Non Stop adjustments... Change is nothing new for Non Stop Bombers -- and neither is chaos. Less than two years into the Houston rap-metal group's existence, bassist/songwriter Jay Schneider is now the only original member left to tell the story of the group's dizzying progression of lineup snafus and bitter fallings-out.
In late 1994, Schneider left his job as bass player for Taste of Garlic to form Non Stop Bombers, a move that he says centered around differences in musical tastes more than anything.
"We're all still friends. But I really don't care for funk," he says. "I wanted to play harder stuff."
Freed to do his own thing, Schneider hooked up with drummer Donnie Reyes. "Me and this dude Donnie started the band," says Schneider, laboring to jog his hazy memory. "I don't even remember his last name, actually, and nor do I care to; we've been going at it pretty hard lately."
Guitarist Tony Avitia and a singer/rapper calling himself Chinstrap were recruited to fill out the lineup, and the first version of Non Stop Bombers was good to go. They quickly recorded two tapes, The Ultra Flat Black and the powerful, uncompromising You Knew This Was Coming, Part 1. But it wasn't long -- only a few months, in fact -- before Schneider was on his own again, and resentful former bandmates were harassing him for continuing without them.
"They had hard feelings that I kept it going," he says. "But I wrote those songs, and most of them were good."
Schneider is confident that the latest transfusion of talent will keep Non Stop Bombers alive for a longer stretch. Additions Robin Moore on guitar, his brother Devon on drums, Jeremy Puke on guitar and DJ Blast on turntables even manage to inject a minor measure of professionalism into the Bombers' new seven-song cassette, You Can't Stop Us, Fucko, on which Schneider's fighting spirit is out in full force. Backed to the hilt by a lethal, sticky compound of speed-core chord changes and heavy metal thunder, Schneider has taken over on vocals, railing against everything from deceitful former allies ("You Don't Think for Yourself (Theme for a Backstabber)") to critical local journalists ("Fuck Public News"). Abrasive, enthralling and devoid of finesse, You Can't Stop Us is not recommended for those with a weak heart or a queasy stomach.
"I didn't grow up in the suburbs; I grew up in the Third Ward in New Orleans," says Schneider. "My first two records as a kid were a Kiss album and Rapper's Delight. Rap was big, and we had to fight to get by."
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You Can't Stop Us will be available when Non Stop performs Saturday at the Abyss. Joining the band will be New Orleans rap act Ghost; Hoss, which includes ex-members of Spunk and Wishbone Bush; and Humungus, with Nicki Sicki, formerly of Verbal Abuse, on lead vocals. Next month, Non Stop Bombers head out of town for a ten-day West Coast club tour.
Passing of a great... Houston native Johnny "Guitar" Watson died May 16 after suffering a heart attack as he took the stage at a nightclub in Yokohama, Japan. He was 61. Watson learned the tricks of the blues trade in the Third Ward, looking to such legends as Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and T-Bone Walker for inspiration. While Wat-son never had a major pop hit of his own, his songs were recorded by stars such as Steve Miller, and he was cited as an influence by guitar heroes Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. While Watson recorded a number of rhythm and blues hits in the '50s and '60 and had some success in the '70s, his career had been relatively quiet over the last two decades, though his classics "Real Mother for Ya" and "Ain't That a Bitch?" popped up in the sampling of rappers such as Snoop Doggy Dogg and 2 Live Crew. A recipient of a 1996 Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and a 1994 Sammy Award here in Houston, Watson had been living in Los Angeles.
More bad news... Bonnie Miller, often lovingly referred to around town as the jingle lady, was killed with her husband, Phil, in a car accident a few weeks back. Miller wrote the hummable ditties used in commercials for many local businesses. Often, she'd dream up a tune on the road after eyeing a passing billboard. Then, properly inspired, she'd drive to the business and sing the melody to the advertising director right on the spot. Miller's memory lives on in catchy jingles for Mattress Giant, Thunderbolt Transmission Repair and many others.
Etc.... Cheeky local popsters Bee Stung Lips are back with a new CD called Chatterboxing, which was produced in Austin by Jim Wilson, whose credits include Sugar's File Under: Easy Listening and Magnapop's Hot Boxing. The Lips will celebrate the release with a show early Wednesday evening at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge. On Thursday's jazz front, Spyro Gyra brings its smooth fusion tactics to Rockefeller's. Friday, the reunited Geto Boys kick off their national tour with a concert for the hometown crowd at the Aragon Ballroom. Fellow locals Face Mob and 5th Ward Boyz will join them for the Houston show and on the road, along with out-of-towners Shyheim and Menace Clan. -- Hobart Rowland