Beto O'Rourke Foss band


Listen to Beto O’Rourke slap the bass 25 years ago with his punk band

Foss single 'Rise' makes its way online.


Josh Katzowitz

Layer 8

Posted on Aug 31, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 7:31 am CDT

Beto O’Rourke is cooler than any Senate candidate you know, and if you needed additional proof, the Texas representative who’s challenging Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) released a single from his days as a punk rock utility player recently.

It’s a song called “Rise,” and it comes from O’Rourke’s 1990s-era punk band, Foss, that also included Cedric Bixler-Zavala, who made his name as the singer with iconic post-hardcore band At the Drive-In and prog-rock outfit the Mars Volta.

As Rolling Stone points out, it sounds like a lo-fi version of Fugazi, and it’s not entirely unpleasant. You can listen to the single on Rolling Stone’s website, but you can get more Foss jams on YouTube, including this one on an El Paso TV show featuring O’Rourke jamming out on bass (and with Bixler-Zavala on drums).

“Rise” was released in 1993 when O’Rourke was attending Columbia University, and if it gives off a DIY garage band vibe, that’s probably on purpose.

“I was into Minor Threat, I was into the Rites of Spring,” O’Rourke told Rolling Stone, dropping the names of independent punk bands from the 1980s. “They started their own label, they pressed their own records, they wrote their own songs, they booked their own tours and they set conditions, like: you’re not gonna pay more than five bucks to come into this show. You’re not gonna pay more than 10 bucks for this record. Our shows are gonna be all ages, everybody can come in.”

O’Rourke also played drums for a band called the Swedes, and it included a cover song of Galaxie 500’s cover song of Jonathan Richman’s 1981 tune, “Don’t Let Our Youth Go to Waste.”

That seemed to astonish Galaxie 500 drummer Damon Krukowski this week.

Foss broke up eventually. Bixler-Zavala helped formed At the Drive-In in 1994, while O’Rourke moved to New York to work on the newly emerging internet scene.

Now, polls show O’Rourke is closing in fast on Cruz—one poll this week had O’Rourke behind by a single point—and Cruz’s campaign has tweeted some of its thoughts about O’Rourke’s youth, including misdemeanor arrests in the mid-1990s for criminal trespass and driving while intoxicated.

All of which confirms to the masses that though O’Rourke is still an underdog to upset Cruz and become Texas’ first Democratic senator since O’Rourke was blasting out tunes on his bass, he’s still just a little bit cooler than his opponent.

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*First Published: Aug 31, 2018, 9:46 am CDT