by Scott Fisher
After thinking about it for a little bit, I realized I’ve known about Hounds Of Jezebel for a while longer than I thought. My band has shared the stage with these guys a couple of times in the past, but I’ve never had a chance to talk with them. Then, a chance meeting on night at The 19th Hole had me rediscovering them, in a sense. They had just released a self-titled project, which I then reviewed for Lone Star Metal, and then I had them play another show with my band a few months later. Recently, I was able to catch up with these guys at a show they were headlining at House Of Blues in Houston, TX and have a little informal Q&A over some scotch (my drink of choice) and Vodka & Red Bull (their drink of choice) in the green room before their show. John Curry (vocals/guitar), Chris Loveless (guitar), Rooster (bass), and Mike Neyra (drums) were so much fun, there were a few times we simply forgot the recorder was still running…
Lone Star Metal: When did y’all get your start? How long have y’all been together?
John: Uh, it’ll be two years this month. Well, three years this month. They took like a 6-month hiatus, so realistically two and a half years.
LSM: Okay, I can obviously already tell y’all get along really well… very little band drama, I’m assuming.
John: There is really none, to be honest with you… which is weird. I’ve never been in that position, and… I dunno…
Chris: Every band I’ve ever been in has just been bigger and bigger drama. John and I actually talked when we first got together that one thing we wanted to establish in this band, cuz we’ve all been through the ringer, is family’s first in this band, period.
John: Family first and let’s just have fun.
Rooster: Now, there are those trying times. You know, where it’s just like… <grunts and makes strained face> but we… it’s very easy for us to find a way to get over it real quick and, like I said, those moments are few and far between. So….
John: Yeah, we also… we have a very high level of respect for one another that translates in our music… just, kinda, is this resounding feeling that we all share, and we’re all on the same page.
LSM: Well, first off I wanna do like a collective influence. I mean, do y’all try and model yourselves like anyone else. Obviously you want to sound original. But do you ever like to take certain things you hear from other bands?
John: We actually don’t do that at all.
Rooster: We don’t try to emulate any other bands, or anything like that. But we also understand that, what we’re doing now is not original. There’s very few avenues that bands could take to where they say, ‘Yeah, this is completely original.’ Cuz, it’s really all been done already. It’s just about that certain band putting their own twist on what’s already been done, you know. But what we’re doing right now is something that not a whole lot of bands are doing. Even though it’s not original, but a lot of bands are not doing our style. Because it’s ours.
John: It’s original. We’re not doing anything that nobody’s ever done, but we’re doing something that nobody’s doing now.
Chris: Thank you for paraphrasing!
LSM: How would you classify yourselves? What multi-faceted genre would you label yourself with?
John: That’s always the hardest question. It really, really is. And that’s such a cliché answer, but it’s such a cliché question!
John: But you have to ask it! But, it’s just… I mean–we’re like…a roots rock ‘n’ roll band, you know. I mean– it’s very blues-based. It’s very southern. It’s very… you know, I don’t know.
LSM: Alright, back to influences. John. Personal influences. Obviously Pink Floyd is on that list.
John: Man, it’s so far across the board. I grew up listening to a lot of my dad’s records. Creedence was a huge band in my household. I grew up listening to, like, Roy Orbison and guys like that. My dad just had an affinity for that type of music. Beatles and stuff. And then when I got a little bit older, you know, Alice In Chains was a huge influence on me. I mean, just, so many… I mean, Blind Melon, Black Crowes, like I mean, Tool! All across the board! Like, really all those bands that shaped me into the musician I am today.
Rooster: My daddy was a blues man, you know. He didn’t play or anything, but that his, it’s still his thing, you know. Pop off some blues, I grew up with that in the household. Uh, classic rock, obviously, you know. Always grew up listening to classic rock.
Mike: For me, I grew up, my dad playing… My parents were hippies, so they were all about classic rock. Everything from Zeppelin to whatever else is out there classic rock. And, you know, obviously I grew up in the nineties, so I like the new metal like Deftones and Sevendust, and all that stuff. So, just away from that, growing up with playing their records and stuff like that, and then being, you know, kind of a metal guy in the eighties or whatever, it was just kinda growing pains, I guess. But it made me who I am. You know I always go back to those classic rock [songs] and just like, this is where my heart is.
