The Rocks Off 100: Chris Gerhardt, Mastermind of Giant Battle Monster
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.
Photos courtesy of Giant Battle Monster
Who? Giant Battle Monster, we're fairly certain, is the first Rocks Off 100 inductee to have recruited someone to deliver aborted chicken meat from under his dress live onstage. Delightfully weird, a little disturbing, GMB's aggressive math-rock veers from raunchy death-metal to trippy prog-rock to outre sci-fi sountrack stuff in the course of the group's most recent album, February's Giant Battle Monster Vs. the Subterranean Antler Man.
The four-piece Houston band is the brainchild of possible evil genius Chris Gerhardt, who founded GBM at age 19. "I prefer not to sit still, focus on a single thing or sleep, really," he says.
Gerhart has a music degree and has also trained as an electrical engineer, and says today he works with small radio transmitters ("and pretty soon I'm gonna quit"). With GBM, he's recorded two albums he didn't have to pay for and once covered 25 percent of the country on a 32-date tour with local instro-metal group Cavernous and the now-defunct Barkus, Sly and the Golden Egg.
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More recently GBM did several shows around SXSW with the Memorials, featuring ex-Mars Volta drummer Thomas Pridgen. David Isick, a friend and fan of GBM from Austin, introduced Gerhardt to Kentaro Saito from Otanana Trio, who booked both groups on a tour of Japan scheduled for July. (The Houston kickoff show is June 29 at Notsuoh.) Then, with the tour looming, Giant Battle Monster lost their bassist and drummer; luckily Gerhardt was able to convince Bradley Munoz from Female Demand and P.L.X.T.X. and Marty Durlam (The Hangouts, Love Horse) to step in.
"That left about two and a half months to learn the material, how to play together [and] prepare to spend a couple weeks on our own in Japan without dying," he says. "We're doing [it], though, and so far it feels good. What we're doing is a privilege and we've earned it."
Home Base: Within planet Houston, Gerhardt says GBM feels most at home at Notsuoh. "Hands down, the way they let the bands handle the door themselves is enough to win me over, but the place itself is just all-around awesome," he says.
Good War Story: "Every show is juicy - that's the point right?" offers Gerhardt "We try to think of things to do. Once we had a a man deliver abort bloody chicken meat from his dress.
"But you said happened to me," he continues. "Once, in between songs in the middle of a set I was solicited by a girl that was obviously in like middle school (or maybe earlier; it gives me chills).
"I think you should use the first one."
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "Why do people leave?" asks Gerhardt, rhetorically (we think). "If you dislike something, I think it's better to try and change it. And I like Houston... where are they going?"
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Gerhardt singles out what he calls Houston's lack of career musicians. "There's obviously not a total lack, but a lot of people you can work with will either cancel on you so they can work a real job more," he says.
"Or they hassle you because they just can't seem to understand the amount of work it takes to write, perform and manage a band while working a day job, going to school, having romance and all that other boring normal stuff," Gerhardt continues. "It's enough to make you have to choose what you finish and what you don't, and most often art is last in line."
Five Desert Island Discs:
- Steve Reich, Daniel Variations
- Rush, Moving Pictures
- King Crimson, Discipline
- Phillip Glass, Best of CD ("lol, cheated")
- Claude Debussy, Suite Bergamasque
Best Concert You Ever Saw: "Whatever the most recent time I saw Peelander Z at the time of reading," he says.
First Song You Fell In Love With: "That's an embarrassing question for most people, you know," Gerhard says. (Sorry.) "I'd say it was that 'Chicken de China' song from Barenaked Ladies ['One Week'] or 'Tubthumping' from Chumbawamba, but I'm pretty sure it was 'Barbie Girl' from Aqua when I was ten. I'm sure there was something from before that, but I'm also sure I didn't know what it was."
See who else has joined The Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.
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