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? For better or worse, I can't answer that question. Like Houston's most famous recluse, Jandek, The Bailout Bureau refused to divulge details about his true identity to me. When pressed for a name, he told me just to refer to him as "Bob Bovary."
Bovary, whose project the Bailout Bureau is a one-man tour de force of post-punk and experimental weirdness, quietly began uploading music to Bandcamp in early 2012, but has been honing his craft in his bedroom since his teenage years.
"When I was younger, I was involved in a horrific accident that wiped out any hope of playing sports again; it left me with little to do than screw around with the electric guitar I'd begged my parents for," he explains. "I accumulated all sorts of gear and experimented with MIDI, pedals, different DAWs, etc."
"I even had music on iTunes at one point. Thank God no one will ever find it," he says, piling on a bit more mystery.
Home Base: Bovary's magic happens in a pretty unexpected place: a tiny, vintage bedroom circa 1939. Hipsters the world round salivate, no doubt. His work develops only there, however, as he tells me that his favorite favorite venue is the internet.
Asked to elaborate, he explains, "that way all the songs are carefully mixed, packaged, and uploaded exactly how I want you to hear them. Total control."
He also quells any hopes of hearing his music on stage in the future. "I hate playing live. I wish I loved it, and I wish I were good at it, but I'm not."
Why Do You Stay In Houston? In what seems to be an unfortunate rarity, Bovary is not a Houston native. He came for the job market and low cost of living, then stayed for the arts.
"I had no idea how vibrant a culture I would find here," he remembers, with a bit of reverence. "I love this city. There's absolutely nothing pretentious about it, and at the same time, it's home to some of the weirdest, most fearless, experimental artists and musicians I've ever met."
More with The Bailout Bureau on the next page.
Good War Story: "Well, the few times I've played live have all been pretty horrible," says Bovary. "One time, I was playing live to a very small room, and I got about a minute into a song before I realized that I hadn't finished writing it yet."
He mentions the one time it went right was at Nostuoh two years ago, where what came through the PA actually sounded like it did in his head.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Bovary's frustration stems from local musicians who are offended by people not coming out to their shows. He mentions all sorts of reasons for low attendance, including demanding jobs and kids, and wishes that the scene would take that into account more.
"It's not because they hate your paranoid ass or don't support local music," he chastises. "Life is not that simple. Get over yourselves."
Five Desert Island Discs:
- The Who, Live at Leeds
- Wire, Pink Flag
- Brian Eno, Here Come the Warm Jets
- Tom Waits, Rain Dogs
- Jandek, Blue Corpse
First Song You Fell In Love With: Bovary cites Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding," noting that he heard it around the same time as the tragic death of a childhood friend who was accidentally strangled on a tire swing.
THE ROCKS OFF 200
See the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni on the next page.
THE ROCKS OFF 100 2013 ALUMNI
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
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