Kemo For Emo
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Kemo For Emo

Houston, TX | Established. Jan 01, 2003 | SELF

Houston, TX | SELF
Established on Jan, 2003
Band Rock Punk




"12 of the year's best Houston albums"

Houston is a great place to be a music fan. The city's diverse crop of singers, players, producers and DJs never stop reppin for the H, whether its in front of 25 fans at a small club, onstage at a burgeoning festival or on the national TV stage.
That excitement makes for some great music from year to year. And 2016 was no exception. A handful of Houston acts offered up particularly intriguing, invigorating efforts. Here are 12 of the best.

4. "A Picture Perfect Romance," Kemo for Emo: Houston pop-punk heroes returns after a decade with this rager. It's seven songs of unrelenting, aggressive energy. Welcome back, boys. - Houston Chronicle


Kemo For Emo–A Picture Perfect Romance

I should start by saying that the older I get, the less and less of a pop punk guy I become. I guess it’s because what we associate with pop punk typically feels dated and out of touch with most of the music world today. However, when I first listened to Houston’s Kemo For Emo over a decade ago, it felt like they were making quality pop punk that was behind in popularity but better than the majority of what else was out there. On their return album, A Picture Perfect Romance, they end up beating the pioneers of the genre at their own game. The album is better than pretty much all of the latter year NoFX albums, and does Green Day even qualify as pop punk anymore, or are they adult contemporary? Standout tracks are “The Straightline,” “Heartfelt Hypocrisy,” and “Last Straw” where the band mixes pop punk and straight punk to create one of the most solid pop punk releases you can ever hear. - Free Press Houston

"Kemo For Emo Returns in a Big Way"

There’s always been some form of contention over how punk something is between punk rockers, especially over the subgenre of pop punk. The truth of it all, that my generation and your generation weren’t the truest of punks because true punks would be in their fifties and older today. But for me, pop punk was always a relative term, because even some of the elder punk bands had some poppy tunes. Back when emocore was everywhere, there was a Houston band who was pretty punk in their delivery of pop punk when Kemo For Emo emerged. Their album “What Happens In Omaha” was a breath of fresh air in a world where everyone tagged themselves as emo, even when they weren’t. Last year, the band started to show back up on shows around town, and I was elated to see that they had a new album coming out. Last week that album, “A Picture Perfect Romance” was released and the subsequent release party will commence this weekend at Fitzgerald’s. Just like when their last album was released, the band proves that even pop punk can sound amazing in a time when you barely hear distortion pedals anymore, while they craft one of the strongest and most diverse punk albums I’ve heard in a long time.

Things kick off with a more dynamic direction and squealing riffs on the opener, “The Cause.” These big open guitars and melodic hooks greet the listener, and prove that these guys are already ahead of the rest of what their genre does. Group vocals get met with an almost Fat Mike sneer, and you’re immediately grabbed by the catchy nature of the song. They keep things light in their approach while still mixing things up with snappy drums and a thudding bassline that accompanies the guitars before it ends. They follow this with a heavier sound on “The Straightline.” Keep in mind, it’s not traditional punk, but it’s definitely heavier than a lot of pop punk today. Again a hook heavy chorus proves the allure to these guys, in that they know how to write songs and stay ahead of the game. One of the standouts on the album, the song echoes memories of Bad Religion and Pennywise in how it’s delivered without sounding like they lifted from either. They mix it up further on the third track, “No Tell” leading with drums and vocals, allowing those big open guitars to come in for just a bit before exiting again. When the chorus kicks in, you can tell that this time around the four piece thought things out by adding multiple instrumentation while still holding on to the traditional punk themes.

Around the fourth song, “Heartfelt Hypocrisy,” you should be invested in this album as this song is another standout. The band takes another different direction while not steering from their initial intent. The track has plenty of hooks, but the way in which it was crafted is the truly engaging point. The instruments hop on and off in various places where they almost feel highlighted next to the vocals creating a sound that’s pretty intense. They drop another standout with “Track Record” where they go a little harder and emote that Rancid meets NoFX vibe complete with thick riffs and hooky as hell lead riffs. The snappy pace of the song makes you want to speed down the highway with it blaring from every window. They take another speedy approach with the sixth track “Last Straw” that steers away from their pop punk leanings. In fact the song employs speed metal guitar that’s closer to something from Megadeth or some of the more aggressive Iron Maiden tracks.

