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Herb Lienau is one of the desert’s greats. His punk band Decon, with members of Kyuss and Unsound, only lived for a year in its initial incarnation, but is still noted as one of the pioneers of the desert music scene. In recent years, Lienau has emerged wearing a mask and carnival attire, seated behind an organ, and using an electronic voice-changer. This act is known as Herbert, who performs hits of the past such as “House of the Rising Sun” or “Grim Grinning Ghosts”—in a very weird fashion. Learn more and download his new album at herbsorgan.com—and you catch him live at The Hood Bar and Pizza on Saturday, Nov. 23. Lienau recently endured The Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Technically, War at Angel Stadium in Palm Springs, in 1976. I went with my friend and his parents. His dad was the assistant city manager of Palm Springs, so that’s why I got to go. My first concert that I bought tickets for was Cheap Trick at the Swing Auditorium (in San Bernardino in) December 1979. It was also my first time seeing someone simultaneously smoke pot and set hair on fire!

What was the first album you owned?

Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. I bought it with my own money when it came out (age 10) at the record store at the Palm Springs Mall. Great album—my all-time-favorite album cover.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’ve always been all over the map. Currently, I listen to a lot of novelty records like Spike Jones, Mercyful Fate, and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Ninety-nine percent of all of the bands that have been on Saturday Night Live for the past 10 years. Those “bands/artists” are trying to be so cool, but to me, just come across as being weak and lazy. Bring back the days of Devo, The B-52s, and The Specials. Hear that, Lorne Michaels?!

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Easy ... The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Insane Clown Posse’s The Great Milenko.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Probably the Hollywood Bowl or Greek Theatre.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“Notes and Chords Mean Nothing to Me,” Redd Kross.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Black Flag. I heard “Nervous Breakdown” on Rodney on the Roq (KROQ) in 1979. I was 14, and that music really connected with how I was feeling as an early teen. I was lucky to see them many times and almost played a gig with them once. They were the real deal, and made me want to play in a punk band.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I’d ask Mark Mothersbaugh: “Are we not men?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Oops! ... I Did It Again.” Ha!

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Electric Ladyland, The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Every song on Infest the Rat’s Nest by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. That album kicks ass! (Click here to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

For about a year in the mid-1990s, a band formed featuring members of Unsound, Kyuss and Dead Issue. The name was Decon—and the group kicked ass.

However, Decon—with Herb Lienau (vocals), Brian Maloney (guitar), Billy Cordell (bass) and Brant Bjork (drums)—came to an abrupt halt after that great year.

Flash forward two decades or so, to the fall of 2016, when seemingly out of nowhere, Decon announced its first show in two decades, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, as part of The Hellions’ record-release party. Three of the four original members were back, with Rob Peterson taking Brant Bjork’s place on drums. Decon was a hit, and many hoped the band would play again.

Decon will indeed be playing again—at Pappy and Harriet’s, as part of Brian Maloney’s 50th birthday, on Saturday, Aug. 12. Also on the bill will be Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, The Hellions and Dali’s Llama.

I caught up with Decon at Rob Peterson’s house in Bermuda Dunes. The band was running through its old material, with the occasional flub.

“We practice once every 25 years,” Maloney joked, before giving a brief history of the band.

“It was around 1994 and 1995. Unsound was done for about a year, and Brant and I got together and started jamming and started Decon up,” Maloney said. “We enlisted Billy, and then we got Herb. By the time we had Herb, we had about 10 songs. He came in and wrote lyrics really fast, and within three weeks, we had a 10-song set.

“It went really fast. We got a tour going; we had a lot of shows and played around a lot. We had a lot of momentum, and then it went into cruise control. We did maybe 10 shows. We played in Santa Cruz, Humboldt, Chico and San Francisco. We had only one show to start the whole tour. We filled in the blanks about three or four days before we left, getting another one or two here or there. We’d roll into town and be like, ‘Hey, we want to get on this show!’ We’d see a flier and be like, ‘Hey, we’ll open for you guys!’ It went really well. We’d stay in town for a couple of days and end up playing parties. We knew a few people and connected the dots as we went. It was really do-it-yourself, and doing it on a whim. It was fun, and we did great. We generated a lot of momentum.”

