Friday, June 29, 2012

Hank St. John In Focus

Those who have had the opportunity to witness Hank St. John climb already know his amazing strength and abilities on the wall, but what do we know about Hank off the wall? Recently Rock V5 Role had a chance to sit down with one Billy Hank St. John, climber and artist extraordinaire, to ask a few questions about climbing culture, fashion, and music. But most importantly, to find out what Role climbing plays in his life on and off the wall. This is Hank St. John in Focus.

Rock V5 Role: How long have you been climbing?

Hank St.John: I think I am going on about 4 or 5 years now.

RvR: How did you get into it?

Hank: Went to the free climb at the wall at the University of North Texas and was hooked immediately, although I had been and avid tree and flag pole climber in my early days.

RvR: Have you ever competed in a legit indoor comp?

Hank: Nothing I would call legit, I have been to a few college comps but I get bored filling out my score card about half way through, I have a short attention span that way.

Photo by Jeline Guiles
RvR: Do you prefer indoor or outdoor climbing?

Hank: I guess what I should say is outdoor but it is all the same to me. The thing I like most about outdoor climbing is the camping with friends’ part. I get about the same level of satisfaction sending projects whether they be indoor or out.

RvR: The words of a true soul climber. What is your favorite brand of climbing shoe?

Hank: 5.10 for sure. Although, I will take anything that fits from the lost and found.

RvR: So you’re the one who's re-homing all those lost souls.

Hank: Most of my climbing gear is either a hand-me down, gift, or something I found. It’s almost like being sponsored, except I don’t have to deal with the pressure.

RvR: I have herd the term "Hank Pants" being thrown around gyms on multiple accounts.

Hank: While some practice the art of setting routes, I set trends.
You see that Keller Wolfe has been wearing a tank top lately. He got that from me.

RvR: Do you wear any of the major climbing brands to send?

Hank: Well no, "Hank Pants" is actually code for old brown polyester pants. I bought some linen pants from old navy and thought they were awesome but I realized that butt sweat soaks through them way to fast. Maybe I will find some Prana pants in the lost and found some day.

RvR: You’ve got to be careful, on a hot day butt sweat soaks through Mojos as well.

Hank: Maybe it’s a butt issue and not a pants issue.

RvR: How do you feel about climbing culture being lead into the main-stream media?

Hank: Well, I think as soon as Alex Honnold plummets to his death that shit will be over and hopefully the gym will get less crowded.

RvR: That darn Alex. Talks of climbing being an Olympic sport will bring climbing to the masses in a different way; do you think the Olympics will solidify climbing in pop culture?

Hank: I guess so; I don’t think that makes it main-stream though, I don’t think pole vaulting or gymnastics is very main-stream. Whatever interest popular culture has in climbing it will be a short lived fad just like anything in popular culture.

RvR: Along with the progression of science and tech, social networking and media, where do you see climbing culture moving in the next 10 years?

Hank: I have no idea, I just hope I am able to still be climbing 10 years from now, it has become such a big part of how I identify myself I’m not sure what I would replace it with should I have to stop.

RvR: When climbing or training hard in the gym what genre of music or artists do you prefer as background?

Hank: I would have to say hip hop, but for some reason they are always blasting Katie Perry or Linkin Park at Exposure, I guess after that abuse I could climb to anything.

RvR: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. What was the last concert you've been to?

Hank: There are plenty of house shows and small club venues around Denton to see local music. But the last memorable show I went to was when Tom Waits came to Dallas a couple of years go. I’m kind of a homebody.

RvR: Are there any upcoming shows or festivals you want to see?

Hank: Well there is Lucian Freud exhibit at the Ft. Worth Museum of Modern Art opening in a couple of days that I am super excited for. Dude was a beast.

RvR: How do you exhibit Freud?

by Hank St. John
Hank: Lucian was Sigmund Freud's grandson, he passed away just recently. He was a painter, a great one at that.

RvR: I had no idea you had so much respect for the arts, you must be an artist yourself. What mode do you create with?

Hank: Pen and ink almost 90% of the time

RvR: How long have you been drawing?

Hank: I have been drawing for as long as I can remember; right now I am working on this big drawing of a mermaid with some kind of sea plant growing out of her nipples.

RvR: Sincerely, I would love to see that when its done. Where do you get your inspiration to draw?

Hank: I don’t know its second nature now. Everyone filters the world around them and then re-constitutes the parts and expresses it. Somehow I just do it through drawing.
by Hank St. John

RvR: What do you enjoy more, drawing or climbing?

Hank: Damn, ummmmm, I think it’s climbing right now, I obsess over it, I don’t really do that with drawing, both are important but I would rather go climb then sit down and draw.

RvR: Now readers in the climbing community will see you for more than just the strongest soul climber in DFW!

Hank: Ha-ha, it’s funny, most people that I climb with have no idea that I draw and I don’t have any idea what they do outside of climbing and all of my artsy friends don’t really know anything about my climbing life, it’s two different worlds.

