Grooves by the Pound... By most standards, Doug Pinnick is a prolific guy. Conservative estimates place his songwriting output over the past decade in the triple-digit range. And even when you consider that King's X -- the Houston melody-and-faith-driven power trio for which he sings and plays bass -- subsists mainly on the creative input of Pinnick and singer/guitarist Ty Tabor, that still leaves plenty of excess tuneage.
In the past, the self-confessed darker, funkier third of the King's X triad was content to let the songs pile up, doling them out in demo form only to close friends and associates around the country. By now, there are more tapes out there than he can count, drum-machine-based samplers of songs that address internal battles with personal demons and muse on the complexities of the human condition. Though solely Pinnick's doing, these raw, honest encapsulations of a talented musician unswayed by the democratic process have always gone under the sideline pseudonym Poundhound. And it was largely at the urging of the regular recipients of the Poundhound cassettes that Pinnick finally took his pet project to the public with the new Massive Grooves from the Electric Church of Psychofunkadelic Grungelism Rock Music.
For Poundhound's 14-track debut, Pinnick handled all bass, guitar and vocal parts via the now routine miracle of overdubbing. Drum duties on Massive were shared by King's X band mate Jerry Gaskill, the Sonnier Brothers Band's Chad Lyons and former Ugly Kid Joe stick man Shannon Larkin. The fact that the album still retains a spontaneous group feel might have something to do with the way it was recorded.
"I played my bass or sang to [the drummers] while they played the songs [in the studio]," Pinnick says. "Then I built everything on top of that."
Released on Metal Blade Records earlier this month, Massive is both a de-evolution of and a diversion from King's X's proven pop-metal protocol. Harmonies and hook-filled choruses figure less prominently into the album as a whole, though they're always milling about in the wings. That leaves the low end to pick up some of the slack. The album starts off sounding like late-period King's X, but as things move along, the riffs turn slinky and sinister, as Pinnick's soulfully reassuring vocals suffer chaotic lapses. (Witness the paint-peeling screams on the sludge-funk rant "Supersalad.") The album borrows its psychedelic slant from Jimi Hendrix, and its swagger from Sly Stone and (to a lesser extent) George Clinton, influences made all the more obvious by its goofy, run-on title.
"I was trying to find other words to describe the record, but I couldn't think of anything that fit," Pinnick says of the CD's name, which is so cumbersome that the jewel-box spine bears the abbreviated Massive Grooves... for lack of space. "It's something between Hendrix and Funkadelic."
But Massive isn't a flagrant enough departure to throw most diehard King's X fans out of psychic whack. Even at its most troubling and disoriented, the album's trusty fallback is its songs. Pinnick frequently relies on their tightly woven strength to yank himself out of the mire. Now that he's properly aired his solo intentions, about the only lingering question is what took him so damn long.
"At first, I thought, 'Everybody's tuning down and everybody's got this grunge thing going. What am I going to do now?' And my friends just said, 'Do what you do, Doug.' So finally I just did it," Pinnick says.
Perhaps he was also motivated somewhat by Tabor's recent solo efforts, Naomi's Solar Pumpkin and Moonflower Lane. Tabor also mastered Massive, which was recorded over a three-month period at Pinnick's own Houndpound Studio in southwest Houston. So even in going it alone, Pinnick never quite left home -- nor did he ever want to. "King's X is my main family," he says.
Further proof that these guys can't get enough of each other: The eighth King's X release, Tapehead, is in the works at Houndpound. It should be out in October.
Etc.... Seems an editing gaffe erased a key detail in the August 13 edition of "Static": Kayfabe is in fact the Houston band formerly known as Hellen Keller. Pardon the glitch. Kayfabe performs Saturday at the Abyss and Wednesday at Instant Karma.
-- Hobart Rowland
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