Happy Wednesday! So here we are on our second Chartered Trip. This time we’re looking at the album that inspired me to begin this blog in the first place: Houston’s ‘Overhead’.
- Artist: Houston
- Release: Overhead (1999)
- Buy: Amazon
- Stream: Grooveshark ((Normally this is not the streaming service of choice for us, but since this album is so hard to find, and we wanted everyone to be able to experience the killer music within, we decided to provide this link. We here at Chartered Trips are all about supporting musicians, with kudos and money alike, and hope that your listening to this free stream leads you to seek it out online for purchase later.))
Sadly, unlike The Glad Version, I wasn’t able to speak with any members of the band. And frankly, I was limited overall by the fact that I couldn’t really unearth any solid, factual information about this album at all. As such, we’re left with supposition and hopefully a few solid, educated guesses. But we’re not going to let a little thing like lack of factual information stop us, are we? No. No, we are not.
Go ahead. Try to Google up some information on Houston. Have fun with that. Aside from sharing a name with several towns and cities around the country, there’s also the matter of a rapper, a Canadian cover band and some random Norwegian band, apparently, also working under the same name (pro tip: you’ll want to search for “Houston band Minneapolis” to have a decent shot). In short, there ain’t much beyond the obligatory MySpace page that in fact reminds us that Houston lived from 1999 to 2004 and is now dead – no really, that’s what it says. This we do know, via the bio on that MySpace page:
"Jeff Halland (guitar/vox) and Lane Soderberg (bass/vox) spent much of their formative years in the far northern woodlands of Duluth, MN before moving to Minneapolis in the early 90's. Early in their career, Jeff and Lane devoted themselves to success in another band before eventually going separate ways and then reuniting a year later with Houston ideas brewing. Ian Prince (drums) broke free from the confines of Michigan's upper peninsula to escape a life in the militia. Ian elects to not reveal the exact date of his arrival to Minneapolis, but shortly after he was introduced by a mutual friend to Jeff and Lane and the trio was complete."
At some point in this blog I’ll likely hit each Houston record, but I’m starting with their first official full-length, and my personal favorite, Overhead.
Here’s where I’m stuck in terms of the real story. I’ve scoured the internets and found nothing beyond a short interview from Jeff that netted me not a lot. So I’m left with the personal angle. Houston was one of the very first local rock acts I was tipped to after I got here in 2000, via a burned CDR from a co-worker’s husband. Overhead pretty much blew me away, and I could hear some Hüsker Dü and Arcwelder in the interplay between the guitar and bass. Combined with some jaw-dropping drumming from Mr. Prince, this was like someone just handing me my dream band and a perfect record at the same time, except that by that point (2004) Houston was in fact nearing their end. Even though I’d been in the Twin Cities nearly as long as they’d been around, I was unaware of their existence until they were just about done. I’d finally found a new-to-me local band that really spoke to me, and put simply, I’d missed it. And that’s part of why I started this blog – learning about what I missed.
So I set off to research and was struck immediately with something I’ve since run into countless times as I try to research many of these records. Somehow at this point, things like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, et al feel like they’ve been around forever – they have not, and I can tell you that trying to find videos, pictures or other things relating to the records I’m writing about (many of which predate these services) ain’t easy. Are there Houston videos? Yep, several of them, nearly all live show captures by some audience member of shows from 2003-2004.
Does that help me a whole lot when writing about their first record? No, it does not. If they’d come along just five years later I’d no doubt be wading through YouTube channels, Twitter and Instagram accounts, and who knows what else. But this was way back in 2000 ((As an aside, if the phrase “way back in 2000” makes you feel old, I apologize. If it helps, odds are I’m older than you. So it could be worse.)), when we were just noticing that the party not only was not over but was actually just starting to hit its stride. Bands who wanted to make records were still mostly spending ridiculous amounts of money to record in real studios with professional recordists, and then they were spending money to get CDs made and mail them around in hopes of catching someone’s ear.
In any case, this is one hell of a fantastic record by a band that, in my estimation, isn’t nearly celebrated enough around here. That makes it ripe for a Chartered Trip, if you ask me. So as I hope will be our habit, let’s take the next week to give it a good solid listen or twenty, and we’ll reconvene next Friday to talk songs and production. See you then!