Wednesday, February 17, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 95

Hoop it up, compare two new college basketball video games

Orchestra X updates Bizet

About the Cougar

H-town's best kept secret

Local act Small Craft Advisory rocks Houston with 'phatness'

By William Cordray
Daily Cougar Staff

Six-year veterans of Houston's local music scene, Small Craft Advisory unwittingly does what most Houston bands cannot do: rock the house.

Mixing hardcore punk, funk, rhythm and blues and rap throughout its musical repertoire, Small Craft Advisory meanders through these elements and challenges the confines of pop music and the likes of which demand the attention of listeners today.

Bassist Don Russell and drummer Todd Petree formed the base of the band in 1993, after spending numerous years in local acts around Houston. Russell then drafted his ever-talented sister, Lori Russell, to sing and play guitar. They waded through other members who've come and gone over the years, finally settling on Gavin Sanchez as percussionist.

Small Craft Advisory basist, Don Russell, insists on relying on funky "phat" beats to influence his songriting.  Russell's band is one toh the best live acts in the city of Houston.

William Cordray/The Daily Cougar

Now working on their second full length album due out in April, the Russell siblings found the time to give an exclusive interview to The Daily Cougar about the band and Houston's music scene.

Daily Cougar: So, what's with the name Small Craft Advisory?

Don: "Basically we're all Weather Channel buffs. A small craft advisory (to us) means that all the little boats out in the ocean need to back off."

So, is the band Small Craft Advisory a big boat or a little boat?

"Oh, we're a big boat. Something like the Titanic times two," [laughs] "but our live shows are priority when it comes to the band and we plan on putting out 100 percent energy in every show that we do. We give the best live effect we can with our music and what we do on stage."

Essentially then, does the band name become sort of a warning for the crowd?

"Yeah, we're definitely warning the crowd and even other bands to watch out for us." [laughs]

From what I've heard, it seems like a lot of different styles of music have influenced Small Craft Advisory. Who have been the key ones?

Lori: "Well, I know that Bad Brains was a pretty big influence on us."

Don: "Definitely Parliament/Funkadelic, George Clinton stuff."

Lori: "Vocally, for me though, it's been like Anita Baker and other R&B greats. Our influences really range from, like, A to Z.

"For instance, when Don and I were kids, we'd listen to Sergio Mendes records. So definitely, our tastes in music are wide. I know that Todd is definitely influenced by a lot of jazz, tribal type stuff. He's big on percussion, as well as Gavin."

Don: "For me personally, Bootsy Collins has had a lot of influence on me and anyone else who can just put out a 'phat beat.'"

Then what's your definition of a "phat beat?"

Don: "Just something that'll make you groove and put your mind in a trance. Anywhere from what the Deftones can do to some of the hip hop that's out today."

With Small Craft Advisory, do you take this "phat beat" approach?

"Yes, just a little bit." [laughs] "We like to blend the heaviness (of music) with the funk side as well. The stuff that makes people want to dance and just have fun."

Now, everyone talks about Houston not having a really good music scene even though there are a lot of bands around town. What's your theory on that?

"There are a lot of good bands in this town, but they aren't getting enough support, and that's the problem. A lot of bands give up, especially the good ones, because no one ever comes out to the shows, and that's a shame. Hip hop seems to be having a good following here locally, but for live bands, its been a struggle."

Lori: "And it's too bad that you would think that Houston, being a big city and one of the largest in the nation, doesn't have (an exceptional) music scene. It's kind of a shame."

Don: "I'd just like to say to bands who are starting out here in Houston to just keep on going, and if you're doing something original, then stick with it. (Houston needs) bands out there that aren't copying other bands and are doing their own thing."

Lori: "Just never give up, even if you're 50-years-old and still kicking, just keep the faith alive in your music, 'cause without music in this world, nothing would be the same."

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