The Rocks Off 100: Danielle Renee, Only Beast's Destroyer of Walls

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

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. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Who? Drummer John Salinas and guitarist Peter Bernick spent several years working together in various instrumental bands before deciding to try working with a vocalist. Who they got was Danielle Renee, a waify ball of fire with a huge voice able to match Bernick's Cure-ish guitar wail and the progressive thunder of Salinas's drums.

Only Beast is still working toward their first album, and the only way to get a good look at them is through YouTube videos or, you know, actually going out to see them, but the band clearly has some rock potential and an ability to shine through amateur recordings.

Onstage, Renee is a whirl of motion, dashing toward an audience with a mess of hair in her face, voice always on the edge of a break but never quite going over it. Even in slower numbers like "90 Minutes," she uses every beat in a dance-like gesture while waltzing through her range in a style resembling Linda Perry on questionable substances.

It'll be a real treat to hear her in a studio setting rather than just conducting the riot in front of her.

Home Base: Only Beast, a three-piece, has the honor of renting the smallest space available at Rock Center. You can catch them live onstage at Rudyard's, Fitzgerald's or literally any place they can find a place to load in.

Good War Story: "Well, the guys immediately voted for 'The Time a Wall Fell Down While We Were Onstage,' so I guess we'll go with that one," says Renee.

For this particular show, the boys had set up on either side of me, so we were all about the same distance from the crowd. We had just started playing the last song of the set when an entire panel full of rusty electrical junk fell over and pinned me to the floor.

So you know, John jumps over his drums, Pete throws down his guitar and they have it off of me before anyone in the crowd can react. I'm told I was unconscious for maybe 15, 20 seconds at the most? So it really wasn't a big deal at all. I collected myself, assured everyone that I felt fine and we finished the set. I think we started the song over.

I actually don't remember a whole lot about that night, but I remember getting a tetanus shot the next day. The doctor was looking at me kind of funny, checking me for concussions or whatever. 'Where did all this bruising come from?' 'Oh, my band had a gig last night.'

It was something that I was sure would be forgotten in a week, but every time we play that venue, someone always brings it up. Usually it's the bartender. That guy is never going to let me live it down.

Why do You Stay in Houston? "Houston is awesome," she says. "There are these pockets of progressive life, these secret little places full of adventure. We live in the Montrose area; it's got everything a musician could want: parks, museums, great bars, great restaurants...plus, it's close to the Heights and the downtown area, so there are plenty of gigs in our immediate vicinity. There's also a small population of radical individuals here, and that's who we end up connecting with the most."

Music Scene Pet Peeve: "We're more about focusing on solutions rather than problems," says Renee. "You have to take the good with the bad, and while keeping a positive attitude is difficult sometimes, it's essential to our survival.

"There are a lot of musicians here in Houston, plenty of street artists and clothing designers and writers and painters and dancers and everything, but what makes it special is that there's an air of collaboration rather than competition," she adds. "That's what we want to focus on, and that's what we hope to reflect."

Five Desert Island Discs:

Quasi, American Gong

Clutch, Clutch

The Cure, Disintegration

The Kills, Blood Pressures

Amy Winehouse, Back to Black

First Song You Ever Fell in Love with: "Just Like Heaven," says Renee of the '80s classic from The Cure's Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. "It might sound corny, but it's a song that my mother played over and over throughout my childhood; as I grew older and began to experience more of what that song was really about, the emotions that came along with it were enhanced rather than diluted, which is rare for me.

"To this day, just the beginning of that song makes me want to scream and dance and laugh," she adds. "I can't hear it without wanting to sing it at the top of my lungs."

Only Beast plays the Continental Club Friday, March 8, with Easy Credit and the Upside.

See who else has joined The Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.


Felipe Galvan of Los Skarnales

Kristine Mills, Houston's Brassiest Voice

Brian Davis, Punk Drummer, Horror Composer

Elroy Boogie, Top-Notch Turntablist

Sean Ozz, Wizard of The Abyss

Alyssa Rubich, Angel of Instability

Alphonso "Fonz" Lovelace, Righteous Drummer

Frank Zweback, Funkmaster General

OG Bobby Trill, Bombon Beatmaker

Beau Beasley, Organist for the End of Time

Rapid Ric, Mixtape Mechanic

Dwight Taylor Lee, the Wandering Bufalero

Coline Creuzot, Soulful Pop/R&B Singer

Cristina Acuna, Cactus Music's Twitter Fingers

Clint Broussard, Blues In Hi-Fi Man Now Back On FM

Nortnii Rose, Houston Ska's Greatest Hope

Ramblin' Chase Hamblin, the Man Who Will Be Paid

Chris Alonzo, Bringing Night Flight to Facebook

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.