The Rocks Off 100: Brian Davis, Punk Drummer, Horror Composer
Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Who? You probably know Brian Davis as the drummer for one of Houston's longest running and most respected bands, 30footFall. Davis started banging on pots and pans when he was a little kid, and has been playing on an actual kit since his parents gave in and embraced his destiny when he was ten.
He's been a regular 30FF member since he took over percussion duties after Damon Delapaz left for California to record with Fenix-TX on MCA, splitting his time between 30FF and his own band, Middlefinger. It was Davis that laid down tracks for 30FF's seminal punk masterpiece, Ever Revolving, Never Evolving in 1999.
That band's early success took a toll on its members, though, and 30FF has been sort of a semi-regular gig since the mid-'00s, despite a string of excellent records released whenever the fancy takes them. Fans can expect to see them live this June, and for the annual Punk Rock Christmas Show.
But when not working with his most famous act, Davis crafts horror-movie music under the moniker Grave Tone Productions. His 2011 album Music to Be Buried By was part concept record, part demo track to try and interest various scaremakers into using his work.
The gambit has paid off well so far. Davis has provided music for Reel Evil and When We Ruled H-Town, and has a new EP prepared to release at Texas Frightmare in May. We can look forward to a short film entirely written, directed and scored by Grave Tone later this year.
Home Base: Davis crafts all of his music for Grave Tone in his home studio, and whenever it's time for 30footFall to get their act together they rent space from Francisco's, as Houston punk tradition dictates. When it comes to the stage, 30FF prefers Fitzgerald's over other venues for the energetic audiences. Fitz has been ground zero for the band as long as anyone can remember.
Why Do You Stay in Houston? "Good question," Davis says. "I can't tan and I often joke that the sun doesn't like me, so I guess mainly because I've been here my whole life. As far as my music career goes, I've stayed in Houston because I've been fortunate enough to play music for a living in addition to being involved with or being part of some great and fun bands and musicians."
Good War Story:"There are quite a few but this is one that is most bizarre," he begins.
Middlefinger was playing at the Blue Iguana (R.I.P.) and our lead singer Matt Kelly jumped up on a table, which was built around a pole that went from the ceiling to the floor. When he jumped down, he did not see the broken beer bottle that someone had set on the table... He sliced his wrist open and was spewing blood from his arm up [to] the ceiling."
The show was stopped and an ambulance was called to take him to the hospital where he had to have emergency surgery. As that was happening, somehow a brawl ensued in the parking lot and some of the band guys, myself included ended up in it.
I'm pretty sure that some of the same people who had paid to see us ended up fighting us.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "I'm not to sure what it's like for the younger bands of today, but I would say the lack of respect that all of the musicians get for pursuing their dreams from people who don't know about or support the scene," says Davis. "Most of us will never win a Grammy or sell a million records but it is possible to be successful.
"Having said that, I don't know how many times I've been asked what I do for a living and when I tell them I'm a musician, they say, 'Oh, but what do you really do?'" he adds.
Five Desert Island Discs:
- Johnny Cash, Greatest Hits
- Mr. Bungle, Mr. Bungle
- James Brown, Greatest Hits
- Pantera, Far Beyond Driven
- Fishbone, Fishbone
First Song You Fell in Love With: "I think it was Johnny Paycheck's 'The Cave,' says Davis. "I was really young, probably seven or eight... I don't really know why I loved it so much but my parents had the 45 and I played it over and over.
I since have re-discovered it and it's still great."
See who else has joined The Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.
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