Pure-Rubbish-group-1024x677YOUNG, LOUD AND SNOTTY: I shot this photo at Flamingo Cantina in Austin on the night I met Pure Rubbish at SXSW 2001. From left, Jarrett Gardner, Mike McWilliams, Derek Dunivan and Evan Dunivan. Average age? Maybe 16.

By Metal Dave Glessner

Pure Rubbish hooked my attention at SXSW 2001 when word from the gutter had the kids pegged as the next Guns N’ Roses. I was further impressed to learn the Houston upstarts were winning favor with Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, and supposedly securing producer Mike Clink who played a vital role in shaping a fairly memorable album called “Appetite for Destruction.”

[Top: Rubbish kids in LA with GN’R guitarist Izzy Stradlin, left, and “Punk Daddy” Dunivan, middle, 2001. Bottom: A familiar sight outside rehearsal in Houston, 2001]

Intrigued by this Dumpster-load of street cred, I walked into the Atomic Café (now Elysium) on Austin’s gritty Red River Street and … crossed my fingers! Soon enough, Pure Rubbish took the stage in all their youth-gone-wild glam-punk glory.

Holy Hanoi Rocks! How is it possible these young turks are so well-versed in throwback glitter-trash like Aerosmith, the New York Dolls, T.Rex and Alice Cooper? How is it possible they’re more familiar with Stiv Bators than Kurt Cobain? Hey, don’t they have homework and school tomorrow?

Floored by their snot-nosed talent (especially that of lefty lead guitarist and lead vocalist Derek Dunivan who remains one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever heard and seen), I introduced myself after their set and asked if they wanted to hang out around the corner at Flamingo Cantina. Sure, dude! As I approached the bar, I turned to ask the guys what they wanted to drink. The look on the face of drummer Evan Dunivan was priceless as he nervously stammered, “Dude, I’m only 14.” Oh-key, doh-key. Howz’about I just meet you fellas upstairs, then?

As we became fast friends, I soon learned the Dunivan brothers grew up on the likes of the Glimmer/Toxic Twins thanks to their father/original Rubbish singer, Willie, (aka “Punk Daddy”) who himself was a musician with impressive underground connections. Rubbish bassist Mike McWilliams was a grubby Dee Dee Ramone disciple and guitarist Jarrett Gardner was a cross between Joe Perry and Malcolm Young with an added dash of fashion sense. To top it all off, Pure Rubbish took their name from the words Mick Jagger once used to describe Herman’s Hermits. Yeah, Pure Rubbish was my kinda band. [Above: Me and Rubbish, um, ‘house-sitting’ in Houston]

Bonded by our shared love of sleaze-rock, we agreed to stay in touch. Whenever I would drive to Houston to visit my then-girlfriend/now-wife, Kim (which was basically every other weekend), the Rubbish kids would call and invite us to rehearsals. Those were some scary good times! Another scary time found Pure Rubbish and me in a downtown Austin La Quinta hotel when someone set the ceiling on fire. Thankfully, no one was hurt — or arrested. Then there was the time in Houston when Pure Rubbish (minus Jarrett) was house-sitting some club owner’s crib and … well, um, I’ve probably said enough. [Left: Rare 4-song EP. If you can find it, grab it!]

When Kim shortened our long-distance commute by moving to north Austin, I arrived at her door one night to find her all excited about something she’d seen on TV. “You’re not gonna believe it!” she said. “Watch, I recorded it!” She rewound the VHS tape and there on TV was Pure Rubbish backing Ozzy’s daughter, Kelly Osbourne, as she made her singing debut covering Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” … on the freakin’ MTV Movie Awards!! Whoa!! Big-time!! How did I not know about this? Regardless, I was proud and certain the Ozzy connection would launch my friends to stardom, especially considering “The Osbournes” MTV reality show was about to go gangbusters.

