Pure guitar muscle and Texas Stoner Metal Psych insanity with universal themes like drugs, beer, sci-fi/fantasy, and Bongs of Power. If you like your riffs heavy, the solos unyielding, and the smell of the bong to billow out of your stereo, the LP4 is your band. INCONCEIVABLE, you say? Well, here is what some folks say about us:
“Perpetually and gleefully weird”
— The Obelisk (USA)
“A large red sticker proclaiming WEIRD ALERT could not make things plainer.”
— Q Magazine (UK)
“Variety through dementia indicative of excessive drug use and boredom.”
— Flipside (USA)
“Compulsory listening for anyone interested in modern American guitar rock, or just plain alternative music.”
–Crohinga Well (Germany)
“I believe they look like what the Goonies would look like today.”
–Comment by editor of 002 Magazine (USA) As overheard by Lance Scott Walker.
1993 – The Linus Pauling Quartet is formed. Begun by Steve Finley and Ramon Medina, the two eventually seek out Larry Liska and Clinton Heider to complete the LP4 MKI line up. In February of 1994, the band plays its very first show at Epstein’s in Houston, opening for The Mike Gunn. The rest of the year is spent writing new material or adapting older unused material from previous bands and recording its first record. Attempts to sign with a local label fall through and the band instead decides to record and produce its first album on a cassette 6-track at KTRU-FM at Rice University.
1995 – The Linus Pauling Quartet releases its first album “Immortal Chinese Classics Music” on its own label, Worship Guitars. Favorites like the “Linus Theme”, “Hamburger Girl”, and “Friendswood Development Company” successfully make quite a few college radio stations’ top ten album rotations. The CD, while cheaply recorded, provides a blueprint for future endeavors. It’s all in place here: cheesy guitar solos, odes to bongs, bugs and amphibians. Though loved by many, this first CD is not without its detractors. Most notably Michael Davis of Option Magazine suggests the band “should consider doing a few less bonghits”. Meanwhile, High Times places it on their POT TEN list.
1996– The band signs with September Gurls Records for a two studio album deal which concludes in 2004 with the release of “C6H8O6”. This same year, the band is asked to contribute a track to a two-CD compilation titled “Succour”, released to benefit the seminal British Psych ‘zine Ptolemaic Terrascope when it is a bit in the red. An all-night session is held at their practice space and the song “Dartania” is recorded live as the band’s submission to the compilation. On a whim, the band records seven other live tracks.
1997– Michael Demmler and Eva Koehler of September Gurls listen to the live tracks (intended as a demo) and suggest that it be released and a limited run 550 LP. The band agrees and within months, the second untitled album (aka “the Alien LP”) is released. Though fewer people are able to hear this recording, it presents a band hitting its stride. It also marks the last recording of the LP4 MKI. Meanwhile, “Dartania” is released as the lead track on “Succour”. The band heads off to Austin, Texas to record at Sweatbox Studios, but ends up with a partially completed recording. By this time, Flip Osman (who helped engineer the Alien LP) officially joins and Charlie Horshack is asked to play sax on one song. Curiously, the one track that is intended for Charlie is never completed, yet Charlie stays to become a major creative force. LP4 MKII takes shape.
1998 – Studio work is completed in a mishmash fashion -a late night vocal track here, another there. By the end of the year, the second studio record is completed and released – “Killing You With Rock”. The CD has something for everyone: Blue Cheer type cheese riffs, Hawkwind space sorties, Sci-Fi epics, garage rock sludge, sensitive 60s pop, insane pompous histrionic guitar solos, a gratuitous secret bonus improv lo-fi track, trippy mellow jams, Beefheartian skronk, etc.
1999 – A year with few releases but a lot of studio work for the band. In that year, they finally see the release of their split single with Italy’s renowned Kryptasthesie on MIZMAZE Records. The Linus Pauling Quartet’s track is a live tribute to Charalambides guitarist Jason Bill- aptly titled “Jason Bill”. Recorded live at Rudyard’s Pub in Houston, it provides a brief glimpse of the band’s live abilities. Around the same time of this release, The LP4 contribute a track to “The 26th Commandment – Thou Shalt Expand Thy Mind” -a free CD given out with Ptolemaic Terrascope #26. The track, “Cole Porter”, is from the same live performance as the split 7″.
