As you may have heard in one of the 485 places that covered the story, some scary shit went down last weekend between San Francisco two-man band Two Gallants and a particularly aggressive Houston police officer at the band’s show in Houston, Texas. We read up on the mainstream media reports, which generally conflicted with eyewitness accounts put forward on sites like MySpace. Then we got on the phone with the band. Our conversation was long and detailed, so we trimmed them up and give you info you may not have yet heard, like the fact that as he ran from the venue, Adam saw a police helicopter chasing somebody who may or may not have been him through the streets, and that Tyson had to call his 92-year-old grandmother from jail. Read both interviews after the jump.
ROLLING STONE: So we know the basic details of what happened. Can you tell us when you first saw the cop?
ADAM STEPHENS: I didn’t even know he was in the room until I saw him onstage.
RS: What exactly happened after he came onstage with you?
AS: All I did was question him. I just wanted to know why. You don’t walk up to the stage of a venue that has a license to play music. We’re not the ones to blame for it. You don’t come up to us. You go to the establishment first. We were still kind of playing. He was right up in my face, and then I just questioned him the second time. This was in a matter of seconds. For a second we really ignored him and kept playing. It all happened really quickly, within like maybe 3 seconds.
RS: After you questioned him the second time, what happened?
AS: He grabbed me by the back of the neck and threw me down to the ground, and it was pretty much the same time he grabbed Tyson as well. He was a really big guy, and we’re really little guys. He pretty much was in control.
RS: What did he want? Obviously, he wanted you to stop playing, but did you have the impression at all of being able to figure what it was that he was trying to get you to do?
AS: I really don’t think he really knew what he wanted, to be honest. I guess you could say, if you were really looking for a real reason, that it was initially to stop the music, and then after he created this ridiculous situation, it was to just start arresting people. He was yelling at me, something. I don’t really remember. You couldn’t really hear him, and then he went after some kid in the corner and took out his taser and started tasing this kid. I just remember seeing this single kid in a white shirt, and I remember just running over there as did a bunch of people, at least to distract him from this kid or whatever. I don’t know what I would have done, but it was just frustrating that he was attacking this teeny kid . . . He looked at me and said, “Get down on the ground, you’re going to jail.” He came at me with this hatred in his eyes. It was kinda frightening to look at, but he comes at me, and he starts tasing me and he tased me a couple times in the stomach. And then I just turned around and had to get out of there. There was no way I was going to get down on the ground for this guy.
RS: So he says whatever in this chaotic moment, get down on the ground, but did he even give you enough time to get down on the ground before he shocked you?
AS: No. No way. He was like coming right at me and yelling at me and then he went for my stomach and tased me a couple of times.
RS: What does that feel like? Not good, I would imagine.
AS: I mean it hurt pretty bad, but it wasn’t like debilitating. It didn’t paralyze me or anything. It was more like, if anything, it shocked me enough to immediately react and just like turn around and skirt out of there as quickly as possible. It was definitely something. If not that, then adrenaline running through me made me turn around and hobble to the bar and just like get out of the place really fast.
RS: Where did you go?
AS: I just went around the corner. A lot of kids, I think the kids kinda helped me out as far as blocking my way behind me and then I just ran around the corner and just kept running and running and running. I got, I think, five or six blocks. And then I was kind of hiding in shadows, and there was a helicopter flying over with a search light on it.
RS: A police helicopter?
RS: They were out scouring the streets for you after this?
AS: I mean I don’t know if there was someone else running through the streets from the cops in the same neighborhood that I was, but if not, it must have been me.
RS: Were you sort of like, “Wow, this is kind of dramatic.” I mean this is obviously a terrible situation, but it’s like you’re Harrison Ford or something . . . I’m sure that didn’t occur to you in the moment.
AS: No, I wasn’t thinking of The Fugitive, but actually the first thing that ran through my mind was that this is what it would be like to live in a complete police state where the law just goes unchecked. If anything, this is definitely a step towards it if someone can come in and create this kind of complete insanity just by wearing a badge, you know?
RS: Now there’s also this claim being made by some people that you said “fuck you” to him or some other sort of “sexual profanity” I think they’re calling it. Did that happen?
AS: In my opinion, it definitely did not happen. I didn’t say anything like that to him at all.
RS: It wouldn’t have been that out of line for you to be like, “Fuck you, what are you doing?” You could see how that could happen, so the question of whether you remember saying something like that was important.
