The Rocks Off 100: Sean Ozz, Wizard of The Abyss
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 Sean Ozz
Who? Sean Ozz fronts what might be Houston's best dark rock act, The Abyss. I gave them long odds against ever getting anywhere in a town that prefers its goth force-fed in electronica form, but inch by inch the Ozz has dragged the band forward until they've managed to build an astounding presence.
The Abyss' music echoes the best elements of Jane's Addiction and the Cure: hopeless and desperate tunes that nonetheless possess a frightful energy. A few years, a few high-profile opening slots, and several Houston Press Music Award nods later, I freely admit that The Abyss is something to watch out for.
The Cure's influence can be heard a lot in Ozz's music. He discovered Robert Smith and the boys with 1986 singles comp Standing on the Beach, and was drawn into albums like The Top and Disintegration. Though he hung up his musical hopes during his time as a California tattoo artist, upon returning to Houston Ozz has incorporated both aspects of his life into The Abyss. Poetic yet menacing, the band's full-length debut album is eagerly anticipated later this year.
Opening for PIL
Home Base: Ozz hosts practice sessions at his home, or from rented space in Rock Center. When it comes to playing live, The Abyss makes regular appearances at Fitzgerald's and Scout Bar. Ozz also has an affinity for the 19th Hole, which manages a very energetic audience despite its small size.
Good War Story: "We recently opened for PIL at Scout Bar, and as we were getting ready to start and were doing final checks my guitar amp took a shit and died completely," Ozz says. "This issue could have cut our set down considerably or even kept us from playing at all if we could not fix the situation ASAP."
This was an amazing opportunity for us and we really did not want to blow it. Luckily I had just bought a new vocal effects unit that doubled with guitar effects in the same unit. Turns out it also triples as a pod, and I was able to bypass my amp completely and mimic my amp and my effects and plug directly into the PA, and the show went on without missing a minute of our set.
I almost bought the model underneath that which is just a vocal unit, so I am beyond glad I spent the extra money to get the one that I have.
Music Scene Pet Peeves: "The flakes!" wails Ozz. "So many people in this scene have no practical business experience, and thus have horrible business practices. It can sometimes be enough to frustrate one to the point of just not caring anymore and walking away. This goes for not only musicians, but for club and venue owners as well."
Five Desert Island Discs: "That's a hard question," he says. "I've never really thought about it before. Today I would probably just fill my iPhone up with The Cure's discography or just listen to Pandora, but if I had to sit down and choose five studio releases I'd say Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me by The Cure.
Although I don't think of it as my favorite by them it is still one of those releases that brings me back to the moment I got it and everything going on in my life at that time," adds Ozz. "I recall not only getting it on vinyl but running out and getting it on CD."
The Dead Milkmen, Eat Your Paisley: "I was in junior high when I discovered this gem and it started a long love affair with The Dead Milkmen."
Jane's Addiction, Nothing Shocking
Smashing Pumpkins, Disarm
"And pretty much anything by The Doors."
"I have to throw in a couple close calls," Ozz says. "Energy by Operation Ivy, The Wall by Pink Floyd, and Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols. I really am going to lose sleep over this question and the many bands I want to list. Ha ha."
First Song You Fell in Love With: "The Cure's 'Faith,'" he says.
The Abyss opens for Orgy Wednesday, March 6, at Scout Bar, 18307 Egret Bay Blvd, Clear Lake. Purchase tickets here.
See who else has joined The Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.