Behind the Mayhem: A Conversation with Timmy Hefner on Chaos in Tejas


For the last seven years, in the beginning of June, Austin has been crowded with homeless looking crusty punks. This year, there will more of them than ever before. They'll be streaming into town for Austin's most die-hard music fest: Chaos in Tejas. This year there's an impressive lineup with Best Coast (an unlikely pick) headlining. Timmy Hefner has been the brains behind the operation since the beginning. We met with Timmy at Bouldin Creek Coffeehouse, where he eats frequently. As he approached our table I noticed that under “tacos” on the menu, there was a taco named “Timmy.” I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as we did. Sorry ladies, he's taken.

AC: Oh shit, hey, I just noticed this, but are you the Timmy of the “tacos” Timmy?

Timmy: That's true, that's me.

AC: So, do you even like this taco?

Timmy: I mean it's very ... it's great, but I don't ever get it. I'll be honest. It's something I created. So, I get it. It's something I did eat at one point, but...

At this point the server comes to take our drink order...

AC: We'll have two Timmy's and ... I'm just joking. [laughter]

Timmy: What do I want? That's a good question. I want a ... I want a mimosa.

The waiter asks if we'll be getting food or just drinking.

AC: We're probably just gonna get drinks, I just got invited to dinner, so...

Timmy: I have to go to dinner somewhere after this...

The waiter: What's better than at Bouldin?

We all laugh.

AC: My friend is a really good cook, and I've never been invited to dinner at his house, until five minutes ago, so it's very exciting. I was gonna order, but now, I'll save my appetite.

Timmy: I'm going to Woodland.

AC: Is it any good?

Timmy: It is good, but I imagine if you're not vegan it's probably better. There's only one thing there that's vegan, the veggie burger. See, I think it's good, but I mean I've only had one thing, it's fine, but I mean.

AC: Are you a vegan?

Timmy: Yeah.

AC: How long have you been vegan?

Timmy: Like twelve years.

AC: DANG! Old school. Have you ever cheated? We won't tell, it's off the record.

Timmy: Well, not like on purpose, but I mean I'm sure I like...

AC: Accidents don't count.

Timmy: Yeah, I don't really like, I don't pay attention that much. Like I'm not the most like particular in that, so I mean that could be called like looking the other way or whatever.

AC: I had a roommate once who was a really strict vegan and once he was eating a Snickers bar and he was like, “oh, dang I didn't know this wasn't vegan!” Are you likethat?

Timmy: No, no. But like, like especially when I'm on tour I'll just be like “eh” whatever. I'll get the sandwich without cheese but there might be something in the bread or you know, stuff like that. I'm not gonna, I don't really send people to the back ...

AC: That's good enough for me too. You're still making a difference.

Timmy: That's true, and when I cook, obviously, and when I... if I'm at a grocery store and I can read the ingredients, I read the ingredients.

AC: That's what being a vegan's all about.

Timmy: Yeah, but if I'm out, I don't try to be a pain in the ass.

Our drinks arrive.

AC: Is your girlfriend vegan?

Timmy: No, she's not even vegetarian.

AC: How do you feel about that?

Timmy: I don't care. She's like opposite ... like if I come in and I'm like “is that vegan?” She's like, “No. It tastes good.”

AC: If your girlfriend made you eat a steak, would you eat it?

Timmy: No, no. She thinks most of the time when people cook and it's vegan, it's really good. And when she goes to vegan restaurants, she thinks it's good. Like she thinks Bouldin is good. But, when she goes to places that don't really specialize in vegan food and I get anything, she always hates everything I get.

AC: So, riddle me this. If your girlfriend, I know your current girlfriend probably doesn't feel this way, but if you were dating someone that you really liked and they loved your fest, maybe that's how you met, and they were like “I love Chaos in Tejas”...

Timmy: My girlfriend hates Chaos in Tejas.

AC: Oh, god, okay, this example doesn't work very well, but let's just say that you dated somebody who really liked Chaos, and they like begged you all year to book KoRn, because that was their favorite band ever, would you do it?

Timmy: No way.

AC: Okay, smart. So, you've never considered doing like a really big money stupid show?

Timmy: I mean there's things that I would like probably that fall in that category. I would obviously think it's cool if Motorhead played or Willie Nelson or something.

AC: Willie Nelson just played...

Timmy: Yeah, I know, but I mean if he played Chaos. That'd be so sick. That would be so awesome. Yeah, but my girlfriend doesn't like Chaos either, so like she wouldn't care who played.

AC: She doesn't like it? Does she at least respect it?

Timmy: She respects it. But also she only likes, like two bands ... She probably likes. like three bands playing.

AC: That's fair enough, opposites attract right?

