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The Rocks Off 100: Robert McCarthy, Guitarist From Beyond

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? Now, I got to know Robert McCarthy because I fell in love with a band called Thunderkunt. Why wouldn't you? That was a good time, and McCarthy assures me that the band will be back this Christmas, but until then he's been rocking guitars and vocals for From Beyond, the excellent, underrated lo-fi metal act. 2012's One Year was one of the best metal releases I'd seen in a decade, full of lots and lots and lots of dooooooooom.

McCarthy grew up with your standard classic-rock background, but it was Silent Hill 3 composer Akira Yamaoka who really led to his particular, hopeless style of playing. The mesmerizing horror soundtrack unleashed an equally hypnotic pit specter of the guitar. After Thunderkunt he wanted to explore that side more, and used From Beyond to tackle a psychedelic vibe as well as a more metal approach. He plays all the instruments on From Beyond records except drums, emboldened by the power of controlling so much of the band's ability.

Home Base: McCarthy sets up wherever he can, but his main workspace is Digital Warehaus. He tends to be struck with inspiration at the most convenient times, and his neighbors hate having him wake up in the middle of the night to drop '80s VHS horror riffs quickly into his little analog rig before the ideas fade.

His favorite place to play is Fitzgerald's, particularly upstairs. It offers a chance to blast sound from a wall of amplifiers, adding a grandiose spectacle while not losing the coziness of the local hot spot. He's also a fan of the lighting setup.

REWIND:

From Beyond: An Excellent 9-Minute Year

Why Do You Stay In Houston: McCarthy has a lot of hope in his heart for the city. He dreams of a big scene where all the acts are banded together.

Music Scene Pet Peeve: "This is a tough question to answer," McCarthy offers. "Ultimately, I guess I could say that my biggest pet peeve about the scene, particularly the metal scene, is how divided it is, almost to the point that there isn't even one to mention.

"Although there are a handful of people who are supportive through and through, by and large, most of the musicians that I know that play the same music don't show up to each other's shows," he adds. "Then when smaller touring bands come here, they wonder why they even bothered, because the people that would be out supporting that genre of music aren't there supporting. I'm certainly part of that problem, I'll admit it."

REWIND:

Cage Match: Kesha Vs. Thunderkunt

 

Good War Story: "In high school I was in a 'garage punk' band that played a battle of the bands, and during our performance we got the crowd so stirred up that kids started drop kicking each other and fighting, along with mosh pits and crowd surfing," he says. "Things got out of control, and the school coordinators wanted us to stop playing, but we ignored them and kept on, for an extra seven minutes or so. Needless to say, we didn't win the battle, but we won the war."

Best Show Ever: "The best show I ever played was probably when we opened for Saint Vitus," he says. "We knew that show was going to be special, because Saint Vitus was obviously so highly influential not only to our own music, but to the genre itself. Our performance was a little shaky, but I heard from both Wino and Dave Chandler about how much they enjoyed our music, particularly the title track from our first EP, One Year, and that was all I needed.

"A huge compliment coming from two musicians that I'd held in such high esteem," continues McCarthy. "Wino is one of my absolute favorite guitarists ever, and hearing him tell me that he thought I was a 'badass' was pretty much enough for me to die happy."

The Rocks Off 100: Robert McCarthy, Guitarist From Beyond

Five Desert Island Discs:

  • Hawkwind, Space Ritual
  • Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath
  • Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin
  • Pink Floyd, Meddle (Side B)
  • Motorhead, Overkill

First Song You Ever Fell In Love With: Nirvana, "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

See who else has joined the Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.

  THE ROCKS OFF 100 2013 ALUMNI

The Rocks Off 100: Justice Tirapelli-Jamail, The Manichean's "Quiet One"

Charlie Horshack, LP4's Guitar Warrior

Kathryn Hallberg, Little Girl Gone

Tessa Kole, PuraPharm's Voice and Vice

Richard Griesser, Vintage Camera Hound With Enviable Archive

Downfall 2012, Sci-Fi Metal Storytellers

Kevin Choate, Drum Like You're Screaming

DJ Rockwell, Booth Pimp and Party-Rocker

Ash Kay, the Freakouts' Punk Vocal Head-Butt

The Rocks Off 100: Pat Kelly, The Godfather of the Suffers

Michelle Miears of BLSHS, Siren In the Machine

DJ Remix, Genre-Hopping Mix Maniac

Kahna, Brutal Nation's Metal Booking Queen

DJ Ill Set, Enemy of Wack Tracks

Shane Tuttle, Updog Owner and Album-Cover Designer

Electric Attitude, Renegades of Funk

Sama'an Ashrawi, Trill Gladiator

Recon Naissance, A Rap While Matt's Guitar Gently Weeps

DJ Klinch Asks, "Can You Dig It?"

Jose "Chapy" Luna, Percussionist Con Corazón

Love Dominique, Wicked Heart R&B Chanteuse

Chris Gerhardt, Mastermind of Giant Battle Monster

The Jobe Wilson Band, the Boys From Chambers County

Kimberly M'Carver, Missouri City's Nightingale

DJ Panchitron, Stirring the Cumbia/Moombahton Melting Pot

D.R.I's Kurt Brecht, Thrash Zone Supervisor

Sloan Robley, The Last Houstonian Banshee

Jack Saunders, Dealer of Grit & Jangle

Richard Ramirez, Noise God and Black Leather Jesus

Mike Meegz, Scoremore's Houston Lieutenant

Jacqui Sutton, Houston's "Jazzgrass Lady"

Robin Kirby, Silk and Sandpaper Songwriter

Billy Dorsey, Grammy-Winning MARATHON Runner

David DeLaGarza, Don of Tejano Stars La Mafia

Jason Puffer, Your Psychedelic Sex Panther

Tobin Harvell, Fitzgerald's Unflappable Floor Manager

Walter Suhr, the Straw That Stirs Mango Punch!

Tony Garza, La Orquesta Salmerum Founder

OG Ron C, Chopstar King of the Purple Dome

Football, etc., Giving Emo Back Its Good Name

Angela Jae, Renaissance Artist

Shellee Coley, Voice of the Northern Woods

Blaggards, Houston's St. Paddy's Day House Band

DJ Meshak, Hongree Records' Sound Selecter

K-Rino, South Park Coalition's Southside Maven

DJ Candlestick, One Niceguy and a Very Busy DJ

Danielle Renee, Only Beast's Destroyer of Walls

Felipe Galvan of Los Skarnales

Kristine Mills, Houston's Brassiest Voice

Brian Davis, Punk Drummer, Horror Composer

Elroy Boogie, Top-Notch Turntablist

Sean Ozz, Wizard of The Abyss

Alyssa Rubich, Angel of Instability

Alphonso "Fonz" Lovelace, Righteous Drummer

Frank Zweback, Funkmaster General

OG Bobby Trill, Bombon Beatmaker

Beau Beasley, Organist for the End of Time

Rapid Ric, Mixtape Mechanic

Dwight Taylor Lee, the Wandering Bufalero

Coline Creuzot, Soulful Pop/R&B Singer

Cristina Acuna, Cactus Music's Twitter Fingers

Clint Broussard, Blues In Hi-Fi Man Now Back On FM

Nortnii Rose, Houston Ska's Greatest Hope

Ramblin' Chase Hamblin, the Man Who Will Be Paid

Chris Alonzo, Bringing Night Flight to Facebook

ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS

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