They close the album off with the slower speed of “Hold My Hand” and thus proving that they’re a band that’s more diverse than most that call themselves any form of punk rock. In an odd twist, the track is closer to early emocore while still holding onto punk principles. The album is definitely one you’ll want to listen to on repeat, In seven tracks the band proves that not only are they back in a big way, but they’ve grown in the process. You can get your own copy of “A Picture Perfect Romance” when Kemo For Emo plays their album release party at Fitzgerald’s on Saturday March 5th. The all ages show will feature sets from Kyle Hubbard, Four Letter Language, and Bottom of The Food Chain with doors at 8:00 and a $10.00 cover. - Free Press Houston

"Premiere: Kemo For Emo drop concept album, video"

Houston’s Kemo For Emo released a new seven-song concept album called “A Picture Perfect Romance,” which is available on the band’s bandcamp. Guitarist Larry Fenix described the record and the ongoing music video project as a “personal journey of love, loss, and self destruction.”

The official synopsis reads: ” After losing the love of his life, John begins to lose himself in drugs and alcohol. As the last remnants of John’s original self slip away, he begins to struggle with going all-in or trying to save himself. The only problem is, the drugs let him ‘see’ his love Camille.”

Check out “The Cause / The Straightline” below: - Houston Chronicle

"Upcoming Music Centered Events Around Houston - Premature Evacuation Tour"

It’s not just an endless summer of shows heating up Texas,and there are other noteworthy events happening around Houston and surrounding areas. Let’s take a look at some parties, charity fucntions and smaller shows coming up:

Premature Evacuation Tour- July 21-24

Houston bands Kemo For Emo and Four Letter Language are doing a small Texas tour that starts July 21 in Austin at The Lucky Lounge, and also has dates in Brownsville (July 22), Corpus Christi (July 23) and San Antonio(July 24) at the Korova.

Kemo For Emo just dropped its new video for its ambitious video series. Check out “Chapter 3: No Tell” below:

Before you go to the rock show, check out Street Team 182 charity party. (Handout)

Street Team 182, which is the street team for pop-punk stars blink-182, are hosting a charity auction from 4-6 p.m. July 30 at Cactus Music,2110 Portsmouth St. All proceeds from the charity event will benefit Music Doing Good In Houston, and will come one day before blink’s summer tour hits the Woodlands. There will be merch from Hi My Name Is Mark, TSURT, VANNEN watches, vinyl records courtesy of Shop Radio Cast,concert prints from Fighting 4 Dreams Studio artists Maxx242 and Brandon Heart , a Travis Barker signed Ian Williams print and some other items up for silent auction.

Check out an interview with blink-182 from X Games Austin

Saves The Tuesday one-year anniversary show

Saves The Tuesday, which is Houston’s emo night, will celebrate one year of rocking out to music from acts like Taking Back Sunday, the Used and Brand New, at 9.m. Tuesday Aug. 2 at Barbarella,
2404 San Jacinto St.The event is free before 10 p.m., and then there is a $5 cover. There will be the usual DJ sets, as well as some other surprises in store.

Houston Open Air official after party at Dirt Bar

Dirt Bar will host the official after party for Houston Open Air on Sept.25 at 1209 Caroline St. Houston Open Air will feature some of the biggest names in rock and metal like Avenged Sevenfold, Deftones, Alice In Chains and others, and will be Sept.24-25 at NRG Park. Dirt Bar will also be on hand at Houston Open Air. - Houston Chronicle

"Kemo For Emo Explains Recent Reunion"

One of Houston's best bands, Kemo for Emo is back in the saddle and rocking this weekend after a breakup that saw Larry Fenix leave the band to join Mike Terror. Lead guitarist Jake Rawls sat down with us to do a brief interview about the reunification.

