MUSIC : Seeking Fame and Maybe a Designated Driver : Beat Farmers, appearing Sunday at the Underground, has partied through 12 years, six albums. And they're still not rich.


The Beat Farmers, four party animals from San Diego, will belch in the face of the New Sobriety when they bring their raucous blend of country rock and rhythm and booze to the Underground in Santa Barbara on Sunday night.

They require more lubrication than Jiffy Lube, according to the one and only Country Dick Montana, who, "for legal or 'very good' reasons," will not give his real name. Montana is the band's Keith Moon, except he's still around to beat those drums and sing really weird songs.

"No, no one can drink as much as we can and still be able to play. When we play, we get three cases of beer, two bottles of red wine and a bottle of tequila. That's just for starters, and it's just part of the deal. You have to give us that or else you don't get the Beat Farmers."

Montana, Rolle Love, Jerry Raney and Joey Harris put out an annual (if you call five times in 12 years annual) Beat Farmers' Almanac chock-full of advice certain to get you arrested or divorced in less time than it takes to shout, "More beer!" Sample bad advice for all: "Deny everything. If that doesn't work, blame it on booze or amnesia. If you're still in trouble, claim that the bikers made you do it."

Despite a ton of good reviews, the band still ain't rich, and they don't blame the bikers.

"You know, that's always been a thorn in our sides, not that we're in this for the money," Montana said. "I mean, I watch MTV and I can't figure out what these guys in shorts and backwards baseball caps are doing. I know if we broke up, we'd get famous, but we're too old to see the errors of our ways."

Not only will the band not go away, they remain the "popes of stool pigeon bop" and the "most durable legends of marginally popular music." Translation: They've been around for a dozen years, six albums and countless hangovers.

"The people that can relate to us hear about us through word of mouth," said Montana. "We don't have any big press machine or any kind of hype going. It's all done voluntarily. We get a lot of drunks at our show, although they don't start out like that. No one is very trendy at our shows, they just become unfriendly later. Then they feel bad about us for awhile afterward, but that passes, and we come back to their town a year later."

The Beat Farmers just put out a new album on Sector 2 Records entitled "Viking Lullabys." It's their first new release in a long time. The new release contains some of the Farmers' greatest live showstoppers, captured on disc for the first time.

They set new lows, notably on three of Montana's notorious drinking songs, which he calls his "swillogy." The Ms. Wrong song of all time has got to be "Baby's Liquored Up." A sample line allowable in a family newspaper: "She smiles like a reptile and her lips are razor thin. Her legs are made of Jello and her voice will rip your skin."

"Yeah, a lot of people can relate to that one, either as a finger pointer or else they can see themselves in that one," said Montana. "I was engaged to her, and we lived together for awhile. Then she sobered up and I couldn't handle it."

The band doesn't do a lot of slow ones--most of their stuff is incendiary roots rock that is often crude, obnoxious and mighty funny, if you're in the mood.

"Some people still think we're some sort of frat party band, and we're definitely not that," Montana said. "Sometimes people don't understand the different sides of the band. On one side, there's Jerry and Joey--great songwriters--then on the other, there's clown time--that's where I jump into the ring. Some people can't see how such opposites can coexist, but life isn't just one way. We're flying in the face of reality, or is it we're a fly on the face of reality?"


* WHAT: The Beat Farmers, Evil Farmer, The Gathering.

* WHERE: Underground, 110 State St., Santa Barbara.

* WHEN: 9 p.m. Sunday.

* HOW MUCH: $8.

* FYI: 965-5050.

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