Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2013

A year in music

The following is a list of music I listened to over and over again in 2013. None of it was stuff I was pressured to listen to because I am very opinionated about music and some of my income is from writing about music. This is strictly the music I held in the highest regard over the last twelve months.   (I have created a Spotify playlist for your enjoyment if you'd like to check out these records.) The Best Records I Heard This Year Crash Of Rhinos, Knots They have a silly name, but Knots is, hands down, one of the best records I’ve heard this year. Imagine Hot Water Music backed by Rat Scabies from the Damned spending time hanging out with . . . And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. Suede, Bloodsports When Suede reformed a couple of years ago for shows, the word was they wouldn’t put out new material unless it was worthy. Well, this is their best record since 1996’s Coming Up . Like Coming Up , this feels more like a singles compilation of great

Why did you move there?

Every now and then, when I run into a friend I haven't seen in a while, I talk about how I moved up north. Most times, the response is very understanding, as a number of people I've known who hang around Deep Ellum/White Rock Lake live farther up north. Yet there are times when I get this baffled projection from somebody about how I've moved north of 635. It's as if I've moved to Oklahoma. To put 635 in context, it is about fifteen miles north of downtown Dallas. The drive from my house to downtown, with minimal traffic, is about 22 minutes. Not a hassle of a drive, by no means, but it seems like a dividing line of ideologies. As in, the farther north you move, the farther you enter a zone of squeaky clean suburbia where there isn't any crime and the Republican party is the only way to go. Understandably, it's a fantasy world that a lot of people have tried to escape for years. Including me. Well, I'm stubborn of the worst kind, and I'm here to t

Join the Army

Taken by Jeremy Hughes The show with the Silver Saint Guitar Army was, for the most part, a success. Cory Graves of Central Track did a well-written review that summed up the whole evening. As I've said before, it was an honor to share the stage with members of Record Hop, Jack With One Eye and Maleveller. And I would be happy to play with Wanz again if he asks me. Here are some thoughts I came away with from the show. -In all my years of playing drums, I frequently heard guitarists say, "I couldn't hear myself." Now I know exactly what they were talking about. I have a small, 15-watt amp that is perfect in a practice setting, but onstage with thirteen other (some bigger) amps, it was easy to get lost in the shuffle. -The fun, spontaneous nature of playing music that's almost as new to you as the audience was in full effect. We only really had one run-through for the half-hour set. It was really easy to play the final piece as it was made up of the

Guitar Mafia

This Saturday will mark the first time in two years that I have played music in front of an audience. It has been a long time since I played a blues jam for fun one night. And it's been a very long time since I've played guitar in front of anyone. My primary instrument is the drums, but when a musician I've admired (and interviewed) over the years asked me to play guitar with fourteen other guitarists, I didn't hesitate to say yes. Wanz Dover has played in a variety of bands and I've seen a number of them play live in the past ten years. Whether it's Stooges-like insanity, trippy shoegaze, raw soul, improvisational jamming or cut-up electronic music, he goes where his muse takes him. Revisiting his experience playing with Glenn Branca's guitar orchestra, Wanz has created the Silver Saint Guitar Army. I'm very honored to be a part of the show and I'm pretty excited. We are due to have a long rehearsal before the show, so it will be fresh and raw a

Psycho Shanon

Given my time in radio, it's not far-fetched for me to interview radio personalities for the Observer . I've done a handful of stories before and I have no problem doing more of them. My editor was gracious enough to let me write about "Psycho" Shanon Murphy, a member of the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning show. She currently has a brain tumor on the stem of her brain and surgery is the only option. Prior to yesterday, I had never met or interviewed her. We have mutual friends in the industry, but she was very open and honest with me on the phone yesterday afternoon. We talked for about ten minutes while I was between call reports at my merchandising job, and almost all of those minutes are in the interview that is now on DC9. This was a very tough interview to do. I couldn't help be speechless while she explained to me the timeline of this and the severity of the issue. Extremely heavy stuff, but I was extremely impressed with her bravery and strength to get th

