The American Heist Steal Houston's Punk-Rock Hearts

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 sheaserrano@gmail.com.

This week we're sipping from the diamond-crested HPMA chalice with The American Heist, one of the city's finest punk bands and proprietors of an uncountable number of black T-shirts.

There's really not a lot to be said about the band other than that the music - a blistering, grumbly-voiced tornado of sound - will make you either want to run really, really fast or punch someone square in their head. Surprisingly, that is sort of the Heist's intention.

Oh, and they also manage to successfully incorporate a harmonica into their sound, an absolutely unexpected yet enjoyable treat. It's like learning that when your new girlfriend sneezes marshmallows fall out of her nose.

So we reached out and got a few minutes with drummer Carl Chambless to talk about punching things, a certain Rocks Off staff member, Alicia Silverstone and the armed forces. Enjoy.

Rocks Off: To what situation would you say your music would serve as the perfect soundtrack? Like, you obviously wouldn't listen to it to while you made love to a woman (unless you were Craig Hlavaty). When is the ideal time to listen to your music? When you're smashing windows of buildings? Filming a skateboard video?

Carl Chambless: Smashing things always works... unless your jamming an Air Supply album. Two of my favorite tracks of ours, "No Mercy" and "Turfwar," would be the ideal bar fight song. I can just picture people getting their faces smashed to either of those.

RO: Speaking of, do you all know who Craig Hlavaty is? He's one of the big dogs around here. You look a slightly-more-likely-to-murder-you version of him. That's an important interview topic, definitely.

CC [laughs]: Yeah, Craig's a great dude and makes it out to our shows on occasion. But, yes, I definitely have what people would call an anger problem and I always have. I do enjoy the occasional fistfight, though. It's such a great way to get out some aggression... you know, punching some random person in the face.

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RO: In your ".22" song, there's a section where you talk first about missing your baby and missing your wife, then follow that up with talk about killing people and letting God sort them out. Would you say that the dichotomy of those two lines represents the band's complexity and intellectual and emotional depth, or is it just proof positive that you guys are completely bonkers?

CC: ".22" is actually about what we feel most of those serving our country are feeling or have felt. Everyone knows that homesick feeling, but not like these soldiers do. You can miss your loved ones, but in the end, you know that you need to do whatever it takes to make it home to them.

Some of our friends and family are currently serving and we see the toll it takes on them and their loved ones. It's kind of our homage to all of them.

RO: Is Tim's last name really "Blackout"? Because that would just be stellar. Or is something like Gleinke? Oh God, please don't let his last name be Gleinke.

CC: Sorry to let everyone down, but his last name is not Blackout. But to be honest with you, if I had a last name like his, I'd change mine too. Tim got dubbed with that when he [was] in Johnny Switchblade and the Blackouts with our guitar player, L.J.

RO: We heard a rumor on the Hands Up Houston message board that L.J. has some insane obsession with that Alicia Silverstone movie from the '90s, Clueless. Please tell us that's true. And if it's not, please explain why. We mean, it's excellent. Is there any way we could convince you guys to write and perform a song about it, kinda like how that one band did with David Arquette?

CC: Once again, not true. Although, who didn't have a thing for the '90s Alicia Silverstone? He's always been a fan of the Batman Returns-era Drew Barrymore though. And of course, we can write a song about either of those.

See 2010 HPMA Best Punk nominee The American Heist at the HPMA showcase 2:55 p.m. Saturday, August 7, at Walter's on Washington at . Their label, Cutthroat Records, is nominated for Best Local Label. The Heist's record-release show is Saturday, September 4, at Rudyard's.

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