AS: I’m not denying that after he came up onstage and after he took us down and after we finally got back up, there might have been a few f-words involved in sentences that had a question in them like, “What the fuck are you doing” or “What the fuck is going on?” I can’t repeat verbatim what I said. I don’t know, but initially I said absolutely nothing that was offensive to him when he first came up and told me to stop, so I in no way caused it. I didn’t fuel the situation by saying something offensive to him.
RS: Are you planning to press charges against the officer or the Houston Police Department?
AS: Yeah, I don’t know if I should really say so yet. We’re definitely planning on it and we’re talking about it, but we haven’t finalized anything. I don’t know. It might be premature to say.
RS: But you’re official word on this is that you’re not just going to pretend it didn’t happen.
AS: Yeah. It’s definitely not over.
ROLLING STONE: So you were explaining that you’ve played many house parties and other shows in unconventional venues, where noise complaints are received and handled by police officers, but that this time was different. How so?
TYSON VOGEL: Every other time the police almost always wait until the song is over to come up and tell us to turn off the music because they’ve had a complaint. But he pretty much barged right in mid-song. I mean, it’s a little jarring; I think we both somewhat take responsibility for the little bit of irrational reaction we had, but it’s kind of hard especially when someone is being that aggressive, to just quiet down. I saw it escalating, and I ran over and got in between them both, and I was like, Please, back up, what is going on, let me know. And then, at that point, he really aggressively tackled both of us to the ground in one big swoop.
RS: When he tackled you guys, you were in the midst of asking him why?
RS: And he never answered?
TV: No, he didn’t.
RS: But Adam was gone by the time he got outside?
TV: Yeah. I think Adam had a pretty good head-start. By the time the cop was out there, I don’t think he would have been able to follow Adam in any way.
RS: So when did you get arrested?
TV: I went out into the street to make sure Adam was alright and I didn’t seem him anywhere. I was walking back towards the door when the cop kind of roughly grabbed me and roughed me against the car and said I was going to jail.
RS: And he pushed you up against a car and handcuffed you?
TV: Yeah, and he was like, you’re going to jail. In the conversation I had with him he obviously didn’t read my rights, and he didn’t say off the bat why I was going to jail, and I asked why, and he said, “Because of your buddy, you’re going to jail,” and I told him I didn’t understand, and he said, “You’re getting in my business, and you’re obstructing my justice, you’re going to jail.”
RS: You were in the car an hour and a half before you even went to the station?
TV: Yeah. For the majority of the time, like four of five of the police officers were just like hanging out next to the police car next to us, kind of cracking jokes. They made some funny joke that I overheard through the window. One cop was like, “What does this band play? I heard it was indie grunge music?” And the other cop was like, “I don’t even know grunge, whatever, I don’t even know anything except the Indie 500, and that’s all I care about.”
It seems ridiculous — when the other cops came around, the cop that was aggressive totally changed his tune. He was acting all sweet and joking around. When I play drums I cut myself a lot in the process, and I think in the scuffle I had gotten blood from my hands onto his shirt, and he was kind of showing off his shirt.
RS: You saw him parading this stain on his shirt, telling the tale?
TV: Kind of, I don’t really know what he was saying. I was inside and I couldn’t really hear, but he was outside showing everyone the blood on his shirt, and it seemed kind of strange to me.
RS: Then, as far as you know, he didn’t receive first aid?
TV: Yeah. I mean, that’s for sure. I was told that the owner of the bar asked him if he was OK, if he needed any first aid, and he said, “No, I’m fine.” And the owner will back that up if need be.
RS: What did they book you for?
TV: That’s the thing, I should have asked, and I didn’t. The police originally told and I sort of interpreted it as I was obstructing justice, but I should have had the foresight to ask somebody about it.
RS: Were you able to make a phone call?
TV: Yeah, yeah, in the holding cell there were payphones where you call collect. But this is another funny thing: No one really has a landline, and you can’t really call anyone collect on a cell phone. I couldn’t even get through to my parents, I couldn’t get in touch to anyone. I unfortunately had to call my 92-year-old grandmother.
RS: That’s hysterical. So, you have to go back to Houston on Friday?
TV: Well, that’s what is supposed to happen, but we’re playing in Los Angeles that evening, and the tour hasn’t even ended yet. So we’re trying to figure out some way of doing this.
RS: Your appearance there is to contest the charges?
RS: Are you weirdly anticipating this in a positive way, like, so you can confront these people and say you’ve been wronged? Or, is it the opposite?
TV: I’m actually really ready and wanting to deal with it. I don’t want to ignore this at all.