Featured Music: Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Donnie Franks, a.k.a. Easy Jesus Coe, gets some ink at his tattoo parlor while — of course — imbibing.
Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy

Decimated by the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, Fort Worth’s fathers of riotous rawk continue plugging away.


It’s a weekend night at Ridglea Theater, and the place is packed with the tattooed, the pierced, and the buxom, everyone properly lubricated for an evening with the self-proclaimed bad boys of rap-rock, Pimpadelic. The music is ear-piercingly loud, the five musicians on stage are frenetic but still able to nail their individual parts, the crowd is rowdy if not occasionally half-naked, and the vibe is like that of an after-hours porn star party in Hollywood.
But that was a year ago.
Cut to this past New Year’s Eve, at the Galaxy Club, in Dallas. The “bad boys” of rap-rock are quieter, more contemplative, more musical, and — most importantly — fewer, having gone from a quintet to a trio.
The reason for the new Pimpadelic? Frontman Donnie Franks, a.k.a. Easy Jesus Coe, has an idea. When asked about Pimpadelic’s new look and sound while on break at the Galaxy Club, Franks scooped a couple of ice cubes from his drink and threw them on the table with a look of disgust. “Ice is a hell of a drug,” he said. “Cocaine is a hell of a drug. I think there’s just so much water under the bridge all the way around. I mean, if [ex-bandmates] are doing other projects, I wish them luck.”
Hard drugs, according to Franks, may have distracted some of the other band members to the point of not caring about Pimpadelic. Being a professional musician “takes a lot of work,” he said. “It’s like, if you’re an athlete, you can’t just show up for game day. You’ve got to practice. When people aren’t going to rehearsals, and they just want to party ... there’s more to [being a musician] than that. I’m a fuck-up, don’t get me wrong,” he said. But he was making music long before many of the other ex-band members, he said, and he’ll be “doing it after.”
Drama is nothing new to Pimp. From humble though loud beginnings in 1994 to myriad line-up changes to a brief record deal with Tommy Boy in 2000, the band — whose only remaining original member is Franks — keeps on keepin’ on. Do Unto Others, the band’s fifth full-length and most musical work to date, is expected to hit streets next month. A tour of the Southwest will follow.
The weird thing is that most of the musicians who helped record the album are gone. But Franks isn’t that worried. To him, losing bandmates is just one more obstacle to overcome. He’s already brought in a new drummer and MC and is actively searching for a DJ. Franks said that he expects to finish a new album this summer.
Even though the lead singer for Pimpadelic is probably the last person you’d expect to denounce any sort of drug, Franks made several makeshift public service announcements about the negative effects of ice both during the Galaxy Club performance and — in his own profane way —on break.
“I am totally [against using ice],” he said at the table. “It ruins people. It destroys people, you know? It’s an epidemic, and I’ve seen people go to shit and lose everything, and I just want to be as far away from that drug as I possibly can. We’ve tried for so long to tame down our image. ... I’m trying to get away from the negative, like being an asshole, cussing people, spitting on people.”
Through all the changes Pimpadelic has undergone, the band’s fan base has remained committed. The crowd at the Galaxy Club, while more relaxed than in previous settings, was big and intensely engaged with the music, even during Pimpadelic’s half-jokingly half-hearted covers of songs such as “Whiskey River” and “Sweet Home Alabama.”
“[These fans] are die-hard,” Franks said. “The true fans are still there. The haters aren’t.”
There’s still a large contingent of local musos and music lovers who would say that the Pimps — known for making misogynist and sometimes thinly veiled racist comments — are getting what they had coming to them now that most of the members have defected. Said Franks: “Half of these [people] don’t know us. If I tell a story, by the time it gets back to me, it’s so blown out of proportion it’s not even funny, you know what I’m saying?”
To some observers, Pimpadelic’s change from rap-rockers into more straightforward rock ’n’ rollers may appear calculated, especially considering that rap-rock and its purveyors — bands such as Limp Bizkit and Korn — are about as hip as mullets. But Franks said that his band’s metamorphosis is simply a result of his and his bandmates’ getting older and knowing more about how good music is made. Even though the Pimps still enjoy loud rawk and partying, they have real, adult lives off-stage. Franks, who’s working on a rap record with producer Mike Smooth from New York City and Sub-Z from Fort Worth, owns a tattoo parlor, Southern Devils, Ink, and a graphics company, EightOEight, that produces t-shirts, signs, and banners.
Franks considers the change in Pimp a reversion to the band’s roots. “We’re going back to the original Pimps,” he said. “Sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll party music.”
Whatever your feelings about Franks’ Pimpadelic, you’ve got to admire their tenacity, especially when the world has seemingly written them off. “You can’t get rid of us,” Franks said. “We’re like crabs. You have to take us out with a fine-tooth comb, you know, delouse us.”

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