by Minister of Information JR
Although what we call rock began with musicians from the era of Chuck Berry and Little Richard, it has long been associated with being a white genre of music, characterized more historically by the music of Elvis Presley and the Beatles. That is the reason I wanted to do this interview with the Black Houston-based rock group Peekaboo Theory.
While I was in Houston on a speaking and book tour a couple of weeks ago, I spent a few days with Ramon and Cayn. We talked a lot about music. I thought they were two very interesting musical enigmas when it came to the types and tastes of music that I was exposed to. Nonetheless, I thought it was essential that people who follow my work be up on this band. Check out Peekaboo Theory in their own words …
M.O.I. JR: How and where did you guys grow up? How did you guys get into rock music?
Ramon: I grew up in Houston via Kingston, Jamaica. My earliest recollection of music involved a lot of rock and roll. My parents – as many Jamaicans do – listened to a wide array of music, some of which wasn’t popular in the States. We were a very musical family. I started playing piano around 11 and then guitar shortly after.
I did rap and listened to hip hop when I was young, but even my friends in the neighborhood knew growing up that I listened to some “weird stuff” and played “weird music.” I ran with it. I only chilled with like three or four friends from school really and we’re still cool to this day. Now it’s cool to be weird and we laugh about that.
Cayn: I grew up in Oklahoma, Arizona and Texas. I met these guys during Hurricane Rita. I was bored and I ran into FYIAAM at Guitar Center where he quickly introduced me to Ramon. I was waiting for like over an hour for Ramon not to be busy from work. Once we did talk, it was like finding a good brother.
M.O.I. JR: How did Peekaboo Theory come together?
Ramon: DJ FYIAAM instigated me. He fed me samples and pushed me to find good musicians while we were working together. Once he met Cayn, he was like, you need to meet Ramon. And it’s pretty much been on lock since then.
M.O.I. JR: What is the importance of the band versus just having Cayn sing over recorded tracks? What is the difference?
Ramon: Cayn can tell you better, but it’s a tangible experience when all six of us do our thing to make the music happen. While putting the band together, I would create pieces to fit into music and then say to myself, “I’m going to need a lot of players that really know their shit for this.”
The live show is paramount. When you play music live and people hear the experience AND see what you do to make the sound, their reactions are the difference. We feed off the crowd; it’s a more interactive thing to have the band.
Cayn: The difference I see is, I get more energy from these guys while on stage. The crowd gets a bolt of energy once they see how keys or drums make the sounds we create. I have been on stage with just backing tracks: NOT FUN.
If making music was a flower, my guys would be the root system, the stem, the leaves and the thorns. I am merely the bud that blooms from good care. So without them, I do not exist is how I feel about it.
M.O.I. JR: Who are some of the musicians who inspire you and why?
Ramon: Peter Tosh taught me to fight for what I believe, Tricky taught me to be inventive, Smashing Pumpkins taught me to be an emotional teen, Pinback taught me to be a music lover, Portishead taught me to be a music junkie, Wu-Tang Clan taught me to fall in love with music completely.
Radiohead used to be a big time favorite because lyrically and sonically they really got what it was I loved about doing music, which is doing it your way. Gregory Isaacs, Toots, Bob Marley and sons are all inspirational to me as well.
M.O.I. JR: Do you have material online or in stores? What makes your sound different from the 10,000 other rock bands in Texas?
Ramon: Yes: iTunes and Amazon. We technically won for best avant garde in Houston, but we play punk and shit at times. I think that’s what draws the crowd. The ethnic, cultural and social backgrounds of six people from Colombia, Jamaica, down South – Darian is from the Midwest – Cayn’s Native American background, all come into play.
M.O.I. JR: For people who are not up on their history, what have Black people contributed to rock? Do you feel like you play music in the legacy of these people? Why?
Ramon: Hmmm. A lot has happened since then. I feel we carry on the same spirit of those who started playing in the first place. They just wanted to play music and express themselves. Before the machine – the man’s hands in it all – I don’t know that it was called rock. So yeah, we’re doing that same thing here and now. Time has allowed for the expansion of synths and genre-blends since then, so what we do is for our generation, not a recap of the past.
M.O.I. JR: Do you think it is harder to be a rap band or a Black rock band? Why? Does being a novelty help sales?
Ramon: Being a novelty does help. That has been achieved more so, though, because of our sound. Breaking out of any norm takes a lot of endurance and we’ve seen more difficulties than help from being a Black rock band. I think that aspect of it may make a rap band an easier feat.
That’s never slowed us down though. We couldn’t care less how hard it will be as long as it’s a success. Whatever you WANT to do in life will take hard work, especially if it’s a good idea – even more so in fact, because no one else has done it.
M.O.I. JR: How can people hear your music and get in touch with you?