The Rocks Off 100: Justice Tirapelli-Jamail, The Manichean's "Quiet One"
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? The Manichean? Easily one of the top bands in Houston? They just did LOVERS at the Alley Theatre again? Good, glad we're all caught up.
Where Cory Sinclair is the haunting wordsmith who lays out the lyrics and the spoken-word, it's Justice Tirapelli-Jamail who cobbles out the music that becomes all those avant-garde compositions. He brings the basic bones to Sinclair, and after hashing out the more-or-less finished concept he instructs the rest of the band in exactly what they're doing. He's also responsible for all the basic managerial paperwork, a quiet genius in the back making brilliant contributions to one of our best acts. You see him in the back of the show, playing with subtle intensity.
As to how they met, well...
"Cory and I met when I was 16 and he was 21 in the back alleyway of a Long John Silver's," says Justice via email. "He was scavenging for any fish sticks that hadn't yet turned and I was just going where the treasure map told me to go. Someone must have gotten to the gold already though, because all I found was pirate's chest with nothing but a still-wrapped Hoobastank CD in it.
"Cory and I struck up a conversation and found that we had a strikingly similar goal -- to create a doo-wop orchestra called Dubstep Twombly & the Quattro Stagioni's," Justice continues. "We knew we'd need to begin with a band where the ideas were a bit less grand than that and work up to it, so we started writing songs together in the back of an old Stop-N-Go, and that's how we got the name The Manichean."
Home Base: The Manichean maintains a downtown rehearsal space, but Justice does most of his writing in his apartment that shares a wall with Sinclair. When he was living at home all his songs were composed in the bathroom, but it's much easier these days.
The band's recent run at the Alley makes it Justice's personal choice for performance. Much of the Manichean's catalog is narrative in nature, and the theater setting allows for a better presentation than a regular rock club.
Why Do You Stay in Houston? "Everyone who lives here seems to loathe it, and everyone who loves it seems to leave," Justice explains. "I love this city. I've lived here my whole life, traveled all over the U.S. and the world, and I always look forward to coming home. It's dirty, it's disjointed, it's hot and humid as fuck, but the skyline is gorgeous, the winters are comfortable, and there's museums, restaurants, bars, and venues to rival any major city's.
On top of all this, there are a plethora of people living in this city who are as beautiful as the art and music they create -- more than I could even begin to name," he adds. "I wouldn't rather live anywhere else right now."
Five Desert Island Discs:
- Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, The Road
- Leonard Cohen, The Essential Leonard Cohen
- Say Hi, The Wishes and the Glitch
- Benoît Pioulard, Lasted
- listenlisten, Dog
Music Scene Pet Peeve: If there's anything that irks Justice it's when people complain about the music scene without offering any solutions. If you can't think of a change you can make to help make the scene all it could be, then don't bother bitching to him.
Good War Story:Justice once ran afoul of a nationwide booking network whose name is fairly well-known among musicians. Some have called it a scam, while he calls it "one of these organizations that book dead dates in venues on off evenings and things of that nature."
How they do this is by booking around six bands (at least), mostly made up of high-school kids that live in the suburbs and don't know how the music scene works, to play the show. They then proceed to have said bands promote the event themselves by telling them that whoever sells the most tickets gets to choose their time slot and so on down the line.
But that's not all. They make the kids print the show's tickets out themselves and return whichever ones they don't sell (without reimbursing them for paper and ink costs, might I add). Each band gets to keep a small percentage of the tickets they sold. Meanwhile, it does effectively nothing but book a band that doesn't know any better, then sit back until it's time to collect. I don't have much respect for people who take advantage of the unaware.
We played one of their shows not knowing any of this, but knowing that it wasn't right once we found out. We'd already been playing shows for a few years and had a good idea of whether or not you're being taken advantage of. After that experience they continued to contact us through MySpace and Facebook messages -- always by a woman named Amy who I highly doubt exists. Each time I would respond by politely asking them to go fuck themselves and then not hear back from them until they would ask us to play another show as if nothing had happened.
Finally, upon contacting us through our email account, I had the chance to once again ask that they 'Please refer to one of the many earlier responses in which I requested that [she] and the rest of [them] crawl down a deep, dark hole, far outside the sonic reaches of any other human, and fuck [themselves] for the rest of eternity,' amongst other things. At no point did I mention any reasons for harboring such disdain.
Their response? A brief note informing me that we had been removed from any and all email lists and that I should 'get my facts straight' -- even though I stated no facts -- and that we should rent out Fitzgerald's, as they would 'love to hear that we are doing 100-plus shows' -- which we have done on more than one occasion.
This was then followed by a pre-written release stating that they do the opposite of all the things that they actually do. I haven't heard from them since, which in and of itself makes it feel like a win for me.
First Song You Fell In Love With: TLC, "No Scrubs."
See who else has joined the Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.
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