Featured Music: Wednesday, June 19, 2003
With a Bullet

The Action has wasted no time getting in high rawk gear.


Considering the typical rock ’n’ roller’s cycle of sleep and waking, it was surprising to see three out of five members of Fort Worth band The Action assembled in broad daylight at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop on a Monday afternoon recently.

The West Berry Street environs are familiar to Danny Weaver, who owns two clubs there — the Aardvark and the Moon. Lead singer Joe Rose and his girlfriend drove in from the Mid-Cities, where Rose attends cosmetology school when he’s not standing center-stage. As befits one who plans to make his living working on hair, Rose looked suitably punk, sporting a new blond ’do.

Mike DeRammelaere — imagine Black Sabbath’s coffin-nail driver Bill Ward and Van Halen’s other frontman, Sammy Hagar, morphed into one incredibly good-natured expatriate Chicagoan — had just awakened and said little, beyond denying Weaver’s repeated claims that a switch from drums to a different instrument was in the cards. The Action’s all-over-the-map visuals are completed by guitarist Jace Bersin, who looks like your workaday Fort Worth longhair, and all-for-business, crop-headed bassist John Goetz, who also plays the four-stringed instrument for the Southpaw Preachers and designs web sites for seemingly every band in town (including his own — www.theactionband.com).

Together for a little more than a year, the boys in The Action have just released their second c.d., the e.p. Bullet, and they’ve played stages as far away as Houston and Oklahoma as well as nearly every rock room in Dallas. An excursion to San Antonio is planned for later this summer.

The Action got its start when Weaver tired of playing rock covers and started kicking around the idea of an original music project with fellow guitarist Jim Kisselberg. Weaver’s Burleson homeboy Rose seemed like a natural to front the band, and Goetz and DeRammelaere were also automatics. Guitarist Bersin soon replaced Kisselberg, and The Action lineup was complete. The band’s first c.d., an e.p. that they recorded mainly to have something to give away at shows, was finished in just 24 hours of recording, only two months after the band got together. Rose recalls that during the sessions, his mouth was bleeding from oral surgery and he was heavily medicated.

For Bullet, said Weaver, “we were in a real studio instead of somebody’s house, recording on reel-to-reel instead of ProTools.” Producer Casey Diiorio of the band Valve handled production duties at his band’s Dallas studio. Recorded in March, the e.p. was released at the end of April. “We realized we had to set a deadline, or it’d take us months to get it out,” said Rose. “As a result, some of the things we had planned for the artwork didn’t happen.” The music doesn’t sound like a rush job, though. It’s unhyphenated rock with a modicum of ’90s Britpop flavor.

The band boys cite influences ranging from punk progenitors like the MC5, New York Dolls, and Ramones to poppy modernists like Weezer, Coldplay, and the Foo Fighters. “We’re all pulling in 30 different directions at once,” said Rose. The bulk of the songwriting is handled by Rose, Weaver, and Goetz, although the band members work together to flesh out arrangements. They currently have 15 originals, but they’re in no hurry to record a full-length c.d. “We want to make sure we have 12 legit songs before we go back in the studio, rather than just recording everything we have now,” said Weaver.

Besides Diiorio’s sterling production work on Bullet, The Action has enjoyed other benefits from its membership in a tight-knit group of mutually supportive local musicians including Valve, Flickerstick, John Price, Tim Locke, and Steve Duncan (who subbed for Bersin on a recent Action gig). While the Action guys lament Valve’s recent demise, they also understand the reasons behind it. “Traveling around in a van isn’t as much fun after seven years,” said Weaver.

The members of The Action harbor no unrealistic expectations of mega-success. “We enjoy making music, and we’ll take it as far as we can, but we all have day jobs,” said Weaver. “When we’re playing a show, that’s definitely the best part of our week.” Their experience in Clubland has taught them the importance of promotion. Weaver cites local faves Flickerstick as an example of a wildly popular band that’s always worked hard to let fans know what they were doing.

The Action boys are similarly philosophical about getting paid to play, and they’ll take a good bill with the chance of playing for some new listeners over one with a guaranteed payday. “We’ve turned down an early slot with a guarantee in favor of a later one where we might not get paid but we know there’ll be a crowd,” said Weaver. When Fat Daddy’s in Denton booked The Action on four days’ notice and no one showed up to hear the band, Weaver refused to accept the $100 the club owner offered for the gig. He did, however, obtain the promise of another show at the venue.

In spite of their unconventional attitudes about success and money, in no way could Weaver, Rose, et al. be accused of lacking commitment. “No matter what kind of job I have,” said Rose, “I’ll be playing music for the rest of my life.”

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