Mario Rodriguez of Bang Bangz Talks Touring Mexico and Wonky Power

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photo by Michael Gault

The soul of a good musician is usually restless and ambitious, always ready to expand their sound and talent towards as many ears and hearts as possible. Houston is blessed with many such individuals, including Mario Rodriguez, the curly-haired, bespectacled, wonky frontman of the electro-pop group Bang Bangz. We caught up with Mario as he and the band prepare to embark on a week-long tour of several venues in and around Mexico City.

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The Horror Never Ends For Warbeast's Bruce Corbitt

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Bruce Corbitt of Warbeast
Texas metal singer Bruce Corbitt's career has seen some wicked ups and downs over the last 30 years, from signing record deals and taking on high-profile tours to being fired unceremoniously and watching bandmates pass away in front of his eyes. It hasn't been a lifestyle fit for the faint of heart. But if there's anything useful that low-budget slasher flicks have taught us, it's that a certifiable creature of the night like Corbitt always comes back for one last slice.

So do yourself a favor and watch your throat tomorrow night, because Corbitt will be back in town again at Acadia Bar & Grill with his band Warbeast, the ferocious Dallas-area thrashers who have become a favorite of Gulf Coast metal god Philip Anselmo. The former Pantera front man signed Warbeast to his Housecore Records imprint and released their aptly titled sophomore album Destroy last year before taking them on the road with his sludge supergroup Down.

Now, Warbeast is working on a worthy follow-up to Destroy's heavy, old-school thrash attack. Tomorrow's show is the only one on the band's books until October as they prepare to hole up, bear down and grind out another thick stack of riffs.


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We Love the VMAs Because They're Rigged

Categories: Digitalia

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Anthony Quintano via Flickr
"If, for any reason, this voting process is interrupted, is found to have been tampered with in any way, or for any other reason that Sponsor believes in its sole discretion to be reasonably necessary, Sponsor reserves the right to select the winners at its discretion."

This is what it says at the bottom of the MTV Video Music Awards voting page, and what it basically means is that MTV can completely disregard the fan voting results and choose the winner they want, for lots of different reasons. Total baloney, right?! Nine year-old me is fuming right now at the thought of all my votes for Kelly Clarkson's "Behind These Hazel Eyes" being nothing but a waste of time, a mere speck in my DisneyChannel.com-filled browser history lost to some overarching marketing deal.

The idea of these popular fan-voted music awards shows "rigging the system" has been gossiped about for years now, although a quick skim through the terms and conditions page on many a voting Web site can give some solid proof to speculators out there. But it recently popped up again when a couple of Viners sent out some pretty angry, accusatory tweets after not winning the Teen Choice Awards they were nominated for.

Now, you may be thinking, "Sure the petty TCAs pick the winner that will leave the overall majority of tween girls satisfied, but the VMAs? Who strive on the basis of being 'all about the fans'?"


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Inside CSNY's Groundbreaking 1974 Tour

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Photos by Joel Bernstein/Rhino Records
CSNY (actually in order, Stills, Crosby, Young and Nash) onstage during the 1974 tour.
"We knew it was something special," Graham Nash says on the phone from New York City. "No one had done a tour like that, in that many big venues. But I felt we were up to the task. We could all play and sing, and there were four of us. With four intense egos!"

Today, massive football stadium tours by rock's major acts are taken for granted. But many years ago, 40 to be precise, it hadn't even been attempted. While the Beatles and Stones had done the massive gigs as one-offs, it was a reunited Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young who took the plunge first.

Their fabled 1974 tour encompassed 31 shows in 24 cities in three countries from July through September, with the group presenting nearly 80 songs played in various personnel combinations -- a quarter of which hadn't even been released at that point but would find their way onto later group, solo, and duo records.


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Austin's OBN IIIs Are No Retro-Rock Chumps

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Photos by Renate Winter
With unlimited sweat, furious finesse and hook-heavy musical manners, Austin's OBN IIIs are the bastard child of Flamin' Groovies and Radio Birdman, just as their latest slab Live in San Francisco documents. Their closest allies in Texas are likely the equally forceful, cunning and haunting Sons of Hercules, so be prepared for a pent-up cataclysm.

