Category Archives: Tony Housh My Rock and Roll Journey
Written by Tony Housh (Seasons After)
As I mentioned in my last installment of “My Rock and Roll Journey,” after living in a small area and searching for my spot, eventually I began looking for a new place to call my musical home. I knew that if I didn’t somehow find my way to a larger area with a more happening music scene, that I would surely never find the musical situation that I needed in order to grow myself as a young vocalist and frontman. I began slowly setting my sites on Dallas, TX. I just couldn’t help thinking about a trip I had once taken to Dallas several years earlier to visit my cousin Mark and family.
My cousin Mark had extended an invite to me to come to Dallas and chill for a week or so after I had just gotten out of high school, so I took it. I had already given college a run, and to be honest, I sucked at it. I would sit in my classes and think to myself… “Why am I here? I didn’t like going to school in the first place, and now I’m paying for it??” Naturally, it didn’t work out in the end because the college route never felt right to me.
I found myself getting off of a Greyhound bus in downtown Dallas at the age of 18 to meet my cousin Mark for a short stay. He immediately began showing me around the city after picking me up from the bus station.
Dallas was huge to me! I could feel the energy pulsating through the air. There was something about that city that made me feel electric. Even the traffic was amazing. I loved every aspect of it! It honestly felt like I had been missing this fast-paced environment my entire life. Coming from a small town, Dallas was truly amazing.
One of the first places that my cousin took me to was the historic Dallas entertainment club district – Deep Ellum. It was only a few miles from the bus station. As we made our way down the one-way streets in downtown Dallas, I stared out of the windows of his red Chevy short bed hotrod at the towering buildings, each one casting a shadow over the streets. I was amazed and blown away during the entire ride through the downtown area. Keep in mind that it was only around noon on a Saturday when Mark picked me up, so Deep Ellum was relatively quiet.
He looked over to me and said…“Hey cuz, I’m going to take you into the area that I am bringing you to tonight for a concert. I want you to see it during the day. Once I bring you back tonight for the show, you will be floored by the transformation that happens when the sun goes down.” And boy, was I ever!
Later that night, he brought me back to Deep Ellum. I was fascinated by it all…the large crowds moving from club to club, the well-dressed men standing at club doors overseeing the entry of patrons, the tattoo shops, the beautiful women and the cars wrapped around (what appeared to be) blocks of traffic with everyone partying to the max! It was my first time seeing all of the colors of personality and insanity that can be humanity…each person doing and being what they wanted to be at that very moment. I freaking loved it!
Mark took me to my first, second and third rock show ever…all in one night! Our first top was Trees, a live music venue that it still killing it in Deep Ellum to this day. We watched a band from the Dallas area called Stinkbug. I just stood there in awe of the band. I was mesmerized by the frontman. He was so in control of the crowd, and brutal with the delivery of every phrase. Even in between songs, he was an animal. I just stood there, not even bobbing my head, just watching, thinking and dreaming about that being ME on stage. It felt like my place for some reason. That dark club and those crazy streets outside somehow made me feel like I had a direction.
After leaving that show, we bounced over to another local kickass spot called Deep Ellum Live. Once again, I stood there in awe while watching a band called Fishbone. I just knew that I needed to live in this city, but it would be another six years before I would call it home.
Over that six-year period, I would end up doing a lot of things that had very little to do with music. The occasional jam session here or there would happen with friends from time to time. I even drove back and forth to the Dallas/Fort Worth area from Abilene just to jam with random guys for a night before heading back home to the family life. It was my little way of fulfilling my urge to sing I guess.
During that time, I ended up getting married and having two wonderful kids. I even began building some sort of career for myself outside of music in trucking and route delivery. But as they say, all good things must come to an end (I suppose). The “Big D” was just around the corner for me, and I don’t mean Dallas. That “Big D” would come a little later.
