Q&A: Linus Pauling Quartet
Editor’s note: this is an expanded version of Nicholas L. Hall’s interview with the Linus Pauling Quartet that appears as this week’s Music feature. The band releases their LP All Things are Light tonight at Proletariat with Mathletes, the Jonx and Jenny Westbury.
Houston Press: I’ve always kind of thought of LP4 as a serious band that decided to take itself flippantly, while never forgetting that they are, at heart, a serious band. Is there a calculated effort to maintain that sort of sarcastically intense self-awareness, and the flippancy that seems to accompany it, or do you guys just naturally write songs about aliens, junk food and faux mythology?
Ramon Medina: I think we write what we do because we grew up near NASA, playing D&D, reading Tolkein, and smoking a lot of fucking dope!
Mas Musica! featuring La Gusana Ciega, Porter, Siddhartha
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Clinton Heider: Well even high art is full of humor and irreverence – so chimps like us don’t have a prayer.
Charlie Horshack: It's all Clinton. That's just him.
Stephen Finley: Our influences and personalities are as wide as they are varied.
Larry Liska: No calculation involved. I think our style is our nature.
HP: If I’m getting my LP4 history right, you released your first record 12 years ago. 12 years, 12 inch vinyl only release. Any connection, or have I just read Foucault’s Pendulum too many times?
Clinton: There’s no connection, but Foucault’s Pendulum is one of the greatest things I’ve ever read. I love how it starts out tight and structured, then degenerates into random babble and then pulls back together again, kind of like 30 Seconds over Tokyo. I read a lot of goddamn Lovecraft and I’ll tell you that Umberto Eco copped his plotline from Call of Cthulu, then turned it into high art and possibly the greatest novel of the 20th century. Now if that isn’t the coolest thing anyone has ever done, I don’t know what is.
Larry: Totally coincidental. But it is odd to note that this is our 3rd LP.
HP: What, ultimately, led you to the decision to do a vinyl-only release?
Ramon: I've never been thrilled with the sound or the packaging on CDs. They are disposable and overpriced. The only good thing to have come out of CDs are boxed-sets and portability. For the sound quality I get out of a CD, I can just buy stuff from e-music for cheaper and just burn it.
LPs on the other hand are really, to me, an act of love. They cost more to make and you sell them for less so nobody makes LPs for the money. You make them because they sound better, look better, and people actually love the medium. The low frequencies just come out better to my ears on LP while on CDs the sound just seem compressed to me. If you listen to our album's enclosed CD and listen to the LP, it's night and day. That's why we did an LP! Plus, the packaging is just great fun. You know who this is made for? That kid who’s gonna pull out a huge-ass hooka in his black-lit room and stare at the packaging while the record plays. I used to love that kind of packaging. Didn't you love all the posters and crap the fell out of Dark Side of the Moon when you bought that LP? No, you didn't experience that? You missed out then, I hope you enjoy your 16bit CD.
Stephen: Ramon demanded that it be on vinyl.
Larry: I didn't get the memo so I can't say.
HP: All in all, this is a pretty elaborate record. Were you trying to create a record that, on a physical level, is both highly functional and highly artistic?
Ramon: For us this is basically trying to make a "fuck you, top this!" album. We had 78 minutes worth of music and only picked stuff that was tops, flowed together, and fit the 35 minutes an LP allowed. There is great stuff that didn't make it but CDs tend to have a lot of filler. I wanted something that was great from beginning to end. Kind of like a walking into the ring with Ali and getting the shit beat out of you – before you know it, you are on the ground wondering what happened. In, out, you’re done. If we succeeded, it should feel like a pummeling.
Clinton: There was actually debate about putting out a double-album, so from that perspective this effort is scaled back from what it could have been.
HP: Did you just think it’d be neat to put out a purple record with an extensive booklet, or are you intentionally playing into the consumer-art-as-fetish concept?
