Houston and The Dirty Rats is out to set a record. They’ve recently applied to Guinness for the category of “Longest Documented DIY Tour” – or something like that :) – in reference to their current tour, of which they should be right around the halfway mark, dubbed “The Dirty 100” or “100 shows in 100 days” tour. I stopped by and spoke with the band as they came through Dallas, at the only place left for a cheap drink in Deep Ellum, Reno’s Chop Shop. We all met up and decided to chat it up for a bit in the bed of my truck parked right out back. It was a beautiful night with a near-howling wind that spoke just enough to rustle up the sensors in my phones microphone a bit, The city was wide awake on a Thursday and there were plenty of folks that took interest in our little motley anomaly in the bed of a truck in back of Renos.
A bit more than halfway through we breaked for their set, and I was thrilled with the band’s performance, and stage presence. I mentioned to Houston that he was lucky to have such a great rhythm section, and that the Dirty Rats throughout the night had expressed a level of brotherhood and comraderie that made me extremely excited to write about them. We talked about the usual stuff: DIY ethics, running your own label, dreams of being signed, ungodly amounts of malt-liquor consumption, and of course the 100 shows in 100 days. It’s a bit of a read but I’ll be damned if we didn’t just make the most adorable little punker quartet you ever did see. Also, if you or any of your friends are in a band, there’s about a 50% chance that it gets a shout in this piece as a bunch of our favorites get a mention.
This conversation was a blast and I’m stoked I got to relive it again in transcription. From my table to yours young scenesters. Here’s a band that’s going places. Read the interview below.
Interview with Houston and The Dirty Rats
Conducted by Forrest Cook in the bed of a Tacoma outside the venue.
(Exit Stranger #1)
Everybody knows that when you come to Deep Ellum you’ve got to eat at Monkey King. How were the noodles?
Gerard: Haven’t gotten a chance.
Houston: Oh, I actually just went there.
Oh, you didn’t get a chance?
Gerard: No, he told me he was going somewhere. He didn’t tell me where.
Houston: I didn’t know! Kurt from Noogy was just like, “I work at this awesome spot. You’ve gotta’ go, man. They’ve got great noodles,” and I was just like, “Well I’ve gotta’ get noodles then!”
Gerard: So, wait are they still open?
Houston: Well they might be still open.
Until… (checks clock) Two minutes, I think(?)
Houston: Really? I thought they were like 24 hours.
I don’t think so.
Houston: I thought everything in the city was.
Maybe noon… I mean maybe midnight.
Houston: Maybe noon! Hah!
Gerard: Oh well, I’ll come back next time.
So, sad Gerard didn’t get noodles.
Gerard: No. No noodles.
I’d like to start this off by getting to know you guys so would you please say your names and the instruments you play?
Houston: I’m Houston. I play guitar and I sing.
Gerard: I’m Gerard. I play bass and I sing backups.
Will: I’m Will and I play the drums and… yeah, that’s pretty much it.
You guys are extremely cordial and I’d like to thank you for that right now, because I was kind of just expecting you to jump in with your responses.
Houston: Should I say I play the butt flute or something?
Gerard: As for punk rock, I mean punk rock is punk rock but at the same time you’ve gotta’ be somewhat professional. You know?
Will: Take turns.
Houston: I’m a professional taco eater…
Gerard: There’s two ways you could think about that.
I only thought of one. So, are you guys all from Jersey?
Houston: Yes sir. Born and raised.
Could you tell me a bit about the scene back home?
Gerard: What scene?
Will: Yeah, there’s not much of a scene back home.
Gerard: What scene?
Houston: I guess the big thing we’d say is it’s really small and everybody knows each other and it’s a big thing, because a lot of times we may not be the largest scene, especially in New Jersey but at least we have something.
Gerard: Close knit.
Houston: We know who’s in each band. People are in different bands and will share band members.
Gerard: Whether we like each other or not, we all know each other and we’ve all got to respect that. Next to New York I feel like we’re probably one of the more closely-knit scenes because our state is so small.
Houston: I think that’s also why so many bands tend to come out of New Jersey like The Bouncing Souls, and The Misfits, Streetlight Manifesto…
Gerard: Even My Chem.
Houston: My Chemical Romance… because like, you realize that there’s only so much you can do in New Jersey and it’s just, you’re all supporting each other. You’re playing to your friends in bands and stuff and eventually you’re just like, “I need to get out.” That’s why a lot of bands tour from New Jersey.
Do you think that’s a big part of being in a band.
Gerard: Oh yeah!
Houston: I think touring is a big part of being in a band. You almost have to because a lot of times you’ll think, “This is as far as I can go within your scene, and then you play a state that might be twenty hours away and it’s ten times what you ever would have thought you could achieve in your home town. So, it’s a big part of it.
How did you guys meet?
(Laughter all around)
Gerard: So, we all went to the same grade school.
Gerard: K through 8. Houston came into our school when me and Will were around like fourth grade.
Houston: Yeah, they were like nine years old.
Close knit scene.
