P def

(established 2006; last updated 1/30/16)

February 21, 2013, Late Show with David Letterman:
Bill Carter:  "Well, at one point we had a band in the mid 90's called P... the letter P.  We made a record..."
Letterman:  "Now, what did that represent, the P?"
Johnny Depp:  "The uh, letter in the alphabet."

The history of P, as once shown on the Butthole Surfers' website (below left), and Johnny's description in the 2000 French Studio magazine (below right) (click images to enlarge):

butthole surfers   P Studio

Translation of French Studio item by Jean-Baptiste: "It is first and foremost a group of four friends who like to laugh, goof around, and make noise together. There is no real leader in the group; everyone brings his own contribution. Before becoming an actor, I was a professional musician. For years, I earned a living playing in concerts. To reinvest myself in music and record this album in 1995 has been a very beneficial experience for me. It allowed me to escape a little and think of something else at a time where I was not really in shape. And it was a ‘lifesaver’.  As P, we also performed in some concerts at the Viper Room (see p.91) and we had great fun. Recording a new album? We are thinking about it. I discussed it at length with Gibby (Haynes, the band’s vocalist). I would really like to do country songs."

     In a May 1996 Rolling Stone interview, Gibby Haynes says that he met Johnny at a Halloween party in Austin; this must have been in 1992.

rolling stone gibby

 Johnny was in Austin to film What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and his longtime friend Sal Jenco was in town, and they began hanging out with Gibby and Austin songwriter/musician Bill Carter, eventually forming the band.
  P made their live debut on March 17, 1993 at the Austin Music Awards at Palmer Auditorium during the SXSW music festival.  The lineup consisted of:
  • Gibby Haynes - lead vocals; guitar solo on Michael Stipe
  • Johnny Depp - bass, guitar
  • Bill Carter - guitar, bass
  • Sal Jenco - drums
     The 20 minute set consisted of Mumble (a play on the Link Wray classic Rumble), P originals Mr. Officer, Michael Stipe and White Man Sings The Blues, and a cover of the Jim Carroll Band song, People Who Died.  The set was broadcast on local television.  (See the Live On Stage section for photos and YouTube videos).  According to Ken Lieck of the Austin Chronicle, P was asked several times to return to Austin for another gig, but unfortunately, they never got the chance.

     In August of 1993, Johnny and Chuck E. Weiss opened The Viper Room in West Hollywood.  P was said to have played there on a number of occasions, sometimes with help from the likes of Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols.
 They reportedly threw Kate Moss a party there for her 21st birthday.  
     According to Johnny, they were playing the night that River Phoenix tragically died outside the club.  Gibby Haynes elaborated in a Spin Magazine interview, saying they were playing the song Michael Stipe at the time: "[The song's] got River's name in it, so it was going to be cool. He's a friend of mine and he's never heard the song. So we're singing up on stage…and right at that moment, he was basically on the sidewalk…. I've got a guitar solo, and at the end of the solo, Johnny stepped offstage. He was frightened. River died [of a heroin overdose] just a few feet away from us, right on the other side of the wall."
     In December of 1997, P traveled to Vienna Austria to play at a swanky ballroom called Sofiens
le, where a fashion show was taking place.  Conny de Beauclair, a bouncer/rock club icon invited them to play at his club, U4, two nights later.  These are P's only known live gigs.   (See the On Stage and Bands Photo Galleries for photos from both gigs).

Here are some articles detailing P's trip to Vienna, and other Vienna info:

New     In terms of P's recording history, a record deal was signed with Capitol Records in about April of 1995.  According to Bill Carter in an article originally published in the Dallas Morning News, “We got a record deal that has never existed before.”  Nobody from the label was allowed in the studio during the recording. They owned all their publishing, and the band was not required to do any specific gigs or interviews.  Here is an article about the record deal as reprinted in the Wilmington Morning Star:

P record deal

    Amid extensive coverage, at least in the Austin Chronicle, P recorded the self-titled album and finally released it after some delays, on November 21, 1995.  According to an article in the Wilmington Morning Star, 14 songs were recorded in all, at the Ocean Way studio in LA.  
P featured the band members plus guest appearances by Ruth Ellsworth Carter, Flea, Steve Jones, Chuck E. Weiss, and Andrew Weiss, and was produced by Andrew Weiss.  Benmont Tench's name was mentioned as having participated, though his name does not appear in the album's liner notes.
    The album consisted of 9 originals, as well as covers of the Daniel Johnston song I Save Cigarette Butts and Abba's Dancing Queen.  The Japanese release had Mumble as a bonus track.  A single was released (a 7" single Michael Stipe b/w Mumble; a CD single added Dancing Queen).  The Chronicle and the Morning Star also reported that they were to release a video directed by Jim Jarmusch, but as far as I know that never happened.  Nor did a rumored record release party ever happen.  Here is a press kit for the release that was sent out by Capitol Records:

