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Band Suicide

Why so many Houston music groups self-destruct right on the brink of having it made

Maybe it's just sour grapes on the part of Haaga and Medina. Or maybe our scene really is purer than most. In Los Angeles, Bunch saw plenty of rock musicians with MTV dreams, and expounding on them is one of his pet rants. "From the '60s through the '80s, rock stars were rock stars, sports stars were sports stars, movie stars were movie stars, and models were models. They didn't mingle. Every now and then you would see Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper hanging out with Bob Dylan, but there wasn't this nonstop Dennis Rodman/supermodel/televised superparty," he says. "A lot of musicians just want to know, 'What's the quickest way I can get invited to that big party? Am I gonna spend ten or 12 years in my bedroom with my guitar and my pen, writing and writing until I get great? Or am I gonna take 18 months' worth of guitar lessons, get a cool haircut and then talk a major label into giving me a couple of million dollars so I can jump around and look cute?' "

Virtually no Houston musicians are in that category, and at first that aspect of the local scene charmed Bunch. "All the bands that I've seen here have this real thirst, fire and passion to create," he says. Ultimately, though, he has gotten a little frustrated with it. "The trick is this: How can you get those people who play for the sake of it to get some of the motivation and the business understanding of the shallow people?"

Well, if Medina's right and if records as good as Haaga's can still stiff here, we will probably never know the answer to that question. After all, it seems that most of the Houston-born musicians with any brains or business acumen or driving ambition head out for Austin or Los Angeles or New York or San Francisco as soon as they can, which leaves us with only the (take your pick) dumbest, craziest or most apathetic players. Luckily, neither calculating intelligence nor sanity nor drive is directly related to musical talent. You can hear the proof of that in a dozen bars and clubs in every corner of this city every weekend night. Perhaps the best thing to do is just to live in those moments. After all, we are destroyed only when we expect there to be more than there is.

Michael Haaga (with his "Minus Bird") found a road closure on his highway to fame.
Michael Haaga (with his "Minus Bird") found a road closure on his highway to fame.
Michael Haaga (with his "Minus Bird") found a road 
closure on his highway to fame.
Daniel Kramer
Michael Haaga (with his "Minus Bird") found a road closure on his highway to fame.

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