Ramon: No it was all “Let’s do this because it would be neat; let’s pull out all the stops.” We actually blew money trying to go for metallic silver ink on the cover but it didn't work. We did a locked groove on side two just because they are cool, we did purple because it was cool, the booklet…all that stuff was because at heart we're that stoner with the bong in high school listening to the devil's music in our room while our parents fret. Really that's how it all went. We totally went over budget in total Terry Gilliam style.
Stephen: We definatly wanted that fuzzy feeling that one would get by playing a newly purchased record and reading all the liner notes, inserts and such. That is one bad quality of the CD format; the realitivly small amount of space available for artwork. Beside the sound...
Larry: The vendor offered a favorable rate for upgrading to colored vinyl, so hey, why not?
HP: What prompted the change to Camera Obscura for this record?
Ramon: Tony Dale had actually approached us about releasing our double album, Ashes in the Bong of God, a few years back so we have known him for a while. September Gurls (our old German Label) was great and all but we could never get our albums in people's hands. Our contract was up and we wanted to get all DIY again but we realized we're lazy as fuck when it comes to mail order. So taking a cue from the Big Black model we worked out a licensing deal with Camera Obscura where we did all the heavy lifting. We got their distribution and retained most of our rights and they got a no risk release with a chance to make a small bit of pocket change.
Clinton: There’s nothing worse than being at a show and having someone come up and say, “Hey do you guys have a record or something I can buy?” and saying, “Uh…well no we’re too stupid to figure out how to get our own merch”. A big part of this had to do with wanting more control over the physical product.
Larry: the desire for win-win synergies between artist and label.
HP: There’s always been a stronger-than-usual sense of interconnectedness involving LP4 and the various other bands that contributed to its origins. Now, it seems, a bunch of those elements are coalescing once again, what with The Mike Gunn reforming (if ever so briefly), John Cramer collaborating on the artwork for All Things are Light, and Tom Carter providing liner notes. Is there any connection inherent in all this, or just happy coincidence?
Ramon: It’s just a coincidence that they are happening at the same time. Steve had the idea of tapping Tom because he wrote the liner notes on our first album. John's contribution was kind of a lark. We'd wanted to ask Daniel Shaw, who did the Insect Warfare cover, but he deemed us posers and kicked our asses so we asked John. Honestly, I would have never dreamed John could have pulled it off as well as he did. His drawing was so on that we had to make it a gatefold on the insert, which is why we have lyrics for two songs on one page.
Clinton: I don’t know, these are guys who we always could connect with creatively on a certain level and we’ve all stayed in touch over the years – so they get where we’re coming from – I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
HP: With the last question in mind, is there any possibility that the Texas Psych show at Rudz in December will actually bring about the Great Singularity?
Ramon: No that's unlikely, as that requires both bongs of power - Stonebringer and Mournbong.
Clinton: It is believed that Stonebringer was destroyed in the Great Bong Purge of 1985, but it may just be wishful thinking. There are many forces in the universe, most of which are poorly understood, and one does not simply “destroy” a Bong of Power.
Larry: Who can say? I personally doubt it. It is like the great monopole hunt--what are the odds the Singularity would manifest here and now? However, I say the odds are overwhelming that the Texas Psych show will be entertaining.
HP: Is the title of the new record a reference to Robert Shea, co-author of the Illuminatus Trilogy? If so, did you intend a thematic connection between the book and the record? If not, from where does the title come?
Ramon: Actually, our friend, Conor Prishman was visiting and he left that as a note. We liked the obliqueness and leave all connotations to him.
Larry: The Robert Shea reference will be useful later for legend-building, but as far as I know there was no connection.
HP: Pursuant to the previous question: whenever a psych/stoner rock band uses a chemical formula in a song/album title, it’s an easy assumption that it’s a drug reference. Such could easily be assumed about C6H8O6 (I know, I know. It’s just Vitamin C). Clearly All Things are Light sounds as if it could be at least vaguely chemically induced, and yet, if my assumption is correct, it’s a reference to a geeky fantasy novel about a lovelorn troubadour. Is this trickery intentional, or am I, again, reading too much in?
