The Rocks Off 200: John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast

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Who? I stumbled across Only Beast simply because of their name and instantly became enamored of their dynamic and incredible front woman Danielle Renee and the sheer raw power of the rock and roll that comes pouring out of her throat. Let's turn our attention now to another key ingredient in the duo's roiling seas of sound, drummer John Salinas.

The man is like some sort of ordered chaos who beats up and down the sides of songs in a whirlwind of rhythm that always feels like its on the verge of falling apart, the way a death-defying trapeze act does. It never falls, though. Salinas keeps the beat and keeps it strong.

He's got a pretty normal background for a Houston drummer. Like most of them he was a full-on band geek back in high school, picking percussion over a wind instrument because of his asthma. He was already being asked to provide drums in garage bands in San Antonio before he was even out of middle school.

Salinas moved to Houston and eventually formed several progressive instrumental partnerships with Pete Bernick, but it was when they decided that they needed a singer that Only Beast was finally completed with Renee. That's not the only thing that was completed either; the duo is currently engaged.

Stylistically, Salinas is all over the place. His kit is huge, and a fan once dubbed it "The Island of Misfit Toys." The constantly evolving combination of odd accessories makes it really hard to pin down, and you never know if he was listening to a lot of death metal as a kid or too much jazz. It's just weird and wonderful when he sits down.

Home Base: Only Beast makes their regular rehearsal home at Rock Center, where Salinas and Bernick have been practicing together for donkey's years. Salinas feels that it's important to have a space away from home where your creativity can flow, and likes the way the various bands at Rock Center mind their own business.

For performance his favorite venue is Notsuoh. In his opinion it's really underrated as a music venue, and has the most attentive crowds.

Music Scene Pet Peeve: If you want to get on Salinas' bad side then fadoodle around onstage and don't be prompt to make way for other bands on the bill. Like most drummers, his setup is not an easy or quick, which is why he assembles and disassembles them offstage so as to make changes between bands faster. Loiterers and those not hip to the idea of efficiency and courtesy drive him crazy.

Good War Story: "We got invited to play a show in Austin. When we showed up, we found it was actually a restaurant that was a hosting musical event," Salinas says. "There were people eating everywhere and next to the stage was a table that had two small children, at another booth was an elderly couple enjoying their meal.

"We definitely had an 'oh shit!' moment," he says. "Our music is quite loud and not exactly family-friendly, so we weren't really sure how things were going to go. I think they liked it, I gave one of the kids my drumsticks afterwards, and the grandma in the booth raised her hand and gave Danielle the devil horns..."

Story continues on next page.

Why Stay in Houston: "It's become my home. I love it here," he says. "I also believe that greater things can happen in the local Houston music scene. Also, Houston is a part of Only Beast. Our music comes from and is influenced by this city. If we lived somewhere else, it might be a different band."

Five Desert Island Discs:

  • Pearl Jam, Vitalogy
  • Dave Brubeck Quartet, Time Further Out
  • Nine Inch Nails, The Fragile
  • Bjork, Homogenic
  • Tool, Aenima

Best Show Ever:: "Our CD release party was pretty rad. We played with our favorite Houston band (Devil Killing Moth) and had a full night where we played every one of our songs. With typical set times being around 30 to 45 minutes, we always have to cut a few songs out of our set. Apart from that, my brothers surprised me by coming into town for the show and we partied with all our lovely friends and the rad crew at Notsuoh."

First Song You Fell in Love With: "John Mellencamp, 'Jack and Diane'"

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 the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.


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


Crystal Toliver, Source of That Yello Echo You Hear Mr. Castillo, Song-Sniping DJ DJ Big Reeks, The Chief Waxaholic Melane Gutierrez, The Coffin Queen Folk Descendent Kevin Taylor Kendrick Eloy Contreras, Deathrazor's Sharp Thrash Vocals Robert McCarthy, Guitarist From Beyond Justice Tirapelli-Jamail, The Manichean's "Quiet One" Charlie Horshack, LP4's Guitar Warrior Kathryn Hallberg, Little Girl Gone Tessa Kole, PuraPharm's Voice and Vice Richard Griesser, Vintage Camera Hound With Enviable Archive Downfall 2012, Sci-Fi Metal Storytellers Kevin Choate, Drum Like You're Screaming DJ Rockwell, Booth Pimp and Party-Rocker Ash Kay, the Freakouts' Punk Vocal Head-Butt Pat Kelly, The Godfather of the Suffers Michelle Miears of BLSHS, Siren In the Machine DJ Remix, Genre-Hopping Mix Maniac Kahna, Brutal Nation's Metal Booking Queen DJ Ill Set, Enemy of Wack Tracks Shane Tuttle, Updog Owner and Album-Cover Designer Electric Attitude, Renegades of Funk Sama'an Ashrawi, Trill Gladiator Recon Naissance, A Rap While Matt's Guitar Gently Weeps DJ Klinch Asks, "Can You Dig It?" Jose "Chapy" Luna, Percussionist Con Corazón Love Dominique, Wicked Heart R&B Chanteuse Chris Gerhardt, Mastermind of Giant Battle Monster The Jobe Wilson Band, the Boys From Chambers County Kimberly M'Carver, Missouri City's Nightingale DJ Panchitron, Stirring the Cumbia/Moombahton Melting Pot D.R.I's Kurt Brecht, Thrash Zone Supervisor Sloan Robley, The Last Houstonian Banshee Jack Saunders, Dealer of Grit & Jangle Richard Ramirez, Noise God and Black Leather Jesus Mike Meegz, Scoremore's Houston Lieutenant Jacqui Sutton, Houston's "Jazzgrass Lady" Robin Kirby, Silk and Sandpaper Songwriter Billy Dorsey, Grammy-Winning MARATHON Runner David DeLaGarza, Don of Tejano Stars La Mafia Jason Puffer, Your Psychedelic Sex Panther Tobin Harvell, Fitzgerald's Unflappable Floor Manager Walter Suhr, the Straw That Stirs Mango Punch! Tony Garza, La Orquesta Salmerum Founder OG Ron C, Chopstar King of the Purple Dome Football, etc., Giving Emo Back Its Good Name Angela Jae, Renaissance Artist Shellee Coley, Voice of the Northern Woods Blaggards, Houston's St. Paddy's Day House Band DJ Meshak, Hongree Records' Sound Selecter K-Rino, South Park Coalition's Southside Maven DJ Candlestick, One Niceguy and a Very Busy DJ Danielle Renee, Only Beast's Destroyer of Walls 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


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