Because Houston is filled with talented, hardworking and likable music people, the odds are good that some of them might one day be mega-famous. We’re talking Beyoncé-like, better-get-a-bodyguard notoriety. From time to time, the Houston Press asks how our local favorites would handle such celebrity.
Brandon Barger is exactly the sort of local we hope will go global. He's seriously talented and hardworking, two traits the world should always associate with Houston. His older brother, Jarett, handed him a bass guitar when Barger was just 13. A year or two of noodling on it and the drums led Barger to his true love. He's been playing guitar nearly ten years now; anyone who's heard him can tell he's devoted many waking hours to the instrument, studying 1970s rock acts that largely inform his own output and mastering the dexterity required to shred in true rock fashion. Onstage, he's got the look — denim jacket with sleeves long departed for the trash bin, herky-jerks coinciding with every lick laid down, and a mane of rock-star hair that would elicit a thumbs up from '70s-era Neal Schon (arguably the all-time champion of rock-and-roll hair).
Barger's skills have been in demand, too. Previously a member of The Wrong Ones and The Guillotines, he now splits time between The Cops and the Killer Hearts, the latter of which opens for Cheetah Chrome's Dead Boys tonight at White Oak Music Hall. Loud, fast rock and roll is Barger's calling card.
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It's more than his obvious talent that makes Barger someone we're be proud to tout as a fellow Houstonian. He's always been quick with a smile and down to chat. He still has a boyish enthusiasm for the music, untainted by industry nonsense. He loves the music community here; you could say he's got a killer heart for it. And he and the bands he aligns with are doing their parts to build bases outside of the city. He says Killer Hearts are in the studio recording a full-length debut due early next year. They have a split with Austin's Trouble Boys coming out on Beluga Records and a four-way split with Hell's Engine, Electric Frankenstein and the U.K.'s Hip Priests releasing on SpeedFreak Records. Barger says The Cops' full-length debut will be out later this year on Artificial Head. The Cops and Killer Hearts both plan to tour in early 2018.
So, what if that frenzy of band activity and his own furious style of playing make Barger mega-famous?
Houston Press: You're returning to Houston as a megastar. Which venue would you select to host your triumphant return show and who is your opening act?
Brandon Barger: I would want to play at Walter's or White Oak Music Hall as I really like both venues a lot. Both have great sound, staff and always take care of you as an artist. Any of my friends' bands would be welcome on the show! So many great bands that I dig...off the top of my head maybe Hell's Engine, The Genzales, Imposter Boys or even Trouble Boys or Cheap Fur.
With great fame comes great fortune. As a member of the wealthy elite, what is the first thing you buy yourself since you are wildly rich?
The first thing I'd buy myself would probably be a 1974 Les Paul custom (laughs). Probably go record shopping, get a sick Chevy or Dodge van that I could deck out and stock the fridge with beer and Slim Jims!
What is the first thing you would buy for someone else with your mega-riches?
The first thing I'd buy for someone else would be a new, nice house for my parents. They've lived in the same old house for 20-plus years and it would feel good to give back to them for dealing with my crazy ass this whole time (laughs).
Local act — just one — you would sign to your label, since you obviously would have one as a global superstar.
Another one where it could be so many different groups. Off the top of my head I'll say Poizon because they're sick, and cool dudes.
Name one Houston celebrity-type person who is not in music that you would make part of your business team and why.
I don't know any celebrities, really. Especially not in music!
What local charity would you align with as a super-powerful, super-influential, super-famous person and why?
I would align myself with some of the Hurricane Harvey relief organizations, obviously, if I had a large amount of money to donate. I know so many good people and friends that have lost their homes, cars, music equipment, everything. I've been trying to help some of them out as much as I can.
When people ask how you got so gosh darn famous, what would be your standard answer?
Rock and roll. Repeat. Don't ever count out the Possum!
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You're asked to invest in any Houston-based company, enterprise or franchise. Which do you select, if any, and why?
I'd probably invest in a venue or a local record shop, as those are things close to my heart. Can't let live music die, right? Oh, or probably a good local burger spot! As those are just as close to my heart!
Answer either but not both of these questions: Who is the first fellow famous celebrity you'd seek an audience with since your fame would now have you rubbing elbows with celebrities; or, which exotic animal would you purchase as a prized pet with your big bucks?
I would get a big backyard/grazing field and buy a buffalo. His name would be Phil. And we'd ride into the sunset.
What do you think would be the worst thing about being ridiculously famous, and what would your plan be to manage this quandary?
I imagine the worst thing would be not getting to spend adequate amounts of time with your family and loved ones. I'd definitely try and make a point to balance out my time and affairs so no one would feel left out.
Catch Barger in action tonight with The Killer Hearts, opening for Cheetah Chrome's Dead Boys at White Oak Music Hall, 2915 North Main. The Toasters and Satanic Overlords of Rock N Roll will play too. Doors open at 8 p.m., all ages, $17.