The Rocks Off 200: Matt Cash, Clear Lake's Cassette Tape Wailer
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're ready to escape this bleary winter chill for some good vibes and sunshine, consider heading over to House of Blues on Saturday. Cassette Tape, the reggae-rock kings of the Galveston Island beach-bar circuit, will celebrate the release of their self-titled EP with a blowout jam session in HOB's Bronze Peacock Room.
Matt Cash of Cassette Tape
Having built a loyal and pleasantly buzzed following with their heady mix of reggae, funk and heavy alternative, the band was more or less forced into the studio by popular demand, says Matt Cash, the obnoxiously underrated guitarist and singer who masterminded Cassette Tape three years ago with musical soul-brother Louis Morales.
"People have been dying to hear something that sounds like what we do live," says Cash. "We recorded an EP a couple years ago, and we actually stopped making copies of it and selling it, because it doesn't sound anything like what we sound like live. So, our main thing when we recorded this EP was that we really wanted to convey the energy of what we do live."
Indeed, Cassette Tape's electric blend of reggae, funk and heavy alternative has won them a loyal following from Spring to Jamaica Beach, apt to get even the most casual of reggae fans up and dancing barefoot -- especially the ladies.
"Expect a shitload of hot-ass dancing girls," says Cash with a laugh. "It seems to be inevitable at all our shows. It really seems like most of our following is female. I don't think I've ever seen so many high-caliber beautiful women in one place in my life."
This month, ladies and gents from across the state will get to experience the unique contact high that is a Cassette Tape show when the band embarks on their first-ever tour, taking them from Corpus Christi to Austin with a few Houston stops mixed in there, too.
Though the group appears poised for breakout success far beyond its Greater Houston stronghold, the ride so far has already been a dream come true for Cash. Whether with Cassette Tape or flying solo, he's devoted himself to music full-time, and he's always on the lookout for another stage.
"I believe I'm addicted to playing out," the guitarist says. "I've been playing music since I was 14, but I hadn't played publically until about three years ago. I had a really long relationship and it failed, and I just decided I was going to play music for the rest of my life, even if I ended up homeless.
"So literally, I will go anywhere and play at an open mike," he continues. "Every day of the week I try to find somewhere public to play."
Home Base: "Home base is the Clear Lake area," says Cash. "I spend a lot of time in Cypress, too. I moved up to Cypress about a year and a half ago to try to spread the band out up here, and it was very successful. Then I had a falling out with my girlfriend and I moved back home.
"I'm still in Cypress four days out of the week," he adds. "I host an open-mike on Mondays at a place called Bedrock Tavern."
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Good War Story: Cassette Tape serves as electrified proof that if you want a gig, you'd better ask for one. Back when the group was still a duo, Cash and Morales decided to trek down to Galveston from Clear Lake to find a place, any place, that would let them play. The first joint they stopped at was Riptide Surf Bar.
"We went to the bar with no amps or anything, and asked the bartender if we could play," Cash says. "He was like, 'Well, I can't pay you,' and we were like, 'We don't give a fuck! We just want to play!' We started jamming, and the next thing we knew, he called the bar manager and she got out of bed and came to the bar.
"She liked it, so she called the owner, and he got out of bed and came up there," he continues. "Then we were playing there every two weeks, I guess."
The chemistry was undeniable, and before long, they were playing all over the Island, and even scored a plum three-month residency as the house band at the House of Blues restaurant. The addition of a knockout rhythm section, including a strange simian creature on congas, expanded the Cassette Tape experience on to a whole new wavelength.
Why Do You Stay in Houston? "I guess lack of a touring vehicle," Cash says. "There's been many times when I just wanted to up and leave Houston, personally. But I'm dedicated to my band. I will not give up on any of that. It's my baby.
"It's something I've been trying to create for the last ten years, just dreaming of trying to create this unique progressive reggae style, and it seems to be extremely successful," he adds. "So, no matter how hard my life gets, I live for my band."
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "In Houston, there seems to be a sense of competition between all these bands," says the laid-back guitar-slinger. "I believe music is an art and it shouldn't be anything competitive."
Best Concert Ever: Cash counts Cassette's gig opening for Pepper at House of Blues as the band's best gig to date. The best concert he's ever seen, though, came courtesy of Trent Reznor:
"I saw Nine Inch Nails in San Antonio, and that really moved me," he says. "It was the 'Lights In the Sky' tour. San Antonio wasn't even on the tour -- they just added it out of nowhere. My girlfriend and I happened to be in San Antonio at the time, and we just went and it blew my mind. The light show actually blew Tool out of the water."
Cassette Tape plays Saturday at House of Blues' Bronze Peacock Room with Mama Tried, Idiginis and Alvin and the Slickpunks. Doors open at 8 p.m. Find them on ReverbNation at reverbnation.com/cassettetape.
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.