The band members were baffled when they showed up to play a show in Berkeley … and many attendees knew the lyrics to their songs.

“We found out there was a pirate radio station in Berkeley,” Maloney said. “There was a guy who had a radio station out of his car and would just drive around Berkeley with no FCC license. He would crank us. We played in Berkeley and wondered how all these street kids knew our songs. We found out he would play us on the radio from some friends of ours who lived up there.”

I had to ask: What made Decon end so quickly? The simple answer: life. All of the members had things going on; Herb Lienau’s son, Quanah, who today plays guitar in the local band Facelift, was just a year old when Decon went on tour.

“I used to bounce Quanah around in his little jumper thing,” Maloney said. “… Shit happens. Things happen for a month, and then things go stale. Dominoes fall in different ways, and there are four people. Things change really quick, and that’s the way it is when you’re in a band, and you have to keep that momentum going.”

Lienau added that things were different for bands back then.

“Things would get very disheartening,” Lienau said. “Progress was slow-going back then. It was very hard to get any kind of break at all. This is long before everyone toured Europe all the time. Back then, Kyuss toured, and that was it.”

Maloney said one venue in particular, in Indio, was essential to Decon’s brief existence.

“Our saving grace was Rhythm and Brews, Mario and Larry Lalli’s club,” Maloney said. “That was at the same time of Decon, and we used to practice there early in the weekdays. It was the apex of the desert scene. It couldn’t get any better than that: Our best friend and godfather of desert rock, Mario Lalli, had a club with a bar, pizza, a pool table and shit going on there six nights a week. We had our own place. It was Mario’s place, but it was all of our place. He really opened the doors in that way to everyone. Even if the door didn’t make money, you still got paid. Mario paid and fed the bands, even if it wasn’t a big night.”

Now that Decon is back, is the band actually back, at least for now?

“We finally put it back together. We’re enjoying it, and we want to try to do it more often,” Maloney said. “We played that last show less than a year ago. We didn’t know what to expect at first, but we felt good going into that show. We’re going to do a few more; this upcoming show is my 50th birthday party. It’s more like a reunion show, and we have people who are our old friends coming in from across the country.”

Decon’s newbie, Rob Peterson, said he’s enjoying his time with the band. The other members praised Peterson’s abilities, calling him one of the best drummers in the valley.

“I love playing this kind of music,” Peterson said. “I can play as loud and fast as I want, and no one is telling me to turn it down. When I was coming up, Unsound and Decon were two of my favorite groups, and I loved being in the pit. I got to watch them play a whole bar show in the Rhythm and Blues days, and I was a kid, stoked on these guys who I considered my big brothers doing rad shit. Now I got asked to play with them—and not to jock these motherfuckers, but it’s pretty fucking cool. I felt honored and stoked. I’m getting to play with guys I look up to.”

One last note: Billy Cordell, who remained quiet for the entire interview, received some grief from his bandmates. He chuckled and wished to be quoted as saying, “Mmhmm, yep” as his contribution.

Decon will perform at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 12, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Also on the bill are Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, The Hellions and Dali’s Llama. Tickets are $10. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

Addiction is a crippling disease that afflicts people from all backgrounds, across every economic status

But creativity and substance abuse have always gone hand in hand. Many of history’s most prolific and talented artists have dealt with some form of addiction, and within the music community of the Coachella Valley and High Desert, issues with addition, past and present, are well-known and shockingly common.

When I decided to write a piece about musicians and addiction, I quickly learned that many musicians don’t want to talk publicly about addiction. More than a handful of local musicians who are now in recovery declined—understandably—to talk on the record about their pasts, fearing consequences at their current jobs, or perhaps wanting to avoid flat-out embarrassment.

