Wes Archer tells Night Flight about the Butthole Surfers’ “Who Was In My Room Last Night?” video, a tribute to the great Robert Williams

By on July 30, 2019

The Night Flight crew who put together these early ’90s episodes may not have clearly understood the concept of our “Take Off” episodes — perhaps it was too hard to concentrate after huffin’ cans of Dust-Off all afternoon? — but we’re glad they included Texas alt-rock psychos Butthole Surfers‘ non-metal video for “Who Was In My Room Last Night?” in this vintage syndication-era “Take Off to Metal” episode.

You can watch the video — featuring animation by Wes Archer, who tells us all about the video below — on Night Flight Plus.

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We’ve claimed this episode aired in 1991, but that’s likely wrong, as “Who Was In My Room Last Night?” — the opening track on the Butthole Surfers’ sixth album, Independent Worm Saloon, produced by Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones (who Gibby Haynes once recalled was a “horrible drunk“) — wasn’t even released until ’93.

The video — directed by William “Bill” Stobaugh, one of the original members of L.A.’s Thelonious Monster — is ultimately a tribute to artist Robert Williams, avatar of California cool, which is why we’re filing this one in the “Art” section here on the Night Flight blog.

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Wes Archer — creator of one of our favorite animated shorts, Jac Mac & Rad Boy, Go! — tells us how it came together:

“I first met the music video director Bill Stobaugh at the Klasky/Csupo studio in old Hollywood, where the famous Warner Brothers director Bob Clampett had last worked, in 1988. His wife Sodie Clampett still had an office there as well.”

“I was animating the early “Simpsons,” for the “Tracey Ullman Show.” There were three of us animators and Bill was coming in at times to work on other projects for the studio, like commercials and video titles. We talked a bit here and there, hanging out, but the Butthole Surfers video was the first project we worked on together.”

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“Four years later, I was asked by the band’s manager, a friend from Texas, if I could animate or direct a music video for the band but I was busy on the “Simpsons” series and recommended Bill. He’d directed videos before, for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, for example.”

“Also, the record companies only offered low budgets for this and I knew full animation was out of the question. It needed live action mixed in and I told Bill I’d help out with the animated bits. I was also a big fan of the Butthole Surfers’ music.”

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“Once the project got started, Bill brought in the other artist/animator Tom Holleran, an old friend of his from when he played as a musician in the Hollywood punk scene. Tom hadn’t done much animation before but he took to it really well and is a phenomenal artist.”

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“Early on I suggested to call in Robert Williams to help with designs or something because I’d met him previously and I think he and Gibby Haynes were acquaintances. That really got Bill’s creative juices going with a hot-rod perspective and he went off and conceptualized the whole piece from beginning to end.”

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“There was a stretch of a few weeks when we were in a studio space on Sunset, one of those old stucco buildings from days of old, animating and drawing away. I had decided to take a break from the Simpsons after having directed 5 episodes in one year.”

“One day the band popped in and I remember watching Paul Leary drawing Pee Pee the Sailor on an electric guitar. A fond memory. It was a very creative time in animation and rock music. We had to finish production at Bill’s house when we lost that space. Tom lived there while it was wrapping up and I worked from my house. It was a great piece and got a lot of positive response. And I still listen to songs from that album from time to time.”

Thanks, Wes!

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Stobaugh synthesized all of this work into an “animatic,” or “moving storyboard,” to show executives at Capitol Records, and by the time they were shooting the offbeat live-action sequences, his pre-editing prep was so thorough that nearly all of the planned shots (courtesy of director of photography Sven Kirsten) were accomplished in just one take.

By the way, the original footage is currently up for sale on eBay!

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Butthole Surfers frontman Gibby Haynes can be seen — wearing an outrageous pompadour and garish clothing (makeup effects and styling courtesy of Jill Fink and Danielle King, respectively) — in scenes shot with Williams’ own ’34 Ford coupe hot rod.

Flea appears as a bartender (Stobaugh had directed the the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ video for “Mother’s Milk”).

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Stobaugh — who was born in Awali, Bahrain, where his father worked for an American oil company — grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts, and earned his BA & MA degrees from Cal Arts.

He ended up working in motion-controlled photography, and excerpts from his thesis film even appeared in the Disney feature Tron.

He died in late September 1996 following complications after heart surgery. He was only 42 years old.

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Read more about Robert Williams below.

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In 1989, Robert Williams was interviewed for Stuart S. Shapiro’s Impact Video Magazine, which featured segments on Public Enemy, Jane’s Addiction and lots more.

Williams has said he was flattered to be the inspiration for the Butthole Surfers’ video, but remained curious whether MTV would really air it.

The video was usually relegated to late-night time slots and was occasionally shown on “The Box,” which were “breakin’ out of the box”-style videos chosen by viewers, as well as during MTV’s “Beavis and Butt-head.”

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Williams grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, forming his artistic identity while racing hot rods and fighting street thugs.

In the Sixties he went to L.A., enrolled in art school and started his professional career drawing for Big Daddy Roth’s hot rod T-shirt empire.

He first gained widespread notoriety as a pioneer of the underground comic book movement when he joined Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson and others for the revolutionary ZAP comix in 1969.

The Impact video magazine was hosted by filmmaker/actor Alex Winter, whose eleven-minute combined Super 8mm/16mm film, Bar-B-Que Movie (a.k.a. Entering Texas) was also included.

It’s described on the VHS box as “a cannibalistic black comedy and demonic stage show from the legendary off-beat rockers Butthole Surfers,” a spoof of scenes from the beginning of the 1974 horror classic The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

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Night Flight’s early ’90s “Take Off to Metal” also features two videos by Metallica (“Sad But True” and “Enter Sandman”), as well as singular videos by Alice In Chains, Megadeth, White Zombie, Anthrax (featuring Public Enemy), and Rage Against the Machine.

Watch “Take Off to Metal” and other “Take Off” episodes (here and here) on Night Flight Plus.

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.