Chris: Man, for me, my story’s a little different from these guys. I grew up in a… household that…My folks never really listened to music in the house, so I never really grew up as like a young kid listening to all these tunes, and stuff. My parents worked all the time, so they were either gone or at the house, and I think the first music I really listened to with my pops was Fleetwood Mac, maybe some ZZ Top. And that kinda got me interested. And then I started playing horn. I played saxophone all the way through college. I didn’t really pick up a guitar until I was eighteen. And, man, once I did, it was over. It’s just, you know, I picked up the guitar and Metallica was a huge influence to get me to start playing, but after that, it was the nineties I joined a band and it’s all new metal. But all throughout that entire thing, I grew up playing horn, so I loved jazz and blues and all these horn players. So that was always in my heart. And [I] never had a chance to actually do that style until I met these guys. Once they said, ‘You get a solo,’ that was it. I mean–I’ve had these chops for years; I’ve just never had to use them.
John: I don’t know. If you ask us all, yes, we’ve all played in a millions of other bands. Me personally, and I know these guys share the same feeling, is that this is the band that I’ve always wanted to be in. You know what I mean?
John: And that’s like, bringing it back to the very beginning, that’s why there’s no drama. It’s what we all want. And, man, and it’s right there. It’s organic and it’s real. And it means a lot to us.
Chris: There’s no track. It’s just us.
John: There may be a harmonica track in the next song to come, like, because none of us play the harmonica… or the mouthmonica.
LSM: Do y’all have any favorites to play live?
John: Every new song that we write is our favorite song. So, right now, it’s The Shakedown!
LSM: That’s such a “gimme” answer!
Rooster: Wait, ask us if there’s some we don’t like playing, yes! And, it’s the one for me; it’s the one that we just released on radio, Without Love.
I don’t like playing that song, man. I don’t. I don’t know why, I just don’t like it.
Chris and Mike: You wrote it!
Rooster: I know!!! <all laugh>
John: There is a song that’s called Son Of A Gun that’s gonna be on the next record that we wrote a little while ago and it’s still one of my top favorites to play. It’s just kind of an epic, like Journey, and I really dig that about it.
Chris: And, I gotta tell ya, speaking of Son Of A Gun, one of my favorite things about these guys, the little riff that I start the song with, that’s all I came in with. One night, 25 minutes later, it’s just…
John: We had a five and a half minute song. <laughs>
Chris: Yeah! It’s like… geez…
John: Guys, we gotta stop writing songs cuz we don’t have enough money to record them all!
LSM: Okay, Son Of A Gun is your Stairway To Heaven. Got it.
Chris: Yeah, I guess. Sure…
John: I know that you can’t see me doing this, but… <shrugs his shoulders> But if you play it backwards, it doesn’t mean anything.
LSM: Now, I know y’all recently got back from a little bit of a tour up the East coast?
John: We actually went from here straight up the Midwest, all the way to Wisconsin, and from Wisconsin to New York City and then all the way down, and everywhere in between.
LSM: How was that?
Rooster: Trying. Very trying.
John: We’re actually playing in front of people tonight, so that’s cool.
LSM: Did y’all pretty much put that tour together or did you have someone book it for you?
John: We had a guy in L.A. that is helping us book everything. Yeah, it just seemed like everything that could go wrong on this tour did. But still, at the same time, progressing and moving forward. And working together for the common goal. You see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Rooster: The fact that a few people outside of this city heard our music is a win for me.
LSM: Any interesting stories?
Rooster: This is probably…
John: What happens on the road stays on the road.
Rooster, John, and Mike: Next question!
LSM: Who are some of the bands y’all have enjoyed playing with?
John: I love playing with Rainchild cuz I think Dustin Condon is one of the greatest vocalists I’ve heard in quite some time. And all the guys are super, super cool. And, [they] can play their instruments. <laughs>
Chris: You know, some of my favorite nights out there is when we actually play for our friends. You know, you’re sitting behind, he plays for Dead Man’s Ransom.
John: Dead Man’s Ransom, absolutely. Good Job Underground.
Rooster: It’s fun seeing, watching them grow, man. I mean, this is Eric’s baby, man. And, just seeing from where they started to where they’re at now, I think it’s amazing, and they should keep on.
John: And we’ve been doing it together, like you know… Again, going back to the creating the community and stuff, and…
<Eric Lauer, singer and guitarist for Dead Man’s Ransom, has been listening quietly in the green room with us>
Eric: That just made my night that Hounds just name-dropped Dead Man’s Ransom.