However, three individuals, all of whom are now in recovery, were courageous enough to share their stories. (It should be noted that even they asked that certain parts of their stories not be shared.)

Why? They all said they decided to speak out in the hopes that they might inspire others who are dealing with addiction to get help.


In a rather short amount of time, The Flusters have become one of the Coachella Valley’s most popular bands. The group was voted “Best Local Band” by Coachella Valley Independent readers in late 2015—even though the band had not yet existed for a whole year. The group has played numerous local shows, and was picked as one of the two local bands to play at Coachella in April.

However, it wasn’t long ago that frontman Douglas Van Sant was dealing with severe drug addiction. He’s been sober since Sept. 11, 2013.

“Back in my early 20s, painkillers and pill mills were on the rise,” Van Sant said at his home in Palm Desert. “You could go to four pain doctors in a day and get Oxycontin—and I’m talking the real deal, the higher doses of Oxycontin. This was in South New Jersey, which was 45 minutes from Camden, N.J., which is notorious for heroin. It was like the movie American Gangster, with the stamps on the bags and the ‘blue magic.’ Where I grew up, it was like an episode of The Wire. There were white neighborhoods, Mexican neighborhoods, African-American neighborhoods, Puerto Rican neighborhoods—and they all had their hands in it. It was easy to score.”

Van Sant said he used drugs for years.

“I had been addicted to substances mentally and physically for 10 years,” he said. “It was one thing, onto another thing, back on another thing, and being addicted to a few things at once. I was in alleys in the rain with toothless hookers doing drugs. I wandered around a campground in Ohio in leather pants and eyeliner, out of my mind. I was wandering the streets of South Philadelphia and Seattle all strung out. It was tough times—very tough times. In Seattle, I didn’t have parents to manipulate, and I was disconnected. I was in Seattle straight out of rehab, living with my cousin, and I started getting in trouble there and living in a drug house.”

Van Sant showed me a scar on his hand. He said it was created when he shielded himself from a board with a nail sticking out of it during drug deal gone wrong.

“It’s real; it’s not sensationalized.” Van Sant said about the nasty side of addiction. “Anything in the media, they don’t sensationalize it enough. It’s bad; it’s dirty; it’s grimy; and it’s dangerous. People in that world don’t fuck around at all. They get what they need to get one way or another. You always think about the next high, and you don’t really ponder your mortality.

“I was in my parents’ basement on a diet of chicken broth and oranges, trying to kick drugs, and banging my head on the door, trying to knock myself out to go to sleep. I’ve been so sick, I couldn’t move. The last time, I was really suicidal and deeply depressed. … It was bad, and in the end, I got to a really deep place and had to stop.”


Herb Lienau is known today as the spooky organist Herbert, but he has been part of the local music scene since the early ’80s. He’s played in bands with Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson, Scott Reeder of Kyuss, Sean Wheeler of Throw Rag, and many others. Lienau was interviewed in the recently released documentary Desert Age; one of the subjects discussed was drug use in the early desert-rock scene.

Lienau talked to me at his Cathedral City home about his addiction to crystal methamphetamine.

“I was always kind of a mellow person and needed more energy. When I smoked pot, I’d just want to eat and go to sleep—and that’s it,” Lienau said with a laugh. “With speed, I enjoyed being awake and having energy to do stuff. Physically, for me, I didn’t have any teeth fall out, or anything like that. But you do lose a lot of weight.

“It all started with speed around 1984. When I was in high school, there wasn’t any crystal meth. You could get speed in pill forms. Crystal was a whole different thing. The first time I did it was with Mario Lalli. Mario was playing music with some bikers at one point, and I think that’s how he got exposed to it. I came down and visited, and we were hanging out at Mario’s parents’ house, and that’s when I first tried it. I was in love with it instantly. With cocaine, it’s over in 20 minutes, and you feel like killing yourself afterward or getting more. With crystal meth, you felt like you got your money’s worth: It lasted for hours and hours.

