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? Handsomebeast, who have been kicking around Houston venues like Notsuoh full-time since 2013, strike us as one of the most likely bands in town to describe themselves as a "collective." As heard on their album Estilo Gacho (stream it here via Bandcamp), theirs is a sound created by serious musos whose principal purpose is to get people to move; the music made by these self-admitted "space-rock bump-n-grinders" has the side effect of sounding like it's coming from a lot more people than there actually are. But at the moment the band is made up of only four human beings, who by their own admission are tapped into some pretty universal shit.
"We strive to make music that can cause ripples of emotion in the brains of fellow humans," an HB spokesman explains by email. "Being our strongest and most meaningful connection to the universe and its natural mystic power, music influences our lives in such a way that we produce our own sounds and collection of frequencies for others to hear and experience. We like to share."
Whoa...pass some of that over here, please. Currently Handsomebeast is a finalist in the "Battle of the Bands" contest sponsored by the Silver Jeans Co. and FADER magazine, competing for a chance to win a trip to New York to record a demo and 500 "vinyls" of said demo that will be sold in Silver Jeans stores nationwide, plus a writeup in FADER. Voting ends Friday night, and due to some kind of glitch earlier this week, HB is running second behind some L.A. outfit. Won't you help 'em out by voting here?
Home Base: Booking agents, process servers and anyone else looking for Handsomebeast can find them at King Benny's House of Hits on the Eastside, which they describe as "our own recording studio and rehearsal space where we produce local acts and friends' music from the love in our hearts." That's where they did Estilo Gacho before having it mastered at 226 Recordings in the Heights.
"If you're interested in checking out some of the stuff we've recorded, just Google King Benny Productions and listen to the rawness," HB adds.
Good War Story: In which Handsomebeast tells us about one of the spontaneous shows they "organized" (quotation marks theirs):
It's not that we prefer throwing this type of show, but we have at times found ourselves at a loss of resources or with some sort of time conflict. When confronted with this type of situation, we won't just sit on our asses like blue-balled boners. The show must go on. We got all this energy that NEEDS to get out, so we make it happen.
A great example is our going-away show in New Orleans. We got double-booked and had all these college kids ready to see us play. So, after failing to negotiate with the venue, we organized a way to break into our college basement and play the show anyway. We asked our friends and fans to bring all available lamps and extension cords to the basement of the student center and we played a very hyped "underground" show.
Everyone could feel the energy of our struggle and joined in. It became one of those special connections between a band and an audience where the whole room, the lighting, the people, and the timing, felt like one unified thing.
Everyone -- around 50 plus people -- was crammed in this conference room below our cafeteria for one last memorable pelvic thrusting. And it was awesome.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "Well, the heat alone is unique and stimulating for people that like getting downright nasty," HB explains. "The refineries also provide an incomparable scent for some parts of the city. Also, the size of the city is immense and fruited with angry driving."
Seriously though (we think?), HB admits they've thought about leaving for L.A. or New Orleans, but at the end of the day are small-business owners with a growing enterprise in Houston who try to live by the creed "it is never really where you are that matters, it is what you're doing." Solid.
Story continues on the next page.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Closed-mindedness, sounds like.
"Many Houston venues don't understand that live music draws so many new people to their establishments and bring them new business," Handsomebeast says. "This mentality, we believe, hinders any new scenes from occurring because only known and established styles are permitted to play.
"That being said, many establishments believe in a pay to play type of arrangement," they continue. "We understand that every show might not be a full house, but at least give the band gas money for exposing their souls onstage for your customers!!!"
Five Desert Island Discs: "Well, I think it would only be fair if each member got to choose their personal album, and then one collectively for the band," says the Beast. Fair enough...