Houston: Because pretty much like he (Will) grew up and kind of looked up to me, and then when we were in high school I kind of took him under my wing, and he helped me deal with a lot of personal struggles, like stuff that happened, and he was always there and he ended up becoming like family. Then when stuff kind of happened, he took me in, then Gerard lived two blocks away from us.
Gerard: I was that annoying kid who predicted this whole thing would happen. I said to him in probably fifth or sixth grade…
Houston: Fourth grade!
Gerard: “Hey Houston, we should start a band and become super fucking famous and tour the world.” And he was like, “Yeah, ok sure.”
Houston: I remember that moment because he was like ten years old, and he was like, (in a snot-nosed nasally voice) “Hey, I just learned how to play guitar, we should start a band and become rock stars.”
Gerard: And look what happened!
Houston: That’s also when I was taller than you!
Gerard: When HE was taller than ME!
Houston: It was a short-lived time.
What are some of the things that bond you all together?
Houston: Our zodiac signs.
Will: Our love for coffee… and Starbucks.
Gerard: I don’t know about that, but… (as Will shifts and knocks over my beverage… Damn kids!)
Will: Oh, my bad! (No harm, no foul)
Houston: I think it’s the big thing where I always thought it was really neat.
Gerard: We’re determined people!
Houston: Well, we are determined people but I feel like there’s a really cool quote from an interview with Tim Armstrong where after Operation Ivy fell apart, Tim was like, “I only want to start a band with my friends.” He didn’t care about how good of musicians they were. He just wanted to be with people he really loved and cared about. That was a big part of when you look at what Will and I did with the whole thing of…
(At which point we were approached by stranger #2. Me and the band bums politely explained we were in the middle of an interview, and he went on his way.)
Houston: Tim Armstrong was talking about how, like, you should be in a band with your friends and the people you really care about, and I had tried to start bands with different people from the area and tried to find the best musicians, and it never worked out, and then, like, Will was pretty much my little brother, and he’s family, and he was like, “How about we start a band?” And that’s what I was thinking of and he didn’t even know anything about music, and I was like, “Let’s just play it for something we cared about.” Then we’ve known this guy from two blocks down. He was always the annoying guy down the street and he played bass and he would always show up when we asked him to and it was like, “This is the band!”
Gerard: Punctuality, man!
Houston: When you asked about the bond, we’re all from the same township. We’re not even from the same city.
Will: We’re from the same block.
Gerard: We lived in a triangle from each other. Literally.
Will: Houston lived right across the street from me, and Gerard was a block and four houses down in the other direction.
That’s cool. You guys are friends then? That’s good.
Gerard: No, we all hate each other.
Will: Yeah no.
Will: We’re family, not friends. We love each other as much as we want to punch each other in the face.
That confined space (the van) is starting to look less and less practical.
Gerard: It was never practical to begin with.
What are some of your main influences? I’m just gonna stick with the whole zodiac signs thing is what keeps you guys together.
Will: Yeah, that’s the only thing that makes sense right now.
Gerard: For me, I would say it’s The Who, Sabbath, and Rancid would be my biggest influences musically. I grew up heavily on British rock, but the minute I started listening to punk it was The Dead Kennedys, The Misfits and Rancid and that was a steady diet for a long time.
Houston: I would say George Thorogood. That’s actually kind of where we got the band name from. George Thorogood and The Delaware Destroyers. We kind of started off as a blues rock band and that was kind of like the Houston and The Dirty Rats kind of joke, or a play on George Thorogood and The Delaware Destroyers. Then I love a lot of the 90’s skate punk stuff. I’m a huge Tony Sly from No Use for a Name fan, and Fat Mike from NoFX is one of my favorite lyricists. I feel like a big thing with especially how we develop as a band, is like the stage show of George Thorogood and maybe like a lot of the melody of No Use for a Name, and then lyrics like NoFx… is what I’m kind of pulling from.
Will: I wouldn’t really say that music influenced me. Well, I guess I would have to say that because I’m a musician.
Gerard: Green Day!
Will: It wasn’t really a band that made me want to play the drums. My dad was a drummer in high school and I remember one day I was walking home from the park and this guy was cleaning out his garage and I saw he had a drum kit, and I really wanted it, and he said he’d give it to me for free if my parents were ok with it because, you know, they’re really loud. My parents said no, but that was like when I was eight years old and ever since then I always wanted to play drums. I met Houston in high school and started hanging out with him. That’s what got me into punk. I never really liked punk at all growing up. Pop punk I guess if you want to count that. I listened to NoFX for like two years before I actually liked them, sadly to say.
I’m still working on it!
Will: Yeah, so, I was hanging out with him, and I was taking guitar classes in high school and Houston was teaching me how to play bass and I hated it, and he had a drum kit and I was just like, “Let’s try!” And I picked up drums faster than I did guitar. So, I just stuck with that.
Cool, cool. You kind of already answered this question, Will, but what makes all of you want to be in a punk band?
Will: I mainly like the travelling and meeting new people. There’s a lot of people that, you know? I’m not much of a people person. I’m not good with social interaction. I don’t really like talking that much, but there’s actually a lot of people that I met on the road that I consider family. I couldn’t imagine being the person I am today without ever meeting them. So, that’s what does it for me, mainly the people that I meet.
