Tuesday, August 29, 2017

10 Questions With A Good Rogering

By Sean Claes
When you interview a musician named Skunk, you know the conversation will be interesting. Especially when you learn Skunk is in a band called A Good Rogering (AGR), which actually has it’s own tongue-in-cheek definition on Urban Dictionary.

Skunk Manhattan is an amazing guitarist, showman and band leader. AGR has been around - shocking and amazing audiences since 2008. They’ve laid low for the past few years, but with their new EP, This Is Death Metal, which will be released on September 5, they’ve re-emerged with a new line-up and fantastic new tunes.

Manhattan took some time to talk about the future of AGR with INsite… as he answered 10 questions.

Sean Claes: Looks like A Good Rogering (AGR) has gone through some lineup and style changes. You went from a three piece featuring yourself & Chef Bull RD to emerging from a year-long hiatus to a full four piece outfit. How did this transition occur?
Skunk Manhattan:I wasn’t looking at all; the stars just sort of aligned. Chef and I had grown tired of searching for drummers and really had just focused on writing after our last release. It’d actually been about 3 years since we’d played a show and then he ended up moving to San Francisco so that was that.

Anyway, I’d produced an EP for a band called Old World Kings in 2015 and somehow talk of us jamming together had come up. I’d already jammed with their drummer, Blake Haskins. Their bassist, Sammy Alvarado, was a fan and was all about jumping on board.

Enter Rick Lambert… He was fairly new in town and had heard of AGR and was wanting to get out and play, so I said let’s all learn 3 songs and get in a room together and see what happens. And it was killer! That’s how it all started.

Claes: Is there a new sound that goes with the new line-up?
Manhattan: The sound is finding itself, as it always has. We’ve rebranded and have started dubbing the music eclectic heavy-rock. I think it’s fitting even though we have a definite “old school” metal edge.

We’ve done everything from a mock TV theme to a classical piano piece so it’s hard to define a sound when you branch out in that way. The live show is an all out, high energy, hard rock assault. We love playing live and the energy between this group of guys has been second to none. I love it.

Claes: According to your website, your music was driven by channeling your “ancestral caveman predecessors.” Care to explain what this means?
Manhattan: I think that sentence sums up the band perfectly. We are rather brute. But yet charming. You just have to come to a show to get it.

Claes: I remember seeing you play Texas Rockfest a handful of years ago and what impressed me as much as the music (which was great) was your command over the audience. I felt like I was at rock & roll church. Where did you get such a command of stage presence?
Manhattan: Yeah that kind of ties into the last question. I think we really shine live, more now than ever actually. Back when you saw us I was doing a reverend shtick. It made sense at the time. I mean one of our members was already wearing an apron and a giant chef’s hat right?

But now it’s been stripped down. It’s just natural. We just go out there and rock the fuck out. It’s raw and honest the way rock and roll should be. Being on stage is easy. Honestly it’s one of the few things in life I feel comfortable with and in command of. It is my religion.

Claes: You released “The Snail” as a single back in November. To me, the song seems to be a tell-tale about the music industry - musicians wanting instant success without putting in the work. So… who is “The Snail?”
Manhattan: Actually that song is also on the EP but with a different drum track. It’s also the only track Chef is on bass. It features Blake on drums. We decided to release that version as a tribute to that roster that never was. It’s cool we at least got in the studio for that one song though.

It’s a typical simple but not really simple AGR type tune. There’s always little tricks that will make you feel like an asshole if you didn’t do your homework and learn the tune (laughs).

Anyway, lyrically it is about being frustrated. I’ve definitely experienced disappointment and wasted time and am no longer interested in moving at a snail’s pace or working with anyone not dedicated. This time around we’ve hit the ground running and I have no intention of letting up.

I think if can get in front of the right crowds over and over again the honesty in our music and performance will get us where we want to be. I’m a romantic like that. A caveman romantic.

Claes: One thing that makes it hard to explain AGR to people is the fact that your music is not one-note or really one-genre. Do you think the fact that you’re so genre-jumping makes it easier or harder to reach new audiences.
Manhattan: Well it doesn’t make it easy to package and that is something I’ve learned you have to do, at least to some degree. I don’t like it, but that’s part of the business. I think we’ve really found who we are, though. Things are really coming together with this lineup for sure.