- Amy Winehouse, Frank (Nick Serena, singer)
- Robert Fripp & Brian Eno, Evening Star (Peewee Ruiz, guitar/bass)
- Animals as Leaders, Animals as Leaders (Carlos Ortiz, drummer)
- Fugazi, End Hits (Jaykubb Rodriguez, bass/drums)
- Parliament-Funkadelic, Clones of Dr. Funkenstein (whole band)
Best Concert You Ever Saw: "We have each seen amazing shows from national acts ranging in every genre in a wide range of venues, but Houston's own Muddy Belle brings the soul-melting blues every show," the band says. "We have had a close connection with these guys since the early formation of their band, and they only continue to amaze us with their unique Texas blues-rock grit. Check them out at AvantGarden on a Thursday and tell us you don't agree.
First Song You Fell In Love With: "As a band growing up in the '90s, it is only right to say 'Give It Away' by The Red Hot Chili Peppers," HB reflects. "You can feel the sexual funk juices pouring out of that four-piece band of brothers. Plus the video is hilarious and chrome."
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and a link to the Rocks Off 100, on the next page.
THE ROCKS OFF 200
DJ Squincy Jones, "If It Jams, I Play It!" DJ B*Ryte, From VA To H-Town With Love Jess Walker, the Pride of Pride Houston Phil Peterson, AR*V All-Star John Janatsch, Mayor of Houston Rock City Frank Ortiz, Synth-Pop Served Perfectly frank. Optimo Ram, Online Radio Jefe Meagan Chambers, Don't Gag Her Gorgeous Guitar Justin Nava, the Voice of thelastplaceyoulook Donnie Houston, Halftime Entertainment Chase Harris, Deep Cuts' Rather Deep Thinker Dave Callier, Grindcore Guitar God Mlee Marie Mains, the Heart of Hearts of Animals DJ Navo, Bombón's Boundless Body-Mover Breelan Angel, Dirty Little Secret Keeper Michael Dauzat, Sr., a Rabbi and a Hate Nick Greer, a G Among G's Chingo Bling, H-Town's Own Versace Mariachi Quenton Rockwell, Melody Man in the Shiny Darks Southerland Nights, An Army of Accolades Stacy Hartoon, Rudz's Punk-Rock Heir Apparent Bowen Lyons, Keeper of the Trimms' Groove Chris Gore, Electronica Guru of BLSHS John Alton, the Madness of Cosmic Bug Loaf Reko Trill, of the Almighty Trill Brothers Jo Bird, Bow-Caster of Fiddle Witch & the Demons of Doom DJ Nando1, Who Fights to Keep the Party Poppin' Randall Hopkins, Featherface Drummer and Brilliant Video Director Roby Deaton, Open-Mike Pocket of Cool Nosaprise, Hurrah! for the Blushing Bridegroom Tony Vega, the Big Easy's Barnburner Leslie Krafka, Onward Through the Fog Michael Anthony Shanks, Houston's Merry Shankster DJ Baby Roo, Vegetarian Hip-Hop Veteran Rachel Bays, Filming Them Softly Punk-Rock "Newcomers" Screech of Death Erin Rodgers, the Keys to Glass the Sky Alex LaRotta, Crate-Digging Fistful of Soul Brother Alycia Miles, Triumphant Soul Singer DJ Piam, Poison Girl's Bacon-Fat Funk Specialist Mister Insane, Host of The Insane Show Jake Rawls -- Kemo For Emo Is Back Santos Pastrana, Sound Engineer and DJ Ninja Heading Upstream with RIVERS' Chris Tamez DJ Dayta, Keeper of That Good Good Matthew Davis Buehrer, Runaway Sun's Globally Thinking Bassist Fat Tony, Third Ward to "BKNY" Noon, Rapper With a Lot on His Mind Matt Cash, Clear Lake's Cassette Tape Wailer Jason Smith, Alkari's Space City Rocker DJ Penetrate, All Lit Up in "Neon Lights" Catch Fever Is Catching On Renée Jonard, Princess of Noise Pollution Junior Gordon, Big Man With a Big Sound Chad Smalley, Blaggards' Barse Player Damien Randle, K-OTIX Man of Action Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man DJ Good Grief Knows How to Have Fun Robert Kuhn, the Well-Traveled Islander Gunnar Cushway, Insko's Feel-Good Utilityman 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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