The Houston Music Blog section of the Free Press Houston.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Behind the Music: FPH Summer Fest Performers

posted by Free Press Houston @ 10:31 AM

Hey Everyone!

I don't get over to the blog side of FPH very often, but I wanted to stop by and say hello (Hello!) and let you all know that I'm doing a little blogging over at the place I call my online home. The FPH Summer Fest is just around the corner and I wanted to introduce you all (well those that don't already know)to some of the truly talented local bands that will be gracing Stage 1 and Stage 2 over at Eleanor Tinsley Park on August 8th & 9th.

Be on the look out for posts at least every other day from now until the festival. It's just my humble take on some of the FPHSF bands that make me proud to call Houston home!

Visit www.ikeepminehidden.com for more info.

Brigitte B. Zabak

Friday, July 10, 2009

7 Inches of Buxton

posted by Ramon Medina - LP4 @ 4:58 AM


Saturday night at Mangos Buxton will deliver a 7" slice of prime USDA Grade HPOP - on Vinyl no less. If you haven't already heard Feathers or Flint yet, you're in for a treat. Feathers alone is my call for song of the year. The intro is better than any cup of coffee with Justin Terrel's drums pounding your skull as guitarist Jason Willis does more with one note on the guitar than most guitarists do with a whole fretboard before leading into a lovely guitar line that ebbs into Sergio Trevino's soft spoken and emotive voice as bassist Chris Wise rolls softly in back. The song continues through soft quiet breezes and hurricane like furies. It's a shining example of HPOP at it's best. Great dynamics, smart instrumentation, addictive hooks, and the bright upbeat shit we love here in Houston. It's the stuff that will get you dancing and will take your darkest days and make them bright and joyous. I cann't speak any higher of a band who can do that. So pick up your dancing shoes as tomorrow night they play with the Wild Moccasins (triumphantly returning from tour) and Ghost Mountain. Because we're so excited, we asked the guys a few questions this week and here's what they had to say...


FPH: Why is vinyl relevant?


Justin: Vinyl is relevant because it's stylish and sounds the best. If your band doesn't have at least one vinyl then you're not a real band. We're almost a real band.


Jason: Putting out an actual vinyl record was something we had always wanted to do. We were excited about these two songs in particular, and wanted to get them out in a tangible form one way or another. We could have just put them in the internet and that be the end of it, but we were excited about the songs and wanted other people to get excited about them as well. That, and the idea that a CD with 2 songs on it is just ridiculous.


Sergio: In my opinion, it kinda it's just kind of a milestone. Like 4 years ago we were happy to have written an album. 2 years ago we were happy to get on a label. 1 year ago we were happy to get a nod with the Houston press. This year ...vinyl.


FPH: Why were these songs not held back for a full album and how did you come to select these two as 7" worthy?


Sergio: These are meant to be fun songs, Sometimes we write something with the intention of sticking it within a "bigger picture" not so much the case with these songs.


Jason: These songs didn't exactly fit in with a lot of our newer material we had been working on. There was a lot of debating about what to do with all of these different songs and in the end we decided to put out a series of EPs. The first is the 7" Feathers / Flint. After the 7" we're going to focus more on a very stripped down acoustic gospel / folk EP com

prised of songs written by Sergio and his wife, Amanda, that will be called Morning Saints. Then we plan to put out another EP of the songs by Bjork that we covered at the Twotenany. As for why we decided to put Feathers and Flint on a 7", .... why not?


Justin: We wrote both of these songs after I joined the band and they were a result of Buxton getting a full time drummer, I suppose... rather than just adding drums after the song was written. These songs are very energetic and fit really well together because they were written at the same time but it wasn't necessarily the direction we were going in for a full length, i think. It just makes sense on a 7".


FPH: Feathers brings in a lot of HPOP to your sound. How much have bands like Young Mammals and Wild Moccasins bored their way into your skulls and affected your songwriting or general approach to music?


Jason: They've bored the hell out of us. Those two bands have to be the most boring bands in Houston, if not Texas. Actually it was our drummer, Justin, who has made the biggest impact on our songwriting. Before he joined, we always wrote songs acoustically, then added drums later, if any. So we never really had the option of dynamics while writing. Now that he has joined, we can experiment with those dynamics and apply them to the writing process. It's been fun. But just for the hell of it, I'll go ahead and say that Cody from Wild Moccasins' mustache, and the curly hair of all of the Young Mammals, have been the ultimate influence on us when it comes to songwriting, playing tennis, and overall being a good human being.


