The Sudden Resurrection of Teen Houston Punks Vast Majority

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Photos and artwork courtesy of Scott Telles
February has been a pretty damn good month for fans of classic Houston punk. A couple weeks back, Jello Biafra's legendary Alternative Tentacles label reissued practically every note ever recorded by H-Town punk pioneers Really Red, giving record collectors the chance to add stuff like the group's latter-day Rest in Pain LP to their vinyl collections for the very first time. Now, a boutique European label is digging even deeper to re-release music by another local group from the earliest days of the Texas punk scene.

More than three decades since teenage Houston rabble-rousers Vast Majority split up for good, front man Scott Telles has revived the band to celebrate the reissue of the bulk of their recorded material. For plenty of old-timers and vinyl nerds around town, that's terrific news.

For other, younger members of the liberty-spiked set, the reaction might be slightly closer to, "Who?"


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Really Red Recalls the Early Days of Houston Punk

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Photos courtesy of Bob Weber
L-R: Really Red's Bob Weber and Dallas Holmes, the artist who designed the party for last Friday's release party at Vinal Edge.
Thanks to Alternative Tentacles' new reissue of Really Red's entire discography on vinyl and CD, you can finally hear the local punk heroes' music blaring out of your handcrafted tube amp anytime you like, from the comfort of your own home. Or anywhere else, for that matter. In fact, the only place you still can't hear Really Red's collected works is onstage.

Yep, if you missed hearing the Texas Biscuit Bombs and Talk Sick Brats jam out some Really Red tunes at the release party on Friday at Vinal Edge, you're out of luck. Singer Ronnie "U-Ron" Bond, guitarist Kelly Younger, drummer Bob Weber and bassist John Paul Williams have no plans to reform, and they ain't likely to make any. They're not "on hiatus." They're scattered across three states, occupying themselves with things that very rarely require sleeping in vans.

"It almost seems like it was a past life," says Younger.


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Jello Biafra Thinks It's Time You Re-Examined Really Red

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Photo by Ben DeSoto/Courtesy of Ronnie Bond
L-R: Ronnie "U-Ron Bondage" Bond and original Dead Kennedys bassist Klaus Fluoride at Houston's The Island, c. early 1980s
Back in the early '80s, there was a kick-ass punk band in Houston called Really Red. In a lot of ways, they were no different than a hundred other groups exploring the potential of alternative rock back in the day. In their six years together, they wrote a bunch of politically charged songs, self-released a few records and toured around the country to anyplace that would have them. Then the band simply ceased to exist.

For 30 years, that was the story on Really Red, and not a terribly unique one, either. If you were around the fledgling Houston punk scene back then, chances are pretty decent that you remember Really Red. If you weren't around, then odds are good-to-great that you've never even heard their music. But you should. And now, a bonafide punk-rock legend has stepped up personally to make sure that you can.

Today, more than three decades after the band called it quits, ex-Dead Kennedys front man and beloved counterculture loudmouth Jello Biafra's storied Alternative Tentacles label is re-releasing pretty much everything Really Red ever recorded on CD and vinyl. The three-volume collection includes albums, B-sides, live cuts and unreleased rarities, most of which haven't seen the light of day since long before drummer Bob Weber, guitarist Kelly Younger, bassist John Paul Williams and singer Ronnie "U-Ron Bondage" Bond went their separate ways.

Why is AT re-releasing the catalogue of a long-gone band that so few outside Texas even remember? Well, the proof is in the pudding. Really Red were really, really good.


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Sorry, BeyHive, But We Are All Yoncé'd Out

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This past Wednesday night, there was an entire Beyoncé category on on Jeopardy. Just let that sink in for a minute.

Ready? Here we go.

We are all Yoncé'd out.

That means we are over the Jeopardy categories. We are over the album drops. We are weary of the gossip items, blind items, bump watches and Jay Z sightings. That means we are tired of the "Surfborts" and "Single Ladies" parodies. Even the Solange jokes, too.


