Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I'm gonna be completely be honest and admit that I haven't been impressed with the music section of the Houston Press lately..." As is customary, shortly after last week's Artist of the Week went up, emails began popping up in our inbox with suggestions for who should be featured next. One in particular caught our attention. It was from Kenneth Sarmiento, whom some of you all might recognize from his work with Phuz, a pop-ish Filipino rock band that has skipped around outside of most local publications' regular breadth of coverage. That quote up there at the top belongs to him. Now, the first thing we thought when we read that was, biiiiitttcccchhh. (Over the years, our internal voice has evolved to sound a lot like Pimp C. It gives you way more confidence than having your actions narrated by Marc Anthony, which is who our internal voice used to sound like.) But it was a clever move, because we immediately clicked on the link he sent so we could listen to the music he was passing along. The link was to his new band, Channel K, and it actually was kind of interesting. So we reached out to Sarmiento to discuss, among other things, how our reading comprehension skills are awful, the bustling Filipino rock scene and a bicultural unification that will bring all these white indie-rock bands to their knees. Read on.
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Rocks Off: So, most often, people who are trying to get featured as Artist of the Week will email glowing, glowing praises about the Houston Press' awesome fashion sense and wicked good looks. You, on the other hand, went the opposite way, and pretty much said that everything the Press' music section has done lately has been shitty. Can you clarify that? Kenneth: Correct me if I'm wrong, but the first thing I had said to you was that I really liked your interview with Melissa Savcic. I also mentioned your political humor and music sense was savy too. If anything, I had said your past blogs were kinda cool, something I dig. I never mentioned anything about how the Press' music section was "shitty." Being in music over the years, I do feel the coverage of artists and bands could be better considering how big the Press is. But that's my humble opinion. RO: We've been trying to figure out why you decided to name this new band "Channel K." Best we can come up with is that you enjoy both television and Special K cereal. Why not "Channel X"? That's way more mysterious. When we were a kid, whenever we'd play Sk8 or Die we'd always sign in as "Mr. X." Sk8 or Die friggin' owned. K: I have a love for video games. Fairchild Channel F was the first home video game system that took cartridges and was created by Jerry Lawson (a black engineer, which was a rarity back in the days) in the '70s. Love the story and love the Channel F system. I took the F off and changed it to K. I was thinking, "Tune in to my channel, Channel K." I wanna make a soundtrack for a video game one of these days. By the way, Sk8 or Die was a killer game. Dang, the time factor sucked though, with that death thing chasing you.
RO: Talk a bit about the new album. Is it going to sound like Phuz's stuff, or are you all going a different direction? K: Channel K stuff is much different. The sound is more electronic rock than Phuz. I use more samples and keys than I did with Phuz. Haydee Lou, the voice of Channel K, has a raspier rock voice than the smooth Dea voice from Phuz. I wanted to have a sound that was fresh, groovy and spacey. The Phuz sound was smoother while Channel K's music has more of a rock edge. RO: Why aren't there more Filipino rock bands in Houston? You guys might actually be outnumbered by us Mexicans. Maybe you guys should team up with us. We could be running this shit. We've got boxing on lock. K: There's a lot of Pinoy rock bands in Houston, but they don't play around the typical clubs around Houston. I've even been to productions where it's all Filipino bands and an all-Filipino crowd. Part of the success of Phuz was crossing over to different audiences. Kokoy Severino, founder of the world-beat band The Presidents, is an expert on all the Filipino bands around town. I'm already taking your advice [laughs]. Haydee Lou was born in Mexico so, yeah, we're teaming up. You could say me and her make a "Mexipino" group. As for boxing, we need some bigger heavyweight Mexican/Filipino dudes. Could you imagine Manny Pacquiao with the speed and power at 225 [pounds], 6'3"? He'd wipe out the Klitschko brothers. RO: We like that the profile picture on your MySpace page is you playing a guitar while holding a guitar pick in your mouth. You're aware that that's not how those work right? That's kind of like masturbating in front of a naked woman, we think. K [laughs]: Well, the picture actually shows me playing two guitars with the guitar pick in my mouth. I'll leave it as that. Be sure to join Channel K on Myspace and on Facebook.