Viva Japanic!

Lotta people hate Blockbuster. And Starbucks. And Ricky Martin. And anything else "capitalistic" (read: successful). How progressive, especially considering that the dry cleaners down the block probably generates more bucks than the local Blockbuster and Starbucks outlets put together. But when it comes to ideas, are there notions big enough to make everybody (progressives, liberals, conservatives, whomever) feel like cogs in some vast money-making machine?

Tex of Japanic thinks so. Which is why he and his band are doing something about it. At The Mausoleum on Westheimer near Montrose this weekend, Japanic will a) perform, along with Austin's Coco Candissi, then b) instruct. Break out the notebooks, because this is where you'll hear Tex's thoughts on, among other things, "ideas as products."

For one, he'll say there's all this crap about the millennium: In Tex's opinion, everybody from everywhere, from Houston to Helsinki, has been sold on the Millennium, with a capital M. But, Tex says, in reality all they've really bought is just another day on the calendar. Major corporations are the sellers, and for them Friday, December 31, 1999, has become a great day to push product. (Well, who hasn't heard of "millennium" sport drinks or radial tires or chalk erasers or survivalist getaway packages?) Tex thinks we, as upstanding Homo sapiens, should feel demeaned by all this.

"It's the end of the millennium, and there'll be a lot of spectacle," he says. "We're all passively sucked into this heap of ideas, which really eliminates any original ideas. It puts a distance between the spectacle and the person. We want to bring people back to life through rock and roll."

Hear those words "spectacle," "passively," "ideas"? Tex has been reading a lot of political thinker Guy DeBord lately, and liking it; Tex's Marxist tendencies have never been a secret. And as lead singer/front man of one of Houston's most popular, original, best "rock and roll" acts -- which is really only rock and roll in spirit, new wavey in practice -- Tex has a lot of influence. Tex, in his gold lamé and denim, is also pretty darn charismatic and persuasive. Hmmm? Let's see: Marxism, originality, a charismatic, persuasive leader... It's China, 1959, all over again. All that's missing is some bloodshed.

This show won't be that serious.

"It has a lot to do with bands being manipulatable," says Tex, who works at the Iniri Foundation, of reasons for the show. "If something's academic, it's populist. So what we're going to be doing is talking about what a rock and roll show is supposed to be, and what it's not. There's audience participation and staged events. It's very accessible. In theory, it's not, but..."

What's happening here is groundbreaking for Houston, if not a little cliché. It seems like Tex thinks he can use his position in the club circuit spotlight as a bully pulpit. Which is fine. But inserting his opinion where rock and roll should be may have the unintended effect of distancing concertgoers, if they're not already converted to Tex's way of thought, like some sophomore political science class.

So what's wrong with just sticking to performing the music?

"Rock and roll is very populist," says Tex. "Taking stuff we've always been aware of and translating that through rock was what a lot of bands did in the '60s. It even became a subgenre. But no one remembers the direct one-on-one correspondence between the rock and roll musician and people. I'd like to think we're one of many agents communicating ideas this way.

"Rock today is now... solipsistic and narcissistic performances. It used to be what everybody was witness to, now it's 'all about me.' "

Tickets for the show will be $3 at the door. Proceeds will benefit Tex, his band, Coco Candissi and The Mauz and its employees.

Millennium Music

Oklahoma's Medicine Park Records' contribution to the millennium is Meet Me on the Other Side, which includes a tune from Houstonian Eric Hesson (and one from a band from Japan, not to be confused with the band Japanic). Hesson's song, "What Does 'Millennium' Mean?" has fun with the year 2000 hubbub.

Other end-of-an-era CDs you Japanic fans may be interested in: the End of Days soundtrack, which features music from such great bands as Korn! Limp Bizkit! Creed! and even Sonic Youth! (You know, all the cool kids love "The Youth," even though they can't name any of the band's songsŠ) Even PC World is in on the action with its The Y2K Album, which includes works from Stravinsky, Strauss and Wagner. (That's "Vaag-ner" to all you "Youth" fans.)

E-mail Anthony Mariani at [email protected].

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Anthony Mariani