(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..."
what did that represent, the P?"
Johnny Depp: "The
uh, letter in the alphabet."
history of P, as once shown on the Butthole Surfers' website (below
Johnny's description in the 2000 French Studio magazine (below right)
(click images to
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
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.
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:
The 20 minute set
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
on local television. (See the Live On Stage
section for photos
and YouTube videos). According
Lieck of the
Austin Chronicle, P was asked several times to return to Austin for
another gig, but
unfortunately, they never got the chance.
Haynes - lead vocals; guitar solo on Michael Stipe
- Johnny Depp
- bass, guitar
- Bill Carter
- guitar, bass
- Sal Jenco -
In August of 1993, Johnny and Chuck E.
opened The Viper Room in
West Hollywood. P was said to have played there on a number
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
to Johnny, they were
playing the night that River Phoenix tragically died outside the club.
Gibby Haynes elaborated in a Spin
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
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
on the sidewalk…. I've got a guitar solo, and at the end of
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
play at a swanky ballroom called Sofiensäle, where a fashion
taking place. Conny de Beauclair, a bouncer/rock club icon
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:
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:
extensive coverage, at least in
Chronicle, P recorded the self-titled album and finally released it after some
November 21, 1995. According to an article in the Wilmington
Morning Star, 14 songs were recorded in all, at the Ocean Way studio in
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.
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
A single was released (a 7" single Michael Stipe b/w Mumble;
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:
Nevertheless, the album got a bit of a
Johnny and Rosie O'Donnell in a February 1997 interview (see YouTube):
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
On May 8, 2007, P was reissued with
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
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
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
that Johnny referred to
In 2012, a documentary special called
Context: Bill Carter And The Blame aired on the Austin PBS station
KLRU. In it, Bill discusses how P was formed, the making of
album, and the band's trip to Vienna to play at the Sofiensäle. 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
Ken Lieck's regular column, Dancing
. In some of the links below,
you may have to scroll down to find content about P:
27, 1995: P plans an Easter Egg Hunt in Austin
11, 1995: Jim Jarmusch rumored to direct P's video
1, 1995: another item about Jarmusch directing a video
24, 1995: rumors of the video and release party
12, 1995: what's the holdup on the release?
4, 1996: record released to "deafening silence"
6, 1997: History of the Austin Music Awards, featuring Bill Carter there's
also a photo of P's 1993 SXSW gig there-scroll down
26, 1997: Taking a P in the Snow - the Vienna P shows
12, 1998: P's Austin food recommendations
4, 1998: rumors of a P show being organized in France
17, 1998: rumors of British documentary makers interested in P
17, 2000: Johnny plays at a show with Gibby's friends Egypt in Austin
Here are a few reviews
and articles on
the P album from other sources:
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
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
however. Carroll sadly passed away in September of 2009 at
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
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:
Scans from P official releases and promos:
forget to check out these sections of
any corrections or additions? Please at email@example.com
Photos would be