There are those quirky tracks we’ve done, but live we are a high energy, take no prisoners rock and roll band. And we can get pretty damn heavy but I still don’t like to say metal. So “eclectic heavy-rock”. That’s our “package.” One thing I’ve noticed is that when we do gain fans they tend to really enjoy the diversity of the music. Which I take as a great compliment.

Claes: You’ve got an endorsement with Tregan Guitars. Why did you choose that brand?
Manhattan: Oh Tregan is fantastic. They’ve always been super cool to work with. I met Tony Guarriello (founder) at a NAMM show here in Austin ten years ago. I actually got on board with them before A Good Rogering had even been conceived. I was with the band Quartershackle and we had a nice press kit. Tony liked the band and the image so we came up with the Skunk signature guitar and the rest is history. I’ve done demos at NAMM shows and have had national advertising with them over the years. I love playing the guitars. That’s pretty much all you’ll see me playing live, and almost all the guitars on the AGR albums are Tregan.

Claes: Tell me about This Is Death Metal, your EP that is out September 5.
Manhattan: The title is from the last track and it’s exactly what it says it is. The other tracks are all different. “Never Miss” is a re-work of a track on Long Overdue. “The Snail” with Rom on drums is a totally different mix from the single. And then there’s “Five Ministries.” The total opposite of Death Metal. It’s more groove and melody based with lyrics that make you think, if you want to.

Claes: You’ve got a tour coming up this month. Where are you heading?
Manhattan: Yeah, well we’ve got some dates on the calendar. We’re doing a festival called 828 Rockfest in Asheville, North Carolina so that’s kind of been the catalyst. We’ve got a few east coast shows on the way  and then a few in Louisiana on the way out. We love playing that state, the fans are awesome! We go up as far as Maryland or possibly New York and then we’ll be heading back for a few Texas shows.

Most of our schedule is on our website

Claes: When do you play Austin next?
Manhattan: September 23rd. I guess it’s technically in Pflugerville. And I haven’t played north Austin in years so we’re excited to play up in that area for those fans that don’t like having to deal with downtown and all that.

Gonna give a shout out to Ear Splitting Media here because they put on a lot of good shows up there.

A Good Rogering will be playing Fitzgeralds in San Antonio on September 6, then they’ll head out on tour around America before returning to play Hanover’s in Pflugerville on September 23. If you’ve seen them live before, you’ve likely already got these dates on your calendar… if you’re new to AGR, do yourself a favor and make a show. It’ll restore your faith in locally-sourced live music.

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. This is week 34 in his "52 Weeks of Austin Musician Interview" series. See the others here: 52 Week Project

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

10 Questions with Snake Skin Prison

NOTE: Due to weather, the 8/26 show has been rescheduled.

By Sean Claes

In 2009, INsite was a sponsor of the 10th Annual Texas Rockfest during that third week in March. I showed up to check out the bands in the middle of the spring break heat and I saw three guys on stage… Matt Ballengee, the singer/guitarist wore a bandana and a Black Sabbath shirt. The bassist, Keith “Keef” Ploeger, wore faded camouflage pants and all I could see of Marc Coronado was hair and drumsticks. They just plain rocked.

It’s been eight years since I saw Snake Skin Prison and I still recall that moment. Maybe it’s because in the 10-20 times I’ve seen them since, they have always brought the same energy, the same dedication and the same intensity that made me stop in my tracks and watch.
It’s been 10 years since Snake Skin Prison first hatched onto the Austin music scene and the guys are celebrating with a fun night of rock and revelry at Dirty Dog Bar this Saturday (8/26).

Matt and INsite took a moment to talk about their Decade of Decibels… as he answered 10 questions.

Sean Claes: Snake Skin Prison (SSP) is something that I’d describe as Southern-style Barroom Rock and Roll. You’ve got some Skynyrd mixed in with your Pantera, some West Virginia mixed with your Texas… is that a fair assessment? How would you describe y’all?  
Matt Ballengee: I would say that’s an excellent assessment.  I would always tell everyone it’s Metallica meets Skynyrd.  SSP is heavy and fast, but you can understand what’s going on...most importantly the vocals. I have so many people tell me that they enjoy the fact that they can understand what I’m singing.

Claes: Snake Skin Prison has been a band for 10 years. How do y’all keep it going?  
Ballengee: Hard work, determination, a whole lot of blessing, and a whole lot of vodka.  We have been through several drummers, but Keith and myself have remained true friends through this entire thing.  I think that’s key.  We didn’t keep pushing because we had to...we did because we wanted to.  That’s a big difference.  

