The Rocks Off 200: Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton
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 Alexandra White
Who? It all started at a Last Starfighter show. To hear Alan Hilton tell it, it wasn't even his choice.
"A few friends came up to me and said I had to play bass for them," he says. "I had never played before, but they convinced me to go jam with them that night."
Of course, it was awful, but Hilton explains that incident was what set him down the road of playing music. After cycling through a few different metal bands around Houston and various variations on his current band, playing bass and sometimes keys, Hilton has finally settled down with Blasé. At least as much as anyone in the world of metal "settles down."
For a brief time, he also ran the metal venue Shadowplay Lounge in The Woodlands.
Home Base: Unlike many musicians, Hilton only writes with his band. He prefers to build on other people's ideas and to have their input, rather than dictating the direction of the music. Blasé jams at Rock Center, but Hilton admits that was preceded by practicing in "dark holes, living rooms, and garages." As venues go, he doesn't have a current favorite, but wishes he could have played the Java Jazz Coffeehouse location in Old Town Spring before it closed down.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "It's been home for so long, and I have so many talented friends here that I haven't played music with yet," Hilton says, laughing. However, he likes to keep his options open.
"There are lot of cool places I've been to over the years, with or without the band," he adds. "Nashville and Denver first come to mind. I'd definitely like to pick things up and see what I can find out there. Maybe soon."
Hilton with Blasé, then known as the Tempest
Good War Story: Hilton describes Blasé as a "lightning rod for bad luck." He lists many bad things the band has been through, including show cancellations, van explosions, and getting stranded in awful towns. The most frustrating thing though? Being forced to change band names from the Tempest last year.
"Some cover/bar/just-not-good band full of geriatrics with the name Tempests -- notice the subtle, but obvious difference in the names -- hit us up on Facebook threatening to take legal action if we didn't change our name," Hilton explains. "I didn't think anything of it and shot back with nothing more than a no."
Then Facebook's legal team got involved.
"Long story short, I received notification from Facebook that our page was being taken down so they could cover their ass until the 'trademark' dispute was taken care of," he says. "Needless to say I never heard from Tempests again, so we finally brushed it off and became Blasé."
Story continues on the next page.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "I have so many," sighs Hilton. "Being in this band for so long and running a music venue for a while I've seen the worst of it, definitely.
"Keeping it simple, and without getting too personal or stepping on anyone's toes, I can't stand when bands expect to get everything they want without putting in any work," he adds.
Best Show Ever: "It's hard to say now. Can I say all of them?" Hilton wonders. "I can easily say the worst one, though. Some place in Shreveport, Louisiana. We didn't belong or fit in at all on the show. I felt uncomfortable all day. Our merch guy actually heard a guy say 'they don't have enough breakdowns' and walk out during our set. Good times."
Five Desert Island Discs:
- The Smiths, "Louder Than Bombs"
- Fugazi, 13 Songs
- Led Zeppelin, Mothership
- Refused, The Shape of Punk to Come
- As Cities Burn, Come Now Sleep
First Song You Fell In Love With: "There's this one song I played over and over when I was a kid," says Hilton -- "Children of the Sun" by Billy Thorpe.
"That's not a joke," he's quick to point out with a laugh. "Listening to it now, I have no idea why I was so into it, but if you've never heard it before, check it out!"
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.
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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