Chris: Well, I don’t know how many times I’d sit at your house and just like, ‘Dude check this out. Ya gotta do this.’ <simulates playing guitar riff> And you’re like, ‘What was that again?’ And then like, two months later… <simulates guitar riff again> I’m like, ‘Man, I taught you that riff!’ Damn!
Eric: I’ve got, like, pages of notes that Chris has shown me, like scales and stuff. I’m still trying to learn from him. It just shows that the best guitar players are teachers.
John: Yeah, he writes it down for me and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna go take a nap!
Chris: You wanna talk about building a community, sharing riffs with this guy <points at Eric Lauer> is one of my greatest pleasures.
Chris: It’s awesome.
John: You know, with the guys in Lost Element, we’ve played with a few times… great guys… people that don’t have drama, that are good musicians, that care about what they’re doing, and they’re cool people, ya know?
LSM: John, you had told me earlier that you have just recorded a new song in Florida with…
John: With Brett Hestla, who is the singer from Dark New Day, in a band with some of the guys from Sevendust. He played bass with Creed when Brian Marshall left the band. He also was the singer for Virgos.
LSM: Considering your next CD, is that song the first song that y’all recorded for that?
John: Yes. We kinda have this idea, and it was through a friend of ours, Ron Eckerman, to maybe shake up the music business a little bit and release a single a month. So, release the single for a month and it would be free. And then month two, release another song, and that first single goes on sale, but we release a free song, the second month. And so on, and so forth. So, in like a year, we’ll have an album. <laughs> It just kinda makes sense, you know, it’s a singles world right now. Hardly anybody goes, buys a full record, and listens to it from beginning to end. I mean–that just doesn’t happen anymore.
Rooster: I’m sorry, man, but do you hear this shit, dude? <indicating the muffled music from the band currently on stage> I’m SO sorry. I’m sorry. But that’s the kinda shit that’s killing rock ‘n’ roll right there. I’m sorry, man. It just erks me like no other.
John: It’s meaningless lyrics that people just aren’t buying into. They’re not that stupid.
LSM: Well, what is your main emphasis for a Hounds Of Jezebel show? What do you want to impart? What’s your passion?
John: Yeah. And we also want to exhaust the audience as much as we’re exhausted. I want you to walk away from the show going ‘I need a nap cuz that was destructive.’
Chris: Mike and I have talked about it for a long time. We were talking prior to this, I’d play with Rooster, and then we found John, and just kinda got together. We’ve talked for years… a lot of the music now, there’s no… for lack of a better term or way to put it, no bounce. There’s no bounce to the music anymore.
John: No substance.
Chris: No substance. There’s no groove to it. We just wanna make real good, fun, danceable, have a good time, in your face music.
John: It’s not contrived. You don’t listen to the song and go “Sounds like they were going for a particular angle here.’ You know what I mean? There’s no ulterior motive. It’s… it’s real.
Rooster: <still noticing the muffled music from the band as they finish a song a fans cheer> Yeah, get all the little teeny-boppers screaming out there, but where are, you know… the guys, and shit?
John: That’s Otis talking. That’s Otis. See, his beard has a name and it’s Otis.
Rooster: I’ve been in this mood all day, I don’t know why!
John: He has been! He’s been like ‘Why is everybody pissing me off so much? Why am I so on edge? I haven’t smoked a cigarette in two days, maybe… That’s exactly what it is!’ <all laugh> Hey, here’s a pack! Go have fun!
Mike: He’s like Roseanne Barr! <laughs>
John: And then he eats a Snicker and he’s Rooster again.
Rooster: Sorry. This is why they don’t let me talk during interviews.
John: He’s like “When the band is here, I don’t talk. When they leave, I be talkin’…’
LSM: Alright, last question. Where are you going from here?
John: Home. I’m going to Mexico tomorrow. <laughs>
Rooster: You mean ‘as a band traveling?’
LSM: Yes. What is the bands’ direction? Where are you wanting to go from here?
Rooster: Short term, for me personally, as long as I see us making progress, which we have been in the past, for the two and a half years we’ve been a band, I’m happy.
Chris: That’s kind of what we’ve all talked about. As long as this band continues to move forward, and it has continually moved forward. The people we meet, the connections we make, even going on the short run of connections we’ve made on this round of meeting a few people in New York that are pretty influential, and they love the band, and they wanna help out, and coming back home and playing to a crowd like this, it’s… we just keep moving forward. As long as it keeps doing that, we keep having fun, there’s no way I’d…
John: The sky’s the limit. We would love to share our music with as many people as possible.