Set #10 - Paul Hinojo

“And nobody believes
that there's nothing to believe in
listen to me
there is no sidewalk art show
no strollers are there"
               - Jack Kerouac

Encompassed by the movement of ideas, self-sufficiency, and independence - DIY ethics have long been a staple of the punk rock and post punk music scenes since their early inception in the seventies. Punk rock began as a regional phenomenon, developed through different styles of playing in shifted sounds and ways of dancing. Each city had it’s own flavor, and it’s own particular approach to playing music. Out of a dual desire for autonomy and a lack of money to develop the promotional side of playing in the conventional, corporate manner, bands relied heavily on self-developed communities of musicians to spread news of their shows word of mouth. The punk ethos has always been: make your own culture. Anyone can play music and make art. It is not some unattainable giant in the hills. It was, and still is, a reaction to toeing the line. Paul and I discuss the importance of maintaining an organic environment, where everyone’s input is welcome and the movement of ideas and actions are not self-limiting. Pulling from influences such as the Talking Heads and Joy Division, Paul’s first band in high school, Be At Leso, serves as a prime example. “We didn’t really have any rules to follow. We were so inexperienced we didn’t know anything, so we just tried to make music.” Playing music for the sake of playing music becomes such an important notion in a culture where music and art are being sold to you as a passive consumer. The commercialization and democratization of the arts can be detrimental to the preservation of individuality. However, when you don’t want to be a part of something, you do it yourself.

Enter: the Underground.

The underground has always existed as a reaction to economic discrimination and high culture, and plays a key cultural role in society, acting as a breeding ground for true creativity. Paul tells me that the music scene in Bryan, Texas (which sits right next to College Station) truly emulated that breeding ground. “It’s kind of fun to be in that web” and network of musicians where everyone knows each other and you are able to work and play music with friends. While attending school at Texas A&M, Paul spent ten semesters running an indie music radio program called PaulCore, and played a role in Town Hall, a group whose main mission involved bringing live music to students on campus. As Paul tells me, there are not many outlets in Bryan, and as someone interested in music, you naturally gravitate toward KANM and Town Hall. Music has always been a form of communication, providing a way to connect with other people, “which is something you didn’t exactly get through the radio station. It was just kind of something to do. It was really great to share music but with Town Hall you were just more directly working with people.” Throughout his time in College Station, the Ottoman Turks, Paul’s current band, solidified their songs and recorded their first EP, Texas Toast. Although Turks pull heavily from country-blues roots, Paul notes that their influences range drastically. Often times, categories can be incredibly restrictive, and incorporating different genres of music is “a cool thing that I think Turks have been good at doing. We have our country blues roots, but even if you’re not necessarily into that stuff – I think you still might like us. We’re loud and can appeal to the punk kids or if you do like the old school country music, you’ll probably find something that you dig too. That's one thing I like about having different influences than say Nathan, or Josh, or Will, is yeah - we’re bringing this other stuff into it too.” Labels and the genre filtering process have become so convenient and indigenous to the production and sale of music that they detract from the sound and the categories no longer mean anything anymore. However, the drive to play music for the sake of playing music is what combats the over exhaustion of commercialization, and bands like the Ottoman Turks are finding ways to tap into the energy that is still there, hidden in the framework.

- Brittany Griffiths