Houston: I think the big thing about being in a punk band is just the whole thing that like you don’t choose to be in a punk band, it’s almost like being in a punk band chooses you, like the whole lifestyle. Because when you grow up and you think a different way, or maybe you’re the kid who’s outcast or made fun of and you realize that there’s a whole community where everybody who was ever outcast and didn’t fit in belongs. Especially when it comes to booking shows and playing with other bands, there’s just that certain mutual connection that you have with each other that can’t be found in different types of music. That’s why people will say that punk rock is dead but punk rock will never die because there will always be people that have the certain connection that relate with one another because even though people will always name the punk rock legends like Black Flag and Minor Threat or The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Misfits. The list goes on, but there’s so many new bands that happen every single day, and when you travel you meet these bands and they become, sometimes, your favorite bands. There’s this band that we’re all really good friends with from Buffalo, New York called On the Cinder.
Yup! Those guys are awesome! I love that fucking band!
Will: I’m wearing their T-shirt right now.
Gerard: Those are great guys.
Houston: If it wasn’t for touring, we never would have met On the Cinder. Then there’s another band from Boston called OC45 and if it wasn’t for the DIY touring community within the punk scene then we wouldn’t have these life long friends.
Will: And we wouldn’t have the 100 shows in 100 days.
Houston: Especially, I would have to say a big band that made that happen is Some Kind of Nightmare, just following their path. They are one of the hardest working bands in the United States.
Yeah sure, they come here quite a bit. I think they were just here.
Gerard: Unity would definitely be the thing. I’ve never felt more welcomed anywhere else in the entire universe.
Will: We’re accepted.
Gerard: You can go state to state and you can be a piece of trash in your home town, and you are loved and welcomed and accepted. “Here’s a beer. Here’s a cigarette.” Whatever.
Will: Here’s a place to stay.
Gerard: Here’s a place to stay. Here’s everything. People care.
Will: “If you haven’t showered in a week you can come shower at my house.”
Gerard: People may not have much. We may not have much, but as a community as a whole it brings everybody together and that’s probably the thing I love most about it.
I was checking out your past show dates, and it doesn’t seem like you take a break from the road very often.
Gerard: Hah! What’s a break? Shit!
Houston: I think we did about ten months in two years of touring.
Do you know how many shows you’ve played all together since the conception of the band in 2013?
Houston: Before the 100 shows, I’d say we’ve played well over 200 shows. In five years, I think we’ve probably played 2 to 300 but definitely our most active years were 2017 and 2018.
Will: Mainly 2018, because we were on the road from April until September or October.
Houston: Actually, we were on the road from February through September of 2018. 2018 was the most important year for us.
Gerard: That was a very big year for us.
Will: That’s were a big chunk of those shows comes.
Houston: We did like six or seven months.
Will: I think at the end it was like 198 or something like that. Or 110…
Gerard: And if we didn’t kill ourselves then or kill each other, then we’ve made it over the hump!
Houston: We played 110 shows in 2018 so that would be the big benchmark, and we played, I believe our 100th show with Voice of Addiction from Chicago. In New Jersey we played our 100th show with them… in 2018.
Houston: And that was kind of the whole thing. We played 100 shows in a year, maybe we could do 100 shows in a row.
Will: Yeah, that was uhhh…
Gerard: Mr. Drunk… (nod to Will)
What are some of your favorite moments? The Voice of Addiction show, I guess is one?
Houston: That was really cool.
Gerard: That was big.
Houston: that was kind of like because we were playing on our hometown turf. We were playing in New Jersey at a legendary punk rock dive called the Mill Hill Basement. We were playing with a DIY national act from Chicago, and we were playing to pretty full room, and it was our hundredth show and it was like, “Wow! We worked ourselves up to this point, you know?”
On the flip side of that, what are some of your least favorite moments?
Gerard: There are a lot of least favorites, but I think…
Houston: I don’t wanna’ be too candid or negative, I mean shit.
Will: I don’t wanna’ be too negative. I don’t want to get too into it, bands have their fights, I’d say.
Gerard: It’s rough.
Ahh! Come on! Give me the dirt!
Gerard: Dirt!? I mean there was times when me and William both walked off in other directions and just met up later on in the night.
Houston: Everybody needs times.
Gerard: We would blow up at each other.
Houston: Sometimes, like, I remember walking just the streets of Toronto, just kind of like decompressing because we had been on the road so long in 2018.
Will: Those little things in the beginning.
Houston: We each have moments where we all just need a little bit of space.
Gerard: It just keeps tick, tick, ticking and eats away at everything, you know?
Houston: And then you can come back after you like decompress. It’s that whole thing like Will and I are family so you know, you can scream at each other but then you always have that like, “It’s my little brother, so of course I’m gonna buy him a drink, or I’m gonna hug him or I’m gonna make sure I have a blanket to put on him when it’s cold or freezing at night.” You know? Family. And then like with Gerard, we’ve known him forever, and we might want to kill him sometimes because he’s the annoying kid down the street. We’ve known him forever.
Gerard: There’s times where I would literally go to bed and William be like, he’s gonna kill us in our sleep. Just you fucking wait, he’s going to kill us in our sleep because we pissed him off.
