Square and Compass
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Square and Compass

Houston, Texas, United States | SELF

Houston, Texas, United States | SELF
Band Rock Punk





"MCM is sad to say goodbye to Weird Party and, belatedly, long-term alt-rockers While You Were Gone, who bowed out of the scene a couple months ago, but say hello to Square And Compass, a post-punk/post-hardcore gang we came across this week. Preview their tunes on their site as well as their Reverbnation profile." - The Houston Press


Houston band SQUARE AND COMPASS released a self-titled EP of blistering post-punk music a few months ago. And if you can't get behind a song called How To Escape a Burdensome Routine of Obsession, Despair and General Malaise, there's little help for you. - The Houston Chronicle


Todd Spoth has gone from the mosh pit to the photo pit and from side stage to center stage.

As an avid fan of the late ’90s/early 2000s post-punk, pop-punk and emo scenes, the Square and Compass guitarist and contributing photographer for 29-95 has been involved in the local music scene since high school. Square and Compass — singer Thomas Heard, guitarist Tommy Grindle, bassist Jack Sananikone and drummer Jacob Warny, along with Spoth — will take a trip down memory lane Sunday at Walters as an opener for the Ataris.

“(Sananikone’s) dad and my stepdad were in the oil industry, and we were neighbors when we lived in Paris in the ’90s,” Spoth said. “We didn’t even know each other. When we got back to Houston, we met and figured out we were neighbors and found out we had all these things in common. We were into pop-punk back then and saw the Ataris several times. We have pictures from when Jack and I were in our first band together, and Jack’s wearing the Ataris shirt in the band picture.”

Todd Spoth (left) and Jack Sananikone go way back.: Todd Spoth/ For the Chronicle

All members of Square and Compass share some musical tastes, but also differ in influences. When Spoth met Heard in high school at Clear Brook (Sananikone went there as well), Heard was wearing a shirt with Puff Daddy and Mase on it, while Spoth was into bands such as Jawbreaker and Fugazi. The band members’ individual tastes come together to form a diverse sound, making it hard to pigeonhole Square and Compass within a genre or local scene.

“When people ask me what our band sounds like, I usually reply with, ‘Like dudes that used to be really into hard-core, but want some more melody and complexity in our lives these days’,” Heard said. “As far as where we fit, I’d say that we’re in-betweeners; at some shows we’re the hardest band and at others we’re the lightest.”

Years of playing and attending shows have provided Spoth a certain insider’s knowledge when shooting concerts. As a photographer, he is able to anticipate the musicians’ moves to frame the best shot.

“If you’re a sports photographer and covering baseball, you know when a double play is coming up, and you know where your camera is going to go because you can only follow the ball so much,” Spoth said. “Same thing works with music. Even if I’m photographing rap or a rock band, I kind of know what people are going to do. I can sense when a song will change or not change.”

Square and Compass will release its first full-length album in early October and also has five new songs written and ready for either a future EP or to be put toward a second album. All members of the band have jobs, but they have aspirations to get signed by a small label and have the opportunity to tour the world. Opening for the Ataris is a nice thing to have on your résumé, but the band doesn’t want it to be a crowning achievement.

“I do not consider myself a musician; rather, I consider myself a prophet of futility,” Heard said. “If this band is the means by which to further that cause (and if the public will have us), then I would certainly welcome it as a career.” - The Houston Chronicle


On their debut EP, Square and Compass drink deep, deep, deep from the Braid cup, which seems to’ve been left on the shelf by the bulk of today’s supposed “emo” bands. For Square and Compass, though, that’s a damn good thing, because it makes what they’re doing feel like it’s all new again — I adore those smart (hell, almost too smart) lyricism and sneakily-complex song structures when they’re married to those full, blast-your-eardrums (yet still seriously melodic) guitars. It’s just a combination that works, when done right, and I can’t help but love it.
Square and Compass, for their part, hit the “when done right” mark most of the time here. They start off strong with “Hamlet’s Conundrum” — which makes this the second review in a week referencing Shakespeare, which is a little strange — blazing through a solid, well-built chunk of emo-ish melodic post-punk with lots of odd corners and spiraling guitar lines, not to mention singer Thomas Heard’s earnestly tuneful bellow. Unfortunately, at only 2:33 (and with at least 45 seconds of that being odd radio noise and muttered spoken-word stuff), the song’s over almost before it’s begun.
But hey, that’s just fine when it’s followed up by five minutes’ worth of “Dying Days,” with those nicely roaring/chugging guitars and broken yet defiant, unbowed feel. There are parts in the song that make me think (favorably, mind you) of Jawbreaker’s Dear You, music-wise, particularly when it comes to the way the sound fills up the headphones, while Heard’s lyrics have a snarling, belligerent, almost Alkaline Trio-esque heart-on-sleeve vibe I can get behind.
Not everything’s roses, unfortunately, and the band takes what feels like — to me, at least — a fairly major misstep on “Core Exposure,” downshifting into slow-moving, nearly lounge-sounding rock with quasi-”deep” lyrics that make me twitch when the guitars raging over the top of ‘em. It does improve as it goes along, but by the end of the track I find myself wishing I could either go backwards to “Dying Days” or see what the hell’s next.
Ah, there we go. “How To Escape A Burdensome Routine Of Obsession, Despair And General Malaise” charges right back into the pit, full of bitterness and nihilistic abandon, all tempered by some more darned decent melodies, metal-tinged guitars, and close-to-breaking howled vocals. phew. That was close…
In the overview, I’m liking the hell out of three out of four of the tracks here, but I’ll probably be skipping the fourth any time I listen. And hey, three-quarters isn’t a bad score when it comes to an EP this size, especially considering how early the Square and Compass guys are into the life of the band; I predict a bright future if they can stick with what they do best. My advice for the future, guys? Screw the quiet, almost jazzy stuff and keep it all ripped-open and raw and loud, always. Do that, and you’re golden. - Space City Rock


You feel that, Houston? No, it's not just that cold front coming through that is currently dropping much needed rain on our city, it's the Houston Press Music Awards Showcase ramping up to rock your bodies. Cheesy, we know, but we have a window seat at the office and all we can see is the rain and the sun at the moment. "How much is that blogger in the window, arf arf" and whatnot.

