by HAP MANSFIELD
Glam rock is a genre that refuses to die. While its heyday may have been in the 70s, there have been various proponents of the form ever since.
If you go …
What: Chasca with The Organics and Girling
Musicians from Kiss to Quiet Riot to Prince — and genres from metal to alternative to electronica and house — all owe just a bit to the likes of Roxy Music, the New York Dolls and, most particularly, David Bowie. Lady GaGa is a glam Cher and Marilyn Manson acquired quite a few chops from Jobriath.
But it’s a surprise to see the genre flourishing in Americana country like Texas where local glam rockers Chasca have a burgeoning corps of fans. Part theater, part art and part rock, Chasca is anything but run-of-the-mill. Their shows are marked by passionate devotion to the music. If the art movement Dadaism had a soundtrack, it would sound a lot like Chasca.
The members of Chasca — J.T. Martin, Junior Scott, Sean Palmer, Sean Hannon and Kelley Higgins — are all accomplished musicians and performers. A couple of years ago, Hannon and Martin wrote the music for a Forum Productions presentation of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” at the Price Senior Center. They are serious about not taking things too seriously and they do it with style.
We chatted with J.T. Martin about their upcoming EP release, their experiences on stage and the band’s philosophy, and, yes, they have one.
J.T. may be pulling our leg (or toe) about a few things but his intelligent imagination is what makes his facebook postings legendary for their surreal wit. Chasca will be at the Triple Crown, 206 North Edward Gary, on Jan. 26.
San Marcos Mercury: What’s new with Chasca? Tell me a little bit about the CD you are planning?
J.T.: My stars, there’s lots new with Chasca. We are preparing to record a new E.P. with famed producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith. He has worked with quite a roster of artists and we’re roiling with excitement at the chance to get to record with him.
Mercury: The band is noted for its outrageously clever and show-stopping theatrics. Have you ever had an audience reaction that equals it? In other words, what the weirdest thing you’ve had happen at a show?
J.T.: Well, this one woman, one time, was so taken with a performance that she lopped off one of her big toes and gave it to us as a token of her esteem. That was pretty weird. We still have that toe, too. It’s our lucky toe.
Mercury: You say on the Chasca website, “Transcend the existential ruin of the information age and embrace pure superstentialism.” Explain a bit about superstentialism?
J.T.: Well, that’s a difficult concept to summarize. Superstentialism is best understood as a philosophy/aesthetic movement based on the belief that reason and emotion are not mutually exclusive tools for encountering and interpreting our perceptions.
If, for instance, existentialism suggests that existence is a “self-making-in-a-situation,” i.e., the self in reality is what you make of it, then superstentialism would go one step further. Reality, as a concept, is so complex that it can only be understood as a “super” extension of one’s perception. If you start with Descartes’s Cogito, superstentialism would work like this: “I think therefore I am. I am therefore I can. I can therefore I must. And if I must I might as well sizzle in the process.”
Pretty juvenile, I know. Or, maybe it’s just a little word we came up with and all of this head talk is pure hooey? You never know with us. For more on superstentialism read, How to Bilk People and Score with Chicks Using Pseudo-Intellectual Hokum.
Mercury: Texas certainly has a ton of good country/alt-country/salsa bands. What is it like being glam rockers in Texas? It must be somewhat like the Sex Pistols showing up in San Antonio? It is ever like that for you guys?
J.T: It’s real swell being glam rockers in Texas. We’re always getting winks and nods from strangers. Nobody gives us too much stink.
Mercury: Chasca seems to be art, music and a healthy dose of theater combined. What and who are your influences?
J.T.: The Sex Pistols, Gilbert & Sullivan, Ionesco, Robert Shaw, Olivia de Havilland, and Chrysippus (a stoic philosopher who died by laughing to death after giving his donkey wine and watching it try to eat figs).
Mercury: Do you write songs individually or is it more collaboration?
J.T.: It is a complete collaboration. We’re all happy little helpers in the house that rock built.
Mercury: What music do you enjoy listening to when you aren’t playing your own?
J.T.: We like: Buzz n Bangs, Styx, The Organics, Stryper, Guy Forsyth, Seals and Crofts, The Kelley Higgins Experience, Green Eyed Cat, Girling, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and SGT Barry Sadler…that’s to name just a very few.
Mercury: What is the power of music?
J.T.: Well, George Bernard Shaw once said, “Music is the brandywine of the damned.”
Mercury: What would you like to tell people about your music?
J.T.: That it’s “the brandywine of the damned.” So drink up.