Justin: Musically, i haven't let either of those silly bands affect my writing style. I'm just kidding about the silly part, I love both of those bands and every member in them.


Sergio: HPOP!!! Yeah, you know that song does feel communal with the likes of the Mam's and the Moc's. Nice to be a part of that.


FPH: How did the songs progress from raw idea to final arrangement? Where was the 7" recorded? Who engineered it? How much did the studio environment come to play in the arrangement and writing of the song?


Jason: Both songs started off with us goofing around and jamming. Usually Sergio will write the basic structure of the song and the rest of us will add to it but we wrote these two together from the ground up. We also had a set practice space with a nice setup, so that helps as well.


Sergio: They were really the 1st songs we wrote with a drummer, and actually allowing the drums to shape the songs. The songs before that we would write, and then add drums to it.


Justin: The songs were pretty much written [before the studio] but we had a few ideas for an intro to feathers that Jason pretty much made up on the spot. We also had some basic horn ideas that we sort of let our two friends, Aaron and Nicholas, sort of build on.


Jason: We were lucky enough to record the 7" at Sugar Hill Studios with John Griffin. Recording in that studio was a dream come true. We have never recorded anything that went so smooth. A lot of that has to be credited to John who was very professional and a great guy. We were usually on the same page when it came to what we each wanted so it was easy and quick to get things set up and over with. Not only that, but they had some great studio equipment that we had no hesitation to take advantage of. Hammond B3, a Fender P-Bass from the 60's, a grand piano, things like that which we all used on Feathers.


Justin: It was really chill working with John and the whole experience was super relaxed. We all loved it.


FPH: Y'all have had these tracks completed for quite some time. Was there any strategic reason for waiting until July to release it?


Sergio: Yeah Chris!?


Justin: We recorded the two songs much later than we wrote them and after we recorded them it took time for Chris to figure out exactly who we were going to use to press and all of that. And of course, it took a while for everything to actually be pressed. I think that's all true.


OH, we were shooting for a March release but it took a while to get everything figured out and then we wanted to find a good weekend where nothing else was going on. And THEN, of course, our dear friends The Young Mammals decided to have their tour kickoff at the same place two days before so we hate them now.


Jason: We really just wanted to give ourselves plenty of time and not rush a release. We've learned the hard way that if you set a date for a release show too early, it can be lame. With our last full length, 'A Family Light', we had received the CDs a week before the release show and the artwork and text was blurry and pixilated. There was nothing we could do. So this time around, we tried to give ourselves plenty of time in case something like that were to happen again. The weird thing is, we still got the final copies of the 7" in about a week ago as well, so it's a good thing we did set the release for a later date. Getting vinyls pressed is a lengthy process. We're also just really lazy.


FPH: Why do those publicity shots of you guys dressed like orderlies freak me out so much? Also, is it true that those same shots are stills for a remake of the Fat Boys' 1987 classic film Disorderlies?


Justin: I don't know; I love them. Don't you, too? And yes.


Sergio: I saw that movie at my cousin’s house when I was 7...Going on the queue.


Jason: Ramon, they freak you out because they turn you on and you're just not used to it yet. As for a remake of Disorderlies, I herein am not able, with legal representation or authorized liberty, through a clause of exclusivity, to disclose of any such information of any progression or contractual obligation of said production, herein known as "Disorderlies". Sorry :(.




Buxton on Myspace ( Link )
Buxton Orderlies photo by James Dillon

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Interview: Geoffrey Mueller

posted by Free Press Houston @ 8:44 AM


By Omar Afra
Photo by Cecilia Johnson

Geoffrey Mueller is a musical chameleon having mastered several instruments such as banjo, guitar, bass, saw, voice, and whatever else you stick in his hands. Playing in such notable bands as Sideshow Tramps, I am Mesmer, Grandfather Child, Chase Hamblin’s band, Perfect Penis, and more, Mueller manages to be everywhere yet not spread himself thin. Frankly, if you spend any night of the week watching live music in this town then you are surely to run into this local musical treasure. In the 90’s as an adolescent he was well known as an amazing pop-and-lock break-dancer and as the front man for local metal band Lower ( I shared a studio with him more than a decade ago when I played in a similarly mook-ish band) . The SceneWiki says “He's embarrassed about this so be sure to ask him about it.” But Geoffrey is one of those rare hyper-talented performers that are just straight up nice guys. He brings smiles wherever he goes and we here at FPH are just smitten with him. He was also gracious enough to answer a few probing questions.

