care attitude of vintage '80s cock rock. But behind the tongue-in-cheek stage names — McGregor and Dane are joined by bassist "Buckshot" George and drummer "Marvelous" Matt Maverick — and paeans to women, wine, and whiskey ("Devil's Bed") and hookers and blow ("I Love Las Vegas") lies a band with legitimate marketing acumen. They may be loath to admit it, but The Earps actually put a lot of thought into looking like they don't give a shit.

During their search for a new guitarist, image was nearly as important as talent. With George already playing the role of '70s glam rocker and Maverick channeling Hollywood hair metal, the band was wary of moving too far in the butt rock direction. The new guitarist needed to replace not only Ump's guitar licks, but his "good ol' boy" image as well.

"We needed another 'Bubba,'" George says. They found him in Dane, whose cowboy hat and jeans ensure that The Earps will retain their country heart.

The band also believes in the old-fashioned methods of earning fans one at a time, through constant touring and word of mouth.

"You see these MySpace bands," McGregor laments, "and it's like 'All right, 10 million plays, guys? Fuckin' 80,000 friends? What program did you buy to collect all those friends?' We signed up on MySpace like five years ago and we've barely had 100,000 views."

But touring doesn't always pay instant dividends either.

"We've been to the East Coast and back," McGregor says. "It's kind of humbling, 'cause you think you're gonna do this and that and all these people are gonna come out and see you. It definitely gives you the experience, and I think that gives you more of an advantage over a lot of other bands. But playing Springfield, Missouri, on a Tuesday night to five people and the sound guy? Dude, you don't even understand how fuckin' humbling that is."

The Earps are fortunate to have jobs that allow them to tour. George and Maverick both say their "rock star" status is a novelty around the workplace, while Dane has a musician's dream day job: working for Scottsdale guitar-maker Fender. Fender subsidiary Gretsch is providing Dane with a guitar for upcoming tours and is considering adding him to their roster of sponsored artists.

McGregor works as a bus mechanic and also moonlights as a Marquee Theatre security guard, which indirectly led to one of The Earps' biggest gigs to date. McGregor says he was expecting the worst when he was summoned to the LuckyMan offices before a recent shift. But instead of firing him, his bosses asked him if The Earps wanted to open for Reverend Horton Heat.

"I was like, 'Let me think about that for a second. Uh, yeah!'" McGregor recalls.

The job has also given McGregor a unique perspective on the music industry and has reinforced his belief in The Earps' party band image.

"There's a lost entertainment element that nobody does anymore," McGregor says. "I've seen that a lot lately, working at Marquee. I've seen a shitload of bands come through — and these are like heavy-hitter acts or whatever — and these guys, I'd say nine out of 10 bands come in there, the guys look like they just got done mowing the lawn. I'm like, 'Are you fucking kidding me? I know you've been on the road. I know that you're tired and everything, but you know what? You've gotta suck it up. You're a fucking entertainer. The crowd seeing you that night expects you to look like how you did in an interview (or) in a video.' You don't go see a Mötley Crüe concert with Vince Neil and those guys wearing sweatpants and oversized T-shirts."
With a new guitarist, a new album in the works, and a high-profile gig this weekend, it would appear that The Earps have finally put their bad luck behind them. Even gas prices have dropped significantly in the past year, allowing the band to return to the road for shows in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Denver, and Albuquerque. But Spinal Tap moments persist. In recent ads for the Horton Heat gig, the band was listed as "The Ears."

"We've seen our name fucked up before," McGregor laughs, "but it'll be like E-R-P-S, or fuckin' A-R-P-S, or maybe even A-R-E-P-S, but nobody's ever left out the "P," ever."
- Phoenix New Times

"Marshall Stacks & Cowboy Hats"

The Earps are in an enviable position. The Valley band's sound - country, punk and '80s metal best described as "cowpunk" or, in their own words, "butt rockabilly" - has garnered fans from both the local punk and alt-country scenes. The Earps are one of the few bands that could play on a country bill at the Yucca Tap Room on a Friday night and then play to a heavy metal audience at Hollywood Alley on Saturday.

"We're extremely fortunate where we can pretty much play on any bill and kind of fit," said singer/guitarist Hotwheels McGregor.

The band members' stage names play into the cowpunk imagery. McGregor is joined by drummer Marvelous Matt Maverick, bassist Buckshot George and a lead guitarist known simply as Ump. Onstage, the Earps typically wear jeans, t-shirts and broken-in cowboy hats. Ump's guitar features a Mopar logo while McGregor's sports a Dixie flag.

The Earps have established themselves locally and around the Southwest, playing frequent shows in Albuquerque, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, as well as their "home away from home," Las Vegas.

