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Too Tough to Die: The Freakouts Forge Ahead

Even in the music industry's bold new world, where major labels mean less and less to success, the odds for widespread renown remain against bands. They grow longer with changes that alter the face or sound of the act.

Losing half the group, for instance, might be a difficult challenge to overcome. Unless you're Ash Kay, lead singer, co-founder and resident badass of Houston glam-punks, The Freakouts.

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This spring, Kay penned a Facebook fan update announcing band departures, which doubled as a heartfelt goodbye to longtime Freakouts, bassist Meg Cambern and guitarist Steven Jones. Months later, the band is ready to properly unveil its new lineup this Sunday at Rudyard's.

"Meg and Steven felt strongly that we were going in a direction that wasn't really what they are looking for right now," said Kay. "They have their own ideas, musically, that they want to pursue and we wish them well in their endeavors! Meg and I are still, and always will be, very close friends."

That left Kay and guitarist Porter Smith, who co-founded the band in April 2011. Maybe because the changes were amicable and probably because of the ties they'd established, moving forward didn't feel like starting over to Kay and Smith.

"Porter and I are still doing exactly what we started doing and I feel things are moving along quite well with the whole band. We're tighter, faster, louder and stronger than ever. If you saw us a while back but haven't seen us since, you're in for a surprise."

I first saw The Freakouts in November 2011 at Fuzzy Fest, a benefit promoter Mike Schoolcraft put together at a now-defunct show house called The Ghetto Blaster. After they tore through their set, in what had to be one of their earliest shows anywhere, they stopped by for a hot dog and some nachos my wife and I were serving bands and fans to offset the mass quantities of Cobra consumed that day.

As they gained traction, I always felt a little personal pride that I saw the Freakouts way back when. Today, it's easy to see why Kay and Smith decided to continue on. For one, they didn't have to look much further than their circle of friends to find their newest members, drummer Eddie Travis, who assumed the role Allen Robles once filled; bassist Jerrica Aldridge; and a second guitarist Kay names as "Greg."

Need to know more? Come out to the show, Kay says.

"We've always liked playing Rudz," she offers. "it's another home base kind of venue for us. We enjoy going to shows and also playing there, so it just seems kind of fitting and comfortable.

"We thought about doing an audition process with potential new members, but like they do, things just sort of fell into place before even starting on that," Kay reports. "We had one girl from Montana, Courtney, who came in and helped us out through practices and things for a little over a month, before she left to go back home.

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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.