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Silcon Valley’s Clay Tarver Reunited His ’90s Band Chavez and They Made Us a Playlist

Silcon Valley’s Clay Tarver Reunited His ’90s Band Chavez and They Made Us a Playlist

“The music is horrible, but it rules.”

This was Butt-head’s concise summation of the music video for indie rock band Chavez’s “Break Up Your Band,” which the animated high schoolers ripped on during a 1995 episode of Beavis and Butt-head. “Yeah we should watch this all the time; this rules,” Beavis agrees. As the intentionally half-assed music video unfolds with male strippers gyrating in different kinds of store-bought costumes, the two imbecile friends are completely besotted with the visuals, a rare occurrence on the required, yet classic music video portion of the MTV cartoon. And then in a moment of pure philosophical excellence the two arrive at a rare moment of clarity that doesn’t even seem to be related to Chavez.

“Everybody sucks” Butt-head realizes through his incessant laugh. Beavis agrees, “Yeah, everybody is stupid.”

It must have been this precise segment that Mike Judge and Clay Tarver, founding guitarist of Chavez, connected on a deeply spiritual level, laughing at themselves and the absurdity of everything in general. Fast forward 20 years and these two co-executive produced the beloved HBO comedy, Silicon Valley, which at its core lives by the everybody-sucks-and-is-stupid creed. That worldview, as it applied to malaise in ’90s pop culture, feels as relevant as ever in 2017, even if as it takes more active forms.

Recently, after a roughly 20-year hiatus, Tarver and the rest of his bandmates reunited Chavez, realizing a pipe dream for devout indie rock fanatics of the mid-’90s. The group was one of the brightest gems of alternative rock before they disappeared, so that they have come back at all is nothing short of college radio rock miracle. Their main mission: “Avoid sucking.” Now that is something we can all aspire to.

To celebrate the return of Chavez, legendary guitarist Matt Sweeney made us a special playlist of tunes that have inspired the band throughout their career. We also got in touch with Tarver to talk about his role in Silicon Valley, what it’s like to work with Mike Judge, his new EP, and how he thinks of himself as Richard Hendrix. Check it below.

Nerdist: What character do you most identify with from Silicon Valley

Clay Tarver: Well, I suppose I identify with Richard. It’s his story, after all. He’s a guy who wants to do something cool and worthy. He wants his algorithm to be and do all it should be and do. But he wants to do it all without selling his soul. And he wants to keep his guys together. That’s who I identify with. But I think the people in the office probably identify me as more of a Gilfoyle, for pretty obvious reasons.

N: What show did you binge watch most recently?

CT: We’re right in the throes of Silicon Valley and watching TV feels like work for me. So lately it’s been all music docs, YouTube K-Holes, or hitting up records I haven’t fully experienced in a while. A couple of weeks ago I listened to Metal Machine Music all the way through in one sitting. It was a joy. And I don’t know why anyone ever had a problem with it. Not sure what that says about me.

N: Did your experience in Chavez inform the creation of Silicon Valley at all?

CT: Yes. We reference music stuff in the writers room more than you’d think. I mean, the company is basically a band. The guys all live and work together. That’s their identity. They really have no lives outside of it. And they’re all trying to go for this dream without killing each other. Only the stakes in the Valley are ridiculously magnified compared to something as meaningless and trivial as the dying music business. If you think about it, the hurdles are remarkably similar. You want to work with people and not get ripped off. You want to not get distracted from the core mission, but any form of success or recognition makes that harder and harder. You want to get somewhere before you die. But it’s almost impossible. There’s a saying in the Valley: “Being too early is the same as being wrong.” Sometimes I feel that a little tiny bit about Chavez.

N: How is working with Mike Judge?

CT: I’ve worked with Mike for almost 20 years now. The first fifteen were all feature projects. SV is the only TV show. He’s a Texan, like me. He’s amazingly cool. And a very, very, very sick stand up bass player. He was in bands for years and years before he did Beavis and Butt-head. Mostly rockabilly and blues stuff. I guess we kinda connect over that.

N: What is Chavez’s mission statement now after all this time

CT: The mission statement was to make Chavez music and to avoid it sucking. It’s a tough thing to get us all into a room together. And yet there’s nothing in this world that I enjoy more. We always kept playing together, kept writing music. I loved the stuff. Loved it. And I got to a place where I felt like if I died without putting out at least SOME of this stuff we made I would die a total asshole. So I guess the mission is really not letting me die a total asshole.

N: If the Pied Piper Guys formed a band what would it be called?

CT: Don’t make me come up with another band name. The last one I came up with was Chavez. And look where that got us all.

Image: HBO


Matt Grosinger is the music editor of Nerdist and really needs to revisit Beavis and Butt-head. You can talk to him about regular ass shit on Twitter. Chavez’s Cockfighters EP is out now via Matador.

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