The Rocks Off 200: John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast
Who? I stumbled across Only Beast simply because of their name and instantly became enamored of their dynamic and incredible front woman Danielle Renee and the sheer raw power of the rock and roll that comes pouring out of her throat. Let's turn our attention now to another key ingredient in the duo's roiling seas of sound, drummer John Salinas.
The man is like some sort of ordered chaos who beats up and down the sides of songs in a whirlwind of rhythm that always feels like its on the verge of falling apart, the way a death-defying trapeze act does. It never falls, though. Salinas keeps the beat and keeps it strong.
He's got a pretty normal background for a Houston drummer. Like most of them he was a full-on band geek back in high school, picking percussion over a wind instrument because of his asthma. He was already being asked to provide drums in garage bands in San Antonio before he was even out of middle school.
Salinas moved to Houston and eventually formed several progressive instrumental partnerships with Pete Bernick, but it was when they decided that they needed a singer that Only Beast was finally completed with Renee. That's not the only thing that was completed either; the duo is currently engaged.
Stylistically, Salinas is all over the place. His kit is huge, and a fan once dubbed it "The Island of Misfit Toys." The constantly evolving combination of odd accessories makes it really hard to pin down, and you never know if he was listening to a lot of death metal as a kid or too much jazz. It's just weird and wonderful when he sits down.
Home Base: Only Beast makes their regular rehearsal home at Rock Center, where Salinas and Bernick have been practicing together for donkey's years. Salinas feels that it's important to have a space away from home where your creativity can flow, and likes the way the various bands at Rock Center mind their own business.
For performance his favorite venue is Notsuoh. In his opinion it's really underrated as a music venue, and has the most attentive crowds.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: If you want to get on Salinas' bad side then fadoodle around onstage and don't be prompt to make way for other bands on the bill. Like most drummers, his setup is not an easy or quick, which is why he assembles and disassembles them offstage so as to make changes between bands faster. Loiterers and those not hip to the idea of efficiency and courtesy drive him crazy.
Good War Story: "We got invited to play a show in Austin. When we showed up, we found it was actually a restaurant that was a hosting musical event," Salinas says. "There were people eating everywhere and next to the stage was a table that had two small children, at another booth was an elderly couple enjoying their meal.
"We definitely had an 'oh shit!' moment," he says. "Our music is quite loud and not exactly family-friendly, so we weren't really sure how things were going to go. I think they liked it, I gave one of the kids my drumsticks afterwards, and the grandma in the booth raised her hand and gave Danielle the devil horns..."
Story continues on next page.