At the age of 23, I was facing a divorce. I was super bummed about the entire thing (as you can imagine). By the time the situation had found its way to finality, (almost 5 years later), I had begun trying to find my way back to Dallas to play music in the places where I had stood and dreamed it all up years before. After all was said and done, I began looking up bands in the Dallas area on the internet and setting up auditions. I had nowhere to live and no job, but I decided that I was going to go to Dallas no matter the cost of the journey.
It wasn’t very long after (on September 9, 2001) that I threw my belongings in my car in West Virginia and set sail for Dallas and a new beginning (without even having a place to live or a job to feed me). I didn’t care. I was going to make a move no matter the consequences!
Once I arrived in Arlington (a Dallas suburb), I immediately began attending auditions. I like to joke that I had a band interview before I even filled out a job application, but it’s the truth. Within a week or so, I had contacted a very good friend of mine who allowed me to have a bed in his efficiency apartment’s kitchen. I would call that home while I searched for my new band. The search would continue for just a few weeks before I ran into a band called Havoc; they were looking for a singer. We would eventually be known as Flip 44, and later as MyMotive.
In Chapter 4 of “My Rock And Roll Journey,” I’ll tell the story of Flip 44 and MyMotive, and the twists and turns through the Dallas music scene that set the course for my journey of today.
MORE “MY ROCK AND ROLL JOURNEY” STORIES
Written by Tony Housh (Seasons After)
“My Rock and Roll Journey”…I really like that title. Naturally, I was intrigued once I heard that several of us rocker types were going to be sharing our personal experiences that helped us to become who we are today.
I can’t imagine what my journey would have been if I hadn’t made the choice to follow that shiny thing glowing at the end of the (sometimes) dark and creepy music biz hallway. It’s like a high that you chase. It’s irresistible to the budding musician. You want to reach out and have that shiny object that is fueled by your passion. You simply can’t stop yourself once you have been bitten by the bug.
Some people have to go to rehab for gambling, some for substance abuse, and some for other things in life. I have never heard of a rehabilitation center for people who want to “kick the musical habit.” I can say that there have been a few times in my life when I wished I had not been bitten by the proverbial music bug. I would have gladly gone to rehab for my obsession with music, and my determination deep inside to thrive in its environment. In other words, at times, I would have rather kicked the habit and marched to the 9 to 5 gig. Hey, I’m just being honest. It can be a rough ride, not only for the artist, but also the artist’s family. At times, I’ve thought that my life would have been much simpler had I never taken that first “musical crack hit.”
I have been spun out on music (and the surrounding lifestyle) for years. I absolutely cannot imagine not having my daily fix of writing, recording and touring. There’s something special about playing live, seeing your music compete in the market and connecting with people through your words. It is highly addictive, and the overall excitement that it generates in a musician’s soul is irreplaceable (at least that’s how I feel about it).
Sometimes I wonder if all musicians and artists are just a bit crazy. I think that you have to be a little nuts (in some way) to walk away from the traditional structure that society has to offer. When everyone was talking about college and their future, all I could think about was jamming out!
I have a feeling that all musicians have approached that door at some point in their lives. Some walk through it, while others choose not to roll the dice. It’s really that point when you make that decision to open the door and walk through it that the rock and roll journey starts to take place. The moment you say…“this is what I love, and I can’t let it go!” At that point, you begin searching for a way to become sustainable through your passion (which is no easy task).
I stepped into the dark hallway of the music business almost immediately (at age 16), when I joined my very first rock band – Noisy Minority – in my hometown of Cisco, Texas.
I was working at the time at Dairy Queen as a cook. I was just doing my thing in the back, you know, flipping burgers, making french fries, grilling onions and probably jamming out to some country tunes. I looked up to see my meal tickets as the front door opened, and saw Clay Lorence (a local musician) entering the front door with a long-haired dude that I didn’t recognize, but the long hair had me curious.
