The Rocks Off 200: Dave Callier, Grindcore Guitar God

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.

Photos by Stanislav Smrcak
Who? If you're at all interested in Texas' extreme-metal scene, you're going to run into Dave Callier at some point. A total sucker for unchecked speed and aggression, the guitarist serves as the front man for P.L.F., Houston's thrashiest international grindcore export.

The band just recently returned from a 32-date European tour promoting their new LP Ultimate Whirlwind of Incineration that took them from Barcelona to Moscow and every weird little hamlet in between. But one band could never be enough to contain all of Callier's hyperspeed riffs and mucous-burbling shrieks. He also fronts the speedy local death-metal standouts Oath of Cruelty and shreds brutally in the long-running blackened death outfit Morbosidad. If it's loud, fast and heavy, he's into it.

The extreme-metal bug bit Callier early, and it bit him hard. Like so many who have contracted the sickness, he says he was infected as a youngster by an older brother with little regard for his younger sibling's eardrums.

"The first time I heard extreme music I was nine years old, and my brother was home for Christmas break from college," Callier says. "He put in a dubbed tape of the first Carcass album, Reek of Putrefaction. He explained to me what 'carcass' meant and what 'putrefaction' meant, and the meaning of the second song, 'Regurgitation of Giblets.' It just totally blew my mind. I couldn't even fathom how people could make music that sounded like that, especially with the pitch-shifters on the vocals.

"It definitely left an impression on me," he added.

As soon as he could, Callier set out to make a nasty impression of his own. The band that would become P.L.F. began bashing away in 1998, and he's been pushing himself to metallic extremes ever since.

Home Base: When he's not on tour, Callier can usually be found playing with one band or another at local metal haunts like Rudyard's, Walters and the White Swan. Though he loves to go on tour, H-Town seems certain to remain his hideously hot headbanging headquarters.

"I'm a single parent and everything, so I'm definitely not going anywhere for a while," Callier says.

Good War Story As much as possible, the P.L.F. mastermind prefers to keep his war stories confined to his songs. But in the wild, wooly world of extreme rock, the insanity can't help but get a tad out of hand at times. A few years back, Callier says his grind troupe was invited to play a house show in Austin that got rather more rowdy than anticipated.

"It was a pretty wild place," he says. "I'm not really sure who owned the house, but during our set, people were swinging sledgehammers into the walls. Someone blew up a window on me while I was singing and playing our set. I don't know if people were getting evicted from there or what, but it was pretty wild: The place was literally being destroyed while the show was going on.

"Some more bands played, and we kind of got out of there and drove back to Houston," he continues. "When we were on our way back, we heard that somebody had burned the place down."

Story continues on the next page.

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