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This column is in no way a mea culpa from the Houston Press to Insect Warfare for what happened at the 2007 HPMA Showcase. But the story is so good it still bears repeating.
Insect Warfare plays — or played — grindcore, a subgenre of heavy metal characterized by bellowing vocals, sludgy riffs and industrial-machinery drums played at thrash-like speeds. Even for metal, grindcore is especially polarizing: Either you love it or would rather listen to kittens being murdered. But Insect Warfare played it well, releasing several 7-inches and 2007's pulverizing World Extermination LP, and touring both the U.S. and Far East before breaking up in early 2008.
At the HPMAs, Insect Warfare was scheduled to play at 7 p.m. at Slainte, the upstairs room at Molly's Pub on Main. If any room is ever truly configured for a grindcore band's sonic onslaught, this one sure wasn't. The appointed hour came, and then so did a minute or two of total and complete eardrum and instrument abuse. Then silence.
To this day, conflicting accounts exist that say either the band blew the room's PA system (believable enough), or that someone from the Press or the club pulled the plug (probably even more believable). Either way, Noise, who hadn't even unpacked his U-Haul from Austin yet, thought, "Well...welcome to Houston, motherfucker."
The incident led to the appropriately titled Fuck HPMA EP, which the band released on Grey Ghost Records not long before calling it quits. But like the cockroaches that dominate Daniel Shaw's bone-chilling artwork, Insect Warfare is a little harder to kill than that. UK heavy-music label Earache (Morbid Angel, Napalm Death, Municipal Waste) recently reissued World Extermination and is underwriting the band's two-week UK tour that starts after Tuesday's tuneup show at the Mink.
Noise sat down with Insect Warfare's Beau Beasley — who joined the band shortly after it started but soon became its main songwriter and riff factory; now he drives all the punk-rock leather boys crazy in Homopolice and No Talk — last week at notorious Montrose redoubt Lola's. It was a Tuesday night, when even seasoned winos know all bets are off. Here's what our tape recorder (well, MP3 recorder) says we talked about.
Noise: Now's your chance to set the record straight — what actually happened at the HPMAs?
Beau Beasley: First they asked us to play, and I was like, "Fuck that. I don't want anything to do with this." But the girl who contacted me was like, "You just have to play 30 minutes." I was like, "Can we do anything?" She was like, "Yeah." We were going on a U.S. tour the next week, so I was like, "We'll make $150 or whatever."
So we did it. We were running the systems pretty hard, but I've done this kind of music for so long I know what to do to not blow out a PA system. I've worked sound for clubs — I would never want to blow somebody's PA system. I'm not that big of a dick.
They pulled the plug on us. We were doing our thing and all the power went out. We were done. All I heard was [IW singer] Rahi yelling in the background. Some girl with a clipboard and the sound guy were pissed. They pulled me outside and were like, "If anything's broken, you're paying for it." I was like, "That's fine." I've broken PA systems before and always paid for it.
Actually, I'm kind of glad it happened that way. If we would have done 30 minutes, it would have been so fucking boring I would have quit. None of my bands have been asked to play [the HPMAs] since then. I don't know if I'm banned or what.
N: What happened after that?
BB: Our singer got alcohol poisoning, if I'm not mistaken. It was him and my good friend Josh, who plays in No Talk and Homopolice. He was our onstage dancer that day, dressed like a '70s punk-rock guy. They both got shitfaced at the upstairs VIP thing. So Josh got thrown out of the club three times and kept sneaking back in.
They kept throwing him out, but Chris Ryan would keep sneaking him back upstairs, going, "No, he's cool, he's cool." Then they'd throw him out for being too drunk. We put him in a car and took him home. I was like, "Fuck this awards shit, it's too fuckin' hot, I'm going to go eat some hot wings."
I get a call later that night — Chris Ryan is saying, "You need to get down here in front of Notsuoh. I think they're going to arrest Rahi, he's passed out in his own vomit." I was like, "I don't want to fuck with that shit, man, I'm eating hot wings." So I called up his girlfriend and was like, "Hey dude, come pick up Rahi — he's fuckin' shitfaced."
And she wasn't happy — she was drunk too. So we went and got him. I get there and he's passed out in his own puke in front of Notsuoh, and the firemen are there with a breathing mask on him.