[Above: Mike and Derek rock Ozzfest 2001. Below: Mike rocks L.A.M.F while opening for AC/DC in Paris]

Obviously, the Guns N’Roses-level fame never happened (blame the music biz, kids), but Pure Rubbish did manage to eek out some rare singles, an EP, a few compilations and the hard-to-find, but well-worth-owning, 2001 Clink-produced album, “Glamorous Youth.” They also toured with Motorhead, Nashville Pussy, Supersuckers and Ozzfest 2001 (a trek that found the guys followed by a Rolling Stone reporter who published a multi-page spread on the band’s under-aged shenanigans). There’s also that time they were invited to open for AC/DC. In Paris! In other words, they did plenty of cool things that you and I didn’t.

Today, Pure Rubbish is long gone (excepting a recent and rare one-off reunion gig). I still bump into glam-obsessed Jarrett from time to time and am told a now-bearded (!!!) Evan lives five minutes from me in South Austin (call me, dude). Mike is now living in New York and still playing scuzz punk in a band called the Bad Luck Charms featuring some guys from U.S. Bombs. As for Derek, I’m not sure. Last I heard, he was more of a studio geek who broadened his musical tastes and talents (along with Evan) into Radiohead territory. Whatever he’s doing, you can bet it’s brilliant.
[Left: Glamorous Youth;
Below: All grown up]

In three-plus decades of befriending rock-n-roll, I’ve come across a ton of individual talent and a handful of magical bands that could’ve easily gone the distance. Pure Rubbish was one of those bands. I’m not saying they would’ve set the world on fire or rivaled Van Halen for sales and staying power, but they certainly were deserving of greater attention. Then again, I know a lot of bands that would happily die tomorrow if they could claim they opened for Angus. In Paris! At age 16!

Thanks for the music and memories, guys.
And if you’re out there, let’s go grab a drink. You’re legal now, right?

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To view some amazing Pure Rubbish videos including an MTV interview alongside Motorhead as well as live footage and candid, behind-the-scenes stuff, go here. At the risk of having the guys punch me for digging up a lost gem that still makes me proud, click below to see Pure Rubbish backing Ozzy’s daughter, Kelly, as she makes her singing debut on the MTV Movie Awards (p
ay attention as Derek rips short, but stinging solos at 2:21 and 3:10). Finally, for an earful of original Rubbish, click the bottom video and then go try to find the album, “Glamorous Youth.”

  1. Rex Rogers says:

    You peaked my interest with this one!!! These guys came out during my M.I.A. period haha. I totally missed out on these kids. Now I gotta hunt their stuff down. Thanks for the article and heads up Dave!

    • metal dave says:

      You won’t be disappointed. They were a GREAT band with all the right influences and some shredding guitar. A promising casualty of the music biz (thru no fault of their own). Try to find their music

  2. Bob says:

    Thanks for this Dave!
    Surprised you didn’t mention JT and Mikey’s subsequent band in the wrap-up…always loved The Urgencies! In my opinion at least as good as Rubbish — minus most of the good fortune. Why are there no bands like these right now??

    • metal dave says:

      Yeah Bob, I also failed to mention Mikey’s NY band, the Bloodrunners, but the post was gettin kinda long. Maybe a follow-up is in order somewhere down the line. Thanks for reading

  3. Steven Blackmore says:

    I remember you either emailed me or told me in person about this band.
    I remember seeing them at UK 2001 Ozzfest, and at the time most of the stuff on OZZFEST was NU-METAL, i hated that with a passion.. So i was more than pleased to see Pure Rubbish take to the second stage, and tear it up big time.. Any band that play’s “Let There Be Rock” to end their set is more than cooL with me.. A great band for the sort time they were around.. A few year’s later you introduced me ot one of the guy’s, i think outside Stubbs he gave “Urgencies” CD.. LET THERE BE ROCK!!!!

  4. Too bad they didn’t make the long haul. I was quite impressed by what little I did see. The good thing about starting so young is that they’re still young enough to start over and be even better. Good article Dave.

  5. Punkdaddy says:

    Hey Dave…Great article…The good ol daze!!…I live in the Pacific NW now…Holler back…Crunch on for 2012!…Later WD

  6. Michael says:

    I remember when i thought rock’n’roll was coming back with Kill Cheerleader, Pure Rubbish, Toilet Boys, Turbonegro, Hellacopters. Instead Darkness and Jet got all the glory and they were so shite it fizzled out immediately. Side note: that one Jet hit was ripping off a Kill Cheerleader tune! Fabulous article Dave.