Ramon: It doesn't matter what we think it means the audience has to decide what to read into it. Oh shit we're frikkin post-modern - hold on let me reach for this bong here! But seriously C6 was really a committee title because one member objected to the working title, as he didn’t want his employers to find his name next to the word bong. That’s also why Bongfire is called Switzer on the album.
Clinton: Well if you get a cryptic message from someone, it’s like a dream, and it’s up to you to interpret it. There’s a lot of possible interpretations in my mind. If “light” means “photons” well then clearly it’s a reference to the Great Singularity where everything becomes a single point of light before pulsing out again and becoming the universe. If “light” means “not to be taken too seriously”, then you go back to your original question.
HP: Did you start the process for this record with the intention of releasing it on vinyl? If not, where in the creative process did you guys decide that was the way to go? Was it a mutual decision, or hotly contested?
Ramon: Actually Steve and I secretly started tracking the album back in February. So it was totally done on the sly. I saved some cash, sold some things, and what not to pay for the majority of the release so for all intents and purposes I was being a total album Nazi! Steve and I picked the songs, I had the cover planned, and I the did the insert. So yeah, democratic it was not but that was the fastest turnaround time for an LP4 album ever. We wrote most of the songs last year, recorded them through I think February of this year, and from March through now it’s been postproduction and packaging. No “let’s do alternate mixes” bullshit. It was all "make it so!” I'd hope that urgency and energy carries through. I think that the idea is to blindly forge ahead before you can actually take a breath and realize what you are doing is irrational on every level. The think this is why I love Werner Herzog’s “Fotzcarraldo” - it’s the ultimate metaphor for any endeavor.
Clinton: Truthfully, if Ramon and Steve hadn’t gotten off their asses we never would have done anything, we probably would be still recording more new stuff and trying to decide what medium to put it out on. Right or wrong, they made a decision and let the process move forward.
Stephen: It was nice having a deadline. In the mixing it was democratic. Ramon’s not a total nazi. There were songs that I started to mix that never made the final cut.
HP: If vinyl was the plan from the outset, did that alter the creative process at all?
Ramon: Only in editing. We had to drop songs like one called Hawg - a cheeky11-minute biker epic about motorcycles, pills, young women, and being chased by the law. It's pretty stupid but it would have been nice to have had that song on the LP.
Clinton: The LP format being shorter, two-sided and sequential in nature, plus a locked groove, made song order and selection pretty important. You want an album to have a feel, to hang together more. We didn’t try to write a vinyl album from the start but the format certainly made some decisions for us.
Larry: No. We had a big ol' bag of rough material we wanted to release. The format decision came later. Once it was decided to go with vinyl, it did of course influence which songs made the cut.
HP: What is your definition of success as a band? As individual musicians? Do you feel that you are a successful band?
Ramon: We do what we do. Success is up to the listener; we can't judge that. If someone hears it and digs it - we succeeded. If nobody digs it, well maybe we failed on an artistic level but at least we tried - we at least made something. Hell and if it sucks hey, God made turds too.
Look I don’t have a head to even conceive what commercial success is. But consider this I was listening to this live Big Star album and Alex Chilton is lamenting how the band’s first album is hard to find. So that begs the question, was Big Star a success? If you look at the number of copies sold if #1 Record I’m sure you’d say no but listen to Ballad of El Goodo or I’m in Love with a Girl and tell me you aren’t affected? You can’t tell me that Alex Chilton didn’t succeed with that band. I’m not equating us with Chilton mind you but I’m just saying money and sales isn’t success. Making some connection - be it serious, silly, or whatnot - is. People like to talk to each other – that’s all we’re doing. You’re either interested in what we have to say or you don’t.
Clinton: I think that to the extent that we entertain ourselves and our audience, we’re successful. Naturally you want as many people to hear you as you think would dig you, which is why you play shows and make albums instead of just sitting in a practice space drinking beer and jamming. But even if all I did was the latter, I’d be OK with it.
Charlie: I'd always be happier playing more shows, but we do what we can, given everyone's commitments and the time we have. I think we do pretty well for ourselves. That's my idea of success: you do what you want to do. You play the songs you want, you play the shows you want, you record what you want and you get it out to people. As long as we never start pandering to our audience or making calculated music, and as long as we keep playing as many shows as we can, I think we're doing fine.