Rocks Off: What brought you guys back together again? Jake Rawls: Larry (Fenix, Vocals/rhythm guitar) and Brian (Gibbs, bassist) have been lifelong friends and still kept in touch post-breakup, and they started kicking around the idea of starting the band up once again shortly after Larry had left Mike Terror. They contacted Matt (Martinez, drums) asking if he wanted his old spot back and he happily obliged.

They contacted me last, and essentially said they were doing this thing with or without me. I could sense a renewed vigor in their attitude, without the negative feelings or pettiness that often permeated our last breakup. At the time we broke up, we knew we had a lot of unfinished business. But it felt like they had the drive to finally finish the songs we were working on when we split, and it got me excited again. I slept on it, and agreed to it the next day.

The K4E lineup is our "classic" lineup that recorded our What Happens In Omaha record, the lineup that has more or less held sway for the majority of the band's existence. Neither Matt nor myself are original members, but we have both been involved with the band (breakups aside) since 2005.
Kemo for Emo Explains Recent Reunion

What sort of set can we expect at the comeback show? Anything new or just the old favorites? Our set will feature most of the old favorites plus five or six of our new songs. We definitely want to show appreciation to our original fans that haven't heard their favorites in ages. But, it's also important for us to show the world how much we've progressed musically, where we're at in 2014, and what they can expect from us in the future.

Any plans for an album, or are you just taking it easy? We definitely plan on hitting the studio for a new record in the near future. Right now we're looking up our options as far as viable studios go, and whether we want it to be an EP or a full-length album. Either way, something is coming down the pipe sooner or later.
Kemo for Emo Explains Recent Reunion

What do you think the biggest difference is between where you were before as a band and where you are now? On a musical level I feel we've all improved. When we recorded Omaha I was barely 19 and very much a timid guitarist, and I think that record shows that sometimes. Now I'm far more confident as a guitarist, Larry's vocal range has increased, and Brian's bass runs have more complexity.

We've all changed except for Matt, since he's been one of Houston's top drummers since he came out of the womb. You can't fix that level of perfection. Our songwriting, both lyrically and technically have progressed and matured as well as how well we mesh together now as a band. We are a much more cohesive group now.

We've also definitely matured as we've aged. Two of the guys in the band have kids now and I'm the sole remaining band member in my twenties, so there really isn't room for the drama that there used to be. We have too many real problems to take care of than wind up in petty band arguments. We've missed out on too many good times as it is because of that. - Houston Press

"The Rocks Off 200: Jake Rawls -- Kemo For Emo Is Back"

Who? Jake Rawls is the lead guitarist for a band I love a great deal and has had a somewhat troubled history. Kemo for Emo brought their power-pop/punk to Houston more than a decade ago, and for many years it looked like they were on their way up and out. However, a slew of breakups, hiatuses and reformations kept the project always on the edge of the scene, despite excellent recordings like What Happens In Omaha.

Now they're all a little older, a little more laid-back and Rawls has put his other act, Sundown Audio, on hold while Kemo tries to make their magic again.

Rawls was raised on steady diet of country music as a child, but never really cared. For the longest time, the concept of music really didn't click with him because of that; he just couldn't comprehend that someone could even have a favorite song. Then one day after junior high, a friend of his played Smashing Pumpkins' "Jellybelly" and he was blown away.
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Heavier music opened up a whole new way to look at the world for Rawls, and he started to devour every pop-punk and darker-edged pop record he could lay his hands on. It was The Offspring's Americana that made him stand up and say, "I've got to learn how to do this."

Currently Kemo is in the woodshed shaking off the rust, but already have five or six new tunes they can't wait to bring back to Houston stages. Stay tuned.