LP4 MKII perform a live set for and an interview with Pete Dixon for his From the Vault program on KFJC-FM (Foothills College Radio in Los Altos Hills, CA). Two of these live tracks are later released as bonus tracks on “Ashes in the Bong of God”.
Carol Kelly joins officially – LP4 MKIII commences.
2000 – At the beginning of the year Ramon Medina begins sifting through hours of live jam tapes in the intent of putting ideas and riffs together into workable songs (e.g. “Switzer” on “C6H8O6” was a splice of a Clinton Heider riff and a Charlie Horshack riff). In the process, he sends some of the more reproduction-defying jams to Tony Dale of Camera Obscura for fun. Tony likes what he hears and loosely proposes the idea of releasing the material. In the process, September Gurls gets wind and offers to release it as a limited double LP in Europe, and Kurt Brennan of Fleece Records in the US offers a simultaneous US CD release. The idea of a narrative is employed to assist with tracking and later Clinton Heider is goaded into reciting the narrative to accompany the music. By year’s end, this fourth Linus Pauling album is released as “Ashes in the Bong of God”. This is also the final release of the LP4 MKII.
Flip Osman accepts a job at the legendary Hit Factory in New York City. The LP4 – New York branch opens.
The band closes the year with a fine set at Terrastock IV festival in Seattle – first live performance of LP4 MKIII.
2001 – Writing stage begins for new studio record as Steve Finley begins constructing his own studio -Digital Warehaus.
2002 – Recording begins on the new album. A version of the Pink Floyd song “Vegetable Man” is recorded by the band and released in Italy by Oggetti Volanti Non Identificati.
2003 – Early in the year, the final mixes are complete. It will take quite a few months until artwork is decided. In October, “C6H8O6” is released in Europe.
2004 – The band plays South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. The Houston Press Music Awards nominates the band for best Rock Band and Best Album. Curiously, the band is never requested to play the Award Showcase [where people are supposed to hear/be exposed the nominees] – most likely a result of the first time the band played the showcase in 1995 and won a Pyrrhic Victory against the inept soundmen.
2005 – The Band again plays South by Southwest and is nominated in the Houston Press. In the fall, the band puts together a Bar-B-Q at Sound Exchange. The community event is pretty fun but depletes the band fund which leads to a limited 50 edition CD-R pressing of “Songs of the Cretaceous” to recoup costs. The CD-R contains all of the band’s previous releases on one MP3 CD-R. Attempts to digitally distribute previous albums get bogged down between the band and its former label September Gurls.
2006 – The band takes a break from registering at South By Southwest and instead concentrates on live multi-media shows and completing the newest album. The band gets yet another Houston Press nomination which means another night of free beer at the Rice hotel. At this time (November 2006) the band has a full album of material (78 Minutes) for an upcoming album with only vocals and final mixes remaining to be completed. The completion of the vocals is hampered by nodes in Clinton Heider’s larynx, but the band is proceeding as fast as possible without compromising Clinton’s voice.
2007– The band hunkers down for most of the year for post production work and releases a limited edition full length LP, “All Things Are Light”, in November through Australia’s Camera Obscura. In December the band releases an extremely limited 13-copy CD-R track as part of the Grey Ghost series – “HAWG!” – Grey Ghost #48 – an 11-minute, two-chord, lecherous, pill-popping, dying-in-a-hail-of-bullets-complete-with-Otis-Redding-Rave-up biker-epic. It sells out on the first day.
2008– The band plays festivals hitting both SXSW in March (Austin, TX) and Terrastock 7 in June (Louisville, KY). EU copies of “All Things are Light” sell out in January. Some projects under discussion include a limited vinyl reissue of C6H806 with September Gurls, a possible split 7″ with the long dormant Dunlavy (Scott Grimm, formerly of The Mike Gunn), and a 10″ reissue of “HAWG!”