Stephen: We are successful by releasing a record that we are all happy with.
Larry: LP4's accomplishments far exceed my minimum standard.
HP: Do you have any aspirations toward “mainstream” success? Which is not to say success as mainstream musicians, because I think we’d all agree that you are (thankfully) far from that. I just mean traditional concepts of success – record deals, money, wide audiences, radio play, etc.
Ramon: It would be nice to drop the day job but that will never happen. I don't listen to mainstream radio but from what I have heard on shit-streams like the Buzz it's dismal background noise for suburban mall shoppers to think Hot Topic is edgy. I think the continuing slide of major labels is a testament to how terrible the mainstream music really is. It's funny, labels and the RIAA blame digital downloads but it never occurs to them that maybe, just maybe, the music sucks balls. Commercial radio is dead because they haven’t had DJs in years. Ironically the same fuckers who shill this crap over the airwaves are happy to sell you satellite radio with DJ who pick their songs – imagine that! Fuckers. Fuck Clear Channel and all those fuckers. I’ll never pay for satellite radio until they have some respect for the airwaves and let DJs be DJs. Oh boohoo I’m a fucking tool and I pay Clear Channel money to hear DJs on satellite because FM blows. Fuck all that! I’ll take KTRU, KCOH, or KPFT over that commercial crap any day!
Clinton: I’d like to have more people hear our stuff, but I’m not sure that I know the best way to do that other than extensive touring, which isn’t really possible for us.
This is a total aside, but on the subject of Ramon’s radio rant: I listen to a BBC feed on my computer sometimes. Now a lot of the music isn’t my thing, but it’s at least different and a good mix, and guess what – they have REAL DJs who talk about the music and the artists a bit, but not too much, between tracks. It’s not rocket science. I probably haven’t turned on a commercial FM radio station more than once or twice in the last 10 years, and even then it was by accident. It’s amazing to me that the subhumans who run these stations can make any money at all.
Charlie: I'll be honest, I wish. I would give anything to lose my day job. But like Ramon says, it'll never happen.
Stephen: I kinda like my day job...(recording studio owner), however, I would be more than happy to put it on hiatus to go on tour. On commercial radio, I loathe it....pre-recorded shows, no deviation from the playlist, and God forbid playing any local music!
Larry: Ha! No. Speaking for myself, of course. We have gotten various amounts of play on college radio over the years, and that rules.
HP: I’ve heard quite a few people muse that you guys might have been more “successful” had you been a more focused group, musically speaking. While, in general terms, it’s easy to lump you into the psych niche, you’ve always had just enough other stuff going on in your records to throw some people off. If one were to pick through your catalogue and create separate albums for each style, you guys could masquerade as a Southern rock outfit, indie rock band, punk rock, avant-garde jazz fusion, metal, etc. etc. etc. Is there an intentional contrarian streak that makes you guys want to avoid/defy categorization? Do you think that this shape shifting approach has hindered you in any way? Has it benefited you in any way?
Ramon: I think it reflect our eclecticism. We listen to a lot of stuff. I always loved when bands would try to play other styles. Like when Led Zeppelin did Reggae? I mean it's funny as hell but ya gotta love 'em for trying. I mean look who we have playing at our record release - Jenny Westbury, the Jonx, and The Mathletes - they are all amazing but they’re apples and oranges.
Again, I wouldn't know whether it helps or hinders. This one is likely the most cohesive album we've put out as only Clinton is singing lead vocals and given that the songs were generally written around the same time they have a natural link. I mean there is a common thread in our albums as we kind of play what we play. Maybe it’s dated – so what.
Clinton: Well for me it just comes down to this…we play what we want to or what we think is fun to play. I think a lot of bands that have more fans probably feel obligated to play to them, to give them what they expect. So a band gets a “sound”. But I’ve had many people say to me that the thing they like best about us is that we change it up a lot.
