Houston Music

Artist of the Week: O Pioneers!!!

Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to [email protected].

If we were forced by threat of death to compare music to various types of seafood dishes (which happens daily, we assume), we'd have to say that punk rock is probably the crab legs of musical genres. (Obscure, we know, but totally appropriate.)

See, when we get the taste for it, when that's what we want, nothing else will do. Not some variation of it -not garage rock (which would be stuffed crab), not rockabilly (crab bisque), not glam rock (crab cakes, obviously). It absolutely, without question, has to be straight-up, rock your face off, punk rock. (Of course, the converse of that is that is that after we've had our fill, it just really becomes nauseating to deal with.)

So when we got it in our head a couple of weeks ago that that's what we wanted, we started lurking around the Hands Up Houston message board. (And we just know that if they've got anything at all to say about the crab legs/punk rock simile used above, it will be nothing but glowing praises.) Once there, we were reminded of the daftly musical exploits of minimalist punk rockers O Pioneers!!!.

Theirs is a pulsating, unrelenting wall of sound that is thoroughly engaging. They tour all through the Southern part of the US pretty regularly, so when HWGIC Eric Solomon agreed to answer a few of our questions, we were stoked. After the jump, read about how we may or may not be completely immature, which is not the worst place to play in Houston, and why they released an actual vinyl record.

Rocks Off: First and foremost, please explain the name. Is it some reference to an obscure book passage or is it just something you all picked because it looks cool on fliers?

Eric: Our name, O Pioneers!!!, came to be from a couple of different things. I heard the word "pioneer" in a song by the Pixies and thought it was a cool word to use for a band name. Originally it was supposed to be "o pioneers.," so it was almost a drag to say. Jeff, the original drummer, didn't like it, and suggested we make it more exciting. So we dropped the "." and added "!!!" and it stuck. It's not from the book (by Willa Cather) or from the poem (by Walt Whitman), even though both of those are pretty cool. Also, there is a sweet band from NYC with the same name.

RO: If you're in a punk band, isn't it absolutely vital that you think everything is stupid? If so, we think we might be ready to start a band, because we think everything is totally lame. Oh, but we can't the play the guitar. Although that seemed to work out fairly well for Sid Vicious, right?

E: I'm not really sure what to say to this. All I can say is that is [a] very immature way to think. I think the beauty of punk rock is you can make so many things from nothing. You can create a show space from a living room, piece of art from some leftover newspaper, or even a band if you don't know how to play music. It's the freedom of trying something new and learning it from scratch, instead of having it given to you.

RO: Fair enough. Okay, so here's something we never thought we'd say to a punk band: You guys have some really strong song writing skills. We like that it's more about that than just trying to rock your faces off, you know. Walk us through the song writing process of a song like "I Have A Major Weight Lifting Problem," which seems carbon copy of something that should playing in the background of a Tony Hawk video game.

E: Funny you should mention Tony Hawk. We wrote this song because we were upset that we didn't get on the SKATE [the video game] soundtrack. I mean, they offered us a spot on their game, then they complained about us using too many swear words. Go figure, right? Oh well, it's just a video game! RO: Is it just us, or is there a definite let's-look-at-things-in-more-of-a-positive-light type of vibe going on in ya'll's songs?

E: In the past there totally has been. On our newer record, it's more of a what-the-hell-are-you-doing-with-your-life?-You-need-to-grow-up-and-take-care-of-stuff. So if my songs of telling myself to grow up is considered positive, than I agree!

RO: Ha. Where is the absolute worst place to play in Houston?

E: I don't really feel comfortable answering this because I don't really want to talk badly about any places we've played. I will say, however, The Mink, The White Swan, and Walters on Washington are my favorite places to play.

RO: We really dig that you all released a vinyl pressing. What brought that on? It was an appreciation for John Cusack, wasn't it?

E: In punk rock music, we like stupid stuff, so we tried to do the most expensive thing we could with this record. But we've also released six to seven 7" records while being a band, so we are pretty vinyl-and-losing-money friendly. Also, John Cusak is pretty cute in this movie.

RO: When, where, and for how much can Houstonians see you all live?

E: We don't play Houston that much at all. We are playing Walters, though, on March 22nd with Star F*cking Hipsters (members of leftover crack and chocking victim). PUNXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

RO: Anything you want to plug, now's the time to do it.

E: Our friends at Team Science Records -they did the Teenage Kicks 7", and the Paper Moons 7"/CD. Dead City Sound Studio, where we record everything, and our screen printing shop, I Heart U Productions.

Get all the O Pioneer!!! tour dates, links, and advice on how to fix several models of refrigerators* from www.opioneers.com.

*Not really, obviously.

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Shea Serrano