The Rocks Off 100: Bill Fool, Punk Lifer, Dad, Good Guy to Know
Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too.
"Bill Fool was born in Chicago, Illinois and spent his entire youth living near Wrigley Field and really never left that particular area as a kid, ever..." says local luminary and punk lifer Bill Fool in an email. What follows is a short primer on this beloved curmudgeon.
Photo by Mark C. Austin
Mr. Fool has been a part of the Houston punk scene since before most of the kids playing Mango's were born. His early life in Chicago was full of strange goings-on at his home, courtesy of a father involved in less-than-legal activities. Somehow he made it to a taping The Oprah Winfrey Show to see then-First Lady Nancy Reagan remind kids everywhere to say no to drugs.
He counted next door neighbor Denise DeClue -- star of My Bodyguard and About Last Night fame -- as a friend, with DeClue bringing around the likes of Tim Kazurinsky and Michael Winslow to a Fool family 4th of July party.
Mr. Fool discovered punk in 1986. He would soon make friends with bands like Impulse Manslaughter, Sludgeworth, Snoopeez Tapeworm, Screeching Weasel and Life Sentence. In the summer of 1996, after years of drug abuse and troublemaking, Fool moved to Houston. Not knowing a soul in the fourth-largest city in the country, he went about working his way into an already close-knit music scene.
He did time in Bickley, the second-biggest punk band in Houston -- the first being 30footFALL. Bickley soon recorded two full-length records, two 7-inches and a live CD while occasionally touring. Mr. Fool says that he was starting to bring about a much crazier element to Bickley shows, sometimes going fully nude.
In 2000, Fool and a bunch of other miscreants rented a house off Telephone Road, the Lawson House. 2001 saw Fool starting up a new band called the Down & Dirties, with The GFN, Mr. Christian Best. The popular band looked for bigger adventures and soon were in L.A. shooting videos, recording on spec for Hollywood Records and playing shows all over town while getting into major trouble at every turn.
Courtesy of Alicia Jarvais Photography
Drugs and partying too much hit the band hard, and they had to call it quits before someone in the band would be put into a coffin. Fool and the GFN created the Houston stalwarts Hell City Kings soon after. In 2007, Fool joined the band Born Liars on bass. The Born Liars are still working as of today but on extremely slower rate.
Somewhere in here, Fool attempted to urinate on one Lars Ulrich.
Who Are You? "Well for those who don't know I'm the jack-of-all-trades punk rock and roll maestro of the Houston scene," replies Fool. "Some may know me as a co-vinyl pusher of Cutthroat Records, or the Bass Playing loudmouth of The Born Liars. It's quite possible some may recognize me as a guitar player from the Hell City Kings.
I've been known to DJ at various dives around town as DJ Fool. I will write something stupid for any local little zine if asked as another way of leading the kids astray.
Right now I'm really pushing my new vinyl only record label called Little T & A Records. The sad thing is I would imagine every person will recognize my name more for urination than anything else.
Why Do You Stay in Houston? "While it's easy to say the price of living, or maybe how the women are way better looking than most of the world, the real reason is the arts," he says. "The art scene is so badass here and very open-minded. The art of music is great too.
"You can play or do anything you want and more than likely you will find a kindred spirit that will be totally into what you are doing," he adds. "The noise scene in Houston is world-famous. Add to that the copious amount of vinyl record stores and a punk lifer like myself is in pure heaven.
The scene here for the last five or six years is the story of legends not yet told," says Fool. "The underground bands here in town are so fucking good it's painful!"
Home Base: "I run the label out of my Garden Oaks house with my wife and two little kids, who really do know more about music than most of the human race," he says. "My daughter saw some dude wearing a GG Allin shirt at the store and immediately started to scream 'chchchchch chatter chatter chatter!' The dude looked scared!
"With the bands I've been in Francisco Studios downtown for 16 years now. The room we have has been very important to the scene as a ton of legends of the scene have used my room at one point or another. One of my bands signed our contract with Fearless records while sitting on the floor pounding beers.
"I don't wanna name drop names but a lot of punk bands that most people know by name have at one point or another paid me for their share of rent on the room," he says.
"Now for local hangs?" he begins. "I was a big-time frequenter of Emo's here in Houston and when that place closed I must admit to not picking one home base for my late-night excursions. If you wanna find me look at Rudz or any vinyl-selling record store if you really must. If I'm digging in a bin it's better to stay the hell away from me until I'm done or else I may kill you!"