Claes: Long-time drummer Marc Coronado left Snake Skin Prison in 2015 and is now with local band The Crowned. How did that come about?
Ballengee: Marc is an amazing musician and an amazing drummer.  He is definitely one of the best drummers I have ever had the pleasure of working with.  He came into SSP at a young age and as a young musician.  I believe that as he grew into his own musically he wanted to do some things differently.  Which is completely fine.  

He started The Crowned on his own and saw it take life (just as I did with SSP).  Once you see your creation begin to live and breathe it requires a lot more focus.  At the end of the day I believe that Marc wanted to focus on his band and his “vision”...and he was completely professional and up front about the entire thing.  

He worked hard with SSP for 6 years and I’m truly grateful for that.  I wish him nothing but success and from everything I hear and see he’s doing great!  After Marc left, Keith and I were faced with a hard decision.  We really didn’t want to start from scratch. 

Enter Gary Tumnus. Gary had filled in for Marc and was already poised to make that he did and I must say he’s filling in perfectly.  

Claes: This Saturday you’re celebrating at The Dirty Dog Bar with a great line-up. A Snake Skin Prison show is always an event… what do you have in store for this one?  
Ballengee: Any SSP show is a party...that’s why I love it so much.  There’s enough negativity in the world...check that shit at the door, we’re here to have a good time.

SSP’s set will consist of selections from our entire catalog.  Practices have been a lot of fun and I believe breathed some breath into the band playing those old tunes.  

Claes: You’ve included a benefit aspect to this show. Why did you choose the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital as your beneficiary?  
Ballengee: We have worked with so many charities and I’m always trying to find new ones.  I chose St. Jude CRH because I they are providing an amazing resource.  You don’t have to have a child to have a soft spot for children, especially those that might not be as fortunate with their health as others.  

Again, going back to what I said previously about negativity in the world...there’s enough of that.  As a human race we could do so much more if we all just worked together and St. Jude CRH is a perfect example of that. We have set our goal at $ we are working towards that as we speak:

Claes: SSP consistently has the coolest artistic album covers of any indie band I have seen. I know Billy Perkins is your artist. How did that relationship happen?  
Ballengee: I met Perkins through his band Butcherwhite.  We started playing together and I had no idea he was not only ‘a poster guy’ but the ‘poster guy’.  We have worked back and forth on several SSP projects/posters and he always does top of the line work.  There’s a reason he has worked with the best of the best.  I mean it doesn’t get any better than Willie Nelson!!  

Claes: You know I’ve been a fan for a long time, even played Santa for your annual “Very Metal Christmas” back in 2010 at The Parish. I’m a fan of the music, but I’m equally a fan of your promotional mindset. What advice can you give bands who are trying to etch out a piece of the Austin musical landscape?
Ballengee: You have to promote.  You have to engage people.  Posting on FB is cool and definitely helps but you have to establish that connection with people.  

You can be the best musician in Austin but if you’re an asshole, no one will come watch you.  Everyone in the band must put the work in.  You can’t rely on one person to do it all.  I know it’s a cliche, but seriously...never give up.  

Claes: Do you have a favorite venue in Austin?  
Ballengee: Red Eyed Fly was definitely my favorite, but Dirty Dog was always a close second.  Now that REF is closed down I would have to say Dirty Dog.  Come and Take It Live is also a bad ass venue, we have a show there in September I’m really excited about.  

Claes: You’ve had a chance to play some pretty big shows. What is your most memorable gig?  Ballengee: I really enjoyed playing the Rockstar Energy Uproar Tour in Corpus (2010 with Hellyeah and Disturbed).  I also enjoyed playing with Jackyl the handful of times we did in San Antonio.  When we did our release for “9 Kinds of Bad” at the Parish and pre sold over 300 tickets...I was pretty stoked about that.  I sold 110 tickets myself!!  

Keith, Gary and Matt

Claes: TIme to reflect… you 10 years ago… single and hell bent of forming a rock band in Austin. You today… married to an awesomely supportive spouse w/ a child… still rocking. Tell me about your decade.  
Ballengee: It has been a wild ride for sure.  When I moved down here I had no idea about anything other than if I was willing to put in the work I would be successful.  I do feel like SSP has and is successful.  We never quite made that move from “part time” to “full time” but that was on purpose and a calculated decision.  

Keith, Gary, and myself all have very happy and successful personal lives so I couldn’t be more happy about that.  Now that I have a family, it is definitely different but not in a bad way.  

