Men on a Mission
The brainchild of local tattoo artist Gregg Higgins, featuring past and present members of Whorehouse and Hell City Kings, Houston's Venomous Maximus gurgles with the sounds of proto-metal gods Pentagram and Blue Cheer as well as new-school leaders like High on Fire. Friday at Fitzgerald's, Venomous releases its first EP, The Mission, after a 7-inch offering lit their local fire a few months back.
Chatter talked to lead singer and guitarist Higgins about The Mission, his innate love of all music (really) and recording metal. If you are ink-inclined, hit him up at Secret Tattoo in Montrose. Stick around and you may learn something from this part-time mystic, who got way philosophical on us.
Chatter: Your show opening for The Sword in January was like your coming-out party in Houston. There were a lot of happy faces that night.
Gregg Higgins: Getting to a bigger audience is what we constantly try to do. We are focused on being introduced to a wider audience. That was the purpose of this band, really, that we could play with rockers, metalheads or at a biker rally. There are no closed doors.
C: Venomous Maximus doesn't sound like any other metal band in Houston, or really, any other metal band in 2011. What's up with that?
GH: It depends on if you look at music as time. It depends on what year you are channeling from, or if you even know you're channeling. Most people just fall in love with certain bands and things that have to do with subcultures and whatnot, but never actually try to put themselves into the mind of dead and gone [people] and finish the work that they left.
Japanese martial artists call it Shuhari. It's the process of "imitate, slightly alter and then invent." It can be applied to every task in life.
Music is the last thing that is an influence: the graveyards you pass during the day, the stars in the sky in the middle of the night. Things that have happened in your past that affect the present, and what you think will become the future. The dreams and fantasies we have inside our head. There is a lot more going on if you learn how to recognize it.
C: Is there a common lyrical thread to The Mission?
GH: Of course. It refers to your agenda or plan that you have set for your life. I hope that everyone realizes that you need some kind of mission in life, but in the past some of my plans have fallen through and I realized that I had to set myself on a new course. So the whole record is a story on my new mission and my past missions.
"In and out" has always been our philosophy. You get your chops up at practice and get in the studio and get it done fast, because there is a short lifespan on artistic energy. In painting, you only have a certain time before your artistic energy dies.
C: What are some bands in Houston that you love to watch?
GH: Sean Reefer, because I actually met him before I knew he played music. I miss Golden Axe. Rest in peace. The cover bands Dann Miller has been doing are really good, like Dann Halen and Danneurysm. I really enjoy the singing and the energy.
I just heard the new Warmaster disc and I loved it. We dig all types of music. I just always like the best of all the different genres. We are not music haters. We are music lovers.
C: Venomous is a heavily tattooed band, and you tattoo for a living. What do you think of all the reality shows based on the industry?
GH: I don't think anything of it. I don't want anything to do with the present world of tattooing. My people and I do our own thing at our own place, our own way. I make it a point to not expose myself to that stuff because I don't want it poisoning me. When it was trashy, it was better.
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