Will: I think probably the worst was I drank like three forties of Old Style…
Gerard: Oh my god that’s right!
Will: Old English, that’s what it was. It’s the worst decision. Don’t ever do that.
Gerard: In the middle of the woods in Canada.
I had a five forty night once.
Houston: A five forty night?
Gerard: My God!
Two of those five forties were…
Gerard: Don’t tell me!
(in complete unison, if that isn’t poetry, I don’t know what is.)
And those are the Steel Reserves from Fort Worth. They’re a little more (percent) here, I think.
Houston: Oh geez.
And then two of them were Bud Ices.
Gerard: This boy deserves a medal.
And then there was one King Cobra.
Hey… King Cobra is…
Will: We should drink together sometime.
In my malt liquor days that was good shit. I don’t drink like that though. That was probably ten years ago, but five forty night… right?
Gerard: You can’t beat the price. You can’t beat the fucking price.
Will: I drank like three of those in one night, and then I forget what it was, we just got into a huge argument.
Gerard: He walked into the woods.
Will: No that was the first time I think that Houston and I got like kind of physical.
Gerard: You did! You did get physical! Honestly, I wanted to split it up but I kind of wanted to see how it played out. Like, “Shit! If I get involved, he’s going to swing at me, but ugh! I kind of want to see how this plays out!”
Will: But yeah, we got into a huge argument and Houston was at the picnic table all night and I just went to bed and the next morning Houston was, I think he was still awake and I walked over to him and was like, “Hey, how’s it going buddy?” We went from literally like wanting to kill each other to “We’re fine.” So…
Houston: Two of the worst shows we’ve ever done, I guess I’ll say it. We were stiffed in L.A.
Gerard: I so want to find that motherfucker!
Houston: We were stiffed in L.A. and then we were electrocuted for an entire set in D.C. So, I’ll say that. If I’ve got to throw some dirt, we were electrocuted, like we couldn’t feel our lips or fingers after the set.
Gerard: We couldn’t touch each other.
Ya’ll can include the promoter’s names if you want.
Houston: It wasn’t the promoter…
Gerard: What was his name!?
Houston: It’s fine. It’s fine. I won’t go that deep, but just try not to get electrocuted in D.C.
Gerard: I remember we would literally touch each other and we would get zapped. We would go back to back like those guitar hero moments and “Pzzzzt!” all you would feel was like somebody hitting you with a joy buzzer.
Houston: It was a whole blast of star power.
Gerard: It was real star power.
What brought on the 100 shows in 100 days thing?
Gerard: This drunk asshole!!
It’s crazy. Will, you’re crazy.
Will: I’m staying sober for this hundred shows in a hundred days thing for good reason. I come up with crazy ideas like, “Hey Houston, let’s do 100 shows in 100 days! Like, that would be awesome wouldn’t it?” And honestly, I was drunk and you shouldn’t take me seriously when I’m drunk but…
Gerard: Houston did!
Houston: It was some point over the summer, and I believe because there’s a really hard-working band out there called Gilt. They’re from Florida, and Gilt played ninety shows. Not in a row, but over a summer tour of like ninety dates. I heard about that and was like, “I wonder if a band has ever done a hundred shows in a row.” Then Mr. Bright Idea over here was like, “100 shows in 100 days! Let’s do it!”
Gerard: And then Mr. Bright Idea over here fucking did it!
Houston: I actually booked it. The big thing too is I dropped out of college. I was studying accounting and finance and marketing and I was like I want to become a full-time touring and DIY musician. I guess in school terms this is like our final exam. After this, we’re going to know almost everyone in the United States and then the whole point is like if we attract a label or someone through just being geniuses, (eye roll from Gerard) I guess like being the most craziest rocket scientists to do 100 shows in 100 days then it’s worth it. You know? It was the whole thing. Could we do it? Could I book 100 shows in 100 days?
Will: If we get signed, I’ll do 200 shows in 200 days.
Gerard: If we get signed, I’ll never go back to work. I don’t know. I’ll do something crazy… Something equally crazy.
Houston: If you’re listening, (reading) Fat Mike.
I read somewhere that you’re trying to break a world record. Is that true?
Gerard: As of yesterday, I’ve filled out the whole application for us to be in the Guinness Book of World Records under… what was it? It was most…
Houston: It was longest…
Will: Longest consecutive…
Houston: No, not consecutive.
Gerard: Longest self-sustained DIY tour… something to that regard… Longest documented DIY tour.
Houston: We’re trying to see if we can get the world record for that.
Gerard: We have taped every night. We’ve done a live feed to Facebook.
Houston: Every show.
Gerard: So, there is literal evidence, and if a show falls through, then we have shows to keep feeding it.
Will: We did a weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday where we did two shows a night.
Gerard: A matinee and at night.
Will: We did two shows a day, three days straight just to make up for any shows that fall through.
Good plan. Good plan. So, this whole idea is punk as fuck. Do you think that it’s a punk thing? I mean, can you imagine, like, a pop singer or someone ever doing that?
Houston: Not really.