Pitchfork has claimed them as retro-"townies" reinventing the anti-college rock of the 1970s, even likening them to floppy-haired heroes Van Halen and Blue Oyster Cult. Think again, and take off the revisionist glasses. OBN III's kind of grit and determination seems a lot less like the black-light poster crowd of rusted Mustangs and stinky hashish and a lot more like Budweiser slamming, take-no-prisoners garage-rock rioters from vintage MC5 to the Cynics, the Greenhornes and Zen Guerrilla. This would never have been heard on FM airwaves alongside REO Speedwagon and Asia.


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The 10 Best Concerts In Houston This Week: Bottle Rockets, Rudz 36, Garfunkel & Oates, etc.

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Photo courtesy of Bloodshot Records
Bottle Rockets, Marshall Crenshaw
Continental Club, August 22

The pride of Festus, Mo., the Bottle Rockets would be the best band you've never heard of except, if you've ever subscribed to either No Depression magazine or the Bloodshot Records mailing list, you've absolutely heard of them and know exactly why they're so damn good. Ex-Uncle Tupelo roadie and satellite member Brian Henneman started the Bottle Rockets when the former band started going down the tubes; overall his bunch was less Black Flag-influenced than the Tupelo guys, but the Bottle Rockets' similar combination of classic country, Southern rock and indie attitude made them a cornerstone of the burgeoning alt-country scene.

Simple music-business malfeasance kept the band from climbing much higher on the ladder of success, but they persevered and last year Bloodshot Records reissued those first two albums, 1993's Bottle Rockets and '94's The Brooklyn Side, in a deluxe edition with demos and everything. So good guys don't always finish last after all, and joining them on this rare Southwestern tour is power-pop Ph.D. Marshall Crenshaw, whose first-rate catalog goes a lot deeper than his lone Top 40 hit, 1982's "Someday, Someway." CHRIS GRAY

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The Rocks Off 200: DJ Squincy Jones, "If It Jams, I Play It!"

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Photo by Marco Torres
Who? Shane Rector is Houston born and raised, and has been DJing under the name of Squincy Jones in the city for about 14 years. "I came up playing Aerosol Warfare parties, RockBox, Speakerboxx, Raise It Up, and Gritsy," he says. "If it jams, I play it!"


Home Base? The Arcade, aka his "sad" apartment studio. He is currently trying to level up in Ableton.

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Prepare Yourself: One Direction Comes to Houston Tomorrow

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The world is an often dark and ugly place. Ferguson. James Foley. Ebola: things that we'd all like to avoid, but things we can't (and shouldn't) ignore, at least not in this hypermedia age that we live in.

That's not to say that the times we live in are worse than any other times, just that we've never had as much access to misery at our fingertips as we do now. Which might explain why at least a few of us are looking forward to escaping the darkness, if only for a few hours, at the biggest concert event of the year.

Yes, we're talking about the big One Direction show at NRG Stadium tomorrow night, a show so massive it's hard to believe that it exists. But of course it does. We all need some light in our life.


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Graham Nash Can't Stop, Won't Stop

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Photo by Chris Kissnger/Jensen Communications
Crosby, Stills, and Nash (actually Stills, Nash, and Crosby) ply their trademark three-part harmony at a recent show.
Now that his production work on the four-years-in-the-making massive CSNY 1974 box set is over and fans have in their hands what they've dreamed about for years, 72-year-old Graham Nash can just lie back and take it easy, right? Not a chance.

"I'm busier now than I've ever been in my life, ever," he says. And his daybook planner backs up the claim. Currently on tour with longtime partners David Crosby and Stephen Stills, he is also doing publicity for the paperback version of his autobiography, Wild Tales, writing new music, recording a CSN covers album, showing his painting and photography work in galleries all over the world while making new art, and even sculpting.

And maybe changing a diaper or two.


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I'm Hypnotized By My Ex's Booty. Help!

Welcome to Ask Willie D, Rocks Off's advice column where the Geto Boys MC answers reader questions about matters, in his own words, "funny, serious or unpredictable." Something on your mind? Ask Willie D!

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Photo by Mario Jaramillo
EDUCATION

Dear Willie D:

I very much enjoyed your segment on TV One's Unsung. You are an inspiration to the younger generation. Unsung covered most of your life, but covered very little of your educational achievements. Which high school did you attend, and what year did you graduate?

Educated Fan:

I attended Forest Brook in Houston, which was later consolidated with M.B. Smiley, and named North Forest High School. I got kicked out of the whole school district two months before graduation for fighting, and never went back.

I was supposed to graduate in '86. Every time I think about how close I came to the finish line and didn't cross it, I'm reminded of Fred's infamous running insult of his son Lamont in the television series Sanford & Son: You big dummy!


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