I insisted to my coworker…“There is no way that you’re delivering these burgers sister! I have it covered!” Away I went with burgers in hand and approached the two rocker dudes. As I recall, I nervously placed the burgers on the table in front of them, and introduced myself as Tony. I said to them…“I think I may be able to sing. I have never been in a rock band, but I really want to give it a shot. Are you guys, by chance, looking for a singer or know someone who may be?”
I later found out that, as I approached their table on that afternoon, there was a comment that was made from one of the guys to the other. I believe it was something along the lines of…“Who is this Marky Mark looking dude rolling up with our burgers?” That comment was made by the long haired guy, Brandon Bennett.
Brandon eventually became a very good friend of mine, and my first real guitar player. I have always shared a special relationship with my guitarists over the years. He was the first one, and the beginning of a lifelong need to have a guitarists around me that I relate to and connect with. Brandon was the first person to sit down with me to write songs, not necessarily always for our band, but just to write a song on a Friday or Saturday night.
I will always view Brandon as that musical drug dealer that gave me my first real “musical fix.” I was never the same after that first fix. He even gave me my first guitar and small amp to play on before I knew how much I loved the instrument itself. He more or less completed the waking-up process of the musician in me. He is kind of like a vampire that bit me and changed me forever by the way he touched my life, filling and nurturing a habit that will forever be with me. It exists in my musical journey to this day.
Sadly, Brandon passed away, but his impact lives on. He helped nudge me toward the opening, and took the first steps with me through the dark and scary hallway of uncertainty that the music business sometimes presents. He pointed out the shiny thing that glowed at the end of the hallway. Because of his music, his influence, and the person that he was, he is missed by everyone that knew him.
Clay was the first guy that I had ever met that could build entire songs on a computer with a keyboard via the midi controller and all that jazz. I had never seen that before, and I was blown away by the recording process and the potential that it offered. Clay was the first person that allowed me to witness the beginnings of our current world (as far as the way we record and make music). We did some of our first gigs together, and made some of our first musical memories with one another. He is still making music and working in production and sound engineering to this day.
It wasn’t long until we had written, tracked and recorded our first song. It was the first time that I had been able hear myself singing over music. I must have jammed that song a thousand times, but I had no idea if it sucked or not. What mattered most was that it was my first musical baby, and there’s no way that you’re going to tell a parent that their firstborn child is ugly.
Eventually, that song created my first radio station experience in Abilene, Texas on one of the local music spotlight shows on KEJY (Rock 108). Hearing my first song on the radio was a truly epic moment of my journey, and I was only 17-years old at the time.
I spent several years writing, recording, and doing my very first live performances with Brandon and Clay. It truly was the beginning of a huge change that would take hold of me for years to come…
Be sure to join me next time as life sends me packing in search of the ultimate rock band in Dallas, TX. Until then…
MORE “MY ROCK AND ROLL JOURNEY” STORIES
Written By Tony Housh (Seasons After)
I remember once (when I was a kid) spending the day at my grandmother’s house doing the things that grandkids do. I was sitting on the floor watching television, when somehow I stumbled upon my first music video. I was mesmerized by this guy, this superhero-ish person that was singing his ass off and playing guitar to a storyline that seemed to fit quite well. That was my first time really looking at someone as a “rock star.”
There is a strange fascination that we develop with artists as we connect to their craft. The artist on my grandmother’s television that day was Prince; the song was…“Purple Rain.” I had no idea what kind of impact that moment would have on me in the future.
My daily activities instantly went from playing with Lincoln Logs to walking around my front yard pretending that I was “that guy,” performing and singing my latest hit (with a carefully orchestrated storyline) for my fans. It was the only thing that I could get lost in for hours upon hours in my youth.
Writing and making music, dreaming of success, thinking of all the places that I would travel to…the possibilities were endless. My heart was set…I wanted to be a ROCK STAR!
