The Rocks Off 200: Heading Upstream with RIVERS' Chris Tamez
Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, 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 previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Who? If you like your blues heavy and your garage-rock trippy, then it's time to start getting to know RIVERS, the local quartet that has clawed its way up the ranks of Houston's rock scene show-by-show over the past four years. You can start with Chris Tamez, the shaggy Spring resident who does a bit of everything in the band: bass, drums and vocals.
Chris Tamez of RIVERS
Though his group has been compared to everyone from Blue Cheer to Zeppelin to Mudhoney, Tamez says that RIVERS has come up with their own term for their slick, fuzzed-out sound:
"We've kind of coined the term 'rock and soul' instead of rock and roll," says the multi-instrumentalist. "It's a little bit of psychedelia, a little bit of blues and a little bit of garage."
If it helps, picture a bigger, burlier version of the White Stripes, whom RIVERS will be covering this weekend for charity at the Fitz Benefit Show Series: Be the Match. If you'd prefer to start out with some original material, though, head on over to the group's Bandcamp page and check out their new full-length, called Fables in Slang.
That's what it's called at the moment, anyway. Tamez says that the record, inspired by a collection of 19th-century short stories by George Ade, isn't the first to borrow the book's title.
"Me and my bandmates came across the stories and decided it would be cool to write songs based on them," he says. "At the time, we figured that nobody had released an album called Fables In Slang. But about two weeks ago, a buddy of mine Googled the album name, and it came up under this other band's name. They released it back in 2001!
"We thought, 'Oh my God, we've been plugging this thing for a month! We've done album art and we're going to have to change the name!'" Tamez says with a wry chuckle. "But as of now, it's still Fables and Slang."
Not unless he's playing a gig, that is. Tamez says that RIVERS can be seen and heard most often at Fitzgerald's, with DIY insane asylum Houston House of Creeps running a close second.
Good War Story: Hey, if there's any musical event in the States that closely resembles a massive military operation, it's got to be South By Southwest. RIVERS joined the melee just last week, and Tamez says they found the battle lines to be drawn in unexpected places.
"We had to fight tooth and nail with the stage manager," Tamez says. "I don't know what his deal was, but obviously, he wasn't a musician! What happened was, everybody's there, we're loading in and I'm trying to get the details on the show and sound-checking and everything. There's this other band there, one of the headliners for the day. They're sound-checking, and they actually end up sound-checking 15 minutes into our set.
"They actually cut into our set!" Tamez continues, incredulously. "I'm talking to the stage manager, and he's on me to have everything commence real quick with our set. He was just totally oblivious to us and our needs. He was like, 'Don't touch anything, don't move anything!' Now, just because we're human and we're accustomed to play a certain way, we had to tweak a little something here and there.
"He got so mad," Tamez adds, not sounding terribly sorry at all.
Story continues on the next page.