Home Base: At his heart Rawls is a bedroom jammer, and that's still where he feels the most creative and at home. For performances he loves the upstairs at Fitzgerald's, though he hasn't had a chance to play it since the change in ownership. Rawls also has a soft spot for Scout Bar, finding the staff very open to different ideas on music.
The Rocks Off 200: Jake Rawls -- Kemo For Emo Is Back

Good War Story: "My first job was at Space Center Houston, where I had been working as a tour guide," he recalls. "One Saturday we were scheduled to be the local support for Allister at JavaJazz in Spring.

After work I raced all the way from Clear Lake to Spring to make it in time for load-in and sound check, but due to traffic and underestimating the drive I was hopelessly late. The other guys were also running late, so the venue assumed we were no shows.

When we do show up, the venue is obviously not pleased. They agree to let us play on their side stage, which we figured is the only way to save face with these guys in event of future gigs. We go on as the same time as Allister, whom obviously everybody was there to see. We played in front of the sound guy and Larry's [Sanders, guitar/vocals] wife.

Why Do You Stay in Houston? "Houston has this funny gravitational pull on me," says Rawls. "I've seriously considered leaving Houston three or four times in my life, and every single time I've gotten serious about it, something -- a job, a band, a girlfriend, etc. pops up and keeps me grounded here. But that's OK: I love this city and most of my close friends and relatives remain here."

Story continues on the next page.

Music Scene Pet Peeve: Rawls, like a lot of Houston musicians, feels like concert attendance just doesn't cut it these days. He doesn't blame acts who move to Austin, as getting an audience to come out to a show can be very difficult.

Five Desert Island Discs:

Idlewild, The Remote Part

Local H, Pack Up the Cats

Arcade Fire, Funeral

Why?, Alopecia

Johnny Flynn, A Larum

Best Show Ever: "Bright Eyes, when they were touring for their Lifted... album," Rawls recalls. "I honestly don't even care for Bright Eyes that much, but during the song 'Waste of Paint' you could absolutely feel the pain and agony in Conor Oberst's quivering voice.

"Near the end of the song, he was literally fighting through tears to finish it," he continues. "It broke my heart. That was the moment I understood the power of live performance. That's why the concept of a strong stage show has always stuck with me." - Houston Press


Words to a Sad Song - 10th Anniversary Acoustic Edition (S) (Independent)
December 2016

A Picture Perfect Romance (LP) (Independent)
February 2016

What Happens In Omaha (LP) (Montrose Records)
October 2006

I'd Rather Have A Broken Neck... (EP) (Independent)
July 2005



With origins dating to the early 2000’s, Texas-based pop-punk giants Kemo For Emo have emerged from the shadows after years of silence with their thematically dark yet triumphant A Picture Perfect Romance, a 7-song concept album taking you on a journey of love, loss, and self-destruction. Released in February 2016, the album is equal parts dark and catchy. A Picture Perfect Romance balances, as vocalist Larry Fenix states in his own lyrics, “The fine line of obscene and divine” where pop-inspired hooks meet the grittier, darker ends of the rock and punk spectrum. Kemo For Emo released their first album, the 90’s pop-punk inspired “What Happens In Omaha” in 2006 to various local accolades, however a tumultuous breakup left the band silent for years. After mending wounds, Kemo For Emo reunited with a renewed sense of purpose and vigor in 2014 to work on new music that would ultimately become the new album. A decade removed from their initial album, this new album displays exploration of more mature themes with expanded musical abilities allowing the band to reach new sonic heights. A four part music video series is being made to tell the story of the album, with parts I, II, & III already released on the band's YouTube channel with part four in post production. Since the album’s release in February, the band has had the honor of playing alongside punk giants such as NOFX, Unwritten Law, and Fenix TX, as well as being featured in the March 2016 issue of Alternative Press, and a live performance on ESPN Radio 97.5 in Houston, TX.  In late 2016, Kemo For Emo won "Best Punk Rock Band in Texas" as well as "Best Punk Rock Singer" by MXD Magazine.  Their 2016 release, "A Picture Perfect Romance" was also voted #4 in the Houston Chronicles "Top 12 Albums of 2016". The album was also voted as one of the years best by Free Press Houston.

Band Members