My 4 year old, Samantha, loves music and loves to watch/hear me play my guitar.  Kelly is and has been supportive.  So in short, my decade has continuously gotten better.  

I used to pray everyday for God to make SSP the biggest band the world has ever seen.  I literally asked God for that (laughs).  Now I pray for health and happiness...and acceptance for the things I cannot change.  I still have that fire, I still have that need for speed...that will never die.  I’m just 10 years older and a little (not by much) wiser.  

Head on out to The Dirty Dog on “the Dirty 6th” this Saturday and raise a glass to the boys of Snake Skin Prison. And… this isn’t a retirement party… look forward to them releasing some new music (Ballengee mentioned they were working on 3 new songs) in the coming months.

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. This is week 33 in his "52 Weeks of Austin Musician Interview" series. See the others here: 52 Week Project

Interesting fact... Claes actually interviewed SSP in 2012 for Week 16 of this series - link

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

10 Questions with Dongle

By Sean Claes
In the Austin scene, you have the chance to see all types of acts playing their style of original music. Dongle has been a mainstay in the ATX for the last 8 years playing such venues as Texas Mist, Hanovers, The Sidewinder and The Parish. Thier brand of punk-meets-metal has been described as “Porn Punk” since their lyrical content is often NSFW (Not suitable for work). This, my friends, is a fun band to catch live.

Members Rob Howard, Rick Ciampi, Derek Davis and Victor DeLeon are currently tracking songs for their second release, Danger Noodle which is to see the light of day in October of this year. Apart from recording, Dongle has a big show coming up this Friday at Hanovers in Pflugerville with fellow locals Gun Hill, Chasing After Alice and Dharma Kings. They’re also tapped to be on local legend Dave Prewitt’s DaveTV on August 26.

In the midst of all of this we caught up with drummer Derek Davis and asked him 10 questions.

Sean Claes: Dongle has been around since 2011. How has your sound evolved in the last 6 years?
Derek Davis: When we started, we were going for a punk/rockabilly sound. Once we added a lead guitarist, we moved more towards hard rock.

Claes: Being around computers for a second, I always giggled at the word “Dongle” (It’s a small device that acts as an adapter for a computer.)… never thought it could be the name of a band, but it fits. How’d you arrive at the name?  
Davis: When we started, we called ourselves Nix Sslips and The Skids to go along with our pink/rockabilly sound. Once the sound changed, we came up with a full list of possible names.  Since most of us were in some sort of tech field, Dongle was the most logical choice.

Claes: The members are an eclectic bunch all with different music style coming into the fold. If I had to but a “they sound like” label on y’all.. I’d say you’ve got an M.O.D. meets Alice In Chains hanging out with early Metallica groove going on. What would you describe as the “Dongle Sound?”  
Davis: We were once called porn-punk due to our off color lyrics. I think we have a sound from Offspring to Metallica and AC/DC to Dead Kennedy’s.

Claes: How does the writing process go? How do you birth a new Dongle song?  
Davis: Usually one of us comes to the group with a hook, idea or sometimes even full sets of lyrics and then we work on developing a rhythm and go from there.  Most of our lyrics are personal feelings and experiences.

Claes: A couple of your founding members left the band last year. How did y’all handle the change and what have the new members brought to the band?
Davis: We understand why the members left, but it was definitely tough to accept the changes. We had played with Rick, the lead guitarist who replaced Cameron, in another band. Rick brings a classic rock vibe and a HUGE personality to our stage show.  With Blake being a founding member, he was a little tougher to replace.   We met Victor through another musician.  He brings a unique approach to bass lines that throw back to his guitar roots.

Claes: Dongle had been around for a few years before releasing your first EP, In Your Ear Hole in 2015. Why so long before a release?
Davis: When the band started, Rob and our first bassist, Blake, would get together to hang out noodling around and learning a few covers.  It was more of an escape then.  When Derek joined, we finally had a drummer and started working towards playing shows.  We didn’t start actively writing until mid 2013 and it was a slow process then.

Claes: You’ve just been in the studio finalizing your new release. When is it going to see the light of day? Do you have a title?  
Davis: The new CD titled Danger Noodle will be released this fall, likely on October.

Claes: What is your favorite track to play? Is there a “fan favorite?”
Davis: Right now, our favorite track to play is probably “Go Away”.  As for a fan favorite, everyone loves “Mid Day Hand Job”.