Truth be told, I never really understood what being a rock star meant. In my early years, it meant the fast life…traveling the world, large tour buses, screaming fans, interviews, security, live performances, fast cars, lots of money, and of course, tons of girls! The only worry that I would ever have as a bona fide rock star would be to find the next wild moment around the corner. Yep, I was “that guy” in my early days.
I spent countless hours on the street handing out fliers and demos for my latest project. I was sure that once I had my music in the right hands, my future would be secured and my life as a rock star would be underway. The only problem was that I was completely wrong, and miseducated about the very business that I was basing my future on.
Like many others, I had allowed myself to be influenced by the glitz and glam of the rock star image. However, the days of the “right” person hearing your music, and deciding to invest large sums of money to make rock star dreams come true had come and gone. The industry had been forever changed by the digital revolution, but we didn’t realize just how drastically the change was at the time.
As local artists, we couldn’t feel the affects of free music downloads because we weren’t depending on album sales to keep us afloat. We just weren’t at that level, so it made no difference to us. Quite honestly, we were dying for someone to “steal” our music.
No longer were the labels waiting for the next golden voice or group to show itself. Due to the digital recording revolution, internet artists were beginning to develop on their own, and labels knew it.
The big money that labels were spending in the rock genre had become a thing of the past. The new “honey hole” was in hip-hop, watered down pop and country music. Sadly, the rock and metal genres have suffered tremendously, but that doesn’t mean that they are dead (as some like to say). It’s more accurate to say that they are in a period of revitalization and transition.
Nowadays, rock bands are becoming more than just performers. They are becoming producers of their own music. They are becoming their own promotional teams. They are running their own businesses and creating their own product. They are cutting loose from the chains that had bound them for so long. While this is a difficult process for artists, I believe that we are beginning to see a new (and more truthful) musical product as a result of this shift.
Gone are the days of millions of dollars being spent on rock artists, but it may be a blessing in disguise. Independent artists aren’t bound by chains of debt, with no chance to truly convey their intended message with their music. The watered down industry bullshit of the past is being washed away. It is being replaced by independent, hard-working, savvy people who are taking their art back from the greedy hands of persuasive money. A new revolution of independence and fire is burning from the embers of the digital melt down.
I am proud to be a part of Seasons After, a DIY band in the process of recording our second independent album. Like our previous release, Calamity, Scars & Memoirs, our forthcoming album is being recorded and produced in-house. Would we like someone to spend a ton of cash on us? Of course! But for now, we travel the road of independence (which seems to be the road that many artists are choosing these days).
We don’t spend our “downtime” in an undisclosed studio location brewing up our next creation. When we’re not writing, recording or touring, we work full-time jobs (albeit with some flexibility). We save the money that we earn at these jobs and invest it in ourselves so that we can release the next album. It takes months and months of work to save enough money to power the business (which is what the band is), so that we can make ends meet when we are on tour. We willingly take this risk because we believe in ourselves and our product.
There are many other bands like us that refuse to be swept up in the “rock is dead” rhetoric that is spewed by many. NO! Rock is not dead! In fact, today’s rock musicians are more passionate (and driven to succeed) than ever before. It shows in the absolute dedication they have to continue creating and distributing their music online thanks to the digital revolution.
Ironically, the digital revolution that began rewriting the rules of the music business (sending many artists packing up and calling it quits), is also responsible for creating a path for independent artists to successfully manage themselves. Imagine that!
During the next several months, I will be sharing “my rock and roll journey” alongside some of my fellow rock and roll brethren. We will all be telling our own stories about how we got to where we are today, why we do what we do, who we are as people and where each of us hopes to be at the end of the music-driven life that we’ve chosen.
The goal of “My Rock And Roll Journey” is to provide a backstage pass into each of our lives, and develop a true understanding of the relationship that exists between us (the artists) and you (the fans). As each rock and roll journey begins to unfold, fans will get to know each artist in a much different way than ever before. Stay tuned for chapter 2 of “My Rock And Roll Journey” in the near future!