Stephen: Our songs reflect us, we are widely influenced. We could never do cookie cutter rock, its just not possible. Ideally, one day the massess will grow weary of what a certain company crams down their earhole, and embrace local music.
Larry: Your phrase "intentional contrarian streak" resonates with me. Perhaps our style has made us a challenging listen for potential fans, but it has been satisfying for the artists. Without this approach, I suspect we would have gotten bored and drifted apart years ago.
HP: You guys are clearly staunch supporters of the local scene, and very much a Houston band. You heavily reference Houston, its musical history and current culture/scene quite heavily. Obviously, few people outside of Houston are going to get the majority of these references. Do you think that this type of self/scene-referential approach to songwriting precludes a certain degree of “outside” acceptance? Do you give a shit if it does?
Ramon: I’d hope the references are intriguing to someone in another city but, sure, I assume nobody outside of Houston will get the musical nods to say the Guilloteens or the Party Owls. I think the insert kind of hammer it home so that there is no question that there is some awesome shit going down in Houston. I’d love for someone to look at the insert in Walla-Walla and say “Fuck man, Houston has a kick ass scene going!” And we do! Maybe that comes from doing the KTRU local show ages ago. I don’t know, but there have always been people who have made amazing stuff in Houston so I guess I like to share that.
I think this kind of goes to Clinton’s approach and mine towards lyrics. You can always tell Clinton's lyrics from mine. Clinton will universalize stuff whereas I always try to be specific. She Bad She Thowed was pretty extensive lyrically with specific people called out but Clinton did a lot of copyediting on my lyrics and took that out. I think it works but it shows how we approach things differently. Me, I always loved Lou Reed's narrative style and try that approach as I think it's neat to not live somewhere but hear about these cool people.
Clinton: This is kind of a complicated thing for me… I guess that for my part, it’s not so much the scene that we have here…I mean most big cities have something like that going on. For me it’s more organic, I guess. I like to think that the actual physical environment in some way influenced the sounds and thoughts that come out of us. Houston is a big, ugly, swampy, smelly, noisy place with many small, beautiful and surprising things in it for those who are willing to look, and I guess I feel that our music reflects that to some extent.
Larry: To answer your last question: frankly, no. I guess I wasn’t aware that we made such references at an above-average rate.
HP: Speaking of local, it’s pretty clear that “She Bad She Thowed” is at least based on a true story. Care to elaborate on that? Also, is evidence of a shameful lack of connection to popular culture that I have absolutely no idea what “thowed” means (though I can hazard a few gueses)? Are we seeing a softer side of Linus? I noticed more than a few totally clean guitars, plus some pretty vocal harmonies. Even “Southern Pines”, arguably the heaviest song on the record, starts off soft, subtle, and almost sensitive. Is this more approachable material going to gain in prominence, or is it just another of your (now trademark) musical asides?
Ramon: She Bad She Thowed is about sistas kicking ass and taking names at a Glass Candy show they’d gone to see at the Proletariat. Basically you have a table of meatheads making sexist remarks at Glass Candy’s singer and talking shit about them. Our freinds weren’t going to stand for any of that so they called them out and kicked their ass. A table full of burly men beaten up by two girls – how fucking brilliant is that?! The fight may have lasted seconds but the bums got thrown out and the ladies were praised and honored with beer. Let there be no doubt women kick ass and we love them for it! It’s a song for any woman whose been told how she should behave and what’s acceptable – it’s a big Johnny Cash fuck you to those people’s small views.
The Chorus She Bad She Thowed came from a hip-hop poster at the Studio. I started playing this Guilloteens inspired riff and Clinton started riffing-off the poster. I did some basic arrangements after and wrote lyrics which we all kind of honed afterwards.
