Houston Calling

Ten Questions for Phuz

February 27th, 2006 · No Comments

Local group Phuz returns to the Houston stage this Friday, March 3, 2006, at Clark’s in downtown Houston to debut their new singer, Margaret Menchaca.

The band, with varying line-ups, has been around for nearly 15 years, and has played with such artists as Sade, Tony Bennett, K.D. Lang, Alanis Morissette, Natalie Merchant, and Alicia Keys. The band has been on KPFT 90.1 FM radio’s “Soular Grooves” show, and has been featured in the Houston Press (including nominations for best new act and best R&B). The band is back with a new lead singer and a new CD.

I asked the members of Phuz — Ken Sarmiento, Edward Casapao, Edwin Casapao, and Margaret — a few questions for Houston Calling. The group was kind enough to take the time to answer. Enjoy.

Ten Questions for Phuz

HC: How did Phuz get started as a band?

Edward: The band got started during our early college years. Win and I were freshmen and Ken a sophomore. We three are the original members and still tryin’ to keeping this thing alive. Throughout the years we’ve tapped into several genres of music including alternative rock, funk, world beat, r&b, and currently ambient rock. Along exploring various styles brought various band members. Originally we’ve been “fronted” by male vocalists, two from different eras. Phuz has also had three vocalists at one time, consisting of two female backup singers and a male lead. Having female backup vocalists in the band definitely had a profound influence in our inevitable decision of being a “female led” rock group.

HC: What’s your take on the state of the music industry? Are you for or against the MP3 “revolution”?

Margaret: I am for it…it’s the future…change is very good. Learning new things and technology is a good thing.

HC: How do you use the internet as a tool to market yourself?

Margaret: I keep in touch with people; it keeps me connected with the world. I also keep in touch with those that I can’t call everyday. I can also let people know what’s going on in my world…shows, etc.

HC: You guys recently hired a new lead singer. What can you tell me about her? What prompted the change?

Ken: Margaret is a cool-school, down-to-earth person that loves to sing. She’s got a pleasantly soulful voice that can also rock out when needed. Ya know? Margaret is also taller than the two brothers in Phuz (laughs). Dea retired from the music. Phuz started auditioning a handful of female vocalists for about a year. When Phuz finally hooked up with Margaret, there seemed to be a flowing chemistry.

HC: What do you think of the “music scene” in Houston? What would you do to make it better?

Ken: I think there are many talented artists, DJ’s, and bands in Houston. But I feel that there is a bit of an unintentional schism among musical genres. Sometimes our diversity in music can be our weakness. Because our city is so big and spread out, it’s hard to say we’ve (Houston) got a defined music scene as other large cities. Although I think it’s getting better, Houston isn’t really known for its live music yet.

How to make the scene better? To answer in a few words wouldn’t do any justice. However, looking at what works from other cities can help. What we’re doing in mid-town, parts of downtown, and a Montrose/Heights area is I think in the right direction and can only get better to encourage a scene. But local stations, clubs/venues, and news (like this one) need to work together and help promote Houston music. Artists have their responsibilities too and have to give people a reason to come out. People show some luv.

HC: What’s next for Phuz?

Edward: At this point in time we are back to the “basics.” We’ve spent the last year searching for the right fit for female lead; it’s quite a long and thorough process. And we think we have finally found the right mix, with Margaret. We’re working to get back on stage and rock’n out! It’s just a matter of time…

HC: What do you consider to be your musical influences?

Edward: Massive Attack, Thievery Corporation, Hooverphonic, EBTG, Pete Yorne, Travis, Radiohead, Dave Mathews Band, Hans Zimmerman, Sting, The Police, U2, Rush, New Order, Depeche Mode

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

Edwin: Cold. Goldfrapp.

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

Edwin: Jazz.

HC: You guys have played with a lot of mainstream acts over the years and have garnered several Houston Press Music Awards nominations in the past. How has the positive press and critical praise helped the band?

Edwin: It’s obvious that public praise and (occasional) name-dropping through local and widespread media has done its share of spreading the Phuz-vibe.

But it has helped, as much as hurt us along the way, by way of misinterpretation, embellishment, and mere inaccuracy. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of publicity sometimes…

HC: What is in your CD player right now?

Margaret: Sade, Lovers Rock

Thanks to the members of Phuz for taking the time to answer these questions. Be sure to check out Phuz’s show this Friday night (3.3.06) downtown at Clark’s.

Now Playing: She Wants Revenge

Tags: Music

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