The Biggest Houston Bands of 1992
Researching what the Houston music scene was like 20 years ago has been an eye-opening experience, to put it mildly. In that benighted era, the world was very analog. Musicians could design a gig flyer or type up some lyrics on their computers, maybe fiddle around with some primitive MIDI-type software, but that's about it. To communicate, people had to use a telephone tethered to a wall jack or use the good old U.S. Postal Service. The telephone poles of Montrose and the Heights were littered with those flyers.
Photo courtesy of Rich Adler Deadhorse at the When We Ruled H-Town Reunion at Fitzgerald's in August
The way the Houston Press covered music back then was also vastly different. The paper did not have a full-time music editor, and some weeks the music pages were completely given over to classical music; a few weeks there were only club listings. Apart from those listings, weeks could go by without a local artist being mentioned at all, and then it came in bunches; several recent local 7-inches reviewed all at once, for example.
And yet somehow, Houston musicians managed to make and sell records, book shows, occasionally go on tour and get reviewed in the local paper just like they do now. It's still a scene full of people hoping to make it big while looking for just a little respect.
And the more we looked over the listings, the more familiar names we found. Places like the Black Forest Tavern & Gardens, Fabulous Satellite Lounge (which opened that year) and the Axiom may be long gone, but Last Concert Cafe, Dan Electro's Guitar Bar, Fitzgerald's, Anderson Fair and McGonigel's Mucky Duck haven't gone anywhere, and may never.
This week Rocks Off combed through the 1992 issues of the Press to see which bands and musicians were making news back then. We like it the way it is now just fine, but it must have been something to walk into the Black Forest and see Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown wailing away, or mighty funk lords Sprawl tearing up the Axiom. Especially since you can imagine what might happen if you Google "Sprawl Houston" today.
Atomic Opera: The third leg of the King's X/Galactic Cowboys Katy prog-metal triangle, Atomic Opera eventually toured with Dio and got some MTV play for their video "Justice." The group is still out there, although AO seems to be semi-retired from performing and touring. See more at www.atomicopera.com.
Deadhorse: Known for their twisted T-shirts and relentless battery of riffs, deadhorse was making serious inroads in the national metal underground by 1992 on the back of their 1991 LP Peaceful Death and Pretty Flowers. Singer Michael Haaga left a few years later, but the Horse steered by Scott Sevall soldiers on and plays occasional shows like this summer's When We Ruled H-Town weekend.
De Schmog: Public News favorite de Schmog must have been seriously warped by the '70s, and in 1992 put out The New Johnny Bravo 7-inch. Dixon called it "fun, goofy (in a cool sorta way) pop with sung/spoken vocals; think maybe early B-52's as a reference point." Today, you can watch de Schmog's October 1997 farewell show at Rudyard's on YouTube.
Infected: Twelve From Texas: This all-Houston compilation, save stone Austin freaks the Zendik Farm Band, featured Bleachbath, Frequent Friars, From Now On, and many others. "Got grunge written all over it." the Press' Brian Dixon wrote in March.
King's X/Galactic Cowboys: These Katy prog-metal bands, managed and produced by Sam Taylor, co-headlined a show at the Music Hall in June 1992. Impressive. "The show wasn't quite a Stryper scene, complete with busloads of church youth groups, but four-letter words were noticeably lacking," our Jeff Tomich wrote. The Cowboys are long gone, but we think King's X may have done OK for themselves.