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Just Give Blue Ivy Carter All the VMAs, Please

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MTV
Are we tired of twerking yet?
Sunday night was the billionth year for the MTV Video Music Awards, and only one thing can be taken away from the whole unfunny shebang: just give Blue Ivy Carter all of the VMAs, now and forever, and let's be done with the whole thing. Seriously.

So in case you were wondering (or were smart enough to skip it), the whole show -- from Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda" yawn-fest to Miley Cyrus' well-intentioned but still somehow totally stunt-queen stand-in antics -- was just kinda meh. Everything but Blue of course, but we'll get to that. Here's what happened.

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Failure's Unlikely Reunion: "It's Like a Whole New Audience"

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Photo by Priscilla Chavez
Ken Andrews, right, with Failure
For 17 years, the story of Failure was thought to be written; finished. The L.A. alternative-rock band produced three albums' worth of carefully layered, atmospheric heaviness that was an uncomfortable fit for the grunge-dominated early '90s. After scoring a minor alt-rock hit with "Stuck On You" and joining the final Lollapalooza tour in 1997, the group disbanded under a black cloud of interpersonal conflict, drug abuse and label indifference -- not exactly an uncommon tale in '90s rock.

Unlike so many of their alternative peers who dabbled in heroin, however, nobody in Failure died...and neither did their music. Whether the group was simply ahead of its time or required the help of new digital distribution tools to be heard, Failure's acclaim continued to grow after the band's dissolution, with many new fans (and critics) coming to revere its final album, Fantastic Planet, as one of the decade's best.

Now all cleaned (and grown) up, Failure has reassembled to write a new and unexpected chapter in their story, with all of the potential for excitement and disappointment that such a return must entail. Before the band takes the stage at House of Blues tonight, Rocks Off spoke with older, wiser bandleader Ken Andrews about how and why Failure now finds itself with another stab at success.


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25 People Having More Fun Than Us at FPSF

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Photo by Jim Bricker
When you're pushing 40 at a festival like Free Press Summer Fest, you often find yourself thinking things like, "What in the hell is going on?" and "Is there somewhere I can go take a nap?" Rocks Off would like to doff our slightly mud-spattered cap to the following people our photographers captured this weekend, and hope some of them will tell us where we can get some of whatever they must be on.


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10 Signs You're Too Old for Coachella

Note: Last weekend our friends at L.A. Weekly and OC Weekly were all up in America's No 1. selfie-taking spot, the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, and now they've gone back for more. We know.

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Photo by Chris Victorio/OC Weekly
You tell 'em, Grandpa!
Age, of course, is a state of mind. But it's easy to feel like you've aged 30 years after three busy days at Coachella. Whether you've gone to the festival since the first year in 1999 or just started going a few years ago, the festival can feel a bit, well, different than when you were in your teens and 20s. If so, you might want to check and see if you just might be getting too old for this shit.


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The 10 Worst Musical Comebacks of All Time

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We'll get to you in October, Vince, Tommy, et. al.
Don't call it a comeback...because it sucked.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that "less is more," especially when you're a retired musician. It can be easy to find yourself pining away for the spotlight and those glory days of old, but we really would advise you to think twice before hitting the comeback circuit, lest you become one of these poor folks below. So many things can go wrong and, apparently, very little can go right.

So our wayward, nostalgic musician friends. Please make sure you're good and ready to face the world again before you emerge from the bowels of a previous decade, or else this could happen.


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The Reality Bites Soundtrack at 20: The Good, the Bad and the Totally '90s

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This week marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Reality Bites, Houston's cinematic "'90s moment" starring Ethan Hawke's grunge locks and Winona Ryder's doily dress. It's a flawed film, and rather unsatisfying at times, but it's hardly without its charms -- quite like Houston itself, one might say.

Today, it's remembered fondly by many not so much as a classic love story or intimate portrait of life in our city, but as a perfect, time-capsule snapshot of our mass-culture conceptions of success, love and self-expression in the early '90s, before the whole decade lost its damn mind towards the end there.

But hey, we here at Rocks Off ain't film critics. What about the tunes?


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