2009 – A quiet year for the band. The band plays the final Westheimer Block party, a few shows with MV & EE, Wols, Hearts of Animals, Harvey Milk, Rocky Moon and Bolt, Fired For Walking, Giant Princess, and ST37 then the band takes a hiatus from the public eye (if not from their weekly rehearsals) for various personal reasons.
2010 – The band emerges from its slumber with a bold plan of action – three releases in one solar rotation. The first is a split single with ST37 (with cover art by Eli Brumbaugh). ST37 serves up a cover of Chrome’s “Lactating Purple” while the LP4 contributes a new song, “Monster”. The two bands play shows together in Austin and Houston to promote the new single. On September 28th, the band releases the CD “Horns of Ammon” on Homeskool Records. The album consists of songs written and recorded between C6H806 and All Things Are Light as well as a reissue of the previously rare “HAWG!!!”. The Houston record release show is held at Cactus Records in the day and the Rooftop of Khon’s at night, featuring The Mathletes and Hearts of Animals’ Mlee Marie and Chris Cascio – (who also did the artwork for the album) – as the White Stripes.
2011 – The band plays the Free Press Summerfest. The complexities of recording being what they are, the band’s goal of three releases in 365 days is abandoned and the release date for the double album “Bag of Hammers” – an album of heavy-ass stoner rock – is moved back to initinally to the fall of 2011 and eventually to 2012 to accomodate Homeskool records’ release schedule.
2012 – This is likely the busiest year the band has seen in quite a long time. With Homeskool setting Bag of Hammers’ release date to sometime in Mid-July, the band submits the final masters in the first quarter of the year only to move onto a myriad of other projects. Projects include:
- Bag Of Hammers (Album) – CD and 2X mono LP release on Homeskool Records July 2012.
- Crom (Video) – The first ever LP4 video for the lead track of the album. Fully animated in glorious Claymation by the band. Release set for July 2012.
- Lee Jackson In Space (Compilation) -The band submitted a track, “Elven Queen,” for this tribute album in honor of the late great Texas scribe Lee Jackson whose presence will be sorely missed.
Additionally the band moved onto up the ante of its live shows to include a barrage of multi-media (projectors, lights, fog, etc) to enhance its live performances. One of the more memorable events of the year was when the band was asked by 29-95.com to perform as The Velvet Underground for its False Idols series. The performance was a full house extravaganza of silver balloons, projections, and many other tips of the hat to The Plastic Exploding Inevitable. Other shows included the Rockatron 5000 festival in Dallas and various other shows in the Texas region.
2013 – Though a few copies were locally pre-released in mid-December of 2012, Assault on the Vault of the Ancient Bonglords saw its official release date on January 22, 2013. The release came packaged with a fully playable RPG game and a 20 sided die. The 3 CD anthology of the band’s pre-Homeskool recordings curated by Homeskool’s Bubba Hightower, not only marked the band’s 20th year but also heralded their return to SXSW as an official SXSW showcase band. This was their 4th appearance as a showcasing band at the festival and based on the crowd response arguably their best, if not briefest performance at the festival.
After SXSW the band returned to the studio to work on new material which was tentatively titled the Summer and Winter EPs. The idea being that instead of releasing an album every few years, the band would instead issue shorter EPs over the course of months rather than years. The first of these, Find What You Love and Let It Kill You, was released July 8th digitally and followed with it as a limited edition 7″ record on July 20. The EP was a low key and personal release with the songs only performed live once at the record release. Despite this it received some very high praise and was even nominated for Best Local Recording in the 2014 Houston Press Music Awards.
2014 – In 2013, C.J. Boyd asked the band if they were interested in contributing to “Running Up That Hill: Kate Bush Covers for Reproductive Rights” and Ramon, being a huge Kate Bush fan, was pretty thrilled at the idea even though the rest of the band was somewhat skeptical. During the middle of the C is for Cthulhu sessions, the band took off two weeks and recorded of version of “Watching You Without Me” with the help of guest vocalist Mlee Marie (who also aided the LP4 in 2013’s FWYL) the band took a skeletal arrangement and fleshed it out into a fully realized version. The anthology was released in February.