Johnny on the Spot

I've listened to many podcasts over the years, and I've secretly hoped to be on one someday. I'm a big fan of the Dig Me Out podcast as Tim and Jason review obscure albums from the '90s that never made it beyond college radio or 120 Minutes . They sound like guys I knew at the college radio station I worked at, something I have fond memories of. A few months ago, I sent a copy of Post to Tim and he really enjoyed it. He had sent me a copy of his book, Power Ballad , and I enjoyed it as well. He asked me to be on the show and to suggest an album to review. I gave them the options of Do You Know Who You Are? , No Division , and Nothing Feels Good . They went with Do You Know Who You Are? and we talked a two Wednesdays ago. If I sound like I'm talking a little slow, it's because I'm being very careful with my words. I love Texas is the Reason and I wanted to make sure I had all of my facts straight. I had spent a few hours reading the Texas chapter in Bria


Yesterday was not the first day I dealt with the loss of a dog. We always had a dog in my family growing up. When one died, we got another one. The breed was always a wire hair fox terrier and always a male. The dog stayed outside in the backyard (save for cold nights and my mother put him in the laundry room), and I usually feared the dog because of a terrier's usual desire to jump up on its hind legs when you walked towards them. J.W. and Rocky were integral dogs of my childhood, and Bailey was a wonderful dog during my high school/college years. But when I first lived on my own, I didn't live with a dog for three years. When I decided to move in with Jason in 2004, I was a little concerned about living with a dog under the same roof. Until then, I thought all dogs that lived indoors chewed up valuable material possessions and always peed on carpet. Yet for the five years I lived with Juliet, a schnauzer/terrier mix, she never chewed anything up and rarely peed on the flo

Barbeque and banana pudding

I have the Internet to thank for solving a longstanding mystery in my family. For decades, we have never known the biological family my grandmother came from. All we knew was that she was adopted, but that was it. My uncle David loves genealogy. The guy gives the gift of a family tree to people as a wedding gift. He loves looking up people's history, but not knowing where his mother came from always made him wonder. He finally got his answer this year. Mainly in part to the Internet and a lot of research, he found out that my grandmother had five siblings she never knew existed. Two of them are still alive, and they don't live too far away from where I live. Since a lot of the family was in town last weekend for a cousin's wedding, a group of us went down there and met as many as we could. With plenty of barbeque and desserts (including a delicious banana pudding), there was no shortage of people to talk with and share pictures. I freely admit that the experience was


This is the life I live these days. Yesterday, after a handful of hours dealing with the various tasks involved with my field marketing job, and ironing out some upcoming traffic fill-in dates, a ton of rain came down and a cold front came in. As I got home, getting into my slippers, I finally read a mass message sent by my editor at the Observer about Radioactivity. Turns out, the bass player from the band is someone I have a friendly rapport with since I interviewed him last year. So, without further ado, here is my interview with Mark Ryan on the new band, the Marked Men, and Mind Spiders.

Everywhere in Denver

In the past few weeks, much has been made by people I keep in touch with via social media about an "emo revival." This came from when Stereogum posted a helpful guide called "12 Bands to Know From the Emo Revival" and was widely read and discussed. I didn't take issue with the "revival" tag, but certain writer friends of mine did, and they made their voices heard via Facebook posts and tweets. (Things got to the point where Dan Ozzi wrote this for Noisey called "There's No Emo Revival, You Just Stopped Paying Attention.") It's taken me a long time to understand that there will always be people who think genres disappear and reappear. I accept it and don't begrudge people who think that way. It's like those who said, "Hey, disco is making a comeback" in the '90s, while others were adamant that it never went away. There are plenty of people who seek far and wide for what they want, but more people just want wha


After not writing anything for the Observer for a while, I present you with two links from the past few days. -Russian band Louna was robbed in Dallas while the band ate at a Souper Salad. I had received a press release about it earlier in the evening on Friday. A few hours later, right as I was about to go to bed, I was asked to write something about by 10 the following morning. I figured to strike while the iron was hot and this is what I came up with. -Back before we had to move, I had a nice chat with Evan Weiss, who performs as Into It. Over It and also plays in a number of other great bands. We've talked before and have a friendly rapport. I look forward to seeing him play with a full band at Trees.