Lienau said drug use was simply part of the scene back then.

“We all partied really hard, and it wasn’t considered addiction,” Lienau said. “It doesn’t become addiction until it’s an issue. It was an issue for me around 1985. We all did everything and anything as much as we possibly could—and unashamedly so. That’s right when speed started happening, and no one knew anything about speed and the long-term effects. They didn’t even know you could get addicted to it.”

Lienau said the drugs were fun at first—but he started noticing the negative side effects fairly quickly.

“People started changing,” he said. “They were doing bad stuff; scandalous things started to happen; and bad relationship stuff happened. Being up for days at a time isn’t the best thing, either. It gets its hooks in you, and it’s hard to quit. It really changes you, and you get weird, and you start hallucinating.”

During the ’80s, there were not yet any regulations or restrictions on the ingredients used to make crystal methamphetamine.

“There were a handful of people locally who were selling it back then, and it was easy to get. It just happened, and it was the new thing,” he said.

Lienau went to rehab for the first time in the mid-1980s.

“I don’t know if I decided or someone decided for me,” Lienau said. “… I think I was the first one out of all of us back then who went to rehab. I went to either The Ranch or the Betty Ford Center. … I have been to The Ranch a couple of times, the Betty Ford Center once, the ABC (Recovery Center), Cedar House in Bloomington, and a couple of detox centers. But that’s nothing compared to a lot of people.”

Lienau said he’s been sober for five years now.

“My M.O. has been get a year, get a couple of years, and then go back, and go off for a year or two, and go on and off. Right now, I have five years clean—so I have to really be careful, because right around this time, I have to be aware what’s going on.

“I’m hopefully done for good. Every time is worse than the time before. I’m older now, too, so I don’t really have a desire to do it anymore.”


Rick Chaffee (right; photo by Guillermo Prieto), who plays in the band Gutter Candy, is one of the best guitarists in the valley. Gutter Candy takes all the things about late-’70s punk and ’80s glam metal—and makes them funny and entertaining.

However, there was a time when there was little that was funny about Rick Chaffee’s life.

“I started drinking and smoking weed at 15 or 16,” Chaffee said during a recent phone interview. “But then when I was 25, I ended up getting hooked on heroin. From 25 to 35, I was a heroin addict.”

He said heroin back then was simply part the Orange County musician’s lifestyle.

“I can’t really say if I hadn’t been hanging out with those people that I wouldn’t have tried it somewhere else and at another time,” he said. “… It was that and cocaine. I didn’t do it every day.”

Chaffee said he’s always been an addict.

“I was always smoking weed and drinking all the time before heroin,” he said. “I had an addictive personality. I can’t say my upbringing was a root, but my parents drank, and I grew up with divorced parents. I was unsupervised as a kid growing up, and that may have had something to do with it, too. I was roaming the streets at 14 and 15 and always seemed to fall into the wrong crowd. I was playing music when I was 16 and hanging out with other guitar-players and harmonica-players doing Neil Young and Crosby, Stills and Nash.”

Chaffee’s life was imperiled by his drug use.

“I hit bottom when I was in and out of jail,” he said. “My relationships always seemed to fail. I also didn’t have a steady place to live. I wasn’t really on the street, but I did a lot of couch-surfing during those years. The last relationship I was in back then—she’s the mother of my son, and she’s been through it with me on and off.

“My family turned their back on me, and everyone else turned their back on me and said, ‘We’re not helping you anymore, and we’re done with you.’”


Van Sant, Lienau and Chaffee are currently clean—although they all know that could change if they aren’t careful.

One motivation to stay clean is the rehabilitation process, which Van Sant said is simply awful.

