The Rocks Off 100: Charlie Horshack, LP4's Guitar Warrior
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? Charlie Horshack (his nom de rock) was a high-school saxophone player who asked for an electric guitar for Christmas. He started trying to get a band off the ground without really bothering learning to play.
Eventually, he managed to work his way through several bands before moving to Houston to attend UH. He picked back up his sax for an improve group called The Democratic Art, which brought him to the attention of Ramon Medina and the Linus Pauling Quartet.
Medina asked Horshack to add some sax for a tune called "Omi Domi," and he eventually worked his way up to the band's full-time sax player. It was never really his instrument, though, and after hitting a wall to his talent he returned to playing the guitar, now for LP4. He just contributed to the band's 17th release, Find What You Love and Let it Kill You, which may be one of the band's best short works ever. Horshack certainly adds to the greatness of the EP with his solid, jangling guitars that call to mind everything from the Beatles to Gordon Lightfoot.
Home Base: Linus Pauling Quartet practices in on Sterrett Street. He dislikes writing alone, drawing from his improv background and feeling that music should be a social activity. He rarely practices at home, getting his chops up either working with LP4 or with the likes of Fist of Kong, Olympus MONS, and The Mess.
Horshack does occasionally compose by himself for solo act, Charlie Naked, but he considers that editing more than actual practice.
Rudyard's is his favorite place to play. He's been going there as a fan ever since he moved to Houston, seeing LP4 in 1995 long before he became a member. He likes the cozy atmosphere, consistently top-rated sound engineering, and the professional atmosphere. Like a lot of bands that play Rudz consistently, he feels it's like a second home.
Good War Story: "Probably the worst show Linus ever played was at Mary Jane's in the last days before it turned into Fat Cats or the Pearl Bar or whatever," he says. "It was a Hands Up Houston show with Oneida headlining, and we were one of a number of bands on the bill."
However, because there were so many bands there we had to show up really early to get loaded in, and me and another member of the band ended up spending a lot of time out in the parking lot taking increasingly large swigs off of a bottle of whiskey, which was doubly problematic as I'd only eaten a half a sandwich for dinner. By the time we played, we were both completely hammered.
I broke two strings, spent WAY too much time between songs talking about how drunk I was, and the second the show was over, I went to the back patio (which was deserted) and passed out on the bar. I woke up around 3 a.m., when everyone was leaving. The only review of that show I ever read was from a French guy who was in town in the audience who wrote something about how embarrassing it must've been to be the 'bunch of drunk old guys' at the show.
That stung, but I seriously curtailed my drinking after that, so I guess it did some good.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Horshack laments that there aren't a lot of affordable spaces quiet enough for experimental music. Finding a a deal on a place like Spring Street, so that more out-there musicians can both play and make a buck, is a tough row to hoe. It's kind of sad when you consider how big the Houston experimental scene.
Five Desert Island Discs:
- The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Velvet Underground & Nico
- Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
- David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust
- Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street
- John Coltrane, Ole'
Best Show Ever: "The best show I ever played, to be honest, would've been the 2008 Terrastock festival in Louisville, Ky," he says. "Linus was invited, and we traveled out to Louisville and just had a frikkin' ball. It's hard to separate the show itself from the total experience, so I'm sure that had something to do with it being my choice, but Terrastock is this global psychedelic-music festival, and we were right at home.
"I love Houston, but honestly, we're a pretty laid-back bunch at shows," continues Horshack. "There's not a lot of going nuts or anything most of the time, and Linus has been around so long we're pretty much taken for granted, so we're not used to people getting nuts at our shows. But both times we played Terrastock, there were people who could genuinely be described as fans, and jumped up and down and all that when we played."
Linus Pauling Quartet plays Rudyard's 35th-anniversary weekend on September 6 or 7.
See who else has joined The Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.
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