Moved in

Well, it took five hours, five movers, and almost $1,000, but Jenny and I finally moved to our new place a couple of weeks ago. And we're still not completely unpacked. There's a reason why I don't like moving: it's transferring the stability that is your home to a new place that's hopefully as stable as the last one. I moved so many times in college (apartment to dorm, dorm to another dorm, dorm to apartment) and that was enough for me. I'm thankful that I have moved only three times since college. So far, we really enjoy our new place and neighborhood. Turns out, it's a neighborhood that I spent many holidays in as I had relatives who lived just a couple of streets away. It's a quiet neighborhood that thankfully has not had a problem with my sporadic muted drum playing. I consider ourselves lucky, and life these days is a mixture of a lot of work and some leisure time. The motivation to write comes and goes, but when it strikes, I have to remind

Goodbye Swiss Avenue

In my time of blogging, this has been the longest stretch I have not blogged about anything. Nothing. Not even posting links to articles I've written elsewhere. I could blame laziness on this reason, but the truth is, life has been so busy that I've preferred to not share everything as it has developed. Things are still developing as I type this, but I'd like to share something. I am moving for the first time in nine years. Despite efforts to get into a new lease before the sale to new landlords last month, they decided to not grant us a new lease. Previously, speaking through their realtor, they expressed an interest in putting us in a new lease before they bought the property. Jenny had just moved in at the end of July, and was halfway unpacked when a 30 day notice e-mail landed in my inbox on the first of September. Telling us that we had 30 days to vacate, we were crushed. When I called one of the landlords about this, all I got was, "We wanted to live on the pro

Why I'm back on the air

Life has been incredibly busy these days, which has been great. A big reason why is that I have started a second part-time job, and it's something I've done before: traffic reporting. Yes, I'm back on terrestrial airwaves after two years, and I've enjoyed being back. A primary reason why is that I'm with a different company, filling in on radio stations I've never been on before. Plus, my financial situation demanded some kind of secondary source of income. Getting hired with this company was very simple and brief after a couple of e-mails and phone calls. After I did my first report on the air, I was relieved that I had not lost my ability to speak with authority about accidents, disabled vehicles, and construction. It was as if the two year layover never happened. There is a cliche in radio that no matter what else you do professionally, you always come back to radio. I own up to that, but no matter what people think, I will always want to do more than be


Randomly on Monday, I was asked by editor if I wanted to interview a member of Better Than Ezra. The following day, I interviewed Tom Drummond, the bass player. Since I was born in New Orleans, I thought it would be a good fit with this New Orleans-based band. He was great and our conversation went well. Here's the Q&A .

Tribute to Kidd

I never met Kidd Kraddick, but I knew a handful of people that worked with him. No one said bad things about him when he was alive, and nobody said a bad thing about him at his public memorial. I covered the show for the Observer and came away deeply moved. Ben Folds' two-song set tore the living daylights out of me, but in a good way. I was quite happy to cover this.


My review of the Dallas Warped Tour date is live. If I sound a little torn and perplexed about what to say, it was mostly because of the heat. Long day.

Good Good Things

Looks like I, along with about a hundred people, got to witness something last Thursday that people all over the world are clamoring for: seeing Filmage , the documentary on the Descendents/All. I do what I can to spotlight local filmmakers with my connection to the Observer , but I wasn't expecting thousands of Facebook "Like"s and dozens of tweets about my brief Q&A with the filmmakers. I don't write for stats, but I'm well aware of them when a story goes live. Coming out of the screening at the Texas Theatre -- which I can safely put on the same level as the original Alamo Drafthouse in Austin -- I couldn't stop gushing about the film. As in, this is a documentary that should be seen all over the world. And I'd love to see the film again. The story of the Descendents (and its off-shoot All) is not something that could fit in a documentary like, say, American Hardcore or Hype! The Descendents might have been on one of the coolest punk rock

When I Get Old

I'm alive and still pretty busy, but blog posts may continue to be scattered for a while. In the meantime, here's a brief Q&A that I did with one of the fillmmakers for Filmage , a documentary about the Descendents. I'm very proud of these guys and happy to share what they've been up to.

