The Suspects are Houston's original ska band... before anyone else, there were The Suspects. Come see us play in Houston and elsewhere!
The Suspects formed in Houston in early 1993 and played their first show in October of the same year. Multiracial and multicultural, The Suspects quickly became the top ska/reggae band for the high school and college crowd in the greater Houston area. The first seven-inch single was recorded in 1994 at Austin's Sweatbox Studio, and was quickly followed by a debut CD recorded at Sugar Hill Studios in Houston.
Only a month or two after the release of their first CD, lead vocalist Chris Kendrick (now fronting Houston's Igents) chose to leave the group. Tomas Escalante joined and stayed through the life of the band. Moving from a black skinhead rudeboy with a punk rock pedigree to somebody who looked like a frat-boy record store clerk in the vocalist position caused the band to lose a lot of fans, but Tomas's superior vocal abilities won over just as many.
Over the next six years The Suspects did everything a band should: they won "Song Of The Year", "Best Ska/Reggae Band", and "Best Horn Section" awards from the local music papers. They toured up the mid-west (hello, Wausau, WI!), played with all the touring bands that came to Houston, and recorded a small handful of Cd's that all most nobody listened to.
In 2002, with interest in ska music having faded (both with the public and inside the band), The Suspects played their last show with their good friends Middlefinger at their unofficial home, Fitzgeralds.
Things are different now. People and attitudes change, but the music can/will stick around forever; why not jump up on stage and play that music? See you at the show!
Charlie Esparza and Bill Grady found each other in early 1993 through the bulletin board at the old Westheimer location of Houston’s Sound Exchange records. The other memebers of the band were found slowly but surely: Alan Hernandez worked with Bill, and Joe Cote had been Bill’s co-worker at a previous job. Andy Hocker, Claudio DePujadas, and Chris Kendrick all answered flyers posted at Sound Exchange. Thomas Escalante was originally a partner in the record label that released the first two Suspects singles, plus he worked with Bill and Alan at the same time. Ryan Gabbart was barely old enough to drive when he joined the band. Steve Ruth had been a long-time fan of The Suspects when he heard Bill jokingly ask a Fitzgerald’s crowd if, “anybody knew any horn players”. Jason Davis and Jay Brooks were both good friends and members of Middlefinger.
Over nine years, we released four cds, toured the mid-west once, and made a lot of friends.
(full discography @ http://suspects.billgrady.com/the-suspects-discography-chronological/)
This is the same discography composed for thesuspects.com back in 2000. Some of the descriptions are snide and deserve a rewrite, but remain here unedited for the sake of “keepin’ it real”.
The Bad One 7″
split 7″ w/Rudiments - released : 1994 (out of print)
There’s nothing better than your first record release! At the time, Thomas, Alan, and Bill all worked at the same warehouse and when the box containing the 7″’s came in on the loading dock, we were giddy like little school girls. This was a split release with The Rudiments, a pretty good band from San Francisco, and the song “Wailing Paddle” is one of their best.
Caffeine/The Dance 7″
released : 1994 | out of print
The songs that appeared on our first two seven inches were recorded at Sweatbox Studios in Austin, TX. Sweatbox has recorded plenty of very well-known Texas bands including The Impossibles, Paul Newman, O’Doyle Rules, and world-famous punk/indie guy Tim Kerr. We have two or three songs from the Sweatbox sessions that haven’t ever been released, but the three that did were definitely the best of the lot.
front cover back cover lyrics & liner notes
released : 1995
Our debut full-length release, recorded by Andy Bradley at the world famous Sugarhill Studios in Houston, Texas. We had been playing these songs long and well enough to the point that we were in and out in a relatively short time, but sometimes the lack of production shows through in the songs. No matter, it’s still considered by many old-school fans to be our best work, mostly due to Andy Hocker’s living ska legacy, “Caffeine”.
How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Ska
released : 1997
Our second full-length CD, again recorded with Andy Bradley at Sugarhill. Also, our first recordings with Thomas at the microphone… and in turn, our first recordings where we moved away from a rhythmic, rock-steady feel to a more melodic, smooth sound. We weren’t quite so efficient at recording this time, but overall it helped make a much more professional sounding disc. This was also our first release that Charlie Esparza didn’t do the artwork, and the lack of quality totally shows… Of course if Charlie had done the artwork, we would’ve ended up with a picture of his Ford Falcon on the cover.
released : 2000
Our first CD not pressed and released under our own auspices, Panic Button was recorded with Andy Bradley at Sugarhill and released by Jumpstart Records of State College, Pennsylvania. Finished in the summer of ‘97, these five songs sat on the shelf for three years while we tried to get organized enough to write five more songs to make a full album’s worth of material. During those three years we added two new horn players and went through two bassists, so when we did finally get around to releasing it on its own, it seemed a bit anti-climatic. Regardless, it’s an interesting snapshot of a band trying to decide just what they’re going to be doing for the next few years to come.
Lost Along The Way
released : 2000
Our finest hour! The most expensive, most melodic, most harmonious Suspect release yet… yet, almost nobody has it. Oh, the irony! The shame! The bills! (smirk) This CD really has it all: ska, reggae, rock & roll, funk(!), and even some stuff that isn’t easily classified. This is the record that everyone in the band will remember as our personal best.