As for the softer more poppy Linus, between our last record and early last year we had a kind of LP4 experimenting with pop thing - elements like harmonies and the like. Charlie wrote all these poppy songs that kind of lead that movement. I was kind of sick of the heavy rock stuff at the time myself but after a summer of listening to a lot of American depression-era folk I kind of reconciled with simple structures working and within genres like heavy rock. So songs like She Bad, Encherito, and Old Crow came after that. Clinton pretty much wrote Southern Pine by himself. 40 oz. is Me and Clinton. Alien Abduction and Waiting for the Axe came from jams that Clinton kind of helped fine-tune. Waiting for the Axe was this jam that we did where I think Charlie started to do this descending riff and started singing the chorus. We never got it to work but then I threw up a challenge to write a sword-metal song and Clinton took that riff and built upon that with a kind of Status Quo ascending riff.
I think a lot of the stuff that didn't make it, a lot of the pop songs I'd mentioned, were much more approachable than what ended up on the album. That’s largely because they had a different feel. I think we still have Charlie’s song Nowhere on our website which is much more vocal melody based than guitar based.
Clinton: If you look back in LP4 history, there are songs like “Hamburger Girl” and “Sunn Beta” dotting the landscape that emphasize harmony and melody more. I’ve always been a big folk music guy, and I dig a lot of 60s California folk/psych. “Southern Pine” represents the results of several years of me trying to incorporate a particular tuning that I use at home a lot, into an LP4 song.
Ramon (interjecting): Wow, yeah, I forgot. “Southern Pine” was the big breakthrough for us. That’s what got the ball rolling. When Clinton wrote that we all were stunned. It marries the softer stuff we’d been playing with the older heavy Linus and most of what you hear came from that tipping point. I don’t think we would have the same record if Clinton hadn’t written that song. I think it also shows that hey we can play and have some dynamics. Too many heavy bands don’t get the idea of dynamics – it’s all BRRRRRRRRRR. This reminds me why Steve and I asked Clinton to join our new band years ago.
Stephen: The hip hop poster in question was by Martel Music, our apologies B1! As we forgot to thank them on the record.
Larry: Most of our work has been crunchy on the outside and cheesy in the middle, and from inside looking out I see nothing different about this latest album. But maybe we are frogs in water. You know, seeing "Linus", "pretty vocal harmonies" and "sensitive" in the same paragraph is…interesting.
HP: I could only pick out Charlie’s sax on one song, Enchirito. Are you moving away from sax entirely, or is that just the way the record played out?
Ramon: We have to beat Charlie for him to play sax. He plays in Defenestration Unit, and so for him this is his rock outlet. That sax is there because we're mimicking the Party Owls. Front and center was hardly Charlie’s choice.
Charlie: I'm not a very good saxophone player. I'm completely self-taught, and have never cared much for practicing, so really the only thing I've learned to do over the years with any reasonable skill is play free improv. At a certain fairly early point in my time with Linus I hit a wall, and started realizing that my lack of technical skill on the sax was greatly limiting my choices of what to play on Linus songs, and I started moving away from the sax. I still like to use it, but seriously, if sax was still all I played in the band, I'd be exactly where I was the first year, playing the same basic things on a handful of songs and then spending the rest of the set sitting off to the side of the stage drinking.
Larry: It was the luck o' the draw.
HP: Not a single song about drugs; only one song about alcohol. Is LP4 maturing past such juvenilia?
Ramon: Actually, there are two or three songs about alcohol – “She Bad,” “40 oz” and “Old Crow.” We didn't write about pot because, well, we just didn't write about pot. Maybe we totally overdid it on Ashes and ran out of pot songs. I don't know. That's just how it shook out. It’s not like there is a quota.
Clinton: I’ve graduated from pot to whiskey, which in some circles passes for maturity.
Larry: I think it is important that we marshal our resources, so as to avoid shtick-fatigue.
HP: The sword metal piece worked really well, I thought. Any chance you’ll lean that way again?
Ramon: I don't know, that was kind of inspired. You can't plan on what you write. Again Linus doesn’t work with quotas.
Clinton: I always have this feeling that I have one more loony epic in me, if only I have the right riff to do it with. I’m brewing one now but it’s slow going.
Larry: it is the hope of this drummer that we do. But see my answer to the previous question.
HP: What’s next for LP4? New album already in the works?