“They medicate you. You have to go through a medical detox, and you’re not just going in there to get your life together,” Van Sant said. “The 24-hour suicide-watch detox … you are in psychosis at that point. You sleep a lot, or you sleep not at all. You can’t eat, and you can’t do anything. You get to the point where you can’t function. For drug addicts, it’s like Chinese water torture—it’s slow; it’s long; and it’s annoying. You can’t get any rest, either. In rehab, they keep you busy. I knew I was done, and I needed to be done. I needed to stop and couldn’t do it anymore. It was so exhausting mentally, physically and spiritually.”

Lienau explained that crystal methamphetamine addicts often go through rehab many, many times.

“Studies have shown that it doesn’t stick. There’s a very low success rate,” Lienau said. “To get to that point where you’re not using—it takes what it takes. Some people can do it the first try, no problem, but others like me, I was a serial-relapse case. I was the earliest of our group to get sober the first time, or even to start, and I just wasn’t ready.

“Having a kid and being a parent helped me try to not be a fuck-up, but even that didn’t stop me, and there were even a few relapses after that.”

Through all of his relapses over the years, Lienau said he’s survived because he sticks to the mantra of “one day at a time.”

“You’re full of remorse, self-loathing and all that stuff—especially after it’s a repeated thing. But it’s one day at a time, and I hope I don’t do it again,” he said. “I’ve been through this whole thing long enough to know nothing is for sure. You have to take it one day at a time. I know better than to say ‘no more’ forever. It’s one day at a time. I hope I never do it again, but I’ve done this long enough to know that nothing is for sure.”

Unlike Van Sant and Lienau, Chaffee has been clean and sober for decades.

“At 35, I got clean and sober. I’ve been clean and sober ever since—and this September will be 25 years,” Chaffee said. “I ended up getting clean because my life was just getting more difficult, and I was in and out of jail. I needed some help and tried to quit for the last three years of my using on my own, and then I started going to 12-step meetings. That’s what’s helped.”

Chaffee said being in jail while addicted is hard—and can be deadly.

“I’ve kicked heroin in jail before. They don’t give you any special treatment, and they don’t send you into the infirmary or any medical environment to help you deal with it,” he said. “You have to kick it on your own. That’s scary.”

Chaffee has put the lessons he learned to good use: While Chaffee rocks out in Gutter Candy at night, he’s a certified drug-counselor by day.

“In 1996, I had five years clean. A friend of mine said there was an opening at a treatment center in Palm Springs, and I ended up going there and was the night tech guy,” he said. “I went to school to get certified, and I’ve been doing it ever since. It’s been almost 20 years of working in the field.”

Chaffee said as a drug counselor, he knows all about the frequent trips to rehab some people, like Lienau, have endured.

“Does it miss the mark? I believe if you’re ready for treatment and you go into treatment, it’ll help,” Chaffee said. “A lot of people are so full of denial and blame others, and they’re not accountable for themselves or taking the responsibilities of it being their problem. If people are done and want to be done with it, it’ll help. I only had to go once, and it worked for me because I was done. I was 35, and I was young, but a lot of people think when they’re young that they can handle it, manage it—and, ‘If it wasn’t for Mom or Dad or this and that, then I wouldn’t be addicted, and it’s their fault.’ If you have people enabling you, that keeps people stuck in the addiction lifestyle as well.”


While some artists claim they’re at their best when using drugs, Van Sant said it’s downright liberating for him to play music as a sober person.

“It felt incredible to know I could actually do it,” Van Sant said. “I thought that you had to be a Joplin, a Cobain or a Hendrix to be an artist—a certifiable wacko, and live in that insanity all the time. I thought that’s what truth meant. What I found is that it doesn’t need to be your story; your story is your own story. Find your own truth. To know I could write and create without drugs or alcohol is such a big part of my sobriety, and it still is. I’m actually a more vibrant artist when I’m sober. It was one of the most freeing experiences I ever felt in my life.

