Bonus Rocks Off 100: Nortnii Rose, Houston Ska's Greatest Hope

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Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, 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.

Who? Nortnii Rose is the pixie-like guitar player and singer in the experimental ska band Small Dog Syndrome. You might remember her from the time she assured me that there is a doggy hell.

What I didn't realize, in that first cursory glance at her music, is that Rose is an absolutely fearless composer who can take basic ska tropes and make them do things completely outside the realm of the genre in the most amazing of ways. Though the stuff they have over on their Facebook page is decidedly lo-fi, there's a true genius in her writing that is just waiting for some big-money producer to pull out into full focus.

Rose says that when she was 11 years old, she got really into Green Day and decided to begin emulating her new heroes by taking one of her dad's guitars and teaching herself to play and write songs. Since then she's divided her time between Small Dog Syndrome and Vanilla Sugar, with designs on a folk punk act using a washboard as the rhythm section. She's definitely a talent to watch in the coming years.

Home Base: As a dedicated DIYer, Rose prefers to practice and record at her home, and while it leaves me aching for something a bit more controlled, it's clear that as a self-taught engineer, she's not bad at all. When it's time to hit the boards, she enjoys Notsuoh and Super Happy Fun Land, but also the low-key and fun atmosphere of house parties when she can book them.

Good War Story: "When I went on tour with Vanilla Sugar this last October," she says. "It was the most fun I've ever had in my life. First tour also. So this might change in a few years."

Why Do You Stay in Houston? "I stay in Houston because it's my home," explains Rose. "I don't feel like anywhere else could possibly be my home. Houston has everything I need to live, not to mention the awesome people I am friends with or play in a band with."

Music Scene Pet Peeves: "I don't really care for the post-hardcore scene," she admits. "I don't like the music. I've met good people who enjoy and play the music, but I just really don't like the music itself."

Five Desert Island Discs:

  • "That Days n Daze demo that they put out a few months back or so"
  • Green Day, Warning
  • Deadmau5, -->Album Title Goes Here (For determination and exercise against my own dehydration and weakness)
  • The Offspring, Inxnay on the Hombre
  • "Any Bomb the Music Industry! CD"

Best Show Ever: "February 11, 2007, with my first metal band, Hidrolyx," says Rose. "It was a battle of the bands and we won studio time. We were only like 15. It truly was a great feeling. I just loved the crowd's reaction the most."

First Song You Fell in Love With: "No Doubt, 'Hella Good.'"

Small Dog Syndrome plays Fuzzyfest at Super Happy Fun Land on Sunday, January 6, with Troothless, Desert Ratts, Priapism, Freddie Gonorrhea and The Gunz, Hoffle Stoffle Awaffogus, Braindead, Stay At Home Mom, Marissa, and B.C. Walk.


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