P press photo  P press 1   P press 2

     Nevertheless, the album got a bit of a plug from Johnny and Rosie O'Donnell in a February 1997 interview (see YouTube):

rosie P CD 1   rosie with P CD   rosie P CD 2

     In a January 24, 2008 interview with Rolling Stone, Johnny briefly mentions the album and the lack of support by Capitol Records, which was apparently just fine with him and the band!

Rolling Stone P

     On May 8, 2007, P was reissued with almost no publicity on Caroline Records, a subsidiary of EMI that specializes in indie music.  It is currently out of print but may still be available at some online sites and record stores.  A blurb that is appearing on many independent record stores describes the disc as follows:  "
A reissue of the sole 1995 P album from this supergroup comprised of GIBBY HAINES [sic], BILL CARTER, JOHNNY DEPP, and SAL JENCO. A rambunctious stew of grunge, over-the-top dub, twisted yet reverent covers, mutant blues, faux hillbilly, oddball ballads, and space jams. Features guest spots from FLEA (RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS) and STEVE JONES (SEX PISTOLS)."
    Besides this reissue, we're still waiting for the possible follow-up that Johnny referred to in 2000!

     In 2012, a documentary special called Arts In Context: Bill Carter And The Blame aired on the Austin PBS station KLRU.  In it, Bill discusses how P was formed, the making of the album, and the band's trip to Vienna to play at the
Sofiensle.  There is also some archive footage of the 1993 Austin Music Awards performance. The documentary can be viewed Here.

A wealth of information about P can be found in the Austin Chronicle, particularly in
Ken Lieck's regular column, Dancing About Architecture.  In some of the links below,
 you may have to scroll down to find content about P:

Here are a few reviews and articles on the P album from other sources:

rolling stone review
Rolling Stone gives the P album 2 stars

     Films have been made about both Jim Carroll, the composer of People Who Died, one of the songs of the P '93 SXSW set, and Daniel Johnston, who wrote I Save Cigarette Butts, from the P album.  The Basketball Diaries, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is a 1995 film based on Carroll's book of the same name, chronicling his adolescence and descent into drug addiction.  The film is said to have altered many of the details, however.  Carroll sadly passed away in September of 2009 at the age of 60; he died of a heart attack, reportedly while sitting at his desk, writing.  In 2005, a documentary was released called The Devil And Daniel Johnston.  It tells the story of Johnston, a musician and artist long troubled by manic depression and other mental illness.   A biopic about Johnston, Hi How Are You, is currently in development by father and son filmmakers David and Jordan Miller.  Johnny was at one time rumored to possibly be cast in the role of Johnston's older brother, though there's been no news on that in years.

A cute (if somewhat inaccurate... "Lost City Angels"??) article on P from Live And Kicking, a mag associated with a UK kids' program:

landk blurb

Scans from P official releases and promos:

CD/LP cover by
Gibby Haynes
US back
US CD back

canada back
Canadian CD back

japan back
Japanese CD back
(w/ Mumble)
reissue back
US reissue CD back

CD artwork
by Gibby Haynes
CD sticker
reissue sticker
US reissue sticker
CD liner notes
CD liner notes
LP back
lp vinyl
LP yellow vinyl
lp side 2
LP side 2
Michael Stipe
7" single
7" back
7" back

7 vinyl
7" yellow vinyl
7" side b
7" side B

CD single front
Michael Stipe
CD single front
CD single back
Michael Stipe
CD single back
CD single insert
Michael Stipe
CD single intact insert
CD single disc
Michael Stipe
CD single disc
advance cassette
cassette side b
cassette side B
cassette J card
jcard back
J card back
promo postcard
postcard back
'07 promo back
advance reissue
CD back
'07 advance CD
advance reissue
japan 3 in. front
Dancing Queen
Japan 3" single front
japan 3 in. back
Dancing Queen
Japan 3" single back
japan 3 in. disc
Dancing Queen
Japan 3" single disc
dancing queen lyrics
Dancing Queen
Japan 3" single lyrics

promo vinyl
promo vinyl
(could be bootleg)

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