High Tone Son of a Bitch’s Paul Kott on Craziest Show, Dream Show and More

Formed in 2003, desert-rock veterans High Tone Son of a Bitch have found members and collaborators in bands including Noothgrush, Kalas, Hammers of Misfortune, Melvins, Hawkwind, Neurosis, High on Fire, Sleep, Necrot, the Skull and more. The Oakland, California–based group are gearing up to release a new EP, Wicked Threads!, as well as a double-album compilation of all their EPs to date — from the early Aughts to today — aptly titled Lifecycles: EPs of HTSOB via stoner-doom stronghold Tee Pee Records. (You can pre-order it here.) Of course, the band members are all music fans, as well as creators, so ahead of the two releases (both due March 20th), we caught up with founding member Paul Kott to discuss the first, worst and wildest concerts he’s either attended as a concertgoer or played as a musician.

WHAT’S THE FIRST SHOW YOU EVER WENT TO?
PAUL KOTT The first actual rock concert I attended was The Cult at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine, when I was 13. The first show I played was some kid’s party in the first band I was ever in, Morbid Reality, also at 13 years old in Auburn, Maine. I was the singer. I had braces and tie-dyed t T-shirts with crystals and elephants and shit on them and I enjoyed psychedelics, loved Danzig, Led Zeppelin and Slayer. So basically the same exact person I am today.

HOW ABOUT THE WORST SHOW?
Oh boy. Not the music, but getting chased by idiotic, violent FSU skinheads who wanted to fucking kill me after a Born Against show in Portland, Maine, was the fucking worst, I’ll tell you that much.

WHAT’S THE CRAZIEST SHOW YOU EVER PLAYED?
Shit, lots of these. It’s sort of a toss-up, but the time that Medication Time — a crusty hardcore punk band I played bass in — toured with Unhinged from Belgium, most of those shows were fucking crazy. Kylesa were on tour at the same time as us, but they were always, like, a day behind us. We kept getting venues shut down so they’d show up wherever and the show would be cancelled ’cause there was nowhere to play. When we played in Seattle, we played two shows — one was a bar show and the other was an all-ages house party. Some kid at the house-party show thought it would be a good idea when the cops showed up to shut the show down to barricade everyone inside. We were playing, so we didn’t even realize we were in a standoff with the cops until we were done, and nobody stopped moshing and shit was all crazy and fun. Once we stopped, though, we were playing in this basement in a punk house, and there was nowhere to go. Luckily, no one got shot, but we all had to surrender one by one, hundreds of punks, maybe 200 or 300 people, all got plastic handcuffs and had to sit in the grass in this yard in some Seattle neighborhood. The cops couldn’t figure out what to do with everyone — they didn’t want to arrest hundreds of people and do all the paperwork. So instead they ended up taking groups of two or three people and just cutting us loose miles away from the house, just randomly dropping us off wherever the fuck in metropolitan Seattle. Most of the Belgians didn’t really speak English, they were French-speaking. I can’t remember how we found them. That was pretty crazy.

HOW ABOUT THE SMALLEST SHOW?
[Laughs] High Tone Son of a Bitch played a show to no one but the sound guy in Portland, Oregon, on our second tour. We fucking killed it anyway. The sound guy was just in shock, like, “Holy shit, that was awesome!” [Laughs]

AND THE BIGGEST?
Most of the major-support-type shows we play are pretty good. The shows Kalas did with Blue Cheer were theater shows, so one or two thousand people. Touring with Weedeater these days rules — awesome fucking dudes and bros, and the turnouts are in the hundreds. I can’t really remember what specific show was the biggest I’ve ever played. Some of the festival shows get pretty big. I’d guess the largest crowd I’ve ever played for was a few thousand people or something. I guess it doesn’t really matter to me, to be honest. I’m there to fucking play. I love playing and I’m there to fucking bring it, even if it’s to an empty room.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM SHOW?
G.G. Allin with the Murder Junkies backed up by Antiseen vs. Disturbed in mortal combat, after the members of Disturbed have all been intentionally infected with the coronavirus. Who is most down with the sickness, and are we talking metaphorically or literally?