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: Richard Kimball plays guitar and sings in one of Houston's finest noise bands, Fiskadoro. Over the years they've released a series of free EPs that have only gotten better and better, including the very dance-worthy Dubai earlier this year. The album dealt with a dystopian future where oil companies rule the world, and we're all just moments away from assassins' bullets. The band's take on music is so mind-altering that I tend to use it to drive away annoyingly square customers at my day job.
The band can be summed up with one sentence... "They released a Christmas album with a song called 'The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia.'" If that doesn't set the scene then I can't help you.
Home Base: Richard is married to Fiskadoro bassist and co-vocalist Jennifer Kimball. The two of them compose their work primarily at their apartment in Lake Jackson over beats and synth lines sent to them by Kirston Lane Otis. When a show is imminent, the trio meet at Otis' house in Houston to practice for shows.
"Our favorite venue these days is the new Walters," says Kimball via email. "It's a beautiful building and we love having Terry do our sound. I also have always liked Mango's because Dunnock really understands what we are trying to accomplish. We haven't played a show there in over a year. Maybe we're banned or something."
Why He Stays in Houston: "We like the sense of dread and desperation," Kimball says. "It's like New York 1985. And it's where our friends are."
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Like a lot of musicians, Kimball wonders why you can get a full house for the Swans or Peter Murphy, but you can't fill up Fitzgerald's for a local show. The fact that folks are willing to shell out and make the effort for national acts at smaller venues, but not pay to check out homegrown talent, which is much cheaper and easier to get into, baffles him.
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Good War Story: "In 1995 I was living in Elizabeth, N.J. and playing in the band parkHORSE," opens Kimball. "We were asked to play a live set on Pat Duncan's WFMU show so we were nervous (pkH hadn't played live at this point) but excited because our friends would be listening to us on the radio.
"The first band that played was this really good punk band from the Lower East Side whose name I have forgotten," he continues. "We were supposed to play next but out of nowhere CJ Ramone showed up with whatever garage band he was in at the time. He insisted on playing so we had no choice but to yield to this sort-of member of The Ramones. He played a really long set, leaving us with ten minutes to make our broadcast debut.
"Ah well, it was probably for the best."
Top 5 Desert Island Discs: The Conet Project: "The idea of Fiskadoro is basically to cover the Conet Project live," says Kimball. "Electrical statics and secret codes. Random numbers and Yamaha pulses. Bouncing it all off of orbiting satellites."
The Clash, Sandinista!: "You could listen to this forever and still hear things you've never heard before; a 36-song triple LP," he explains. "Includes a Mikey Dread song for squeaky toy and matchbox? Yes! I could play this for parties.
The Congos, Heart of the Congos: "The greatest reggae album of all time," Kimball offers. "I enjoy the Blood & Fire reissue. Distant cows and echoing stars. Jah Rasta Far I and faders on the mixing board. Lee Perry produced this.
"Years ago, I was walking down Sixth Avenue in New York," he continues, "and in the distance I saw a man in a long robe with rasta badges, bells and ribbons, pictures, pieces of rock and mirror shards, all pinned to the robe. I knew even before I could make out his face in the sunlight that I was in the presence of Lee Perry."
Frank Sinatra, A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra: "On Side 1 of this record are Christmas songs like "Jingle Bells" and "The Christmas Song,'" says Kimball. "These are the pop songs. On Side 2 he performs traditional carols. This side is absolutely terrifying. In one of the darkest moments in yuletide entertainment history, more desperate even than 'Mr. Kruegar's Christmas.' Sinatra turns Christmas into a day of political despair being driven by class struggle. It says as much about 1957 as it does about 2012.
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"I also should mention that I believe Erika Thrasher of Indian Jewelry was named after Sinatra's September of my Years art director, Mr. Ed Thrasher."
Mark Stewart & Mafia, Learning to Cope with Cowardice: "Mark Stewart's first post-pop group album. This is pre-Tackhead, with members of On-U Sound's Creation Rebel acting as the Mafia, while Stewart prophesies the future and Adrian Sherwood cuts things up and throws the echo down."