Making a Difference: Artists Who Have Share Their Wisdom

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photos by Marco Torres
"Joni Mitchell once said that singing, crying, and laughing all come up out of the same need. So, I think that's what art is for..."
-- Erykah Badu

A certain array of life questions are essential to one's own personal growth and development: who am I? Where am I going? What do I want to be when I grow up? None of these queries are particularly easy to ascertain, because the answers almost always prove to be in a constant state of evolution. Attitudes can range from "I am somebody" to "I don't give a fuck," or the infinite number of possibilities in between.

For many people, the journey towards answering these essential life questions revolves around music. Something as simple as a sound wave making contact with an eardrum becomes almost as important as the air you breathe and the earth you walk on.


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Hank3's Family Tradition: Doing Whatever the Hell He Wants

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Don't confuse Hank Williams III with the ones who came before him. This sure ain't Bocephus' music he's playin'.

Hank Williams III, or Hank3, as he's known to his fans, is hardly the honky-tonk musician of old. Despite being descended from country-music royalty -- he's the grandson of good ol' Hank Williams, and his father is the infamous Bocephus -- Hank3 has opted for his own path well outside the confines of traditional country music.

Instead, he's swapped the "Family Tradition" for a hybrid of hellbilly, psychobilly, metal and punk, forging a solo career while also playing with his metal band, Assjack. The ornery sound embodied in anti-country anthems like "Dick in Dixie" initially created more than a few Hank3 skeptics. But those days are long gone now.


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The Aspiring Me, Son Of Big Mello, Talks About Finding His Own Sound

Categories: Q&A

Ysabel Arias

Andrew Davis, also known by his rap alias The Aspiring Me, is a 24-year-old Missouri City native who is wise beyond his years. Being the son of Houston rap legend Big Mello, Davis has been exposed to the ways of the game and it helped him find what works for him musically. After dropping his EP The Aspiring Me in 2010, Davis traveled a long road in finding the perfect sound for his self-titled debut album droping in July. Rocks Off got a chance to speak with The Aspiring Me about his album, his father Big Mello and finding himself in music.

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Lita Ford: Still Living Like A Runaway

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In the '80s, Lita Ford was one of the most prominent female voices in hard rock. With hits such as "Kiss Me Deadly" (which was named the 76th "Greatest Hard Rock Song Of All-Time" by VH1), "Back To The Cave," and "Close My Eyes Forever," she was on a winning tear.

Plus she still had (and has) oodles of street-cred for being a part of what many call one of the first modern punk bands, the Runaways.

After a decade-long hiatus and 2009's Wicked Wonderland, Ford is back with her latest record, Living Like A Runaway. Rocks Off caught up with Ford via phone and talked to her about that new disc, the upcoming Monsters of Rock Cruise, and touring with Poison and Def Leppard. She will be appearing on the Rock Of Ages tour with Def Leppard and Poison this Saturday at 7 pm at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

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The Bangles' Susanna Hoffs: "I Listen a Lot to the '60s Still"

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Photo by Jonathon Kingsbury
In the '80s, Susanna Hoffs was at the top of her game as a member of all-girl band the Bangles, who had many hits including "Hero Takes a Fall," "Walking Down Your Street," "Walk Like an Egyptian," "Eternal Flame," and countless others.

Though the band split in 1989, Hoffs reunited with the Bangles in 1999, but maintains a solo career and recently released her new project, Someday. Rocks Off recently spoke with Hoffs via phone about Someday, her love of '60s music, and the time the Bangles performed on the brand-new Sam Houston Tollway... and thought it might collapse


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Dubstep DJ Doorly: "Everyone Goes Mental"

Categories: Q&A

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If he isn't too busy running his own record label as well as heading his own underground radio station in the UK, Doorly can be found creating his classic beats and touring.

Now he's back in the U.S. on tour for the first time in half a year, and performs Saturday night at new downtown spot Kryptonite. Rocks Off spoke with the DJ about EDM's progression from the UK to the U.S., as well as his recent work with Beardyman.

Rocks Off: I love the classic sounds you produce, however I think we can both admit that dubstep has progressed to a different sound today. Even from the UK to the U.S. there are different sounds. What's your perspective on the rise of EDM in the U.S., and what do you think of the younger producers and DJs in the game now?


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Slightly Stoopid: "All of Us Are Pretty Much Music Nerds"

Categories: Q&A

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This summer's Unity Tour has 311 teaming up with Slightly Stoopid to hit 38 cities. Houston of course is along the road.

Known for never sticking to just one specific genre, Slightly Stoopid will hit the stage at Cynthia Woods Sunday evening. Rocks Off got to speak with drummer Ryan Moran, aka RyMo, about SS itself and what makes each stop a little more tasty.


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Lower Dens' Jana Hunter: "I Want Things To Be Done To Me"

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Photo by Sean Donnola
Nootropics is defined as a substance that enhances cognition and memory and facilitates learning. It's also the title of the new Lower Dens record that is, perhaps tying in to that definition, a very cerebral experience. Although some have said the record is sad or nightmarish Rocks Off chooses to view it as reflective. It's the sound of long nights spent thinking and overthinking in the dark.

It's an album that demands your attention. Heavy on atmosphere, with lots of textures and reverbed guitars, it is at times haunting. And in the middle of all of that is the voice of Jana Hunter, whose vocals provide for some of the most haunted moments.

Hunter is a Texas native who spent a fair amount of time in Houston, most famously in Matty & Mossy. No stranger to the Houston Press or Rocks Off, we caught up with her on the eve of the band's first headlining tour.


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Levi Weaver: King of the House Concert, Coming to a Home Near You

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Photo via www.leviweaver.com
When people fantasize about being a musician, they tend to think about living the high life -- travelling from city to city in a jet, playing sold-out shows in front of thousands of screaming fans, and having access to the finest things. But no matter how nice the dream sounds, we rationally know that this isn't the reality for most musicians.

While life for the average touring group isn't all G6s and endless alcohol, it's still a pretty sweet gig. If you're talented or lucky enough to get a record deal, you probably at least have a semi-reliable vehicle and a road crew to help set up your equipment.

Now imagine that touring meant spending hours alone behind the wheel driving from city to city playing in people's living rooms. Imagine spending 200 days a year away from your family and friends and with nothing but the radio to keep you company. And then imagine that on top of that you get to visit Texas in the summer in a car with a broken air conditioner.

Levi Weaver doesn't have to imagine that. He's living it.


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Explosions In the Sky: No Vocals Necessary

Categories: Q&A, Rock Show

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Known for elaborate guitar work, referred to as "cathartic mini-symphonies," Explosions In the Sky put on emotional shows. Remaining completely devoid of vocals, three guitars and one drummer (a bass guitar is thrown in at times) Explosions combine to create a sound that seems to carry the crowd on a journey of emotions.

The Austin band has released five albums, most recently last year's Take Care, Take Care, Take Care (Temporary Residence), and will be bringing their interesting talents to Houston once more Sunday at Warehouse Live. Speaking with guitarist Munaf Rayani recently, I discussed the band's progression over the years, why vocals just simply never fell into any of their music and how he himself picked up a guitar.


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