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H.U.S.H., Take Two: A Chat with Matt Brownlie [7/30/2009 03:29:00 PM]:
In case you hadn't seen/heard of it yet, local H-town scene icon and Bring Back The Guns frontman Matt Brownlie has a new plan, which happens to sound a bit like an old plan. Back in the day, Matt had the grand vision of a series of self-perpetuating showcases for local bands, and he called the thing H.U.S.H., short for "Houston Underground Social Hour." While the shows themselves went pretty well, y'know, these things do end, and H.U.S.H. quietly crumbled after a much-loved run.

Nowadays, Matt's a married man, halfway settled-down and homebody-like. (Much like, yes, my own lame, sporadically show-going ass.) Even still, though, he's decided to resurrect the H.U.S.H. name and give it a new purpose, kicking off what'll hopefully be a series of "early" shows at Rudyard's for us old dudes to be able to hit and still make it home in time for our Law & Order reruns on the teevee.

The first one'll be this next Thursday, August 6th, from 6PM to 10PM or so, and it's gonna be good -- the jaw-droppingly awesome Benjamin Wesley headlines, with openers The Takes and Muzak John. It's cheap, with only a $5 donation suggested, and the proceeds go to benefit Planned Parenthood of Houston & Southeast Texas.

Since I wasn't real clear on the idea behind this "new" H.U.S.H. thing, I hit Matt up with some questions, and we chatted for a while. Here's the transcript:

Matt: Let's do this. It's funny; I was interviewing Muzak John for the KTRU Folio just yesterday. How quickly the tables turn.
Hah! That had to be an odd one...
He's fun to talk to! Not nearly as weird as you'd think. Just super, super sweet.
Really? Well, I can get the sweet part, definitely, but he seems awful bizarre.
He's quirky, but that's about it, at least as far as I can tell.
I think that describes most of my friends, so I guess I'd better not throw any stones... First off, is this a "reboot," so to speak? A resurrection of the original H.U.S.H.? Or is it something different?
You know, I had mostly forgotten that I'd called those Rhythm Room shows "H.U.S.H." I thought I was calling them "Down With The Scene," like the fest I did.
I thought the festival came first, and then the H.U.S.H. shows -- of course, my memory sucks, so...
Yeah, that's right. But I'd forgotten that I was calling the shows H.U.S.H. I couldn't remember if I was calling them that or Down With The Scene.
Ah, gotcha. So this is no real relation, then? Just a coincidence/re-used name?
Yeah, essentially. Although there are some similarities: I'm still dead set on mixing genres, whether it's appropriate or not. I'm still going to try to throw in as much experimental stuff as the club/audience can stomach.
"Experimental" meaning experimental bands, or...? Or do you mean "experimental" as in mixing genres that might not go together?
What kind of bands are you looking at for these shows?
I guess it's almost fair to say that it's a continuation of the previous shows, except that I'd pretty much forgotten that those shows ever happened. Well, that's the thing.
That's pretty funny; I honestly don't remember the shows, myself, as much as the organizational meetings at Cafe Artiste.
Ha! Yes. But wasn't that for DWTS? The fest?
Well, crap. I can't remember for sure. Too many years in-between...
Pretty sure it was DWTS. But it's all tentacles of the same octopus.
Very true. What would you say the aim is this time around? What's the impetus behind the shows?
My primary motivation for booking these shows is that I've managed to fall majorly out of the loop with local music. At about the same time that [Bring Back The Guns] broke up, this whole new crop of bands sprang into existence.
Um. Not to display my total cluelessness, but when did you guys break up?
Oh, wait. We haven't broken up.
I just thought y'all were laying low...
But I don't anticipate anything further happening unless there's a damn good reason.
Why's that, if you don't mind me asking? Not to derail this too much further...
Um, well, we just kind of wound down. And then I had a scooter wreck that laid me out for a number of months.
Yeah, I heard about that -- that sounded pretty bad.
And we were all sick of these grinding, mostly unsuccessful tours and sleeping on floors and stuff.
Can't fault you for that, that's for sure. That was part of the band experience I could never get into, myself. And you've been pretty much out of the loop since then?
Yeah, at about the same time that the band broke up, a few things changed. I started getting up really early, which works well for me but isn't conducive to catching shows. And I was already sick of bars due to all the touring and was kind of burned out on music in general. But around the same time a whole new crop of bands sprung up out of nowhere, it seemed.
Yeah, they all kind of came up at the same time, it's true; caught me by surprise, too.
And I would swear to myself that I was going to go see X or Y, but 9 times out of 10 when showtime came around, the couch, TV and wife would win out.
Ah, yeah. The perils of married/domestic life; I can't count the number of shows I've planned on hitting when staying home won the fight.
But I really do like rock shows, and I really do like putting on rock shows, and I knew that I couldn't possibly be the only guy in town who is into the Houston scene but can't push himself to stand around at the Mink until 12:45 to catch the band they want to see.
So H.U.S.H. is meant as an outlet for other folks who're in that boat?
Okay, now I'm confused.
H.U.S.H. is me booking bands I've been meaning to check out or bands I've seen and loved. I know that other people will show up, but it's primarily very self-centered.
Ah...okay, that makes sense, then. So the idea is to set up shows with bands you're wanting to see, but at a time that's more do-able. Very sneaky.
You sure you want me to print that part?
Sure! But I do hope they're successful. I also miss being around my musician pals, all of whom are aging right alongside me, and I hope they're as excited about these shows as I am.
It's a win-win deal, then.
I hope so.
Do you have a wish list of people you want to see play? Can you give a glimpse? Of what you've got planned, that is.
Well, I'm not quite at the stage where I'm booking the next few shows. Gotta get everything in line first. But... I can't wait to book Fat Tony, he's been slaying me. Something Fierce, even though I've seen them a number of times. Ghost Mountain sounds fun. B L A C K I E, even though it seems like he plays every 20 minutes or so.
Yeah, it's been feeling like that lately...
I fucking love that guy, though. Love B L A C K I E. It's been a long time since I was as excited about a local artist as I am about him.
He's pretty incredible to witness, I have to say, especially live. The first time I caught him, I didn't know what the hell was going on. It sounds like you're aiming more for the hip-hop end of things this time out?
I wouldn't say that...
Not trying to pick at it, don't worry -- I think those folks are some of the most talented people Houston's got going right now.
Didn't take it that way. Basically, I am a huge hip-hop fan, but I really want to mix genres as much as the audience will let me at these shows. My perfect lineup would be one rock act, one hip-hop act, and one totally out-there act. Because that's what I listen to.
That makes sense to me -- just out of curiousity, what "out-there" acts are you looking at?
Well, Muzak John is a great start. But there's so much awesome noise in this city, always. Infant Mortality Rate killed me at the last KTRU outdoor show. I think that Rotten Piece is inactive, but I know that Shaun Kelly is doing other projects and I'm eager to find out about them.
So Muzak John, Something Fierce, and Fat Tony? That'd be an entertaining bill.
Right, like the first one is Benjamin Wesley, who's a pal but I've never seen him live, The Takes, who murdered me at the Westheimer Block Party a year or two ago, and Muzak John.
Ah, cool -- I thought it was just Benjamin playing.
I just wonder how much experimental stuff anyone's going to want to see at 6:30 on a Thursday!
Maybe put that last?
I kind of have this vision where I get the noise guys to do between-band sets off the stage. That's what Muzak's doing. But we'll see.
Where're these going to be, by the way?
There should be a built-in crowd, then, right there -- Rudz in the early evening always seems packed to me, at least downstairs.
Yeah, except I don't know what their built-in crowd is going to make of this racket, you know?
True -- hopefully it won't drive 'em all off. But hell, they can deal for one night, right? Speaking of which, are these only going to be on Thursdays?
Yeah, first Thursday of every month. And built-in crowd or not, there are more than enough people who are into Houston bands but can't regularly stay out until all hours that this should be a good thing.
I remember you mentioning early on that you're thinking these shows'll be benefit shows, too -- is that going to happen?
They will all be charity shows, yes.
For specific charities?
Um, not too specific. At first I was dead set on paying the bands because I always appreciated that when I was playing around town, but one day on the bus to work it hit me that the best way to make this a truly community event would be to have it benefit the least fortunate in the community. The first one is benefitting Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas.
How do you decide which groups to donate to? Just curious; I'm a Planned Parenthood fan, myself.
Planned Parenthood just made sense; my dad has worked for them for as long as I've been alive. Past that, I'm not looking to benefit many arts organizations, love them to death though I truly do. I'm looking into charities that serve truly underprivileged humans and animals. Locally.
I like that idea -- giving back to the local Houston community in a concrete way. What's the response been like so far from bands you've talked to?
I've only talked to the bands booked for this first show so far, and they're excited by it. It's hard for me to imagine a local band not liking the idea and not being willing to give up a show's worth of pay for a happy-hour show.
True; heck, when I was playing in a band, it seemed like the shows that did pay were the exception and not the rule.
Yeah, and that's a problem, and that's why I was initially dead-set on paying the bands. But I also wanted to keep it very cheap, since no one seems to want to pay very much for shows around here -- myself included -- especially at happy hour. The charity thing just seemed like a win-win for everyone.
The funny thing is that while these shows are aimed partly at helping people, the H.U.S.H. idea seems pretty modest and short-term, which I think makes it a lot more do-able. Does that make sense? I know in the past there've been some grand plans...
It's very modest, and I'm not really thinking short- or long-term.
Just kind of "whatever happens, happens"?
Exactly. I would like to see some bands, I would like to get my pals together once a month, I would like to make some money for some people who need it.
Cool. I like it.
Secondary to all that, I would like to expose people to music they might not encounter outside of their comfort zone. Myself included! Myself primarily, maybe!
Ha! Well, you've got to recruit these bands, right? So surely you'll have to hear 'em first...
Yeah, I'll check them out online, for sure. But there are a ton of bands I've heard good things about from people whose taste I trust. The KTRU show is also a great way to find out about crazy local stuff.
Oh, definitely. Ian's a great guy.
Er, I meant my KTRU show where I just look for looked-over local music. I also meant KTRU in general and The Local Show more specifically.
Sorry, got confused -- thought you meant the local show.
Yeah, I wasn't too clear there.
Cool -- I'm going to try to make it out, hopefully to the inaugural show, although I may not be able to make it right by 6:30. Gotta put the midget to bed.
Indeed. See what you can do, fellow old man.
It's weird, but I seem to've followed the same track you did; got burned out, then dropped off for a while and just started coming back to it a year or two ago... I guess that's adulthood, eh?
Seems that way.

There you go -- mark yr calendars...

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