Later in 2014, another call for a cover appeared. This time from Artificial Head records who were putting together the “Knights In Satan’s Service” KISS tribute album. As if switching from low to high gear, the band tossed together a version of the band’s song “She.” Yeah that’s right; the band jumped from Kate Bush to KISS because they just do whatever they feel.
October of 2014 saw the long delayed release of “C is for Cthulhu.” Finally, the record and the (now) epic video that were expected to be released in Halloween of 2013, made it out into the real world. The long delay finally killed off the idea of the seasonal 7″ plan in favor of releasing albums in the future, but what a way to go: a 7 minute mini epic video based on Call of Cthulhu, a limited edition red vinyl 7″ with cover art by http://www.cryptocurium.com, and two sides of aural insanity in the form of the drop-c title track and a cover of the Pain Teen’s classic, My Desire.
The band had the honor of having Scott Ayers of the Pain Teens join them on stage for at the record release show for a furious rendition of My “Desire” and on Tuesday 28 November, The Big Takeover, kicked off the release date with the premiere of the video. The band will close out the year with a string of shows and begin work on next year’s album.
2015 saw the band hunkered down in the studio to work on a new album, Ampalanche. One track from the forthcoming album, “Planck,” was released digitally and with a video to coincide with the publication of (lyricist) Brandon R. Brown’s book Driven by Vision, Broken by War on Oxford University Press.
2016 kicked off with the release of Ampalanche on Italy’s Vincebus Eruptum Records and a series of monthly free shows running from February to April at the beginning of the year to celebrate the release. While plans for an elaborate video were sketched out for the title track, circumstances were such that the video never went past the pro-production stage. Instead, the band’s sole video for the was for the track “Brisket” which due to various scheduling conflicts caused the two shooting days to be six months apart leading to the oddity of Charlie’s beard oddly changing length throughout the video. The Obelisk, in reviewing the video and album simply summed it up by declaring, “You might be able to search the earth and find a batch of heavy rock weirdos with as much charm as the Linus Pauling Quartet — because, hey, it’s a big planet — but I can safely guarantee you’re not going to have an easy time of it, and unless you’re ultra-stubborn and committed to the quest, it’s probably just going to be easier to hand the title over to the Houston five-piece and call it even.”
Near the end of the year, Clinton announced his retirement from the band but committed himself to finish recording the band’s last opus “Jólaköttur” which was planned for release as a split single with Italy’s Colt .38 on Vincebus Eruptum in the following year. ( For the curious, Clinton’s retirement package included an Avengers watch, a copy of Conan the Barbarian comic book anthology, and a gift certificate for a fancy pants local restaurant. ) With that, the remainder of the year took place by and large in the studio as the band recorded “Jólaköttur” and Clinton’s song “Trees.” The rest of the band agreed to continue making music but without Clinton, it didn’t seem right to call the band The Linus Pauling Quartet, and so the clock began ticking.
2017 saw the LP4 draw its last breath. The band performed a final show on 28 January 2017 with their good friend Mlee Marie (Hearts of Animals) opening with a solo set. On 10 July 2017, their last release Psychedelic Battles Volume Three was released on vinyl with the digital edition being released 3 months later.
And so the band’s near quarter century of music ended with “Jólaköttur” – a song written by everyone involved and a recording that included every member of the band including Flip Osman (who hadn’t recorded with the band in years) making it the most fitting of epitaphs for Houston’s Psych warriors.
So long and thanks for all the fish.
The Post-Linus era begins
Clinton Heider now spends his time playing in Hearts of Animals and his new band Razortooth (both of which also include Stephen Finley).
The rest of the band (Stephen Finley, Charlie Eberbaker, Carol Sandin Cooley, Larry Liska, and Ramon Medina) have continued working on new material and hope to begin the process of recording a new album sometime before the end of the year with a release sometime in 2018. As of this time the band has not decided on a name.