Gerard: I mean if they did it, it’s be gimmicky as hell. I feel like, I don’t know, for punks there would be something more to prove.
Houston: That’s the whole thing, I think, with punk rock. It’s that whole thing we said earlier with it’s, like, brotherhood, and I think with like a lot of other genres, and not to poke fun at other genres but a lot of times people are trying to out do each other, but as I mentioned earlier, I’m very good friends with Some Kind of Nightmare. Chy Mess and Molly Mess are very good friends to me and I love them and I’d give them the shirt off my own back and they are one of the hardest working bands in the country, and just seeing who they’ve played with and asking them for help, and then the community aspect of being in the punk scene. It’s not a means of there’s no place to play, it’s the means of, “Ok, who do I have to talk to and where do they book? What band do they play in?” It’s not a matter of there’s no place to play in that state, it’s just what punk bands play in that state?
Will: It’s about the connection too. I don’t really feel like other genres have the connection like the punk scene where people will actually come out to shows and stuff. I feel like it’s a lot harder to do it in another genre because like, I don’t know, who’s gonna show up to just listen to someone sing or mess around with their laptop? This is real music. We’re playing real instruments. It’s different, and the scene is different too. The pop scene and stuff like that, everybody is against each other because they want to come out on top. This is just everybody coming together to promote each other.
Gerard: Even if its just you and your buddies in an empty room playing to each other.
Gerard: It’s still just the unity behind it.
Houston: I’d say one of the… this is a pure punk rock moment. So, we had a show in Madison, Wisconsin fall through, and in two days we had twenty kids in a park next to a skate park, and we set up a punk show.
Gerard: That’s right.
Houston: We literally just hit up our friends in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. We had a PA, and in like 48 we set up a punk show and actually made gas money. That doesn’t happen in other genres.
Yeah, that’s not Fyre or Frye Festival or whatever.
Houston: I helped set that up!
Houston: The punk rock braut fry in Sheboygan.
Gerard: That’s going to be cool as shit.
Houston: Yeah, dude that’s gonna’ be awesome. My homie is running that.
Gerard: Squid, right?
Houston: Yeah, my homie Squid. He plays in a band called Dorothy’s Worst, and him and I worked together. I do graphic art, so I’m doing all the graphic art for it and he got all the bands. It’s really cool.
Will: And just real fast, we also did something similar to that in Minnesota.
Gerard: Oh My God!
Will: We bring a PA and everything so we can do pop-up shows just for something like that. Last year we were in Minnesota and we set up a show in one day.
Gerard: We had forty or fifty people crammed in a basement.
Will: To do a house show. Stuff like that.
Gerard: And didn’t we do that Tuesday night?
Houston: We sold thirty shirts in one night.
You’ve talked about these pop-up shows, but how did you go about booking something of this magnitude. Obviously, you didn’t book 100 shows in one day. You had to have some kind of planning and so what are some of the resources you’ve used? Did you put out some sort of rat beacon? How did you do that?
Houston: Facebook is a big tool. I handle most of the booking.
Gerard: Me and Will were working. That’s what Houston was doing.
Houston: I work part-time at a record store, and I do freelance graphics. I pretty much, just was booking the tour. I did it five or six months out, like had the route, contacting people, and the big thing I feel is again, talking about the punk scene, is you have to be genuine within the punk scene. You have to be yourself.
Will: You have to be pure.
Houston: Because people can smell like if you’re just trying to play the show and the stab someone in the back or just use them for their contacts, people can smell that a mile away. 100,000 miles away. If I’m talking to someone in Wyoming, they know I’m just trying to get a contact from them, but I always stand by the whole DIY ethics of “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” And for the past three years, I’ve just been going to shows and meeting bands, housing touring bands when I can, helping touring bands when they came through New Jersey and just being a part of the community and the scene.
Will: Yeah, it’s good karma.
Houston: Once I had the network and met enough people, I could pretty much just contact them and say, “Hey man, so you know anybody in this area?” Because that’s what it comes down to. I have a network of like 30 to 50 friends across the country and even internationally some people in Europe, that if I want a show I can just be like, “Hey man, can you hook us up?” We’ve never been to… What was a new place we played on this tour?
(Here the other members were accosted by stranger # 3 who we told to kick rocks. 5-0 had been posted across the parking lot for some time, presumably keeping an eye out for any unlawful tailgate beer consumption. I guess they were getting hungry, as presently we observed them exit their vehicle to enjoy a pie on the roof of their trunk.)
Are they eating pizza?
Gerard: Yeah, they’re just eating pizza. I love it! HAHA! Hey, they’re people too, I guess. Fucking hilarious.
Houston: I literally just contact one of my friends. “Hey, I’ve never been to Flagstaff, Arizona. Where should I play?” And they’ll be like, “Oh, you’ve got to hit up this venue.” And that’s just how it starts. “You’ve got to hit up this band.” And it’s just the whole thing of, I’ve always felt that since I was a little kid that I love meeting new people, and now it’s almost my job to meet new people.
