Artist of the Week: Without a Face

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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 introducingliston@gmail.com.

We have a general rule that we adhere regarding the classification of a band’s legitimacy: A band must contain no less than three members, lest they be considered lame, and no more than five members, lest they be considered a creepy religious-rock family "collective."

Mind you, this being a general rule, there are exceptions. Duos the White Stripes and Gil Mantera’s Party Dream come to mind. And local acts Come See My Dead Person and Hueston Independent Spit District have about 25 members between the two of them, and they’re both lots of fun. But it’s not often that you find a one man band – “mand,” we’ve dubbed them - that isn’t garbage. You need look no further than

Google Images

to see that.

You can imagine our surprise, then, when we came across Henry Dillard, who performs as Without A Face, a little more than a year ago. Now, to be clear, he was part of an actual band that was well within our aforementioned regulations back then, but his band eventually disbanded and he kept the name for himself. We suppose that, in his totality, he’s not a “mand” in the most organic sense of the word but, still, it’s pretty friggin' close.

We got some time Without A Face and had him answer a few questions for us regarding his mandom, lactose intolerancy, his mom and the merits of “Butterfly Kisses.”

Rocks Off: So, Without A Face, we want to know: why the band name if there's only one of you? That may or may not be as douchey as referring to yourself in the third person, or, worse yet, the editorial "we."

Without A Face: My page did refer to me in third person for a bit; I think one section still does. It's hard to explain, but ultimately I'm quite uncomfortable with my own name being a "brand." There's plenty of solo artists that make music under different names; mostly electronic and rap artists. So if I eventually make electronic or rap songs I'll already have a stupid stage name.

RO: That's smart to think ahead like that. You've got a nice little ditty titled "Lactose Intolerance." Are you, in fact, lactose intolerant? Or are you like one of those rappers that claims to be from the hood, but is really from the Heights?

WAF: Basically, I'm a phony corporate sellout. I am not lactose intolerant, but I sympathize with those that are lactose intolerant. I feel the lactose-intolerant community has been discriminated against for far too long, and that I can make a few bucks by feigning sympathy for them. Soy milk shouldn't be regulated anyway.

RO: Ah, okay. So you're like the Sarah McLachlan of dairy digestive deficiencies?.

WAF: Sure, you could say I'm like her. I look like Sinead O'Connor when I buzz my hair, though. In the defense of Heights-area rappers; I could care less if one's music is truly autobiographical or not. Johnny Cash didn't actually kill anyone (I don't think). So let the Heights-area rappers claim they're from the hood; it makes their music more enjoyable.

HP: Tell us a little about this upcoming show you have. Seems like it might be a big deal.

WAF: It'll be a big deal if people decide to attend. It's at Anderson Fair this coming Thursday [October 16, aka tomorrow]. I believe the doors open at 8 p.m. and it'll cost five buckaroos. A couple of other cats named Jon Vezner, Ken Gaines and Wayne Wilkerson will be performing. We'll be taking turns every three or four songs. What's cool for me is I'll be playing most of the songs that I'm considering to include on my forthcoming CD, Worst Debut Album Ever.

Without a Face in more populous times

RO: The first time we ever saw you perform was about a year ago at the Hometown Showdown at Warehouse Live. This was back when Without A Face were still a band. During the show, we couldn't help but notice that a section of ya'll's cheering section was a group of older women. We also couldn't help talking to them. They told us that they were y'all's moms. Now that the band has broken up, do the moms still support you? Does your mom go to your shows? This all seems pertinent, somehow.

WAF: I like the usage of "y'all" in your question. God Bless Texas and God Save George Bush. POLITICAL RANT FOR THE WIN! Yeah, that's one thing I noticed about my band and many other local bands in general; there's a lot of biased support. After I broke up the band, I told momma, "Let's see how many strangers decide they like my music this time." Ever since then I've been playing as often as I possibly can, and now I've got a little over 200 strangers on my email list. Once I've got 10,000 strangers on it I'll feel validated as an artist.

RO: Why exactly did the band break up? We assume heroin was involved. That typically tends to be the case.

WAF: Heroin was definitely involved. Bleach too. Don't ever mix those things together or you'll end up clinically dead. After I was given UPS by the paramedics, my band members told me that they "wanted out."

RO: UPS? The paramedics delivered a package to you?

WAF: Yeah, I think so. It was the guy driving a UPS truck that had given me CPR, while the paramedics gave me a package with a note saying "Sorry we didn't save your life. Houston's a hard city to navigate through, man." I guess the other band members were jealous about that.

This fake story makes absolutely no sense, so here's real talk: mainly I just had a rough month in October '06, and I knew that the other guys saw music as a hobby whereas I'd like to make a living off of it since it's my passion. I realized that it was time to get more serious about what I wanted to do while I'm still alive.

HP: Whoa. Did you just say "real talk"? Who are you, Young Jeezy?

WAF: We white kids generally take our social and philosophical cues from hip-hop nowadays. You can't argue with Tupac when he says "Don't be a playa' hata', be a innovata'." It's sort of like a modern "Love your neighbor as yourself" statement, but more gangsta'.

HP: Let's say you could punch any two musicians not named [Nickelback singer] Chad Kroeger in the face. Who would they be, and why?

WAF: Kevin Federline, and it's not because his music is even worse than Nickelback's. My main beef with K-Fed is he didn't ruin Britney Spears' career like I thought he had. I don't even find her attractive anymore despite her recent music video; but I still respect her as a human being. I'd only attend her concert if I didn't have to actually listen to her music. I'd maybe play her in a game of rock-paper-scissors, though.

HP: We've always felt that rock-paper-scissors was far too impractical. It drastically overestimates the power of paper. If we ever have to participate in a no-holds-barred fight to the death and the only weapons we could choose from were a rock, some paper, and a pair of scissors - which will probably happen any day now - you can bet your sweet ass we're not going with paper. If it was a paper-airplane-making contest, though, that'd be a different story.

WAF: Michael Bolton, this guy should've come up with some kind of dumb stage name like I did. Anyone who jokingly pretends to be Michael Bolton or even looks like him would probably get punched in the face. If he made his music under the name of "iSuck," at least people would say "iSuck sucks" instead of "Michael Bolton sucks." Who am I kidding, though? I love "Butterfly Kisses" or whatever that song of his is called.

HP: Yeah, well, “Butterfly Kisses,” is a given. It’s beautiful. Have you ever serenaded a girl to gain her affection? Seems like something every acoustician has done at one point or another. If you have, did it work?

WAF: Ultimately, my philosophy is "Don't play music to pick up chicks." Granted, I have broken that rule twice in the last five or so years, which does make me semi-douchey. Once it worked and once it didn't. I trust in the laws of attraction and repulsion when it comes to "affection."

I mean, shoot, this past weekend a very pretty woman told me that I was smart and that I looked like a young Leonardo DiCaprio (which is very incorrect). I don't know why she said those things, but of course it made me feel great. She wouldn't have even known that I played music had my friend not mentioned it to her. - Shea Serrano

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