Timmy: Yeah, she likes Best Coast …

AC: Hey! They're playing! You... So, basically the KoRn question worked only if it couldn't be KoRn cuz the person you love, doesn't love KoRn.

Timmy: Yeah, she doesn't love KoRn.

AC: But if she did, I bet ya anything you would've booked KoRn.

Timmy: Naaawwwwww

AC: So, were you ever into Earth Crisis?

Timmy: Uh, not really. I mean, I never wasn't into them. I donno. I liked similar things at the time when they were beginning in being popular...

AC: Do you like any vegan metal?

Timmy: Uh.... [pauses for a long time] Uh, no, I don't think so. I mean, how many vegan metal bands are there? I mean Firestorm is a sick track. Let's be real here. That's a CUT. So, I can't hate them cuz I feel like they have one cool song, but I don't like any other songs, so I can't say I like them per say. They're just there.

AC: Firestorm is really cool though.

Timmy: Yeah, it's a really good song. Apparently the Refused covered it at this reunion show which I think is cool. Because that would be the best song that Refused played.

AC: So what made you go vegan if you don't like any vegan bands?

Timmy: Well, I like early bands who talked about being vegetarian I guess. I mean I love Crass and Conflict and the Mob and all those bands that made a big to do about being vegetarian and stuff. But I don't think they were ever really vegan. Um, I would say that scene had a lot to do with it, but you know, when I was young I loved those bands. I mean, I still do. That's why the Mob and Antisect and stuff are playing. I definitely would say they had a lot to do with it.

The waiter returns and we order another round.

AC: When did you move to Austin? If it was a year and a half ago, we won't print that...

Timmy: It was 1999.

AC: When did you start being really into punk and hardcore?

Timmy: Um, when I was like fifteen or something.

AC: Have you ever seen GG Allin?

Timmy: No, I wish.

AC: I have a friend that played Chaos last year who is kind of an admirer of yours. Last year he told me that he was at a show and he was like “Oh my god, we saw Timmy Hefner.” Do you ever get anyone that is like “are you Timmy Hefner? Can we get your autograph?”

Timmy: Never an autograph.

AC: But do people come up to you a lot and are like, “You're Timmy Hefner!?”

Timmy: Yeah, kinda. I am almost more intrigued by the people who, when I'm like working the record store, they'll talk about a Chaos in Tejas poster and things happening and don't know who I am. I'm always really intrigued by that. Yeah, they'll be like, “Man, this things happening,” or like, “Oh, I heard so and so is playing,” and I always think that's really funny when I overhear that because I'm right there.

AC: So do you get a lot of people coming up to you like, “You know what you should really get next year...?”

Timmy: Oh yeah, for sure. It's pretty rare that somebody has a good idea. Ah, no offense people, but sometimes they say, “Oh I really think so and so should play,” and I'm like, “They're all dead, except for the drummer,” and then they're like, “Oh shit, yeah, that wouldn't be cool.” So it's not their fault.

AC: What’s some of the most difficult shit that you have had to deal with, doing what you’re doing.

Timmy: Just band cancellations. Last year there was a lot of band cancellations right before the festival and that’s always a nightmare. Most of it was justified, It sucks but you can’t really find anything cool with short notice.

AC: Yeah you just try to do the best you can.

Timmy: Yeah last year Killing Joke was a big one that cancelled, which was a bummer because it’s a band I’ve always loved. You can’t really find a band, people have plans or are on tour somewhere else, or can’t get work visas. It’s hard to workout things last minute. So I find that the most nerve wracking thing.

AC: So what do you see for the future of Chaos?

Timmy: I always think it will be the last year, especially at this point when I’ve got one month and I’m knee deep in everything. If I don’t do this I’ll do something else similar. I’ve always done music stuff. I’ll just run a label or something else. 540 Records keeps me busy as well. I’ll have four new records out at the fest too.

AC:What do have on its way?

Timmy: The Clean will have a double Lp.

AC: Nice. So, let's just say that you could bring anyone dead or alive to headline Chaos. Who would it be?

Timmy: I think probably the Ramones. Because I never saw the Ramones.

[Pauses for thought]

Timmy: Yeah, I never saw the Ramones, which there's a lot of bands I didn't see. I didn't see Black Flag. You know? But I guess the reason it's the Ramones for me is because I had chances when I was like a teenager and I was just like, “Oh, the Ramones, they played like six months ago, they'll play again in six months.” Ya know? Because they kinda always would play and so that's why it hurts me probably the most.

AC: Okay, if the Ramones could play Chaos, but only if you agreed to let KoRn headline with them, would you do it?

Timmy: Umm, I'm gonna say no. Probably no. It's pretty bad. I mean come on.

AC: So what's worse: KoRn or Linkin Park?

[Long pause for thought]

Timmy: Probably KoRn... No, I don't know. That's a hard one.



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