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.”
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.”
Square and Compass opening for The Ataris with Red City Radio, Holder
When: 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: Walter’s, 1120 Naylor Street