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.

Good War Story: Grindle's worst show of all time happened in San Antonio. In his own words:

The whole day was a nightmare. Everyone was late to the rehearsal space to load out. U-Haul wouldn't give us a trailer. The van we were taking had no AC, and there were five us crammed into an Astro van with all [our] gear. I really couldn't believe that we fit.

So, anyway, shit just kept slowing us down and we didn't even get out of Houston until around 4 o'clock. We were finally out of traffic, cruising down I-10, and the back tire blew out. At this point, I said fuck it.

Everyone else calmed me down, and we got towed to a tire shop. For some reason, they took two or three customers ahead of us, and I'm pissed and tell them to put a tire on our van before they even look at anyone else. Luckily, there was a convenience store with ice cold beers next door.

We finally made it to SA to like ten people in the crowd. I was ready to rock them, but they left during sound check to go smoke outside. We played a 30-minute set for the bartender and drove home. Worst show ever.

Music Scene Pet Peeve: "That you need to be in a cover band to get paid decent money," Grindle grumbles, but then laughs. "Honestly, I like a lot of whats going on in Houston. We've played with all kinds of bands, and everyone is cool."

After a second, he did come up with a few more complaints: "I would like it if more people were into post-hardcore," he says. "Also, I kinda hate promoters that want you to sell pre-sell tickets."

Five Desert Island Discs:

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Requiem Mass in D minor (K. 626)
  • Senses Fail, Life Is Not a Waiting Room
  • Propagandhi, Supporting Caste
  • The Black Dahlia Murder, Nocturnal
  • Pedro the Lion, Achilles Heel

First Song You Fell In Love With: The Beach Boys' I Get Around" or Iron Maiden's ""Flash of the Blade": "I was so young when I heard them both, I cant remember," he says. "I used to listen to both repeatedly, and piss my mom off."

Square and Compass play what they say is (maybe) their last show ever October 23 at Warehouse Live.


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

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


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


The Ask Willie D Archives Top 10 Bars, Clubs & Ice Houses On the Northside Daddy, Why Is Numbers Called Numbers? The Top Five Most Disastrous Musician Interviews Ever The 10 Suckiest Bands of the '00s Top 10 Bars, Clubs & Ice Houses In the Galleria Area

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Corey Deiterman