The Rocks Off 200

The Rocks Off 200: Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass

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? Tommy Grindle is one of the driving forces behind Houston's own post-hardcore revivalists Square and Compass. Bringing back guitar heroism and heavy-ass riffage, combined with a flavor of '90s emo and alternative, they're one of the few bands in our local scene who haven't been persuaded away by maudlin acoustic guitars, brutal death-metal growling, or electronic synthesizers.

Instead they play something rawer, akin to Texas boys like the dear departed At the Drive-In from El Paso, San Antonio's SOHNS, and our own Black Congress. Grindle got started though on heavier material.

"My older brother was into Iron Maiden and Anthrax, just metal in general," he says. "That made me want to start learning music. I wanted to be as bad ass as Steve Harris."

Much to his mother's dismay, Grindle explains with a laugh, he ended up being one of the few third graders listening to Slayer and Sepultura. After a stint in his fifth-grade orchestra, cutting his chops on the bass, Grindle decided he wanted to play, by his description, "kick-ass thrash."

He's been doing just that in the Houston scene ever since, even if his current band skews more melodic.

Home Base: For his writing duties in Square and Compass, Grindle's ideas start in his head and flow from there. That means he can develop ideas from anywhere, even while driving, and play them out on guitar when he gets home.

When he gets together with the band, they practice at Sterret St. Studios, where they share space (and drummer Dylan Jay) with the Manichean. His favorite place to play is Walters because of their sound man.

"That dude makes a giant concrete room sound killer," Grindle says.

Why Do You Stay In Houston? "Houston is fucking bad-ass," he says. "Anything that you want to find or do is here. Someday I may venture out, but for now I will keep on sweating."

Story continues on the next page.

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Corey Deiterman