Ramon: Well, we have another 40 minutes of unreleased music in the can. I don’t know we’re playing Terrastock next summer in Kentucky kind of like the Mecca for the psych movement. We played it in Seattle a few years back and it was a blast.
Stephen: We have plenty more music in us and stuff already recorded. We've been lazy, so maybe expect a release in 2008.
Larry: We have enough material for the follow-up album. After that we can get back to composition. I have no idea what the timeline for this will be, though.
HP: How many of you have families, and how does that balance with your musical life? What do your families (particularly any young children) think of your music?
Ramon: We get together once a week so it’s like a poker night with guitars. It’s not that much of a commitment so that helps. Surprisingly enough, family doesn’t affect me much as with enough planning anything is doable. Let’s just say that with 5 – 7 people in the band there is always someone who will hold us from touring. But that’s the price we pay for being in the same band. If you are looking for a band that will tour, this isn’t your band, but we knew that coming in so we just suck it up.
Clinton: I have a new baby boy at home and I have to say, the last few practices I headed out and I was dreading going because I just wanted family time. But once I got to practice and started playing, I realized how much I wanted to be there. My wife gets it, she has always been 100% behind me and that hasn’t changed since the boy got here.
Charlie: I don't have a family and I never will, so I'm just hoping the guys with families will always keep coming out so I don't go nuts.
Stephen: I have 2 cats.
Larry: No kids, but have a couple of awesome dogs.
HP: What bands are you listening to right now, specifically local bands?
Ramon: Right now Hearts of Animals - amazing stuff. It's brilliant melodically and the production is very particular and smart despite the lo-fi production. Sharks and Sailors are just untouchable on a musicianship and creative level – I can’t wait for their full-length next year. I just got the new Guilloteens but haven’t had a chance to drop it yet. Jana Hunter’s newest album is everything I could want from her. The Jonx’s last album is incredible. Did you pick up the Something Fierce split 7”? Amazing! Golden Axe!! Hell yeah! I mean just look at the back page of the insert and you can see that I run out of room pretty quickly when it comes to amazing Houston bands. Really, I can fill your entire article with a list if you want me to. I’ve been around a long time and I can say in the aggregate that the scene is much stronger in everyway these days.
Clinton: My personal favorite local band right now is Whorehound. Meat-and-potatoes metal without a lot of shitty metal gimmicks: good songs, great musicianship. Plus they are a three-piece, which always impresses the shit out of me. But honestly, I don’t go to as many local shows as I used to. A lot of what I listen to at home is old-fart hippie stuff from the ‘60s and ‘70s and a fair amount of ‘90s grunge…basically the same shit I’ve been listening to for the last 20 years.
Charlie: Over the years I've become a homebody by nature, so I don't really go out to see shows anymore. That would be wussy, except for the fact that I also play sax and keyboard in Defenestration Unit, and we play at least weekly, and often much more than that, so between my involvement with them and with Linus, whatever time is left over, I'm usually desperate to spent it at home.
Stephen: The Slippin Mickies rock! I also been digging The Steven Reynolds Band, killer honky-tonk.There’s some really good hip hop too...ala The Fly. I am old like the other guys, so my late nights are usually spent at work.
Larry: I'm not a good music consumer. If it is new, chances are I heard it on KTRU. I don't get out much these days, which is why I especially love the KTRU local show.
HP: What in the music industry, and/or the local scene, is pissing you off most, recently?
Ramon: The only thing that ever bums me locally is when talented people move. It’s always heartbreaking because what they do is just irreplaceable.
Clinton: Our local venues get a lot of shit from the cops because of noise, and every club that has bands has to watch it. Between townhomes popping up everywhere (hypocrisy disclosure: I live in one of them), a city government that wets itself with pleasure every time a developer gets a big fat check for standing up a strip mall or a high-rise, and the sparseness of venues to begin with, it’s a miracle we have any clubs which support original local music at all.
Larry: the RIAA and its legal strategy particularly irritates me, but I'm not going to rant and rave about it.
HP: Anything else you’d like to add?
Ramon: Yes, DIY, fuckers!
-- Nicholas L. Hall
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