Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, 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 previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Who? BLSHS (Pronounced "blushes") is easily one of my Top 5 Houston bands. Michelle Miears has a voice on loan from the eerie wailing at the end of the world, and their music is built around a wall of haunting electronic sound. Chris Gore is one of the men who builds that wall.
Strange for a musician of his genre, Gore got started in music through skateboarding. After noticing that one of his friends would never come skate with them on Wednesdays because of a bass guitar lesson, Gore got into the instrument himself. Eventually he was drawn into the scene at Fitzgerald's and began making his own music. His initial efforts were as part of a nu-metal band known as lower, in which he played bass for seven years. The band did well, playing hundreds of shows and opening for the likes of Incubus and Sevendust before ultimately imploding.
During his run with lower, Gore developed an interest in the production side of things. His house filled up with synths, drum machines, recording equipment and demos that never went anywhere. Frustrated and missing the feeling of working with other artists, Gore and Rick Carruth began making instrumental electronica together.
Once Miears came to the mike with her unique voice, one of the best ethereal pop bands in the city was born. BLSHS is now working on a full-length followup to January 2014 EP Abstract Desires, scheduled for July.
Home Base: BLSHS shares a little practice room near UH-Downtown with Recovery Room. Bang Bangz practices next door, meaning it's probably the most awesome-sounding spot in the city at any given moment. Gore's favorite place to play is Fitzgerald's. After becoming up with the old club over the years, the 2010-11 renovation turned it from his least favorite venue to top of the list.
Good War Story: "The first electronic show I ever played, there were only two of us and we tried to bring everything from the studio and route it all through my laptop for processing live," Gore recounts. "Seriously way too much...guitars, bass, a metallophone with contact mikes on it, a monome, several midi controllers for pads, keys and knobs. A mixer and effects too."
During sound check I was in a hurry and plugged the power for the mixer into my USB hub and blew if up in a puff of the worst-smelling smoke ever. Panic mode initiated. Can't plug half of the controllers in without a hub and can't soundcheck anything.
We managed to get a replacement USB hub quickly and go on with our set when doors open. About halfway through our set right when we have an OutKast sample in a breakdown that says 'They say a computer can do my job better than I can damn do it...' my laptop just slowly spirals out of control in a fit of irony, glitches and stutters that would make Aphex Twin proud. For me, though, this was the end of the world.
Next up, dead silence and a sound guy giving me that look that you do not want to get during a show. This was about ten years ago, when laptops took a lot longer to boot up. I knew that we had about 15 minutes left in our set and most of that was going to be spent waiting on the computer and the set to load back up. Worst ten minutes on stage ever.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Gore dislikes it when people ask what time "their" band is going on through social media. He resents the idea that people go to an evening of music and just leave once the band they most want to see has gone off.
Sure, there are legit reasons to do that, such as work and child care, but making a habit of it means that you lose a lot of chances to discover new acts.
Story continues on the next page.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "I've seen a few scenes comes and go over the years here, but I really feel like something bigger than ever is happening right now," says Gore. "Houston is coming up big right now, you can feel it in the air. Everyone is out there doing their thing, making it happen.
There was a time when being a band in Houston, it was almost like this gravity field keeping you from really breaking out," he continues. "You could go regional, but none of the major labels really had A&R here. A few people got out, mostly by moving to California. Now with the power shift in the industry and the Internet, the tractor beam has been shut down.
"I have friends in Houston bands out there touring and hitting other countries," Gore wraps up. "Our homie Rob [FLCON FCKER] is playing the Silent Disco at Bonnaroo in a couple of weeks! It seems like 'Fuck You Houston's Awesome!' is becoming more than a clothing brand and turning into this very empowering attitude for our city. I love it."
Five Desert Island Discs:
- The Beach Boys, Endless Summer
- Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures
- Depeche Mode, Violator
- DJ Shadow, Preemptive Strike
- Soft Lighting, Portraits
Best Show You've Ever Seen: "Little Dragon at the Parish in Austin, January 30, 2011."
