Like Father, Not Like Son

Geek distinguishes itself from the local metal crowd by fusing emotive lyrics with metallic delivery and arrangements.

Most musicians do not know how to spend their downtime. Instead of running through scales or jotting down riffs or pounding the pavement, most, like Jeremy Gaskill of Geek, guitarist for Houston's newest and most exciting heavy band, contemplate the star-filled future. "I don't want to lay around the house anymore," says Gaskill one afternoon. "I'm tired of laying around the house."

Such is the rock-god-in-waiting's lament.

But what separates Gaskill's outfit from other neometal acts is the twist the band puts on the already weary style of rapped vocals and scratched guitars. There are patches of emo-core in the Geek mix: Vocalist John Corgan spends at least as much time singing as he does grunting or rapping. There are also complicated structures at work, advanced stuff for a band that has yet to hit its first birthday.

The result is emotionally charged rock that is not overly depressing or dark. Seeing Geek live is not necessarily uplifting, but the experience is forceful enough musically and graphic enough lyrically to -- like all the best art -- transport partakers, even if for only a couple of minutes.

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Such unbridled energy can convey the notion that the band really doesn't "give a fuck," as Gaskill puts it. Collectively the members have stated their goals clearly. They want to be cool, and they never want to work another job that pays $5.15 an hour. "Dude," Gaskill says sans irony, "I really don't give a shit as long as they'll let us play, and, like, if they pay us, it's fucking badass. Like, we got paid for a gig, that's baaad. I mean, I was gonna play anyway, dude, and then Kolby [McKinney, Geek bass player] came over with some moneyŠ" He trails off as if nothing more need be said.

But beneath all the young ass-kicking braggadocio is a sincere desire: to rock the, umm, nation. And soon. Unlike many local bands, Geek (completed by Jeremy's brother Joey Gaskill on drums) actually practices, hard. The band occupies its rehearsal space at least four nights a week, sometimes even five or six. Practice is conducted from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. to accommodate not only the first- or second-shift jobs of some of the members but also the chronic smoking of others.

The woodshedding should pay great dividends when it comes time for Geek to record. When Houston's favorite metal sons, King's X, return from their upcoming tour, Geek plans to step into the studio with bassist Doug Pinnick and see what comes out. Whether that recording session produces four songs or 11 depends on how everything develops. Recording in hand, Geek intends to start branching out to San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Dallas, New Orleans and pretty much anyplace that won't slam the club door in its face.

Geek's affiliation with King's X can't be denied. It's literally in the blood. The last name Gaskill comes from King's X drummer Jerry Gaskill, father of the two Geeks who share that surname. But even the most careful listener searching for some sonic similarity between the two bands would be hard-pressed to find any. Geek is a metal band for 2000 -- raw, young, emotional and only as refined as the Man requires it to be. Jagged guitars meet ultracrisp yet heavy rhythms, on top of which lie vocals that move easily from soul-searching to searing.

But such a departure is natural given what the band members grew up listening to and playing. Coattails be damned, these guys are consciously driven to create themselves in their own image, not a famous father's.

This independence has presented Geek with its share of new-band blues. Club managers and promoters refuse to pay guarantees to a group with no name recognition and little chance of attracting a large fan base. And even when Geek does book a gig, the club doesn't always cough up the cash at the end of the evening. So says Gaskill, echoing a common horror story for young bands.

The guys in Geek view all this crap as their dues-paying period and have no shortage of faith that such problems will eventually disappear. They understand shit happens to everyone. They also understand that the strong become successful, and the successful move beyond it. And with band members ranging in age from 16 to 25, there is plenty of time for Geek to make that move.

Naturally Jeremy and Joey Gaskill already have been jamming together for years. McKinney, through his friendship with Pinnick, was the first to join the siblings in this project, even though he was holding down a regular gig in another local outfit. The final piece came into place just nine months ago when the Gaskill brothers were jamming in Pinnick's studio and Corgan -- Pinnick's sister's friend, who had been playing in Chicago-area bands -- dropped in for a visit. He stuck around for three weeks, liked what he saw, went back up north to grab a few things and came back down to stay.

Most of Geek's music originates with a riff from Gaskill, while Corgan's lyrics focus on experiences and the general notion that "people should just stop screwing each other." Yet the band has a difficult time maintaining that dour countenance. And Gaskill is quick to differentiate between "influences" and "what the band listens to," lumping "Taco Bell, drugs and Shiner Bock" in the former category and Far, Deftones and Hum in the latter.

Lounging around is definitely in the former.

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