Houston Calling

10 Questions for The Heist at Hand

June 16th, 2004 · No Comments

Houston’s The Heist at Hand are going to play their last Houston show for a while this Monday, June 21st, at Fat Cat’s. Also on the bill are Glasseater, The Trademark, and Halifax.

The Heist at Hand are: drummer Matt Valentine, bassist Tim Wigly, keyboardist/rhythm guitarist George Perez, percussionist Trent, guitarist Fausto Malik, and vocalist Bianca Montalvo.

Bianca and Fausto recently answered a few interview questions for Houston Calling. Enjoy.

Ten Questions for The Heist at Hand

HC: How did The Heist At Hand get started?

It was actually coincidental and a long story: In the summer of 2001, Matt (drums) and Jared (former rhythm guitar) moved to Houston from Lafayette to start a band, met Fausto (lead guitar) who was, at the time, playing with Los Skarnales, and Tim (bass) through a youth group. At that time, the band had gone through a few male vocalists. In the late summer of 2003, Jared got into a car accident after a show. He was hit by a semi, and put into a coma for a few months. (He’s okay now. He’s recovered and marrying his beautiful fiance soon.) That’s when Matt, Tim, and Fausto decided to make some changes and audition for a new singer. Bianca (vocals), after turning down a recording contract in the middle of the project, had been auditioning for bands for 10 months with no results.

B: I was celebrating my birthday and ran into some old friends, one of which happened to be Fausto’s girlfriend at the time, but had no idea they were looking for a singer. They had an ad up in Space City Rock, but I decided not to answer because I had heard their singer was all screamo and I wanted to sing. I also had an ad but listed no English influences, and surprisingly, they responded to mine. I tried out and have been with them ever since.

F: So, I email her ad and she responds: “Hey, it’s me, Bianca, your friend’s friend”…and after six months of practice, we played our first show at The White Swan with The Satin Hooks. Not only did we change singers, but the music did a one-eighty as well. We had had a much wider spectrum to work off of and hints of everyone’s potential were coming out. We later added George of Murphee K, a punk band from Florida, on keys and rhythm guitar, and Trent, bassist of the now defunct Civillian, on percussion.

HC: I get a hint of Deborah Harry in your vocals, yet your music is nothing poppy like Blondie. What do you consider to be your musical influences?

B: I look up to Debbie Harry as a great example of the power of women in music, however I grew up on Spanish music. I discovered At The Drive In around 14, so when my ears graced the soundscapes of their compositions I was blown away. I credit them with turning me onto rock and have been a fan ever since.

HC: You guys have been playing together as The Heist at Hand since 2001. A lot has gone on in the Houston music scene since then–both good and bad. What is your opinion of the music scene in Houston?

B: There’s definitely allot of undiscovered treasure here in Houston. I’ve noticed the scene to be in heavy competition with each other. Personally, I just want to perform and do shows worth attending.

F: Yeah, there’s a lack of sense of community in Houston. The indie scene is actually getting some attention thanks to bands like Little Compass and Panic in Detroit, but for the most part it’s very clique-ish. In my past experiences in the Houston scene I’ve come to realize you have to get the hell out of here to make it.

HC: How does the band approach the songwriting process? It is a collaborative effort, or do you all come up with separate things and bounce them off each other to see what works?

B: We all feed off each other’s energy when it come to the songwriting proccess. Fausto and I sit down for hours in heated discussion and that’s where some of our topics come from. We’ll present the blueprints to the guys and it takes off from there. Lyrics are always the last thing to develop. I need to decipher the perplexity and emotions of the soundscapes before adding any words.

F: See, the music can be bombastic and driving, but its the words that have the strongest effect. As far as writing influences, we’re big fans of Naruda and Frost. Bianca is very cryptic and has a darker yet optimistic feel to her writing.

HC: If you could have any band cover one of your songs, what song would it be and what band?

B: Hedwig and the Angry Inch doing our song “Pengiun Nuts.” They’re the one band that could do it gracefully. Plus, I’d love to see John Cameron Mitchell rock it out a la Heist at Hand!

HC: What’s your take on the state of the music industry? Are you for or against the MP3 “revolution”? How are you using the internet as a tool to market yourselves?

B: There’s nothing wrong with artists doing their thing as long as their music is an accurate respresentation of “their” creativity, and not a team of producers composing minimalist, watered down crap. The majors take their watery cow and milk it for all it’s worth leaving the rest of us unnourished. I’m all for the MP3 revolution. It’s definitely helping us get heard by people outside of Texas. The indie scene has been aided tremendously since the development of both the MP3 and the internet. We’re using purevolume.com, myspace.com and we have a website as well to network and market ourselves. We’re also taking the grassroots approach in getting our name out there, meaning we’re personally inviting people, passing out flyers, supporting other bands, etc.

HC: How has being in a rock band changed your life?

B: It’s giving us a louder voice in expressing our opinions on social/political matters. We’ve come to realization that we can’t change the world but it’s really great to be able to use our gifts to do what you can to raise awareness on such issues. Although we tally up the majority, we’ve (Latinos, Asians, etc…) been mentally crippled into the idea that we’re the minority and forced to give up our national identity to become part of the ‘American” culture.

HC: What is the one description that you hate to hear about your music?

B: That it sounds like No Doubt, me specifically. They’re a great band but we sound nothing like them and I definitely sing nothing like Gwen. It’s a compliment, nonetheless, to be compred to a band of their stature…or whatever.

HC: What’s next for The Heist at Hand?

B: We’re currently shopping our demo to independent labels so we can release our EP followed by our full-length. We’re starting to perform outside Houston quite often and hopefully launch our first tour soon, and one day be internationally recognized.

HC: What is in your CD player right now?

B: At The Drive In, Mars Volta, Dead Prez, Bjork, Eros Ramazotti

F: Brand New, David Cross, Fisherspooner, and Mos Def

Thanks to Bianca and Fausto for taking the time to answer the questions. Please make sure to go and check out The Heist at Hand (with Halifax, The Trademark, and Glasseater) this Monday night at Fat Cat’s (on Washington Ave.–formerly Mary Jane’s).

Now Playing in My iPod: Skalpel — [self-titled]

Tags: Music