Bitter pills

Stop freaking out-- Tablet's deeper than you think

And therein lies the rub: Once a song leaves the artist's hand, it no longer belongs to its creator. It now rests in the hands, ears, hearts, and minds of the listener who must interpret the song as he or she sees fit, and 99 times out of 100, somebody's going to take "Sunshine" ("Sunshine takes away the gloom/Sunshine makes me feel good") at face value. Is it now a better song because you now know it's really about how it feels when heroin enters the bloodstream and winds its way toward the brain and the heart? Does it pack a bigger punch or shed a wetter tear? Yes and no--the rub that will rub you raw.

If there is indeed no right or wrong when it comes to music--as opposed to good or bad, meaning you're not wrong when you like something bad but don't play that shit around me--then all you must ask from artists is that they give a bit of themselves to the performance. Passion doesn't compensate for lack of ability, but it does cover a hell of a lot of flaws in the dark, and Holt deserves tremendous credit when it comes to passion and honesty. After all, he refers to himself even now as "an addict" after at least two attempts at quitting his heroin addiction.

That's right: Holt was a heroin addict for about a year, and over this Mexican meal he recounts the oft-told junkie's tale: using rent money to buy drugs, running off old friends and new acquaintances with wild outbursts, turning a simple recording session into a nightmare of nerves and temper.

In fact, Tablet didn't even sign its modest deal with Mercury until the band was already into its recording session last September and October in Los Angeles. By then, Holt had been off the junk for a while, in and out of rehab, but he was so nervous about recording--without a deal, initially--that he began using again at the outset of the sessions being produced by Matt Hyde (best known for his work with Porno for Pyros). It was left to Hyde and the band to get Holt to focus on the record. After recording wrapped last fall, Holt says, he kicked heroin again.

As Holt tells it, he was a year away from getting his doctorate in chiropractic care when he quit school to rock full time. Tablet had a publishing deal with Sony Music "on the horizon," and Holt was so sure Tablet--his first band, incidentally--would get signed that he ditched his square life and studies to become a full-time songwriter. It was a decision, he says, "that almost fucking killed me, man.

"It was really hard to let go of those ideas," he says. "My parents were middle-class people, and they were working hard to put me through school, and it was a big thing to do that. They had always had this image of me as a doctor, and I was always to fulfill that. And I got into some really heavy drug abuse, you know, over that. If the band hadn't been there and been my friends, they would have just broken up.

"They basically saved my life. I was ready to throw it away. I wasn't there anymore. This person you're talking to, I wasn't there. I used for a year. I was living with this girl, and we just went through so much money. I had always romanticized heroin. I was into William Burroughs and Lou Reed, but I was just naive. And I just wanted so badly to be real. I wanted so badly to be those people, and when I didn't..." He pauses. "I'm glad I went through it and everything, but I wouldn't suggest it."

Well, at least that explains the song "Methadone," but then, I never really had any questions about that one.

It's probably a bad idea to talk to musicians about their lyrics, anyway: I used to think "A Real Emotional Girl" was a love song till Randy Newman explained it was about an asshole making fun of his girlfriend for crying all the time. That doesn't necessarily make it a better or worse song, but it isn't my song anymore. Just because you get it doesn't always mean you want it.

Scene, heard
In conjunction with the release of the double CD Home Alive--an album inspired by the brutal rape and murder of Gits frontwoman Mia Zapata and featuring the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and 7 Year Bitch--the local branch of Sony Music and Dallas' Last Beat Records are putting on two concerts featuring local bands intended to raise awareness about the issue of female self-defense. The first show will happen April 25 at Trees and feature Comet, rubberbullet, Tablet, the Velascos, and Spilling Poetry--and it's for the kids, too, since anyone 17 and older will be allowed in. The following night's show takes place in Fort Worth at the Empire and will feature rubberbullet, Baboon, Centromatic Band, Crinkleroot, and Oliver Reed...

I understand someone took a photo of me at Trees during the Observer Music Awards showcase on April 14 wearing a sign on my back--unbeknownst to me--that read, "Robert Wilonski Sux." I also understand it's due to run on the cover of Buzzmonger, which is fine with me because I have a really nice ass.

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