RvR: Enter Rock Versus Role.
by Hank St. John

Hank: It’s good though, when I get to the gym I just want to nerd out on climbing.

RvR: If you could choose one song off the top of your head that you want the readers to listen to what would it be and why?

Hank: Tom Waits "Don’t Go into that Barn" because people should be weirded out by music sometimes, and not enough people listen to the great Tom.

RvR: Thanks for your time and insight into the artsy side of climbing culture and your other life!

Hank: Alright, it was fun! Have a good day.

For more original art by Hank St. John click Here

Monday, June 18, 2012

Addison Kim In Focus

       As a member of Team Southern Rock and the infamous Dirty South Climbers, Addison Kim climbs, trains and competes mainly indoors but has an affinity for outdoor life as well. After a training session preparing himself for a coming up National Competition in Atlanta, Rock V5 Role had a chance to sit with an endorphin hopped Addison and ask him to share with the readers a little about the role climbing culture plays in his life off the rock.

Rock V5 Role: What’s your favorite brand of climbing clothes?

Addison Kim: Prana shorts, best overall, breath well, and none restricting.

RvR: What’s your favorite climbing shoe?

Kim: Right now im climbing in 5.10 Dragons, Five Ten rubber is the stickiest but in terms of fit, I really like the La Sportiva Testerosas, if there could be a marriage between the two that would be the perfect shoe.

RvR: What about fashion outside of the gym and off the wall, do you bring the outdoor brands to school?

Kim: I change it up a bit, in the gym or at the crag I’m in Northface and Prana. At school or whatever I generally wear Urban Outfitters and Topman.

RvR: What is Topman?

Addison: Topman is a British design company I Enjoy, Got a lot clothes there, but its all about continuity and symmetry.

RvR:  What music do you listen to when training for a competition?

Kim:  Depends on what I’m doing, if I’m climbing long endurance moves I’ll listen to calm folk music to kinda get into the zone. If I’m speed climbing or bouldering I’ll listen to rap or something to get psyched with high energy, oh and Dubstep….you know…

RvR: You mentioned Dubstep, I’ve noticed gyms in the DFW have been playing Dubstep on the loud speakers more often than welcomed, Is that your fault?

Kim: Ha, yes!!...not.

RvR: Who is your Favorite Dj?

Kim: Skrillex

RvR: Any fun Concerts recently?

Kim: Well I was disappointed I had to miss Meltdown, I was in Colorado.

RvR: Rock V5 Role missed Meltdown too . Meltdown vs. Teva, Teva won that round!. Do you have any upcoming concerts in mind?

Kim: A friend and I are really psyched about IDENTITY in August.  It’s a festival with a bunch of cool djs and stuff.

RvR: We will keep that in mind. If you could choose one song off the top of your head that you want the readers to listen to what would it be and why?

Kim: The Blowers Daughter by Damien Rice, that one is about nonreciprocating love and heartache. It's a personal song about loving a violin teacher back home, lots of soul, conviction and Damien has a fantastic voice.

RvR: Thanks for your time and insight into the seedy underworld of climbing culture.

Kim: Ha Ha, any time!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

La Sportiva Futura, Love at First On-site

       There comes a time in every climber’s life when they meet the perfect shoe. Based on a general consensus the perfect shoe is a blend of aesthetic attraction, functionality, comfort, and most of all compatibility.

       First off, the Futura’s top suede/leather/Lorica design has the perfect balance of and flash and natural beauty with curves where they need it and the ability to draw the eye for a double take without being obnoxious.
       Secondly, being that I primarily boulder and or lead over-hung routs, aggressive downturned lasts and sticky rubber are the least of my expectations. The Futuras semi-aggressive design and sticky Vibram® XSGrip2 three millimeter rubber perform just above average. I traversed a few climbing walls to get a feel of how they work when climbing for extended periods of time on slab, vertical, and overhung movments. They felt very close to every foot hold I held but the stiffness and support soon broke after ten minutes of continuous traversing. The Futuras excelled when applied to overhung feet even after continuous wear. These specs and observations are all fine and well, but what I wanted to know most was how they feel on the the foot?

       Climbing more than three times a week deems comfort as necessity. When I first slipped the Futuras on my wide for-foot and pushed down with my narrow skinny heel I noticed the inner lay had been reinforced with padding much like the the La Sportiva Lady Miura Vs shoe. In addition to the comfort feeling exactly the same as the Lady Miura Vs, the heel cup was just as snug. This excited me because unlike the Lady Vs’s, the Futeras came with a more aggressive toe box and extended rubber on top for toe hooking.

