If you're at all familiar with Houston's music scene, you've heard the name VerseCity. The polarizing local four-piece has drawn the attention of many — both their enthusiastic fans, and critics who dismiss their upbeat sound as too poppy and overly mainstream. They've even done a rock interpretation of Ke$ha's "Tik Tok."
But one thing no one can take away from VerseCity is the group's impressive work ethic. Constant touring, songwriting and shows are just a few of the ways VerseCity has found local success in Houston's music scene. With their album-release party for their second disc, "HYBRID," this weekend, Chatter quizzed vocalist Micah Walker about where these up-and-coming rock stars might go from here.
Chatter: Firstly, the Ke$ha cover...How exactly did that happen?
With The Blackout Heist, A Midnight in Chicago, 38 Caliber Hero and The Mid-Summer Classic, 8 p.m. Saturday, September 10, at Stereo Live, 6400 Richmond, 832-251-9600
Micah Walker: We were planning on covering it live for a high-school benefit show, and producer MD Thompson was at our rehearsal. He heard our version and said we needed to record it. We were kind of like, "Ahhhhh, I dunno...," but then he convinced us.
So a week later, we took to the studio. When watching the making-of video on YouTube, you can see that we were not taking it seriously. To us, covering this song was just a joke but also a lot of fun. And then once we released it, it just kind of took off all over the world.
C: That song kind of made you international superstars. Have you seen much of a monetary return from it on iTunes, etc.? And how did you get the rights to cover it?
MW: It has not resulted in a lot of money, but we have seen a rise in sales, and it's definitely been a big help spreading our music around the world. The license to sell it was taken care of by our producer.
C: You've had a good amount of success for an unsigned, local act. What's next?
MW: As much as we love Houston, the next step is to get out of Houston and do more touring. Continue to grow [our] fan base and start working on our third album.
C: You guys have already done some pretty in-depth touring for a local act. Do you have a manager or just a nose-to-the-grindstone approach?
MW: We have people who help in management-type roles, but for the most part, we hustle most everything ourselves. To quote my homie Rick Ross, "Everyday I'm hustlin', hustlin', hustlin'."
C: What does the title of the new CD mean?
MW: On our first album [Epic Sunrise], you'll hear a lot of what some like to call genre-crossing. We refer to this as our natural ability to mix all styles of rock music into one, and we've been criticized for this in the past. So for this album we wanted to be up front about it, make sure everyone knows that it is not a mistake. That's why we named the album "HYBRID."
C: Describe the differences between Epic Sunrise and "HYBRID."
MW: The biggest difference is production. Our first album was for the most part self-produced, and being that it was our first album, we had relatively no experience in production. Though I think the first album is still great, our second album is well-polished and -produced.
C: Three VerseCity songs have become radio hits in Indonesia. What's it like to know Indonesia loves the band?
MW: It's amazing that people on the complete opposite side of the world — literally an a.m./p.m. switch — know and love our music, and we are not even signed. "Tik Tok Rok" made it as high as No. 5 over there, "Pressure!" made it as high as No. 2 and our latest single, "No Better Reason," has made it all the way to No. 1.
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