Will: It’s all about the connection. We first started playing local shows, we’d play with a touring band that’s coming through, and we’d make friends with that band and that band could be from Buffalo, and then we play with another band and they’re from Florida and you make these connections and make friends with other bands and keep playing shows with them and then eventually when you head down that way they are like, “alright now we’ll book a show for you down here.” It’s all the connections in the community.
Gerard: We became so tight with one band I have one of my speaker cabs down there in Florida.
You mentioned a few cancellations earlier and how you rectified that situation. Is your tour starting to look a little more like 99 shows in 100 days?
Gerard: Probably gonna be more.
Houston: As it stands, we are looking at maybe playing even more than 100 shows if things play out best case scenario.
Will: We actually planned the show… the way the tour was planned we were actually going to be doing 100 shows in ninety-one days? Ninety-four?
Will: Ninety-five days. So, we had five days of leeway if any shows fell through, not only were we doubling up on shows but we had five days of leeway at the end that if any shows fall through, we can do pop-up shows at the end.
Gerard: So far, we’ve only had one true day fall.
Houston: We had two shows fall through. We were able to fill one of those by opening for Green Jelly. The legendary punk rock band.
Gerard: Which was super cool!
Yeah, I saw that flier. That’s super cool.
Houston: We were able to fill that show and then we were able to play a show in Mobile, Alabama opening for a band called Thelma and The Sleaze.
Will: There was another show that fell through in Vegas, right?
Houston: Yeah, our original show…
Gerard: This is awesome, man! We lucked out!
Houston: Our original show fell through and then our good friend that booked the show said he put us on his buddies show and now we are opening for The Last Gang, that’s like one of the most recent Fat Wreck Chords alumni. So that’s really awesome.
Gerard: Man! We couldn’t get any luckier if we tried.
Well, ya’ll are working pretty hard… You obviously trust your transportation. How did you come across your van? I’m sure there’s stories in the van but is there a story of the van?
Houston: No real negative stories. I pretty much bought…
Hey, I’m not all about negativity, now!
Houston: I can tell you with the van I guess the cool thing is, I know, in January of 2017 I picked it up in Ohio and then I bought it and drove it home. So that was one of the really cool things. So, even the vehicle just beginnings was like a tour. You know? I drove like ten hours to pick up the van, and ten hours home. My girlfriend drove out with me and drove my car back.
Gerard: Thank God for Lilly.
Houston: All I can say is any band out there that’s touring, it doesn’t matter if it’s ten days or 100 days. Service. Service. Service.
Gerard: Even if you have to take it from your merch bin, dude, the last thing you need is your car going “PPLLPPP” in the middle of the road.
Houston: Service! Rotate your tires. Change your oil.
Gerard: I mean unless you’re like your own mechanic and know your car and can do it yourself. DIY or die! If you don’t, service your freaking vehicle dude!
Bottles up! (Bye-bye little piggies.)
Gerard: Yeah, they’re gone. They left. I love it, because they’re going to get pizza!!
Houston: Are there any like, notorious van stories?
Dude, we’ve still got a lot I wanna cover.
Gerard: We’ve still got a show to play.
Plus, you have a show to do, yeah.
What are you most looking forward to about this tour?
Gerard: Well I mean, I’m actually going to be turning 22 on this tour. It’s going to be my birthday.
Houston: At home! We have a home show.
Gerard: We have a home show that I’m sharing with the record store owner’s daughter that we’re playing at. Super super cool people, but aside from that, I can’t wait to play Minnesota again.
Houston: Oh dude!
Gerard: I can’t wait to go back over to California.
Will: Yeah, the two things for me, is we’re gonna be able to see the Grand Canyon on this tour. The fact that we did 100 shows in 100 days and on our 100th show, I am allowed to drink again at midnight because it will technically be after the tour is over. So, I’m looking forward to that too. I’ll have my first sip of beer in 100 days.
Gerard: And I’ll make sure it goes down without a hitch.
Houston: I’ll say the thing I’m most excited about with playing the 100 shows is just it be the sense of accomplishment after we play 100 shows and the fact that working as hard as we have, we’ve been able to get some accolades from it. Before the 100 shows, it was almost impossible to get press except on a local level, but now we’re starting to get interest from independent punk rock press outlets, and we’re starting to get like press in some real newspapers and like online websites and we’re also gonna be opening for The Last Gang which is a Fat Wreck Chords band. One of our big aspirations is to be on Fat Wreck Chords, and the fact that we’re opening for a Fat Wreck Chords band. We’ve been a band for six years this September.
Will: We’ve only been touring for two.
Houston: We’ve only been touring for two of the six years we’ve been a band and we’re going to be opening for a Fat Wreck Chords band in Las Vegas. If that’s not a reward for all the hard work we’ve put in. We’re also gonna be playing Vancouver on this tour which I’m super excited about. We love going to Canada and like, Vancouver… I’ve just always wanted to go to Vancouver.
You guys all happy with your passport photos?
Houston: We all look like ex-cons.
Gerard: I look like a fucking emo kid.
Will: I had just woken up, and hadn’t showered in three days. I got my picture taken at CVS and I looked like shit.
What enables you to tour? I’m sorry, what were you saying Houston?
