Frog Hair — Houston’s Fuckin’ Awesomest Supergroup — Is Also a Really Old Figure of Speech.

froghair19Frog Hair is JJ White (Drillbox Ignition, Dizzy Pilot) abusing a guitar, singing lead, and doing most of the songwriting. It was previously a two-piece (literally one guitar and one drum), and for their first demos, which recall the earliest, fuzziest Pixies, and their songs on bandcamp.com, JJ’s friend PJ Yruegaz plays only a single bass drum with drumsticks — no pedals, a crescent tambourine duct-taped on top, along with a single crash cymbal. Despite that minimal setup, the sounds he’s getting out of that contraption are both fascinating and huge.

The story goes like this: JJ played the demos for Michael Haaga, lead singer and songwriter of the storied Houston bands The Plus and Minus Show, Demonseeds, and the classic deadhorse lineup, who played Black Francis in Jason Nodler‘s history-making stage adaptation of Francis’ album Bluefinger, and who also played bass in Phillip Anselmo‘s Superjoint Ritual. Haaga was mightily impressed, so at White’s request, Haaga recruited a third local rock god, Scott Ayers (his band, Pain Teens, recorded for Sub Pop and Trance Syndicate), to fill out the sound with some heavily-effected lead guitar.

froghair3Tonight, at what is still basically an early rehearsal, Ayers’ playing is often psychedelic and heavy on melody (I found myself thinking of the Butthole Surfers’ “weird” stuff). Haaga’s low-end bass is as upbeat as Ayers’ and White’s guitars, but blends — in a way I can barely understand — with both his own backing vocal, White’s lead vocal, and the one-piece Frankenstein’s monster of Yruegaz’ mesmerizing percussion.

Oh. Yeah. The term “frog hair,” it turns out, dates from the early 1800s American South. It is generally used as a simile┬áto compliment a female of superior physical appearance. For example, Google it and you’ll find dozens of hundred year old blues songs with lyrics like, “My woman is finer than a frog’s hair,” or something else just as hard to decipher. I mean, I don’t like touching frogs, so I didn’t investigate any further. Plus, I don’t know where the hairs would even be on a frog.

But I do like Frog Hair very much. They’re heavy, they’re loud, and they can be quite beautiful, even tender, within the space of a few seconds. The fact that JJ got this stellar a lineup together — and at two recent rehearsals, they all seemed to get along terrifically — with this, my favorite of the three JJ White song cycles of which I’m aware, it’s a landmark moment.

froghair14They belong on the road. And if there’s still rock-radio in any English-speaking country, well, then they belong there, too. This is heavy, earnest, hard rock music. It’s got the weight and the heart to be simultaneously dangerous and vulnerable. You can go to a festival with a hundred bands playing and not hear that combination of pathos and humor.

Frog Hair plays live this Friday, March 11th, upstairs at Rudyard’s British Pub (2010 Waugh Dr.) in the Montrose, along with Lick Lick.

Tangential Note: About Lick Lick
Matt Kelly (Sprawl, Middlefinger) and Marianthe Perce have been ripping throats out with Lick Lick and their older band, Les Saucy Pants, for years. They’re pretty wonderful. One time their guitarist, a heavyset older white man, and an absolute guitar shredder, came dressed as The Pope, in a costume that he had to have spent either many months or a lot of money on. Matt plays keyboards that can often appear to be mounted on multiple suspension coils, and he plays them like drums. Thats why he needs the flexible mounts, because his keyboards (maybe between three and five of them) are flailing and swinging 3-4 feet in every direction at times.

Marianthe reminds me of the sturdy women I’d see performing at Lollapalooza in its earliest years. She uses a strong, throaty, naturally semi-deep voice, and her shows are tons of fun. But if the time is right, and (for the sake of the song) she gets snarly or even just serious, she can be downright intimidating. I’m six and a half feet tall, and I probably weigh 250 pounds, but there was a moment in their last show when I (quietly) asked my wife, “I’m not imagining things. She’s a little bit intimidating right now, isn’t she?” And, without looking away from the stage, my wife raised her eyebrows and slowly nodded yes — for like thirty seconds. But I like rock n roll with a little danger.

It’s gonna be thrilling this Friday night at Rudz. END

(Photos [top to bottom]: Scott Ayers & JJ White; JJ White; Mike Haaga, JJ White, & PJ Yruegaz. All photos by Creg Lovett.)

 

[Frog Hair is playing 3/11/16 at Rudyard’s, along with Lick Lick.]

Interview by . Interview posted Sunday, March 6th, 2016. Filed under Features, Interviews.

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One Response to “Frog Hair — Houston’s Fuckin’ Awesomest Supergroup — Is Also a Really Old Figure of Speech.”

  1. William Scott Deaver on March 11th, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    I’m there…..

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