The Rocks Off 100: Richard Ramirez, Noise God and Black Leather Jesus
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 Richard Ramirez
Who? Richard Ramirez is one of Houston's finest noise artists under the monikers of Black Leather Jesus https://www.facebook.com/pages/Black-Leather-Jesus/117719674921150, Werewolf Jerusalem, An Innocent Young Throat-Cutter, and many more. His work is dark, terrifying, and full of the sort of sounds that you'd expect to emanate from beyond the doors of Hell itself. He got started in the late '80s after listening to experimental music broadcasts on KPFT and KTRU, then haunting Sound Exchange and Vinal Edge for albums by Merzbow, The Haters, Nurse With Wound, and the like.
Ramirez just returned from a tour that took him all up the West Coast of the United States and Canada, and is planning for a European jaunt next year. In addition, he has an upcoming collaboration with Blue Sabbath Black Cheer scheduled for a vinyl release soon, as well as works with Smegma, Nihilist Assault Group, and Andrew Liles.
Home Base: There's no real writing on practicing with Ramirez's music. All of his work is either crafted at home or at Dogville Studios. Like many off-kilter Houston musicians, he likes the open atmosphere of Super Happy Fun Land for live performances.
Why Do You Stay in Houston? "I love Houston," he says simply.I've traveled quite a bit and still would love to remain in Houston. Other places are OK to visit, but not to live."
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Understandably, Ramirez often finds himself frustrated by the lack of venues for his brand of music. Indeed, a quick search through his photos online usually reveals places that look like little more than basements. It's really a little strange when you consider how big the Houston noise scene really is.
Good War Story: "Well, I can be very outspoken," he says. "If someone is an asshole to me, I am not afraid to make it known. There are some noise artists that are just arrogant assholes, and I have no time for that. As for Black Leather Jesus, once we did a show back in 1993 at a 'metal' bar.
"The audience were not into us," continues Ramirez. "They made it vocal, and started to fuck with us. Soon a fight broke out and we were throwing sheet metal into the audience until the bar manager stopped it. It was pretty intense."
Five Desert Island Discs:
- The Railway Children, Reunion Wilderness
- The Haters, Mind the Gap
- The Fall, Extricate
- The Church, Starfish
- Echo & the Bunnymen, Ocean Rain
First Song You fell in Love With: "'Upstairs,' by Gene Loves Jezebel"
Black Leather Jesus returns to Super Happy Fun Land Saturday, July 6.
See who else has joined The Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.
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