Claes: The line-up this at your next gig, Hanover’s in Pflugerville this Friday, August 18, includes Gun Hill, Chasing After Alice and Dharma Kings. It’s being dubbed the “Hot For Teacher” show. Tell me a little about the bands who will be joining you.
Davis: Well, Gun Hill is a great hard rock band out of Dallas that definitely bring the party.  Chasing After Alice brings the metal to the stage with driving beats and a female lead vocalist that will leave you wanting more.  Dharma Kings brings rock to the stage with great music and the vocals of David Komie really rounds out the sound.

Claes: What are your thoughts on the current state of the Austin music scene?
Davis: There seems to be plenty of great music in the scene, just not enough interest in supporting and attending the shows.  Some of this has to do with promotion by bands, venues and local media.  For $5 - $10 you can go see bands that have the talent and passion of any “big name” band.  The scene is coming back, and will be huge again if we all work together.  That’s why we are a part of Ear Splitting Media.

As much as we like to perform shows and write music, our favorite things are meeting people, supporting the scene, and hanging out with our fans and fellow musicians.  If you are reading this, go out and support local music, see a show, buy some merch and rock out with some local talent.

Catch Dongle this Friday at Hanover’s in Pflugerville or on DaveTV on August 26. Be sure to find them online at, on  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also, be on the lookout for their next release, Danger Noodle in October.

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. This is week 32 in his "52 Weeks of Austin Musician Interview" series. See the others here: 52 Week Project

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

10 Questions with Sunni Soper

“You’re only as strong 
as your weakest thought."
- Sunni Soper

By Sean Claes
Performance-based poetry, or Spoken Word is an amazing thing and Austin has a wealth of performers who keep the genre alive. I became aware of the Austin scene through Sunni Soper, who came onto the scene about five years ago and has been a joy to follow on Facebook and watch via YouTube recordings of her performances. 

I hadn't heard a produced track until I heard her "Prison Industrial Complex" set to music on the fantastic Black Mics Matter (download) compilation that was released last year. 

INsite asked Soper "10 Questions" as she readied herself to head to Denver, CO for the National Poetry Slam competition this week.  

Sean Claes: Tell me about your entrance into the poetry world and how you made the jump from the page to the microphone.
Sunni Soper: I wrote my first poem in October 2010. People had been telling me for a while that my speaking was poetic and I should write it down.

I tried to make it to the one monthly slams that was happening in RI at the time to give it a shot, but it was an hour away from me on a Wednesday night, so it never happened.

I moved back to Austin and a friend took me to an R&B show and two poets (Shae Harris and Kelene Blake) opened up for that artist and it was the most moving thing I had seen.

They said there was an open mic for poetry every Tuesday at NeoSoul Poetry Lounge, so I went back the next week and read a poem!
Claes: You performed your first poem in 2013. Tell me about that first time up on the mic.
Soper: I was TERRIFIED. I wrote a poem specifically for my first time reading a poem out loud.

The paper shook, my curly hair shook, my voice shook, but I made it through. It was powerful to feel so afraid of doing something, but doing it anyway.

I watch the video sometimes and it makes me laugh now. I’ve grown so much. I will forever be thankful for that leap, my poetry family has been crucial to my growth as a poet and a person!

Claes: In 2014 you released your debut album, a collection of 15 poems, entitled For Public Consumption. How did that come about?
Soper: I was reading a poem at NeoSoul and an audience member, who became a friend, and has since passed (RIP Crystal) asked me where she could buy more. I was taken aback.

Once I got over the idea that someone wanted to listen to me when I wasn’t there, I was more comfortable with the idea. I was having a casual conversation with long-time friends Terrany Johnson (aka Tee Double) and Trent Spears (aka DJ Supreme) about that moment and Trent reminded me he has an entire studio set-up in his home. We decided that night we would put out an album.

My spoken word to his production and we went from idea to release in under 6 months!!

Claes: Most people know nothing about performance-based poetry or poetry slam other than what they saw Eminem do in 8 Mile. Paint me a picture.
Soper: A lot of people think Poetry Slam is a genre. It’s really just a competition of performance-based poetry, or spoken word, which is the actual genre (there’s even a Spoken Word Grammy category).

Poetry slam has become my favorite sport! Scores, suspense, cheering and booing, amazing writers, emotions spilling all over the stage and flowing into the crowd. It’s a unique environment and one I think everyone should experience at some point in their lives, whether they’re “into poetry,” or not.