When I Got Busy, Things Got Better

There's a phrase I really like and think about almost everyday now: "When I got busy, things got better." I don't interpret this as being a workaholic. Rather, breaking a cycle of frustration by doing something productive. Taking on the part-time job that I have now, I was able to pull myself out of a regular pattern of job searching. Networking and looking for openings online are still the best ways to find something, but I kept falling into a pit of frustration when I'd receive rejection letters or no responses at all. Then I had this time to fill, but not a lot of motivation to fill it up to the max. With the position I have now, I can spend a healthy percentage on job searching that doesn't afford me to fall into that frustrating pit. Most weeks I work less than thirty hours (last two weeks, though, were a total near one hundred) so I balance work, play, and finding a new full-time job well. And my weekends are pretty relaxing. Believe it or not, I don

Digital liner notes

Now that the first Thirteen Conversations release is out, I thought I'd share some background info on it. I love it when bands do this, so I figured this would be fun to do. -The recording of these songs came from a suggestion my old bandmate Dave made. He wanted to test out some vintage equipment he acquired and asked me to record with him. He said the music could be any style, so I jumped at the chance to record some emo-tinged stuff. -A majority of the riffs on these songs were written in 1999. I was in the middle of college and spent a lot of time in my dorm room playing guitar. I kept coming back to these riffs over the years, and they are almost exactly like how I originally wrote them. -I recorded all the drums and guitars last year. I also recorded vocals and bass lines, but I didn't feel very confident as a singer and played a bass with dead strings. I wrote new lyrics and used a brand new bass when I recorded again. Only some backing vocals in the bridge of &quo

Thirteen Conversations

I've teased this before and now it's available for the Internet to hear. This is Thirteen Conversations, my new musical project. I play all the instruments and sing. The audio is a little choppy due to .WAV conversion, but you can hear where I'm going. Enough talking, let's get to rocking here !

My three dogs

My beagle Victory has been an only child for almost four years. She gets along with every person that visits our humble abode, but one day in the near future, she'll have two other dogs around her at all times. Jenny has brought over her two dogs, Sunny and Truvy, for weekend visits. Aside from a brief "Who the hell are you?" exchange and a minor tussle during in their first meeting, Victory got along great with Sunny and Truvy. Sunny is an old dog, but she's still lovable. Truvy is still very young and a firecracker upon seeing you. Yet she calms down and is glad to snuggle with you at any time. That leaves 9-year-old Victory as the middle daughter. When it comes to feeding the three dogs, we feed them all at the same time. Amazingly, all three chow down and don't try to eat each other's food. When it comes to sleeping for the night, we will absolutely need a bigger bed. No doubt about it: a king-sized bed has to be the way to go. Sleeping in a double bed


I was fortunate to cover the first public screening of 45 , a documentary on Spector 45, last night. This is my first movie review for the paper, but it's written more like a concert review. I definitely came away from the screening moved and touched by what I saw. Read my full review here .


I'm happy to say that I have found some steady employment after my layoff in 2011. This is not a full-time job, but it certainly is steering me in the right direction towards one. I have enough time during the week to work my job and find a new full-time job; meaning, I don't spend hours at home wondering and pondering what more I can do. As my schedule has become a little busier, I want to keep doing the positive activities that helped my mind stay afloat during my post-layoff period. Be it walking the dog, doing improv, or writing new material, I want to keep those priorities in check. Those are some of the things that helped me through a long rough patch in my life, a patch I hope to see further in the distance in the next few months. Life has thrown me a lot of obstacles in the past few years, but I prefer to not let them derail me from what I want to achieve in the future. My seemingly-lowly existence has been elevated by wonderful people around me, and they've ins

Rise Above

Had I not been asked to cover this show, I'm not sure I would have gone. I have mixed feelings about Greg Ginn and his business practices, but I tried to go into Black Flag's show at Trees with an open mind. My thoughts wound up here .

