Sixteen Deluxe are a psychedelic noise-pop band from Austin, Texas, best known for their energetic, deafening live performances and lysergic studio creations. Formed in April 1994, they quickly generated a heap of buzz in Austin, filling local clubs with a kinetic mix of sonic assault, pop melodies, smoke, lights, and film projections.
Originally comprising singers/guitarists Carrie Clark and Chris “Frenchie” Smith, bassist Jeff Copas, and a rotating cast of drummers, within a year the group was hailed as the loudest and most exciting on the Austin scene. Early notable gigs included the infamous Red River haunt Chances; an impromptu one-song opening slot for Stereolab at Emo's; and a series of guerilla-style invasions of Austin house parties.
Butthole Surfer King Coffey's Trance Syndicate label took notice, and sent the band into the studio in August of 1994 to record their debut 7" for the legendary label: "Idea" b/w "Honey", which was lauded by SPIN Magazine as one of the Top 10 Singles of 1995.
Recording sessions for their first LP, Backfeed Magnetbabe, took place over the Christmas 1994, with assistance from Cherubs front man Kevin Whitley and engineer Brian Fulk. Released in May 1995, Backfeed Magnetbabe was met with near-hysterical critical praise, garnering the band a stack of favorable notices in SPIN, CMJ, and Melody Maker, and widespread college radio airplay.
After the video for "Idea" hit rotation on MTV's 120 Minutes, attention reached critical mass and the band spent most of 1995 on the road, capped off by a memorable month-long jaunt supporting L. A. noisemeisters Medicine. 1995 also saw the release of the Trance compilation, Cinco Anos, with the band contributing two songs to a stellar lineup that included Cherubs, Butthole Surfers, and Roky Erickson.
A 7" single for Austin label Propeller, "Reactive" b/w "Kids in America", was recorded by indie legend John Croslin (Reivers, Spoon, GBV) for release in early 1996, marking the start of a fruitful relationship between the band and Croslin. Summer 1996 then found the band recording with Trance labelmates Crust at their home studio, and the resulting mini-album, The Pilot Knob EP, was released by Genius Records in January 1997.
In October 1996, the band passed over several lucrative offers to sign with Warner Brothers, and Steven T. Hall assumed drumming duties full-time. Recorded in San Francisco in early 1997 with Croslin, major label debut Emits Showers of Sparks would be their only release for WB. Released in January 1998, Emits was well-received critically, and showcased Clark’s vocal talents while tempering some of the noisy excesses of previous releases. Despite frequent touring, including successful support gigs with Luna and Jesus & Mary Chain, their Warner’s stay would last just two years, culminating with the band asking to be released from their contract in fall 1998. WB assented, and thanks to a well-written contract, the band set about building their home studio, The Bubble.
They jumped to indie label Sugar Fix for the follow-up EP, The Moonman Is Blue, produced by Mike McCarthy (Spoon,Trail of Dead). Released in November 1999, Moonman was a return to form, featuring studio experimentation, tape manipulation, and an overall noisy, low-fi vibe.
The band spent much of the spring and summer of 1999 in The Bubble, building a working studio and recording material for a new album, while touring regionally throughout the year. At the end of recording the album, Copas left the band, and his bass duties were assumed by Hall, with Kliph Scurlock (Flaming Lips) temporarily taking over the drum seat. The resulting self-produced album (Vision Take Me, Make Me, Never Forsake Me) would be their last, and was released in June of 2000. Shortly thereafter, Carrie Clark left the band, resulting in the end of Sixteen Deluxe.
After a decade apart, Sixteen Deluxe reformed to play a series of gigs in the spring of 2010. The first show, a benefit for Austin's SIMS Foundation, took place in front of a packed house at The Mohawk in downtown Austin. The following week, the band returned to action at SXSW 2010, with four gigs in as many days, including Roky Erickson's 8th Annual Psychedelic Ice Cream Social. More live performances took place that fall, including a kickoff party for FunFunFun Fest 2010.
In January 2012, they headlined a sold-out gig at ND @501 Studios for the K-NACK 20th Anniversary Party. Sixteen Deluxe performed at the 30th Annual Austin Music Awards during SXSW 2012, and were inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame that evening. The band were invited by old Texas pals The Toadies to perform two consecutive nights at their 5th Annual Dia de los Toadies festival in New Braunfels, TX over Labor Day weekend 2012, featuring Toadies, Mariachi El Bronx, and Helmet.
On September 8, 2012, Sixteen Deluxe took part in GrulkeFest, a public memorial and celebration of the life of Austin music scene legend and SXSW Creative Director Brent Grulke. Participants included True Believers, Glass Eye, The Reivers, Doctor’s Mob, Wild Seeds, and The Wannabes, with all proceeds benefitting the Graham Grulke Education Fund.