The Rocks Off 100: Justice Tirapelli-Jamail, The Manichean's "Quiet One"

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. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Jason A. Smith
Who? The Manichean? Easily one of the top bands in Houston? They just did LOVERS at the Alley Theatre again? Good, glad we're all caught up.

Where Cory Sinclair is the haunting wordsmith who lays out the lyrics and the spoken-word, it's Justice Tirapelli-Jamail who cobbles out the music that becomes all those avant-garde compositions. He brings the basic bones to Sinclair, and after hashing out the more-or-less finished concept he instructs the rest of the band in exactly what they're doing. He's also responsible for all the basic managerial paperwork, a quiet genius in the back making brilliant contributions to one of our best acts. You see him in the back of the show, playing with subtle intensity.

As to how they met, well...

"Cory and I met when I was 16 and he was 21 in the back alleyway of a Long John Silver's," says Justice via email. "He was scavenging for any fish sticks that hadn't yet turned and I was just going where the treasure map told me to go. Someone must have gotten to the gold already though, because all I found was pirate's chest with nothing but a still-wrapped Hoobastank CD in it.

"Cory and I struck up a conversation and found that we had a strikingly similar goal -- to create a doo-wop orchestra called Dubstep Twombly & the Quattro Stagioni's," Justice continues. "We knew we'd need to begin with a band where the ideas were a bit less grand than that and work up to it, so we started writing songs together in the back of an old Stop-N-Go, and that's how we got the name The Manichean."


The Manichean at the Alley Theatre, 6/28/13

Aaron Reissig
Home Base: The Manichean maintains a downtown rehearsal space, but Justice does most of his writing in his apartment that shares a wall with Sinclair. When he was living at home all his songs were composed in the bathroom, but it's much easier these days.

The band's recent run at the Alley makes it Justice's personal choice for performance. Much of the Manichean's catalog is narrative in nature, and the theater setting allows for a better presentation than a regular rock club.

Why Do You Stay in Houston? "Everyone who lives here seems to loathe it, and everyone who loves it seems to leave," Justice explains. "I love this city. I've lived here my whole life, traveled all over the U.S. and the world, and I always look forward to coming home. It's dirty, it's disjointed, it's hot and humid as fuck, but the skyline is gorgeous, the winters are comfortable, and there's museums, restaurants, bars, and venues to rival any major city's.

On top of all this, there are a plethora of people living in this city who are as beautiful as the art and music they create -- more than I could even begin to name," he adds. "I wouldn't rather live anywhere else right now."

Five Desert Island Discs:

  • Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, The Road
  • Leonard Cohen, The Essential Leonard Cohen
  • Say Hi, The Wishes and the Glitch
  • Benoît Pioulard, Lasted
  • listenlisten, Dog

Music Scene Pet Peeve: If there's anything that irks Justice it's when people complain about the music scene without offering any solutions. If you can't think of a change you can make to help make the scene all it could be, then don't bother bitching to him.

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Jef Withonef
Jef Withonef

The author would like to point out he overcame the temptation to refer to him as "The Out-of-Focus Guy" after much internal struggle.

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