“Lately, I’ve become industrious about music to where I think I might be too industrious. I’m there to work and get my thing done; my social experiences aren’t at gigs. I’m there to think about my music and play. That’s such a weird concept to me, because it used to be the opposite. It was always, ‘FUCK YEAH! WE’RE GOING TO GO PLAY A GIG! IT’S PARTY TIME! IT’S NOT GIG TIME; IT’S JUST A PART OF PARTY TIME!’ Now it’s, ‘It’s gig time, and nothing else is a part of it.’ I’m there to talk to the people who came to see us, talk about music, make future plans, make future connections, and do whatever I can for the music.

“That’s my addiction now. I love it. It’s really exhilarating and fun. I manage the band well, and I manage it well because I’m focused.”

Lienau pondered the link between addiction and music.

“Maybe it’s the creativity—wanting to try new things and experiment,” he said. “A lot of artists are fucked-up to begin with, and that’s why they’re making art; it’s their outlet. They might think it helps expand their horizons or whatever. All I know is when I used to do speed, I would want to play guitar forever—but it didn’t take long to where if I was on it, I couldn’t touch a guitar. I didn’t want anything to do with it. It’s weird, but the whole thing sort of changed over time for me.”

Chaffee said he does not know why music and addiction often go hand in hand.

“I think maybe the artist or musician is a little bit more sensitive using the creative part of the brain and are more in tune to feelings, moods and emotions,” he said. “For me, the lifestyle of a musician being there in the ’80s and ’90s—it was all about partying, sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll.


Van Sant and Lienau both admit they aren’t certain what the future holds.

“One of the smartest things I ever heard is, ‘There are things that we know, and things we’re aware we don’t know,’” Van Sant said. “There’s also this whole other category of things we don’t know we don’t know. My sobriety has been a constant exploration. … I’m living life differently and attracting a different person than I was before.”

Lienau said he’s learned honesty with oneself is the best way to address addiction.

“When you’re in denial, nothing is going to happen,” he said. “When you’re honest with yourself and accept that you have a problem, you can start addressing it. Until that happens, it won’t happen. I would say (to an addict who wants help): Go to a meeting. Find someone to talk to, and take direction from people who have done it, have been around for a while and have put in some years clean and sober. Someone who has done it before proves it can work, and that’s where you have to take instruction from. It’s too hard to do it alone, especially flying blind.”

Chaffee agreed that addicts almost never get clean without assistance.

“Seek help. You can’t live in both worlds,” he said. “Once you cross that line of moderation, you can’t go back. If you feel your life is out of control, seek some help.”

Below: Herb Lienau (top right) started doing speed back in 1984. “When I was in high school, there wasn’t any crystal meth. You could get speed in pill forms. Crystal was a whole different thing.” Today, Lienau (pictured in the second photo with Brant Bjork) has been sober for five years. “I’m hopefully done for good,” he said. “Every time is worse than the time before. I’m older now, too, so I don’t really have a desire to do it anymore.” Photos by Jordan Schwartz.

If you’ve ever watched an old horror movie featuring a carnival or a haunted house, you’ve heard spooky organ music.

Meet Herb Lienau, a man who is bringing that spooky music back, thanks to his one-man carnival-organ-music show, called Herbert.

Herbert will be performing at the Bat Country Summer Slam at the Palms in Twentynine Palms on Saturday, July 4. Yes, he’ll be wearing his trademark creepy mask.

I recently spoke with Lienau at his business in Palm Desert, and we discussed the history of punk rock in the Coachella Valley during the early to mid-’80s. Lienau was very much part of that scene: He played in bands with desert rock greats Scott Reeder (Kyuss), Alfredo Hernandez (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age), Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson), Gary Burns (Deadbolt) and Sean Wheeler (Throw Rag, Sean and Zander), just to name a few. After living in Los Angeles and performing in the band Dead Issue—which later became Darkside, and then Across the River—Lienau returned to the desert.

“I kind of freaked out on acid, and I had to regroup,” he said. “I quit the band and moved back to the desert, and those guys went on to do Across the River. … Me, Mario (Lalli) and Alfredo (Hernandez) all lived together in an apartment in Culver City, and Scott (Reeder) was going to UCLA and living in the dorms there. Good things come out of bad things. It sucks I had to quit the band out of volition, but I had to come home to regroup. Out of that came Across the River, which was an awesome band, and the whole stoner-rock thing happened after that.”