Claes: Your poetry seems to be heart-on-the-table for all to see - Heartache, Activism, Healing and Love. What are your passions and how do you plug that into your poetry?
Soper: My favorite topic to write about is love. From interpersonal relationships to community health, I think there are many definitions of love to explore.

I tend to be a little over-the-top passionate in my life in general, so I don’t think I could avoid plugging that into my poetry if I tried. It is not easy feeling so exposed when you share so much of yourself. I have to say the attention and sometimes the feedback caught me off guard.

I never considered sharing my rambling musings would touch people so much.

Claes: You have a track, “Prison Industrial Complex” on the 2016 release Black Mics Matter that Terrany Johnson executive produced. It was released in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. How was that experience?
Soper: I was honored when Terrany Johnson asked me to be part of Black Mics Matter as an ally. It was amazing to be included on a project with so many talented people! This compilation made it all the way to the consideration phase for a Best Rap Album Grammy!

Even if it hadn’t, I loved the message, the goal of the compilation and the way it showcased necessary songs and words in these tumultuous times from local Austin voices working tirelessly behind the scenes and on stages to get these messages out.

Claes: Where are the places one can catch performance-based poetry in Austin? What is the scene like?
Soper: There is a wealth of poetry here in Austin. Austin Poetry Slam is every Tuesday night 8p.m. at Spiderhouse Ballroom on Fruth St.

NeoSoul Poetry Lounge has been on hiatus for the summer, but we have monthly, free writing workshops and a slam competition September 9th at Apanas on South Congress.

Spoken n Heard is every Sunday night 7PM at Kickbutt Coffee Music & Booze on Airport Blvd.

Chicon Street Poets has been holding a monthly open mic and I believe I heard rumblings of a festival being put together.

All of these collectives have Facebook pages where you can find out more and keep up with future events.

Claes: You were diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis two years ago. How has this affected your performing, your writing?
Soper: It’s a very aggressive form of arthritis so it has taken me some time to adjust to some new limitations. My writing was pretty dark for a while as I processed this degenerative issue.

I moved behind the scenes quite a bit in the poetry scene because I definitely want to stay involved, but I wasn’t sure what I could physically handle as far as continuing to book my own features and performances.

I seem to be doing better as of late, even popping up for performances here and there, but I’m hesitant to jump back in full steam. It has definitely affected my performing more than my writing.

Claes: You’re on the Executive Board of the Austin Poetry Slam. Tell me a bit about that group.
Soper: Austin Poetry Slam is a weekly slam competition at Spiderhouse Ballroom in Austin with cash prizes for the top three winners. All the competitions culminate into a finals competition to send a team to the annual National Poetry Slam to compete with teams all around the country.

I’m also on the organizational team for NeoSoul Poetry Lounge. We have been holding monthly, free writing workshops at the African American Cultural and Heritage Facility on 11th Street and we will be producing slams to form our 2018 Nationals team.

Claes: You’ve been working with new local publishing house, 310 Brown Street. What is that all about?
Soper: 310 Brown Street was established November 2016 by poet, author and community advocate Christopher Michael.

I have been the editor and media director since its inception and it has been an honor to work with a publisher that’s focusing on spoken word artists in the slam community. Spoken word is a little different in that it doesn’t necessarily follow academic poetry guidelines so mainstream publishers often overlook this genre resulting in an underrepresented community and therefore an entire population of possible fans not being exposed to it.

Among the releases, we put out two anthologies, “NeoSoul Anthology” and “Texas Slamthology” used for fundraising purposes. The NeoSoul Anthology is used to raise money to send the Neo slam team to nationals. 

"The Texas Slamthology" has 7 Texas slam team’s contributions and is for sale in their home venues to raise money for their respective national slam teams, while online sales proceeds go to the youth poetry scene. You can find all of our releases on Amazon. 310 Brown Street has 5 publications under its belt so far, with a few in the works for release soon. I love the tagline: 310 Brown Street, Making Poets Immortal!

You can find Soper’s album For Public Consumption, on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Pandora, and
This week Soper travels to Denver, CO for the National Poetry Slam competition in a behind the scenes capacity. If you’re looking to see her perform, keep an eye out for Austin Poetry Slam and NeoSoul Poetry Lounge.

She had these parting words:
“Support artists,
get involved in your community,
stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves,
and always remember:
You’re only as strong
as your weakest thought.”

Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. This is week 31 in his "52 Weeks of Austin Musician Interview" series. See the others here: 52 Week Project