Talk Music: Pop Rocks Ugly talks adventures in music
Dec. 4, 2013 at 6:04 a.m.
Crossing genres from country dance halls to rock 'n' roll shows, Pop Rocks Ugly is making a name for itself in the Crossroads.
Brian Parker, lead vocalist and guitarist, and Eric Trapp, who runs sound, caught up with Get Out to talk about their adventures in music with Pop Rocks Ugly.
Where did your band name come from?
PARKER: I went to University of Houston to get my architecture degree. When I came back, I got with the original drummer, Kevin Brown. We started doing the music thing.
He owns a landscaping company, and one day, he was riding around out in a cemetery, doing the landscaping. He came across this tombstone, took a picture of it and brought it to my office.
It was a small tombstone, but at the top of it in quotations it said "pop rocks," in the middle, it had a picture of a bull, and at the bottom, it had in quotations "ugly." I said, "Dude, that would be an awesome band name."
So it came from a cemetery? That's a little morbid.
PARKER: It was at Evergreen Cemetery. Kevin had gone back a couple of times to find it again and couldn't remember where it was. If anybody can find this tombstone, let us know.
We're still unsure of exactly what it means. Pop Rocks may have been somebody's grandfather. But the bull and the ugly kind of threw me a little bit. I'm not real sure what that means.
Your bassist recently moved to Houston. How has that impacted the band?
TRAPP: He's not at practice anymore. Our old bass player will come to practice just so we have a bass player. But Matthew drives into each of our gigs.
When he found out he was moving, he planned on quitting, but we talked him into playing. We're making enough money where it's still worth it to drive in.
The only thing he asked us to do is to try and play in Houston next year.
I've already booked all the way to August. The only reason we're not booked further is because we've held off to get some family time.
PARKER: I've got to give Eric 100 percent props in that regard. As far as the new bookings and the new places we're playing, he's been proactive in making us even more unique by picking places we haven't played before. He's doing things that we never thought we could do. We played the Cuero Turkeyfest this past year. That's something I never thought a rock band like us would be able to do. Eric spearheaded that whole thing.
TRAPP: This year, we played against Bootfest at Sports and had the biggest turnout we've ever had.
How do you choose which songs to cover?
TRAPP: Every single person in the band gets a choice. We're a five-way partnership. There's no owner of the band; there's no leader of the band. Everything is a complete democracy, and we all vote on it. For the most part, we really don't turn down too many picks. If somebody picks a song, we'll see what happens.
PARKER: As far as the song selection goes, we do what we like. We pick songs because we have the CD and we're listening to it on the radio. We play the stuff we enjoy doing.
We try to make sure that we pick something that nobody else is doing. But when it comes down to it, they're really just songs we love. When you come see us, you're hearing good songs. I can guarantee we don't do "Brown Eyed Girl."
TRAPP: We've been known to break into "Neon Moon" as a joke.
PARKER: We did "Neon Moon" and went right into "Bullet in your Head" by Rage Against the Machine. It was a pretty seamless transition.
TRAPP: We were playing at the Lost Cajun, since Shawn has played and still plays in country bands, he started playing "Neon Moon." Parker knows the words. The bass player jumped in, and the drummer started playing.
So I take it you guys must enjoy messing with people?
TRAPP: No matter where you go, somebody will request a crazy song, some Lynyrd Skynyrd or other. ... It's the banter that makes the show fun.
PARKER: We definitely try to get the audience involved, that's for sure.
With the bulk of music in the Crossroads centering on country, where does Pop Rocks Ugly fit into the scene?
TRAPP: I ran sound for country bands, and I've been in country bands all my life. I was in my first country band back in 1991. I heard these guys play their first night and quit the country scene the next day.
What set them apart to me, we're completely different from anything else that's out there. There's a bunch of rock bands running around town and a bunch of country bands.
When I heard these guys, I didn't hear a single song that any other band was playing at the time. They just nailed every song perfectly.
I pretty much called and quit the country band the next day. The guys in this band didn't even know that I was coming to run sound for them. I believed in the band so much, no matter what it took I was going to be a part of the band.
PARKER: The combination of Eric and Shawn Brett, they were real big into the country scene before they got into the band with us. When you go to see a big country dance hall band, they bring everything - the big, good, clear sound, the light show, the environment; they bring the show. You go see a local rock band, and they're bringing the rock and the energy and stage presence, but they're missing the production side of it.
I think where our experience comes in and sets us apart is that we are the rock band with the energy that's doing the Slipknot and the Pantera and the Three Days Grace, but we're also bringing that country clarity and quality and sound and light show. We're bringing the best of both.
Looks like you guys are booking up quick. What's in store for 2014?
TRAPP: What I've tried to do this year is expand what Pop Rocks Ugly does. We're trying to cross genres. I call it a crowning achievement, but I haven't got a date set, but we've worked something out to play Schroeder Dance Hall, which has forever been a country bar. We're playing the Wild Turkey in Cuero - it's known as more of a country bar - and we're playing the Yoakum Gin and Feed, which is a predominantly country bar. We're just trying to move out and expand and bring our style of music and our band to new places.
PARKER: Look for us in the coming year.