Push Thru

I've known Glen Reynolds since college because of my uber-fandom of his band, Chomsky. I've seen him dress up as Liam Gallagher and sing Oasis songs, and I've seen him in regular clothes singing Weezer songs. Last year he told me about his collaboration with Talib Kweli and I thought he was pulling my leg. He was not. Now that Kweli's latest record is out and Glen has a new solo album, I figured it was time to get the rundown. You can read the whole story here .

Q&A with John Clardy from Tera Melos

Tera Melos might be based in Sacramento, but their drummer lives in North Texas. Since the band is coming to Club Dada this Friday, I wanted to ask John Clardy about his early experiences in the area and how he wound up in this buzzed-about act. I figured I'd get some good stories and an explanation on he makes it work living in another state from his band members. Do you currently live in North Texas? I do, actually. I live in Fort Worth when the band is inactive. I’ve been home a lot since I got back from Europe. When the band is inactive, I’m usually for here for about six months. How long have you lived in the area? I was born and raised in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I grew up in Colleyville, but not the real swanky part. There’s one section that’s on the edge of Bedford. It was country land, then all those fancy mansions got built up just north of that area. I grew up in the Mid Cities and started going to shows in Deep Ellum when I turned 15. When I turned 1

Naming names

While it's been pretty easy to come up with new songs, one thing that's been very difficult: coming up with a name for this one-man band that I have. Theme Park Experience was a name I suggested to one of the bands I played with in college, but when that was shot down, I kept it for later. When the time came to name this blog, I found the name to be fitting. Now I'm faced with the dreaded "untitled Eric Grubbs solo project" title. That name is not gonna cut it. I like it when an answer comes to me. Coming up with the titles for all three of my books came naturally. I didn't force it or stress about it. I simply thought about a few names over a short amount of time and bam, there was the answer. Post came to me when I was in the bathroom of my old apartment in north Dallas, the same apartment complex where a pile of shingles fell onto my head and I got the idea to write the book. When We Were the Kids was a no-brainer, but I can't seem to remember exa

Nothin' But a Good Time

When Rock of Ages was a Broadway hit, I rolled my eyes. Hair metal turned into a Broadway smash? Kill me, said my punk rock purist attitude. When Rock of Ages was made into a movie, I anticipated Razzie nominations and mocking upon its release. This isn't a movie I should ever consider seeing, said my far-flung movie tastes. And this was coming from somebody who loves the movie version of Mamma Mia! I don't necessarily know what compelled me to rent Rock of Ages from Netflix, other than the fact that I tend to have dry spells. As in, I want to watch something I've never seen before, and I'm usually up for something different . . . even if it's something I initially found forgettable. No matter how many hair metal songs were in it. I embrace the fact that hair metal was a crucial element in me appreciating modern rock music when I was a kid. Songs like "Wait," "Here I Go Again," and "Carrie" might have been made into cheesy vi


For the past two years, I have resisted the urge to seek out the exclusive pieces of vinyl released on Record Store Day . I didn't think the time and effort would be worth much: standing in a line for hours, hoping to find something that I wanted. Plus, there haven't been many items that I really wanted. Matter of fact, the only RSD exclusive that I wanted was that Foo Fighters 12-inch featuring cover songs they had done over their entire career. When I saw the line to get into the record store closest to me wrap around the block, I turned my car around and went home. This year, there were a handful of records that I wanted to get. A couple of them were modern classics that I wouldn't mind owning on vinyl, even though I already owned them on CD. I still try to stick to a relatively strict code of vinyl purchases (as in, I try not to own something on vinyl and CD), but there are times when I cannot resist. This happened with Bruce Springsteen's catalog between his debu

For You

Last year, while I watched the Revival Tour for the first time, I noticed the guy playing the first solo set of the night. I didn't know if he was local or not, but I certainly remembered his curly hair. A week later, I saw him at LaGrange and introduced myself. The guy's name was Corey Howe. Not much later, I interviewed the band for My First Show. Now with their debut record coming out this week, I wrote a story on the path they've taken to get there. Definitely was a fun one to write. I hope it's a fun one to read.