First Song You Ever Fell in Love With: "'Rock Me, Amadeus,' by Falco"
BLSHS plays Fitzgerald's Friday, June 6 with the Tontons, Wrestlers (formerly Bagheera) and Fat Tony. Free with RSVP.
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.
THE ROCKS OFF 200
John Alton, the Madness of Cosmic Bug Loaf Reko Trill, of the Almighty Trill Brothers Jo Bird, Bow-Caster of Fiddle Witch & the Demons of Doom DJ Nando1, Who Fights to Keep the Party Poppin' Randall Hopkins, Featherface Drummer and Brilliant Video Director Roby Deaton, Open-Mike Pocket of Cool Nosaprise, Hurrah! for the Blushing Bridegroom Tony Vega, the Big Easy's Barnburner Leslie Krafka, Onward Through the Fog Michael Anthony Shanks, Houston's Merry Shankster DJ Baby Roo, Vegetarian Hip-Hop Veteran Rachel Bays, Filming Them Softly Punk-Rock "Newcomers" Screech of Death Erin Rodgers, the Keys to Glass the Sky Alex LaRotta, Crate-Digging Fistful of Soul Brother Alycia Miles, Triumphant Soul Singer DJ Piam, Poison Girl's Bacon-Fat Funk Specialist Mister Insane, Host of The Insane Show Jake Rawls -- Kemo For Emo Is Back Santos Pastrana, Sound Engineer and DJ Ninja Heading Upstream with RIVERS' Chris Tamez DJ Dayta, Keeper of That Good Good Matthew Davis Buehrer, Runaway Sun's Globally Thinking Bassist Fat Tony, Third Ward to "BKNY" Noon, Rapper With a Lot on His Mind Matt Cash, Clear Lake's Cassette Tape Wailer Jason Smith, Alkari's Space City Rocker DJ Penetrate, All Lit Up in "Neon Lights" Catch Fever Is Catching On Renée Jonard, Princess of Noise Pollution Junior Gordon, Big Man With a Big Sound Chad Smalley, Blaggards' Barse Player Damien Randle, K-OTIX Man of Action Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man DJ Good Grief Knows How to Have Fun Robert Kuhn, the Well-Traveled Islander Gunnar Cushway, Insko's Feel-Good Utilityman Mario Rodriguez, Tax the Wolf/Bang Bangz's Wonky Power Monger John Smith, Goodtime Continental Club Manager Dwayne Cathey, A Good Man to Scare People With Walter Carlos, Guitar-Punisher of Funeral Horse Ryan James, Putting Up a Good Fight John Cramer, Guitar Apostle of Project Grimm Big Gerb, Houston's Hongree-est MC Steven Higginbotham, Hard-Working Wheel Worker Alisha Pattillo & Her Swaggering, Soulful Sax Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator The Excitable Boys of Another Run Flash Gordon Parks, DJ as Funky Professor DJ Main Event, Kratez Crew JumpOff Man Odd Hours and Back to Back's Hank Doyle Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock) DJ Damon Allen, R.O.C.O. Fellow Tom Lynch, New Kid On the Block Ashley Worhol, Goth-Metal Queen of Katy Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense Marzi Montazeri, the Man Dimebag Darrell Called a Bad Motherfucker John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast Homegrown Cowboy Crooner Charles Peters Adam Bricks, NYC Expat Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton Kyra Noons, Houston's Reggae Sunsplash DJ AudiTory, the Maestro of LuvItMane The Nephilim Terror's Death-Metal Growler Danny Carroll Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass The Bailout Bureau's Mysterious "Bob Bovary" DJ Twinkle-Toes, Won a "Dick-Measuring Vinyl Orgy" With Two iPods Beanz N Kornbread, Gmail-Loving Production Duo You(genious), Party Crasher Turned Musical Auteur Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC
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