The Rocks Off 200: Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense
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.
Photo by Nikki Machacek Photos courtesy of Joe Ortiz/Clockpole
Who? One of my favorite quotes by a local musician of all time is by Joe Ortiz of Clockpole, the mad gathering of random musicians that never seems to be the same thing more than once. In an interview with Free Press Houston he once said, "The name doesn't make any sense and the band doesn't make any sense."
Ortiz was right. His journey began from watching Aerosmith videos on MTV in the '80s, and decided that such shenanigans were exactly what he wanted to do with his time. Many lawns mowed later, he bought a guitar. He started out in a loud rock outfit called Leatherpants in 2001, and moved onto the criminally underrated Novice in 2004. Being based in Texas City made making headway and building momentum difficult despite the group's inarguable talent, and they called it quits in 2007.
Two years off gave Ortiz the strength to try again, and he decided that Clockpole would be unlike anything else that he'd done before. There would be no rules, no safety net, hell, not even really any songs. Everything would be spontaneous, unplanned, and loud as hell.
At a typical Clockpole show, audience members are recruited to make noise, clothes come off at regular intervals, and the whole thing is a celebration of aural inhibitions dropped by the way side. It's a most excellent experiment.
Home Base: Understandly, Clockpole doesn't have one. Clockpole only exists in the moment it is happening, so there's no writing process aside from the basic ideas Ortiz occasionally sketches out at home. The band plays house parties, street corners, and traditional venues, without differentiating between the three. It all happens when it happens.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? We seem to be shouting it at the top of our lungs sometimes, but Houston has incredible musical variety. No genre goes unrepresented, and more than a few artists cannot accurately be described by normal terms in the first place. That's what Ortiz likes about being here: Houston has room to be weird.
Story continues on the next page.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "I hate when a band takes forever to set up or tear down," he says. "I didn't come to watch you not know how to set up your gear. I came to hear you play. I hate anything that unnecessarily interrupts the flow of a performance. This includes but is not limited to long silence between songs, stupid stage banter, telling me about your merch, telling me about your online presence, awkward conversation, and inability to quickly tune instruments.
"I hate when the first band wants to wait another 30 to 40 minutes to play because they hope more people show up," continues Ortiz. "If no one is there and you suck, then they're not missing anything. If no one is there and you are awesome, then they can feel left out when everyone that arrived on time tells them about the great band they missed.
"Whether there is one person or one million, always play like it matters because it always does matter," he concludes.
Good War Story: "Driving down hill on Lamar Boulevard in Austin with Austin Rhoads in a Ford Explorer full of equipment while the brakes went out towards a red light at a busy intersection," he says. "In order to avoid killing anyone, I jumped the curb over the sidewalk -- nearly missing pedestrians, almost flipped the car but was saved by the heavy amps loaded on one side preventing us from flipping over.
"We safely and amazingly rolled perfectly into a parking spot at a gas station," marvels Ortiz. "It almost looked like we meant to do it."
Best Show Ever: "I've played so many great shows, it's hard to name the best," says Ortiz. "A few that stand out with Clockpole: The all naked, unicorn, clown, maypole dance at Super Happy Fun Land. Free Press Summer Fest 2012, Super Happy Fun Land stage.
Me and Alicia's wedding reception show at Super Happy Fun Land," he continues. "The piñata, balloon, glitter, confetti, toilet-paper show at Mango's. The thing they all had in common was a high level of chaos."
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.
Ryan Dickson, Laid-Back and Out Loud 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
THE ROCKS OFF 100 2013 ALUMNI
Crystal Toliver, Source of That Yello Echo You Hear Mr. Castillo, Song-Sniping DJ DJ Big Reeks, The Chief Waxaholic Melane Gutierrez, The Coffin Queen Folk Descendent Kevin Taylor Kendrick Eloy Contreras, Deathrazor's Sharp Thrash Vocals Robert McCarthy, Guitarist From Beyond 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 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
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