Houston: Again, with what Gerard said about going to Minnesota, I would categorize Minnesota as also. There’s a lot of states that we have a pretty decent following in from just the touring we’ve done over the past two years and the community we have built within those states… we’re gonna be playing this big kind of pot luck punk fest that I helped set up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and that’s gonna be awesome. That’s one of the things I’m looking forward to. We’re going to be doing a small five day run with this band called Atomic Lights from Minnesota, or maybe four days, and I’m stoked for that. Seeing the friends we don’t get to see.
Will: Yeah, without tour we wouldn’t be able to see all the friends that we made. Like from Florida…
Houston: To Wyoming!
Gerard: You were saying what enables us to tour? Well for me, I’ve been working at a grocery store for the last three years and they’ve always been really kind and let me back. Also, I have super loving and caring parents who support my dreams. Like, “Wow! My mom and dad support my dreams. Holy shit!” Not that they’re paying for anything but its like, “Here’s some food. Have fun and don’t die.”
Kudos mom and dad, from Dying Scene. We appreciate it.
Will: I lucked out with the job that I have where they’ll let me take that leave.
Gerard: You earned that though.
Houston: I’d say a big thing is like it’s not so much that you need your life to enable you to tour as much as its like you have to want your life to make you able to tour. So, you have to make sacrifices and try and pick jobs or quit jobs in between tours, or live in your car in between a tour if you have to.
Will: Or go weeks on end without showering.
Gerard: Thank God for rivers.
Houston: Touring is not for everyone.
Have you guys tried baby wipes?
Gerard: Baby wipes are a God send!
Will: Or every now and then when you’re in the bathroom at Wal-Mart, if they have paper towels, soap and water, dry yourself off.
I’ve heard that Summer’s Eve wipes are good for your face.
Houston: Ok, Summer’s Eve wipes.
Gerard: Are they really? I’ll have to ask a couple friends about that.
Hey, that’s what I’ve heard. (giggles from everyone)
Will: Hey, get the PH balance right.
Hah! I don’t know bro. I haven’t been on tour.
Houston: It’s all about just making your life adjust to your thing… How many… we could maybe do the second half when we get back.
Oh, you have to go now?
Gerard: I don’t hear any music playing so that’s never a good sign.
(We all returned to the bed of my Tacoma after an incredible set full of energy, dancing and cheers. This time joined by our mutual friend and Noogy guitarist, Anthony.)
Mr. Houston! We’re here back with you for number 2. Would you mind proliferating that question I asked you earlier for general consumption.
New Jersey bands, so you guys are like tight and you all seem to have really big crowd participation goals. Is that because you all look up to The Bouncing Souls? Where does that come from?
Gerard: I think we are just mostly really hopeful.
Houston: Honestly, I don’t know. I know that with me, my father was a circus clown and I grew up around variety entertainers and a big thing of variety entertainment is that you need to involve the crowd and make them feel like they are a part of the moment and time and the experience. I think that’s always been a big part of it, and I think that’s where I pull it from. I know that The Bouncing Souls do have some crowd participation and so do, like…
Jukebox Romantics was really who I was thinking of.
Houston: I love Jukebox.
Gerard: They are good friends of ours.
Will: They’re one of my favorite bands.
Houston: Dude they’re awesome. We listened to their album for I think like a month straight.
Will: I still listen to it.
Gerard: Good for you bud.
Houston: No, we listen to Sleepwalk Home.
Is that the new one?
Houston: The new one. It’s really good.
I haven’t heard it yet.
Gerard: You should.
Will: It’s fucking awesome!
Houston: Dude you need to review that, it’s a good record.
For sure. OK. H and Dirty Rats, that’s Houston for all you incapacitated readers have an EP and a few singles available online. Anything planned for the future?
Gerard: Hopefully to get signed. Write better material.
Will: I was saying to get on Spotify.
Stranger #4: Hey do ya’ll like music?
Anthony: We’re doing an interview right now, Dog.
Stranger #4: Oooohhh.
Anthony: What you guys got planned for the future? What’s up with it?
(Stranger #4 departs in seemingly deep thought about what has just transpired.)
Houston: I would say what we are planning to do, is we have a new EP that was just released in February and it should be on Spotify shortly and then also… I guess… you’ll do a write-up about it? I don’t know. Ha-ha maybe… If that’s possible…
Well Hello readers. Here I am. I am here today.
Houston: Our big plan is like; we’re going to be taking some time off next year and working on some new material and that’s a big thing we’re going to be doing. We’re going to write and record a bunch of new Eps and eventually put out a full-length.
Thanks for the shout out guys!
Gerard: We love the Dying Scene.
Houston: We love the Dying Scene. Hopefully you guys will review our new EP.
What’s your relationship with Rodencha Records like?
Yes sir, Mr. Houston. I believe this question is for you.
Houston: I run Rodencha Records out of my apartment and pretty much, I always wanted to run a record label since I was in high School. I always thought it was neat how you had guys like Ian McKaye and Fat Mike and Brett Gurewitz, Stern brothers with BYO, how everybody had like their own record label, and I always thought it would be neat to have your own record label as you tour and you meet bands, you could release their material and even make comps with bands that you really like, and that’s not something that I have gotten to do yet, but it’s definitely something that I would like to do in the future with some awesome bands that we’ve met from touring.
