Jada Rocks

Critical Fatwa

They're everywhere these days: Movie actors like Juliette Lewis, Jared Leto, Russell Crowe and even Jeff Goldblum all have one. No, we're not talking about Laotian adoptees or fashionable drug habits. We're talking celebrity rock projects, and actress/wife/mom Jada Pinkett-Smith has joined their ranks. When Wicked Wisdom, her spiritually minded hardcore band, self-released its debut, it gained enough media buzz that the group was picked up for this year's Ozzfest, and she'll be strutting her stuff this week onstage at the Scout Bar in Webster.

Wack: Have you been getting good reception from audiences or has there been any celebrity backlash?

Jada Pinkett-Smith: Oh, no, no, no. Well, when we first started, it was very challenging. Something started on the East Coast, but as the tour progressed we kept moving on. We had pretty much changed by the second show in New Jersey. And from there, the audiences have been really receptive, considering you know, everything: that we're a new band and who I am or the fact that we don't have a CD or videos out.


Jada Pinkett-Smith

Wack: Why do you think there was some opposition?

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Pinkett-Smith: Well, you hear that Jada Pinkett-Smith is going to Ozzfest -- that certainly doesn't fit. When I was asked to come, I thought it was a bizarre request. I totally got why a lot of people didn't get it and why people were skeptical. People who don't know all the aspects of me would never think this would be a scene or the kind of music I'd be into.

Wack: So you are willing to go all out for this?

Pinkett-Smith: Oh, yeah, definitely. We wouldn't be touring if we weren't serious, 'cause this is the real deal.

Wack: Most people know you as an actress. Has music been something that you've always wanted to do?

Pinkett-Smith: Yeah, it's something I've always wanted to do. People have always asked me to do R&B stuff. I love R&B music, but it's not the kind of music I've wanted to perform. I've always wanted to rock. You know…the Led Zeppelins, Ozzy? I've always just loved that genre of music.

Wack: What's the meaning behind the name of the band?

Pinkett-Smith: I feel that one thing we all share as human beings -- we're all tied in the wicked womb. We are all affected by wickedness. And Christ pretty much reminds me of what we are all up against. And that we all have to pull the strength of humanity to fight against it. Then there's the bad meaning good and wicked meaning woman part of it: Bad Woman. That's the other mission. There was another CD we did before the one we have now -- and that was pretty much the Christian rock one.

Wack: I read that Will Smith was on stage with you at a recent tour stop.

Pinkett-Smith: Yeah, he came up on stage and was very excited. Kids love him out here. It gives him an opportunity he wouldn't get behind the ropes of Hollywood. So it's been really good for him to come and sign autographs, go out into the crowd and walk around.

Wack: Do you have any plans to collaborate with him at all?

Pinkett-Smith: Yeah, we talk about it. I mean, we're both artists. That "artist" vibe never stops working. -- Makkada Selah


All hail Chuck D! Oh, how the uptight and old white pundits parsed his every word. Ever since the days of "jungle rhythms," the frightened, white and withered have shat themselves over black music. But why listen to the beshitted? For attempting in a recent column to tie in the French riots with gangsta rap, a fatwa on New York Times columnist David Brooks. Brooks, already thoroughly dissed by Slate.com, cannot understand that angry black men make gangsta rap, not the other way around.

And for happily giving the next generation of scared white men something to complain about, a co-fatwa on 50 Cent. In his autobiography and new film, 50 Cent has decided that even though he can't sell crack anymore, he can sell crack dealing. You are a song-and-dance man, Fiddy, not a gangsta. Time to grow up.

Fatwa! Brooks and Fiddy, scared white man and scary black man, dance forever in our culture. May they spend eternity locked in a room together. It is written. -- The Ayatollah of Rock


The perpetual lament of the local band has always and forever remained: Why won't those bastards at the alt-weekly ever give us the time of day? Well, prepare to whine no more, because this new column is designed to shine a light onto little-known, quite possibly up-and-coming Houston bands, and all in their own words, to boot. Accompany us, won't you? There's gold between them thar cracks!


Web site: www.myspace.com/themechanicalboy

Personnel: Tim Anderson (vocals), Chris Applegate (bass), Joey Bellows (guitar), Jason Castle (keyboard/synth/samples), Mike Regino (guitar, violin), Matt Wheeler (drums, percussion)

Native or transplant? All native Houstonians

What's in a name, particularly yours? There was a song by Self on an older EP of his called "Joy, the Mechanical Boy." Joey came up with the idea to call the band Mechanical Boy. There are a lot of things that the name could mean, but we mainly like the way it rolls off the tongue…

When did you form? We formed in March/April of 2004 with members of defunct Houston acts Ignite the Morning, the Colour Clear, the Emerging Culture

Releases/discography: White Walled Room EP - Dec '04, Double Feature split EP with Muldoon (San Antonio) - July '05

What artists have had the biggest impact on you? A general list: Queen, Björk, Tears for Fears, Silverchair, the Fire Theft, Saves the Day, Self, Ben Folds, Minus the Bear, New Order, Bowie, Skinny Puppy, Fairweather, Jaco Pastorius, Primus and, of course, AC/DC.

How do you pay the bills? Tim and Mike wait tables, Joey has an office job, Jason works at a hotel, Matt works in a warehouse, and Chris is graduating in a couple weeks and is looking for work conducive with being in a band that tours.

Finish this sentence: If we didn't have to worry about money, we'd… probably all just live together and sit around in our PJs watching Hilary Duff movies and giving each other back rubs. And talking about the latest teen heartthrob. And eating ice cream.

See them at: Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak Drive, Thursday, December 1.


Web site: www.myspace.com/caughtoffguardrock

Personnel: Peter, Graham, Landon

When did you form? We started playing when some of us were in seventh grade and the rest were in our freshman year, back in 2003

What artists have had the biggest impact on you? Easily Blink-182 (I'm not ashamed and neither should you) and Minus the Bear

How do you pay the bills? Luckily we all still live with our parents, but we lifeguard too.

See them at: Java Jazz Coffee House, 2502 FM 1960 East, Friday, December 2.


Web site: www.myspace.com/stolenlibrary

Personnel: Mark Meitzler (bass, guitar), Megan Meitzler (drums, piano), Vance Osborne (guitar, vocals, noise), Ray Ramirez (vocals, keyboard, noise)

Native or transplant? Native Houstonians

When did you form? We formed in February 2004

Who or what do you think you sound like? Noisy yet melodic, art-house garage rock with a fusion of poetic and powerful lyrics. We have been called "trippy-craze-rock" and "freak-rock," but we're not sure what those mean.

What artists have had the biggest impact on you? The Velvet Underground, the Doors, the Stooges, Sonic Youth, Nurse With Wound, Current 93

How do you pay the bills? Megan spends her day filling the orders of people at our local Starbucks, Vance works at Half Price Books, while Mark and Ray are telephone interviewers (don't laugh, please) at the Gallup Organization.

What's the biggest misconception about you or your band? Because we play in the dark, don't smile much, write serious lyrics and destroy our instruments at shows, people tend to think we are antisocial or disturbed.

See them at: Super Happy Fun Land, 2610 Ashland, Saturday, December 3.-- Scott Faingold

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