Houston Music

Artist of the Week: Soundtrack-Ready Alt-Folk Quintet Red November

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].

For this week's segment we linked up with Ronnie Casso, manager of Red November, an alternative-folk quintet signed to Universal Music Group's Universal Records. They've got a European tour in the works, an accompanying U.S. tour to follow and their first full-length album is due out in April. Lots going on with these guys, and for good reason.

But we'll just be up front about this: There's actually a board game called Red November about some terribly built fantasy submarine. Somehow, we totally whiffed on asking about it. Sorry.

Still, after the jump you can read about how their music might be better for the soundtrack of Twilight than The Legend of Billie Jean, a chin curtain to rival all chin curtains and the genuinely sad story about how Red November came to be Red November.

Rocks Off: We're almost certain that "Paralyzed" needs to be playing during some type of training montage in a karate movie. Or, better yet, what with all of the '80s movie remakes, it could be played at some point during the new version of The Legend of Billie Jean. Maybe while she's walking from the fire at the end. Or right after she gives the "Fair is Fair" speech to the camera. How perfect would that be?

Red November, "Paralyzed"

Red November, "Paralyzed"

Ronnie: I'm not sure the impact Red November looks to make on the world puts them in an 80's remake of The Karate Kid or The Legend of Billie Jean. Red November music would be more suited for the soundtrack of an upcoming Twilight or Spider-Man film perhaps. The music touches a person's soul and stays with them long after the song is over.

RO: We're having trouble piecing together the theme that drives this band. We mean, if we break it down, it's pretty scatterbrained. Let's do this. We'll give you all what we as fans see from the outside, and you explain exactly what's going on inside. First you've got Nick, who's got the best chin curtain we've seen since Abe Lincoln.

R: I think that even Abe Lincoln would be jealous of [Nick's] chin curtain! It's certainly a trademark, matching his jet-black hair and piercing green eyes. He's definitely got the goods when it comes to looks, musical talent and writing ability.

RO: There's Fonz, who's pretty remarkable musically, but that's overshadowed by the fact he's a black guy named Fonz that plays the bass. It's like he was written to co-star in The Five Heartbeats II as the zany funny man to balance out the seriousness of Eddie Cane Jr.'s character. If they make The Five Heartbeats II, we're 90 percent sure they'd write Cane back into drug use. He's just so perfect for that.

Fonz: It's possibly embarrassing to say that I've never heard of The Five Heartbeats [laughs]. But the name "Fonz" I can tell you was just to shorten [his] given name of Alphonso. I'm a pretty shy character, but when stepping onto that stage it all fades away. I love the direction we are headed and if there's a movie role in my future, I'm down for it.

RO: Let's not forget Angel, who would be our No. 1 pick if all of the drummers in the city participated in some type of Royal Rumble, every-man-for-himself match.

Angel: There is some major talent in this city when it comes to drummers. I've been fortunate to find myself playing with the kind of musicians that accent my artistic style. From The Hunger to Deep Above Surface, it's all been a stepping stone to this point. Red November is the perfect fit.

RO: And then Bino, the violin player who somehow makes playing the violin seem about 50 times cooler than it's ever been.

R: Bino can only be defined as the essence of cool. His unique plucking technique adds an element unlike any other to Red November. Let's not even begin to talk about his clothing style. Bino steps on stage like a violin superman with his trenchcoat acting as his cape. He's a very stylish dresser, that's for sure, but he does sometimes like to get naked during practice, which is a little scary for all of us.

RO: And it's all fronted by Crow, who's kind of like a cross between Bono (the glasses while he sings), The Edge (the hat) and Patrick Swayze during Point Break (the wounded, introspective spirit). You can see how it's a lot to take in, thematically speaking.

R: It's hard to label Crow. He's the quiet, sensitive type onstage, but when the lights go up and the glasses go on he's a rock czar. He's a very loyal and easy going friend and bandmate. He plays simple music but that's what got him signed. He's a good father as well to his daughter Elizabeth, ensuring she will be taken care of the rest of her life by taking on the world with his music.

RO: We understand this may be a bit difficult, so you're totally welcome to pass, but can you all talk about how Melissa played a part in the band's general demeanor and/or existence? We've heard her mentioned briefly, but never got the full story.

Red November, "Lonely"

Red November, "Lonely"

R: Melissa was like a sister to Tommy. One day after leaving class, Tommy, Melissa and other close friends were walking out kidding around as usual. This was the last time they were to ever see Melissa's smile again. Tommy remembers giving her a hard time about her bright red seat covers so obnoxiously displayed on the inside of her car before telling her goodbye. Red was her favorite color.

Two weeks later, in November of 1999, she was found murdered. As a tribute to that tragic day, Tommy was inspired to not only memorialize his friend by song, but also by naming the band none other than Red November. Her memory lives on every day, and "November" is sung for her in every set to make sure of it.

Get all of your Red November info at www.myspace.com/rednovember.

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Shea Serrano