The Rocks Off 200

The Rocks Off 200: Gunnar Cushway, Insko's Feel-Good Utilityman

Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, 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 previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Who? Everything about Insko feels like a lazy dream. It's a strummy, indie sort of sound that slows the heart and opens the mind to gentler thoughts. Taylor Harper has a light, but powerful voice that frames each word and thought like a cloud drifting through an azure sky, but it's grounded by the journeyman guitars and incidental instrumentation of his mate Gunnar Cushway.

His presence is always hovering in the background, painting the songs with little strokes of emphasis and solidity. Guitar, bass, drums, light keys, vocals -- whatever a song needs he's on it. His approach to music is very artistic, always questioning a song's message and which instrument will clearest express that message. The result is terribly honest tunes that feel like they've been signed like a painter signs a masterpiece. I'm very much looking forward to their debut LP from NoisePodium Records later this year.

Home Base: Insko grew out of a night spent drinking and singing, and the band's writing process reflects that genesis. Cushway writes his work wherever the fancy takes him and flushes it whenever he's next in the presence of his bandmates. The stage he likes best in the city is Fitzgerald's, which he refers to as a "home posing as a venue with expensive drinks."

Why Do You Stay In Houston? "There's this music scene here that's emergent and fresh but also somewhat close-knit and familiar," he says. "Plus it's home."

Good War Story: "It's difficult conjuring up a good 'war story' from a career that's essentially nonexistent," Cashway admits. "On the other hand, I've dealt with your typical hardships faced as a musician: stolen equipment, disputing with venue management for the agreed compensation, having our sets cut short, etc. 'The essentials.'"

Story continues on the next page.

Five Desert Island Discs:

  • John Lennon, John Lennon
  • Arcade Fire, Reflektor
  • Daft Punk, Random Access Memories
  • The Unicorns, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone?
  • Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavillion

Best Show You've Ever Seen: "Explosions in the Sky at FPSF the first year [2009]," Cashway reflects. "Their set coupled with the sun setting over that perfect view of the Houston skyline from the natural amphitheatre was just immaculate."

First Song You Fell In Love With: Beck, "Loser" -- "As a little kid I referred to it as 'The Monkey Song' and would ask my parents to play it every time I got in the car," says Cushway.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

See the rest of the Rocks Off 200 and a link to the Rocks Off 100 on the next page.


Mario Rodriguez, Tax the Wolf/Bang Bangz's Wonky Power Monger John Smith, Goodtime Continental Club Manager Dwayne Cathey, A Good Man to Scare People With Walter Carlos, Guitar-Punisher of Funeral Horse Ryan James, Putting Up a Good Fight John Cramer, Guitar Apostle of Project Grimm Big Gerb, Houston's Hongree-est MC Steven Higginbotham, Hard-Working Wheel Worker Alisha Pattillo & Her Swaggering, Soulful Sax Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator The Excitable Boys of Another Run Flash Gordon Parks, DJ as Funky Professor DJ Main Event, Kratez Crew JumpOff Man Odd Hours and Back to Back's Hank Doyle Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock) DJ Damon Allen, R.O.C.O. Fellow Tom Lynch, New Kid On the Block Ashley Worhol, Goth-Metal Queen of Katy Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense Marzi Montazeri, the Man Dimebag Darrell Called a Bad Motherfucker John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast Homegrown Cowboy Crooner Charles Peters Adam Bricks, NYC Expat Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton Kyra Noons, Houston's Reggae Sunsplash DJ AudiTory, the Maestro of LuvItMane The Nephilim Terror's Death-Metal Growler Danny Carroll Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass The Bailout Bureau's Mysterious "Bob Bovary" DJ Twinkle-Toes, Won a "Dick-Measuring Vinyl Orgy" With Two iPods Beanz N Kornbread, Gmail-Loving Production Duo You(genious), Party Crasher Turned Musical Auteur Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC



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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner