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."
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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.
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THE ROCKS OFF 100 2013 ALUMNI
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