Artist of the Week: Jewel Rifle
Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Three months typically isn’t enough time to accomplish much. It takes about that long to not develop big arms, a ripped chest and cut abs (stupid Perfect Pushups). But that doesn’t appear to be the case for spastic indie rockers Jewel Rifle, as they’ve managed to cultivate a rather large following in about that much time.
Despite how hard you may want to actively dislike them, the quartet's brand of kiddie-corner pop-rock is catch-you-off-guard charismatic, pseudo-strife as potentially contagious as any currently found in Houston. And while the band certainly has steps to take before it can be regarded as a certified threat, at the rate it's going, it doesn’t look like it’ll be too long of a wait.
Jewel Rifle’s Tim Morales was gracious enough to take a moment out of his day (which we presume he would have otherwise spent vest shopping), so we had him answer a few questions.
Houston Press: Okay, so the name, Jewel Rifle; what's up with that? That's like, a combination of two things on polar ends of the machismo Scale, like Daisies and Rattlesnake or Scented Candles and Brisket Sandwiches.
Tim Morales: A couple of years ago some friends and I were making up fake band names, right?
HP: Oh, sure, we do that all the time.
TM: I shot out Jewel Rifle. I thought it was catchy, so I kept it in my back pocket until the right band with the right sound came along. But, it's basically what I think about rock and roll music. Put into a name, it's beautiful, yet deadly.
HP: It seems terribly important for an indie-rock band to wear vests or V-neck shirts. Why is that?
TM: Well the vest - along with the boots - are actually a tribute to Texan cowboys and outlaws.
HP: Hmmm, nope, we didn't get that vibe.
TM: Keeping that mentality, we are just being ourselves and rolling with it regardless of what anyone says. I would be lying if I didn't say that we've been called some names because of the way we dress. But it doesn't matter to us, because we know that we rock out regardless of what some idiot says. So, it isn't terribly important to wear it either one, or the combination of both, but it looks cool [laughs].
HP: Indeed. You guys seem fairly young. How old is everyone? And how long have you been together?
TM: I just turned 20 in August. Joseph [Morales, guitar], Sellers [Weatherall, drums] and Chris [[Spencer, bass] are all 16 years of age, which makes it sort of hard to get into places [laughs].
HP: Yeah, like, everywhere.
TM: We've been an official band for about three or four months, which makes me proud and amazed at how professional the guys are for their age. It also makes me really excited for what we can do in the coming years.
HP: Three to four months? Wow. You guys sound much more together than that. That's very cool - it almost completely balances out the vests.
TM: Well, it's a lot of me starting songs over when we're halfway through them in practice. I feel our sound is pretty good when it's rough, but we always strive to make it sound more put together, which in turn, makes it sound awesome. The vests might enhance the sound a bit [laughs].
HP: Jewel Rifle's sound is all over the place, which at times is pretty cool but can also kinda be like dating a crazy chick, because you never really know what you're gonna get. (So. Lame.) Is that a conscious effort or does it just sort of happen?
TM: [laughs] Well, this might be the only time I say that it's cool to be like a crazy chick.
When we write music we know it's good to stay in one specific genre, but who's to say we can't write a driving, fast-paced, rock and roll song and then write a indie/dance song?
We just hope that any person, from any walk of life, can enjoy any one of our songs and then perhaps dig a completely different one. I guess you could say it's our subliminal way of opening people up to different types of music.
HP: The one guitarist is quite spastic on stage and a joy to watch. Does he practice those dance moves? We assume he was trained at Julliard.
TM: That's actually my little brother, Joseph. He just does his thing, and I usually encourage it because it gets the crowd going, but not at the expense of playing his parts right. I think we're all a bit spastic at times on stage, but it's always in the moment.
Some of it might be a bit choreographed but it's usually spontaneous soul dancing. But I think he got a bit of his stuff from watching me play rhythm guitar in Astra Heights. - Shea Serrano