Playing a show in Vegas typically results in partying until the sun comes up, McGregor said. The Earps favorite Vegas venue is the Double Down, where George got a fast introduction to the Vegas lifestyle.

"The first time I went to take a piss in the Double Down, there was a guy taking a shit, a guy pissing on the wall and a dude getting a blowjob," George said.

The band's hard-partying ways are chronicled in the lyrics of their debut album, Here Come The Earps, which was released nationally by Denver-based indie label Big Bender Records. More than a year in the making, the album was recorded by Mike Bolenbach at Full Well Studios in Phoenix.

While many local bands blame the Valley's stagnant music scene on fickle fans or a lack of venues, the Earps don't hesitate to place some of the blame on Valley bands themselves.

"In Phoenix, for every 10 bands, maybe two are worth seeing," McGregor said.

The Earps have been together since 2003, and the time span between forming and releasing their first album was a conscious decision, McGregor said.

"You'll see a band that will fucking form in November, and then they'll have a CD in December," McGregor said. "You don't grow as a band. You don't know how to play the songs. You just record it quick and then you wonder why you suck."

While recording an album and playing constant gigs have been big keys to the band's success, it has not worked wonders for their love lives. McGregor said he's had difficulty finding a girlfriend who won't force him to choose between her and the band.

"It's a bad country song when it comes to that respect," Ump said. "I've been married three times already."

"When we started recording this record, everybody was living with girls," George said. "By the time it was finished, everybody was living on couches."
- College Times


Hubble House EP- 2005
(self released)
Here Come The Earps LP- 2007 (Big Bender)
Clash of the Billys rumble #1
Compilation 2007(Terror .45)
Get a Room! LP 2010 (Big Bender)



In 2004, the original lineup of The Earps debuted at The Hard Rock Cafe in Phoenix, a location of the international franchise that was once lampooned by Krusty the Clown on a TV episode of The Simpsons. (The exact quote was "The Hard Rock Cafe in Phoenix has better crap!") The Earps shared the stage with five other terrible garage bands that night. With the exception of The Earps and Civet, the other bands that performed that night are now defunct with a history that is as obscure as any musician who ever autographed a guitar display at the very underwhelming Phoenix Hard Rock Cafe.

By 2005, Hotwheels McGregor and Marvelous Matt Maverick were joined by an Oklahoman guitarist called Ump Ump. In late 2005, The Earps recruited Buckshot George on bass guitar, who had played for indie rock legend Jeff Dahl for several years. During 2006, the band developed a following, playing with Nashville Pussy and Gilby Clarke. On New Years 2006, The Earps opened for Veruca Salt at the Ultimate Scottsdale Block Party. In 2007, the band met Veruca Salt's two biggest fans. They were both female, hot and impressed enough to hang out with the band in Las Vegas (The guys had them at "We once opened for Veruca Salt.") Hotwheels McGregor offended them with a dirty and sexist joke inside their limosine and they ditched the band in a Vegas parking garage. Despite not getting laid by Veruca Salt groupies, the band was not defeated and began filming footage for their "I Love Las Vegas" video that night.

Later that year, the band recorded their debut full-length called Here Come The Earps, which was released by Big Bender Records in 2007. The album was followed by a 3-week US tour where the band played rock n roll every night, got drunk every night, ate White Castle nearly every day, visited a huge wildlife museum in Missouri and blew Halloween pumpkins to smithereens with firearms in rural Kentucky. The Earps, who were incredibly hungover at the time, also performed live on-air and conducted an interview on KDHX FM in St. Louis. During the tour, they also visited The Rooster Run General Store near Bardstown, Kentucky, a minor roadside attraction that inspired the song "Rooster Run."

Following the tour, The Earps continued performing in the Phoenix area. The most notable gigs were Arizona Bike Week and opening slots for Rhino Bucket and Joe Buck (Hank III). Like any almost any other indie label band, The Earps were unable to tour in 2008 due to extremely high fuel costs.

In early 2009, Ump Ump left the band for personal reasons and selected Denver Dane as his favored choice as successor. Denver Dane has performed with Oktober, Big Bender artists Marty Jones and Buckskin Stallion and Jason Ringenberg (from Jason & The Scorchers).

The Earps are a rock n roll band with honky tonk influences. They have been called "cowpunk" and "butt rockabilly". One local Phoenix country-blues artist described them as "Hank III... KISS... David Allan Coe... New York Dolls... Jason and the Scorchers..." The Earps are known for entertaining live shows that fall somewhere between arena rock and episodes of Hee Haw.

The Earps are currently working on their next album, due for release in early 2010. Stay tuned.