Will: Help promote their stuff.
Houston: Oh no.
Are you prioritizing the band or are you prioritizing the label?
Houston: I am mainly focusing on the band right now. Eventually I’d like to have a website for my label where you can buy all our merchandise and stuff like that. If we do any other releases for bands in the future… It’s all plans for the future would be the big thing. Right now, we’re mainly focusing on the band, and the label is secondary.
Will: Yeah, it’s like a side project.
Houston: Yeah, I guess that would be the best way to describe the label.
Will: When we get ourselves stabilized that’s when we’ll probably start working more on the label.
Gerard: 10 years later.
Houston: Yes, because if we’ve sustained enough success and pull with our own releases, like NOFX in Fat Wreck Chords would be a perfect example. After NoFx had sustained a certain amount of success they were able to, or Fat Mike was able to have his own label and push bands that he liked while being in a moderately successful band. Eventually, Id like to worry about the label.
Gerard and Will what’s your opinion on the label?
Will: We need a raise!
Gerard: I’m extremely hopeful for the future. I like to be as independent as I can and being a part of something that you helped create really helps get in on that independence. My biggest hope for the label is doing splits and comps with other artists. I am more than hopeful that it will become a thing, but at the same time there’s a chance it might not. But getting signed to actual label would be awesome to.
Houston: A perfect example is when NoFx was signed to Epitaph Records. They would do full lengths on Epitaph but they could only release a certain amount of material per year. So, as they were releasing material through a larger independent label, Mike was releasing music on the side, like EP’s and singles on his own label. So, it’s a way to consistently release material so that you can keep your fans intrigued in your band.
Gerard: Hence the song “Quantity Over Quality”.
Houston: Yeah, we even have a song about it called “Quantity Over Quality”.
Band that gets money under the table.
Gerard: Indeed! That’s answering to no one.
Houston: I guess that would be it because… Oh, I get what you did. You quoted the…aggghhh!!
I quoted NoFX, I did!
Houston: Ahh, you bastard!
Gerard: I got it! Aghh
Gerard and Houston: Yass bitch!
Congratulations. You’ve reached the end.
Houston: Oh, have we? Are there any other questions?
Gerard: Of course, there’s more.
Houston: It was a false ending.
Well, I just want to shoot a couple words out and I want you to say the first thing that comes to your mind, and you can be cordial or just all shout. I’ve got your voices on record so I know who said what! First word: Tour.
Will: I was just gonna sigh!
Tacos was the first word. Are you reading my paper? Next one is band.
Houston: Still tacos. I’m not even hungry.
Well guess what. The next one is… Houston?
Gerard: The size of a country!
Houston: I would say “Noogy” in Dallas.
Breakfast or lunch?
Will: The food. The food in Texas is fucking good. I’m starving.
“The food in Texas is fucking good.” Said by a bunch of East Coast boys.
Houston: Because that means a whole bunch of shit!
Gerard: The only thing we have are bagels and pizza.
Houston: It’s true. The subs are ok though.
Will: The barbecue down here…
How are the locks?
Houston: The locks are amazing, man! Locks is great.
Will: What, what is locks?
Gerard: It’s smoked white fish. No, it’s not salmon.
I can smoke a salmon.
Gerard: Oh really?
You ever have pecan wood from Texas, C’mon!
Gerard: I would love to get a bag from you.
Well, it’s not on me.
Gerard: That’s a shame.
It’s at my house.
Will: Is locks like a Jew thing?
Gerard: Are you inviting us over?
Will: Ok. Hah, I was gonna say you guys knew that and I didn’t and I’m the only one who’s not.
Do you guys have a place to stay tonight?
Houston: No, we’ve got to drive to Albuquerque.
Gerard: We’ve got a ten-hour drive!
I don’t have any salmon. I actually do have some leftover salmon in my fridge that I smoked a little over a week ago. If you guys get some cream cheese, we could mash it up together… and maybe microwave it to kill the germs.
Will: Hard pass.
Gerard: I mean, I’m game.
So, the next word is Cindy Lauper.
Gerard: My mother.
Houston: I’m thinking of legwarmers and girls just wanna have fun.
Will: Is she hot?
Yes. Next one’s a good one. It’s party.
Houston: Black Flag.
Gerard: I don’t know why Nixon came to my head.
Will: I think, Fuck your president!
Houston: The first thing that came to my mind is like a red tie or something.
Gerard: Fuck the president.
Dude, Gerard! I’ve got a “Nixon Now” campaign button in my truck that fell off my jacket. As if it was relevant.
Houston: As if it was relevant!!
Gerard: Fuck politics.
Will: Yeah, I stay out of that.
Next one is actually four words, or five. It’s Houston and The Dirty Rats.
Houston: They are fun and they don’t suck.
Gerard: Shut up! One word.
Will: I heard the drummer is really hot.
Anthony: I heard they’re all hot.
Gerard: I heard the bass player was even hotter.
Will: I heard that the bass player is annoying.
Houston: I heard the lead singer’s a hobbit.
Add Houston and the Dirty Rats to My Radar