It's a well-known fact that most band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off, we're trying hard to decode Houston's oddest monikers in order to find a little meaning. Music is inherently the search for meaning in the meaningless. It's an attempt to establish rhythm and pattern in a chaotic world. And as each artist, here referred to as "rock stars," carves their own niche from the living universe, what they have mined must be packaged. That's all that a name is, as empty of import as a label on a wine bottle. Take This Year's Tiger, for instance. Without a doubt one of Houston's finest punk and/or rock bands, they have that certain tone and talent that made Rancid and Social Distortion something almost holy. Gritty vocals and a sound as wide as the Gulf of Mexico make their recordings a bright spot on the local scene, and anyone not attending their concert Saturday at Trash Bar is either dead or an untrainable ass. But why call such a force of musical mayhem This Year's Tiger? Scott Johnson descended from bass-guitar Valhalla to type out an answer to that very query. "In reality, it didn't mean anything at the start," reveals Johnson. "It just rolled off the tongue easily and had a kind of swagger to it." The selection of TYT's name predates Johnson's involvement. Band legend states that the original members had but two criteria when selecting a name: The name must be three words long, and must include the word "tiger." A wacky set of rules, but no worse than Matchbox 20 sitting in a bar and picking out patches on some guy's jacket for their name. Does it matter? "We feel that a band name is more defined by and connected to the quality of the music being made by the band as opposed to what a name may mean in and of itself," Johnson notes.
Everyone knows what a tiger is, and we'll assume you all know what a year is, but we're not going into that. Generally seen as a noble animal and popular in heraldry, in Buddhism the tiger is actually one of three senseless animals representing anger. So's punk, usually, and there is no denying that This Year's Tiger has edges, but Johnson feels that those edges aren't necessarily an emotional negative. The music is, as he says...
"Not necessarily angry, but definitely honest and assertive with an edge to it. Lyrically, the songs are rooted in the real world with real circumstances, and sometimes that can be pretty ugly and uncomfortable. Take a song like 'Murphy's Luck,' for example - on the surface it may seem like a downer, but really it's just pointing out how even with anything and everything going wrong, it's still possible to fight through the negativity and achieve a positive end. "I definitely feel that our music takes on a 'gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelet' sort of philosophy. We don't shy away from the ugliness of reality, but we also don't feel that there isn't some good that can be extracted from that ugliness."
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It cannot be argued that, in the end, Johnson and company are out there making something out of nothing. They call it This Year's Tiger because you have to call it something. But no matter what the label says, there's good wine in the bottle. FINAL DEFINITION This Year's Tiger: Noun. 1) Three words, one of which is Tiger; 2) A realist philosophy set to power chords; 3) A very, very, very good band. With Skeleton Dick, A Dream Asleep and White Rhino, 9 p.m. Saturday, February 13, at Trash Bar Texas, 313 1st St., Humble, 832-232-3403 or myspace.com/trashbar.