What motivated you to pick up the saw as an instrument?


Like most things in my life it was pure impulse. I never heard a saw in person, but I knew they could be played, so I made a bow out of fishing line and a ruler, bought a saw from Southland and got to work. It took me a month of experimenting before I could get a good sound (this was pre youtube DIY days). Now it seems to be the instrument I'm most closely associated with. I love the saw. I still give free lessons to anyone interested in learning. Contact me here - cajunbanjo@gmail.com My goal is to create a full saw orchestra.

I am Mesmer is such a 'supergroup'. Tell us how that came to fruition.

Ha ha ha, that's funny, yeah, I've heard that term thrown around a few times. It's like the "We are the World" USA for Africa group of Montrose with Kelly Doyle and Whitebread as Hall and Oates, Robert Ellis as Lionel Richie, and Jo Bird as Cindy Lauper. I'll let you fill in the rest, Omar, well, except for Lukas Aberer, he's obviously Dan Akroyd.
I don't know how we formed really, It's not like I woke up one day and said "I think I want to put together a 9 piece string band to play insanely fast apocalyptic gypsy music right here in Houston, Texas," but it happened and I'm glad it did. We just all found our way to that first rehearsal, and now everyone is a vital member. The line up is Kirk Suddreath, Hilary Sloan, Young Will, Mike Whitebread, Lukas Aberer, Jo Bird, Robert Ellis, Kelly Doyle, and myself. These are some deeply original and talented musicians, I'm happy to be the weakest link in the group.

Is there anything you can't do?

Tell Karen Carpenter how much I love her music. Besides that, the list is far too long to mention.
When you are alone at home in front of the mirror, do you ever catch yourself practicing your old break-dance moves or zipping through some rhymes?

My moves are too powerful; I won't even let the mirror watch. As for rhymes, I composed a new routine for I am Mesmer. It's really just an excuse to get Jo Bird and Hilary Sloan to rip on the mic.
What local musicians 'flabbergast' you?

My biggest influences have all been from Houston. I love Little Joe Washington. He absolutely rips on the guitar, charms any crowd in the first ten seconds, passes the hat, and takes off on a little girl’s bicycle. When I see him at gigs he's always encouraging and usually drops some Yoda like wisdom on me about playing music. I like Greg Harbor and the Gypsies. Kelly Lancaster, Ferrence, Richard, Vladymir, Julia, and all the rest. A while ago, Greg had triple bypass surgery or something of that caliber. I saw him the next week throwing back cocktails at a tango event. There's also Kelly Doyle - Everything I know about guitar I stole from him. Doug Kosmo, Rodney Elliot, and all of J.W. Americana - The most entertaining band in recent Houston history. Two Star Symphony, Sabra Laval, Clouseaux, Space City Gamelan, Hilary Sloan, Bill Miller, Nick Gaitan, Robert Rodriguez and that whole crew, Wayne "The Animal" Turner, Blarin' Aaron. Pretty much anyone I'm playing with or have played with over the years. This list could get very long very fast, so I'll just say I love the musicians in this town. I'm also very impressed with the new bands of late: The Ton Tons, Buxton, Wild Moccasins, NOTM, etc. Looking forward to what they'll all do.
What instrument is next?

The Cajun Accordion. I've always wanted to play one with the Sideshow Tramps. I bought one in Dallas a few months ago, named it Yves Dupree after my Mom's Dad.

Are there any festivals on August 8th and 9th at Eleanor Tinsley Park that you are looking forward to?

Funny you should ask that. I was just sitting in my favorite vegetarian restaurant Mango’s, drinking a Robert Ellis, when I saw an ad in my favorite monthly publication the Free Press for that very festival and all my favorite bands are playing you shameless self-promoting bastard. Too bad I have to work those days.

I love you Geoff, Do you love me?

Yes. Sorry if I don't always show it, I'm just slightly autistic.