Patrick Cox is a punk. No, really. He wanted to wear a Gism t-shirt for his big scene in the new Aquaman movie. His character, Cue Ball, strolls into a bar about twenty minutes into the movie and confronts Arthur Curry aka Aquaman “You that fish boy they talked about on TV?” he challenges Aquaman while his posse of biker thugs lurk menacingly in the background.
Arthur, who is just trying to get sloshed with his pops and have a heart to heart, turns around slowly. “Fish man,” he replies. We all hold our breath, waiting for the beating we’re sure is gonna ensue, and instead, Cue Ball says cool, and whips out a bright pink phone and asks Aquaman if he would mind if he took some pictures. The next thirty seconds are a quick series of hilarious selfie portraits between the two.
Now, back to the Gism shirt. Gism, for those of you who don’t know, is a killer Japanese hardcore band from the ‘80s. Since the folks handling wardrobe weren’t sure they would be able to track down the band in time to get clearance to use the shirt in the movie, they gave him several other options for what to wear during his scene, and the shirt he chose happened to be a GEARHEAD t shirt. Featuring an eagle on the front with a banner clutched in its talons that says, “Gearhead, est. 1993”, the shirt was prominently portrayed during the big bar room scene. “They laid out a bunch of shirts and said I needed to choose one, and that GEARHEAD shirt looked pretty cool,” he said during our interview.
Cox’s barrel-sized chest perfectly filled out the XXL t-shirt with the sleeves cut off to stay in character with his biker persona. “It fit like a glove,” he said.
Tracking down Patrick to “talk shirts” was also an excuse to get into his past as a Memphis punk rocker. As the singer for Bury the Living, a Memphis based hardcore punk band, they recorded for Prank Records, a San Francisco based hardcore label that I used to work with when I was a sales person at Mordam Records (an independent record distribution company). Imagine my surprise and delight at this crazy turn of events! The label specialized in recording southern-based hardcore bands, and included such acts as Damad, His Hero is Gone, Dead and Gone, and of course, Bury The Living who released their LP All The News That’s Fit To Scream in 2005.
His arms are covered with tattoos from the local tattoo parlor, Underground Art, which he’s been going to since he was in the band. His shaved head, bearded face and enormous frame were the perfect focal point to the fast paced aggressive music. Cox had previously been a semi-pro-wrestler, as well as a zookeeper, so being out in front of an audience was natural.
“We toured and recorded for twelve years, and that band took me all over,” Cox recalls. “Through it, I met a local film maker who wanted me to be in his movie, and that’s how I got into acting.” The film got rave reviews and opened a door for Patrick to sign with a local agent who got him more acting gigs in local commercials. After his grandma, to whom he was caretaker, passed away, he had nothing really keeping him in Memphis besides the band, and so he jumped at an offer to move to Hollywood and audition for some parts.
Unlike most actors who dream of making a living working in film and TV but struggle to break in, Cox never had that trouble. “I showed up, got an agent and started working pretty much right away.” His unique look led him to be cast in a variety of gigs and his great attitude kept him working. “It’s a great job. I can show up, work and make a decent living and travel, and not have to stress too much” he shares. “It’s a great life.”
Shortly before his audition for Aquaman, he had been in Fiji filming. Arriving home to find an offer for an audition, he showed up a day early, tired, jet lagged and uncertain about what he was auditioning for. “I was so tired, I didn’t realize I showed up a day early for the audition, but they were cool and screen-tested me anyway, and I got the part. Three days later I was back on a plane headed to Australia to shoot the scene for the Aquaman movie.”
I asked him if he had a chance to go check out any Australian bands while he was there, and he was bummed that unfortunately he didn’t. “Jason Momoa was just the nicest coolest guy to work with,” explained Cox. “He offered me his car so I could go check out Australia, but I wasn’t able to take him up on it.”
Cox also recounted how much fun Momoa was to work with. “The first take, I did the lines straight, and then I started having fun with it, saying shit to make Jason laugh.” After a bunch of takes, the director finally asked Cox to play it straight so Cox obliged. “Part way in, Jason says cut, cut, cut! And looks at me, ‘What’s the matter dude? Why aren’t you being funny? ‘And I had to tell him James (Wan, the director) told me not to. There was a bunch of extra takes that might end up being in a gag-reel on the DVD.”
We chatted further about music and mutual favorite bands, including Circle One and the Memphis based band, The Oblivians, one of the first bands in the early nineties to dig into the garage punk style that later bands such as former Gearhead recording artists The Hives and Detroit-rockers The White Stripes made so popular in the early 2000s.
Cox is currently working on the upcoming Veronica Mars mini series as well as a shitload of other projects and is no longer actively playing music. But his appreciation of hard working punk bands and music is still a vital part of his life. Once a punk, always a punk.
Rock 'n' Roll/Automotive Journalist, Influencer, Editor and Publisher of Gearhead Magazine,