This week we will be profiling the bands who will be performing at this Saturday's HPMA showcase at venues all over downtown and the Warehouse Live area, with different subsets each day from myself and Jeff Balke.

Today we give you some of the hardest and heaviest bands on this year's ballot who are performing on Saturday. Yes, hardness and heaviness are both relative, Einstein, but we are rocket doctors here.

Square and Compass

(HOUSE OF BLUES, 1302 Dallas, 3 p.m.)

Nominated In: Best New Act

?Fans of Hot Water Music and Taking Back Sunday -- and expert tap guitar -- will thrill for Square and Compass, who are relative newcomers to the Houston scene. The five-piece is a sight to see live, all arms and energy, and lead singer Thomas Heard hadn't even helmed a band before joining S&C in the summer of 2010. - Houston Press


"This is a newer band made up of OG punk/hardcore kids from Texas. They put on a super energetic and interactive live show, thanks to their insane singer who didn’t stop walking around on the floor in the crowd and getting into people’s faces for the entire show — except at one point where he lay down on the stage for a minute. Really fun to watch, and a great homage to the punk/DIY scene from ten years ago. They’re just getting started and already doing a bunch of rad stuff." - Sarah Saturday / Earn It Yourself


I’ve been a fan of Square and Compass for a little while now, having been mightily impressed by the outfit’s debut EP. It had some ups and downs, sure, but the bones of the thing are amazing, showing a heart-on-sleeve love of old-school emo and pop-punk, the kind of music yours truly fell headlong into in college and beyond, back before “emo” became a word cooler-than-thou scenesters delivered with a snicker. I hear echoes of Samiam, Braid, and Camber all floating around in there, alongside a subliminal dose of both Foolish-era Superchunk and late-period Hüsker Dü, and it all comes together in a blazing, melodic ball of emo-indie-rock fury that hits all the right buttons for me.

I’m especially psyched because I’ve yet to see these guys live, and timing-wise, this couldn’t be better — the band’s been hard at work on finishing up their first full-length, How To Escape, and the one track I’ve heard so far, “Imminent Demise,” blows anything else I’ve heard by ‘em out of the water, frankly. See these guys now, seriously. -Jeremy Hart

Square and Compass plays at 3PM on Sun., June 3rd, at Stage 6. - Space City Rock


Okay, so this is slightly more my speed. I dig the shit out of those Square and Compass, with their Braid-like take on throwback emo, and I’m eagerly awaiting the new stuff they’ve been recording. Okay, so this is slightly more my speed. I dig the shit out of those Square and Compass, with their Braid-like take on throwback emo, and I’m eagerly awaiting the new stuff they’ve been recording. - Space City Rock


HOW TO ESCAPE (debut 12-song LP)
self-released - October 2012
recorded at Big Door Studios
engineered by Mike Guerro
produced by Tommy Grindle and Todd Spoth
mastered by Carl Saff
1. Imminent Demise
2. Detente
3. Ever After, Disaster
4. Hacksaw
5. Time is a Blacksmith
6. Pile of Bones
7. Golden Retreater
8. Variation
9. Hamlet's Conundrum
10. Just a Taste
11. How to Escape
12. 1123

WARPED TOUR EP (2 songs)
2-song EP self-released during the Van's Warped Tour 2011.
recorded at Dead City Sound - March 2011
engineered by Chris Ryan
LISTEN: http://squareandcompass.bandcamp.com
1. Ever After - Disaster
2. Pile of Bones

S/T EP (4 songs)
self-released - January 2011
recorded at Big Door Studios - December 2010
engineered by Mike Guerro
LISTEN: http://squareandcompass.bandcamp.com
1. Hamlet's Conundrum
2. Dying Days
3. Core Exposure
4. How to Escape

self-released - ongoing
self recorded/produced
LISTEN: http://squareandcompass.bandcamp.com
1. Hacksaw
2. How to Escape



Square and Compass was formed in Houston during the Fall of 2010. Members had previously played in several bands, including The Sheep Look Up, Sleepaway and Far From Breaking. The resulting sound combines the head-bobbing catchiness of pop punk, the passionate energy of hardcore and the uncorrupted graininess of grunge. Square and Compass infuses the raw, memorable tones of its ‘90s roots with compositional complexity and contemporary relevance.

Square and Compass has wasted no time in making things happen for themselves, landing slots in showcases at this year's South By Southwest Music Festival and performing live on the 2011 Van's Warped Tour. Their self-titled EP (December 2010) garnered positive critical acclaim from both local and national media.

In October 2011, Square and Compass was nominated for *BEST NEW ACT* in the 2011 Houston Press Music Awards and was invited to perform live at the Music Awards showcase at the House of Blues in Houston on the 1-year anniversary of their very first show.

Square and Compass released their LP Release "How to Escape" at Mango's in January of 2013
Here's a review by Jeremy Hart from Space City Rock - http://www.spacecityrock.com/2013/01/07/square-and-compass-how-to-escape/

Thanks for coming out to see us at FREE PRESS SUMMERFEST and HOUSTON BEERFEST!
Stay tuned for more updates and events!