Lienau also had an amusing story to tell about introducing Scott Reeder to the world of punk music.

“He didn’t know any punk or anything,” Lienau said. “He was into Rush and Pink Floyd; that was his thing. I tried to get him into punk, and I took over a copy of Black Flag’s Jealous Again EP and the first T.S.O.L. EP, which were both 12-inch EPs—what you’d call 45s. I took them over so Scott could listen to them and record them (for his own use). So then I was talking to him the next day and asked, ‘So, what do you think?’ He said, ‘It was OK, but T.S.O.L. and Black Flag sort of sound the same to me. It’s kind of slow and …’

“I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ He had recorded both of those at 33. … (When played at that speed), they were kind of slow and did sound the same. That’s typical Scott.”

How did Herbert come to fruition? The name, of course, has to do with the fact that Lienau’s full first name is Herbert, but the idea for the concept came to him while he was playing the keyboard.

“I had been messing around with keyboards here and there after always playing guitar and singing in bands,” he said. “I wasn’t in any band at the time or anything, and it was something I could do at home. … I didn’t have to plug a lot in or set up a lot of equipment, so I started like that, just messing around. As time went on, I started accumulating a lot of different things. I asked myself, ‘How could I put this together and play somewhere?’”

As for his costume?

“I had this old man mask I’d wear to scare my daughter,” he said. “I used to chase her around and say I was Grandpa Daddy, and I’d be all like, ‘Look at Grandpa Daddy!’ On Halloween, the kids would all come, and I’d freak them out by giving out candy while wearing that mask. So I figured I’d wear the mask, and that way, while I was still trying to get the feel on the keyboard thing, I didn’t have to put myself out there entirely. I could hide behind the mask—plus I always wanted to do something with a mask. That’s kind of how it’s been evolving, and I grew up with the Shakey’s piano-player guy when I was a kid.“

The response Herbert has received from audiences has been interesting. He’s played local shows at The Hood Bar and Pizza and Schmidy’s Tavern; he’s also played at BB Ingle’s Halloween Party.

“Some people just do not get it at all. It’s weird to them, and they’re creeped out by it, which is fine, because I get entertainment out of that,” Lienau said. “At BBs, it was kind of a trippy thing, and I liked the fact that I was in my own corner. (They) said, ‘Just play whenever, and if you don’t feel like playing, just walk around.’ I did three sets and walked around.”

The Herbert set includes typical carnival-organ music—with some covers thrown in, such as “Angie” by the Rolling Stones, “Hotel California” by the Eagles, and Booker T’s “Green Onions.”

“I have 13 songs, and a half hour to 45 minutes worth of live material. I have about six covers, and the others are all instrumentals. I wasn’t planning on singing and was just going to do instrumentals, but at home, I put together this medley, and I realized ‘Hotel California,’ ‘Angie’ and ‘Let the Sun Shine In’ are basically the same song. So I kind of merged the three together playing them instrumentally, and eventually split them up. It’s just sort of evolved as I’ve gotten better and more comfortable.”

As for the Bat Country Summer Slam, Lienau said attendees who catch the Herbert set will get a surprise—a surprise which he refused to reveal.

“I like (the Palms),” he said. “It’s way out in the middle of nowhere, but it’s really cool and peaceful. I’ve seen a couple of different incarnations of Rikk Agnew out there, and it’s so cool that he came out to do that. Zach (Huskey) mentioned it to me. … They definitely didn’t need to add me, but I was glad that they put me on there.”

The Bat Country Summer Slam takes place at a time to be determined on Saturday, July 4, at the Palms, 83131 Amboy Road, in Twentynine Palms. Admission to the all-ages show is $10 at the door. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page. For more information on Herbert, visit herbsorgan.com.

Published in Previews