Don't Talk to Strangers

My introduction to Rick Springfield was not through General Hospital or hearing "Jessie's Girl" on the radio. It was Chipmunk Rock , an album mostly made of of cover songs with Alvin and the Chipmunks. While I can't really stomach Alvin, Simon, and Theodore's version of "Jessie's Girl" these days, there were roots laid in my mind. The same went with many of the other songs on the album, like "Take a Chance on Me," "Whip It," "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," and "Leader of the Pack." That's the kind of stuff I went on since we didn't have MTV in our household until 1987. I've heard the original "Jessie's Girl" many, many times in my lifetime and I still enjoy it. Yet thinking there was anything more to Rick Springfield was not really on my mind until recently. I had seen the Behind the Music episode on Rick a few times and I knew he had a very frank memoir out on in bookstores called

Take the Long Way Home

When I first heard a Supertramp song, I thought there was irony in where I heard it. Featured on the thirteen-song Magnolia soundtrack, "Goodbye Stranger" and "The Logical Song" seemed out of place between the low key pop songs by Aimee Mann. It was like a couple of Bat Out of Hell songs from Meat Loaf were featured on a compilation dominated by Clouds -era Joni Mitchell. As in, bombastic, multi-layered songs tacked on a collection of moody, Sunday morning songs. Plus the band had a silly name. Supertramp? Really? With the insanely-high vocals and jazzy beats of "Goodbye Stranger," I passed off the song as a product of excessive late 70s/early 80s production aiming for the same audience that made Styx and REO Speedwagon household names. Well, I still feel that way about the band, but after hearing "Take the Long Way Home" a few times, I've decided I need to invest a lot more time into this band's catalog. Given how much I love B

Josh Venable

There are other freelance writers at the Observer who have worked in radio, but I seem to be the one who writes about radio and fellow radio personalities. I met Josh Venable years ago at a show at the Gypsy Tea Room and we talked about Ash. When Ash came through town last month, I talked to him about doing a story about his life after Clear Channel cut him loose. Here's what I wrote.

Finding the voice

It's been a long time since I've played music in front of people. The last time I did, it was an immense joy. Jamming with guys I didn't know, in a bar I'd never been in before, and playing a slow blues song and then Bill Withers' "Use Me." Various reasons are why I haven't played live since, but it's not because of a lack of want. The opportunity has not presented itself since that September 2011 night. I formed a band last year that practiced for a few months, fleshing out styles I had never really played in a band before. I loved the material, but when we couldn't find a permanent bass player and one of the key members didn't want to continue playing with us, everything stopped. Once again, I had to start over and set my drum set back up in my office with sound-deadening pads. While I was practicing with these guys, who I still consider friends to this day, I had an opportunity to record a couple of songs with my friend and old bandm

Q&A with Matt Pryor

Here's my full Q&A with Matt Pryor as he hits the Revival Tour tonight in Dallas at Trees. Is this the first time that you’ve played the Revival Tour? Yes. I’ve been talking to Chuck about it for a couple of years of now. Could never get it to line up because the Get Up Kids were touring or I was touring. All that kind of stuff. It’s just fun and random. I was just, “Man, what am I going to do in March?” And then I got an e-mail from Chuck and it was like, “Perfect!” When Chuck calls, you don’t want to turn him down. Well, that’s unfortunate [how] I’ve had to turn him down. Have you seen the Revival Tour before? Has it come through St. Louis or Lawrence? I’ve seen clips of it on YouTube. I’ve never been to one of the concerts. I know the gist of it. I know a lot of people who have done it and have given positive feedback. It’s kind of an awesome thing you don’t see anywhere else. Yeah, it’s interesting because I had a similar idea to do som