        The issues I dislike about La Sportiva brand is the life of the rubber on the toe and mechanical malfunctions. Owning and knowing owners of La Sportiva Shoes of the Velcro kind it’s not rare to see straps and buckles repaired using super glue as a solution. This in mind the longevity of the Futura is still in question because of the lace design being taken from the Solution. The no edge technology is also something that initially is a good idea; however, time will tell how it holds up to the likes of, let’s say ,HP40 sandstone or Hueco’s volcanic rock. But for now they work, breaking them in was very easy to do and for this downsizing a whole size is easy and recommended.  The Futera is perfect so far, but far from being the perfect shoe. La Sportiva Improved on the comfort and performance but did they keep longevity in mind? With a 170$ price point is the Futura is their chance to reconcile with the past problems. Is this shoe the last shoe you will ever buy? Will this shoe bring away from the 5.10 and Evolv demographics?After climbing in these shoes for  two months I will update this post well the shoe is holding up to gym climbing.

  • ·         Very Comfortable/Easy to break in
  • ·         Cool design and color
  • ·         Aggressive toe
  • ·         Snug heel cup for smaller heels
  • ·         Works well in overhanging boulder problems
  • ·         3mm Vibram® XSGrip2 No Edge Technology- maximum sensitivity

  • ·         Works poorly on slab and vertical.
  • ·         Works poorly under continuous long use.
  • ·         3mm Vibram® XSGrip2 No Edge Technology – Brand new and inconclusive.
  •            $170 price point. 

Sizing – One Whole size down from street shoe size.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

          The sophomore album by the self-proclaimed hippie group looking to have derived from the depths of a 1960s commune hits back to their roots of folk country by crooning nine tracks centering on love, god, and church. The introductory song into the minimalist concept brings flavor of the Johnny Cash taste by stating he is a “Man on Fire” burning through the faux-1960s hippie communal roots. The entire band as a whole is apparent in the first few tracks of the album by integrating Alexander Ebert (lead vocals) without riding his coat tails and including the female vocalist Jade Castrinos. Although the bands membership ranges in the double digits, a few songs sound as if they were recorded on tape in a Catskill cabin by a lone foot tapper and his wife.  

                            Edward and gang step up to the plate to hit the genre of hippie folk country blues at a different angle by infusing lo fi recording with highly idealistic production and song writing. It’s clear the band looked back at their earlier work and found their strengths (duets i.e. “Home”) and elaborated upon them while writing and recording Here. There was an unsettled feeling of style left from the first album Up From Below because the band jumped from style to style from song to song and never really committed to one. I enjoyed this aspect of the first album because of the variety of songs and the chance the band took producing. The band failed to take any more chances on the album Here, besides the apparent infusion of religious lyrics. In contrast with the bands earlier work, the first few tracks of Here can be nostalgic at best, but after nine tracks of repetitive style the variety we fell in love with is sadly missed. The albums southern gospel theme works in that the songs uplift, inspire, and attach themselves with their catchy choruses and repetitive hymnal praises. Melodic and re-verb ridden guitars set the tone, while palm-muted strokes and soft percussion rattle along the songs at an easy pace. Edward & the Zeros dabble in the arts of blues, southern gospel country blues and old-timey git fiddlin, creating an ease of passage into the hearts of their more monotheistic listeners.

                                   Check it out! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Do's and Don'ts for a Fun Concert Experience

If you are new to the concert or festival scene you and you do not know what to bring, what to wear, or how to act, this guide is for you. I will put all the knowledge of my past concert going experiences to use and show you the best way to have a Fun time at your next show.

First, lets start off with the Do's

1.Do miss the opening act, It will show how cool you really are and guarantee a great spot to enjoy the headliner.

2.When seeing Spoon at the Granada, Do go with a group of three to six. Remember to circle up, ignore the band, and talk over the music if not louder. This will attract friends, especially when the bands play their hits.

3. If you are six feet or taller it is imperative you bring all of your tall Bro's with you and you Do get as close to the stage as possible so everyone behind you can enjoy your "Super Cuts" hair styles.

4. At a festival or rave, Do sneak in drugs and/or pot to share, sell, and enjoy. Nothing compliments the aesthetics of a  large crowd like the sweaty side affects of molly and the sweet smell of skunk spray. Make sure the drugs you bring will send you to jail if caught, Legal drugs simply will not do.

5. If you are a male, Do wear a plaid long sleeve shirt even if it is on hundred degrees and you can't breath. If you are a female and the headliner is a female, try hard match even if it is very revealing. Comfort and self respect are checked at the ticket booth.

6. Do drink as much as possible. Drinking heavily will help you remember all the details of a great show. Furthermore, drinking will increase your chances of hooking up with someone at the show who shares a common interest. Going alone, or with a friend of the same sex will only increase the odds.

Sleigh Bells - Granada Theater 2012

And for the Do-Nots

1. Don't ever pregame before a show. Support your local Budweiser Brewery by only purchasing the fairly priced beverages sold inside the venue. Carrying around a nine dollar Bud Light will show everyone around you how smart you are, and that you can afford to have a good time.

2. Don't ever dance when enjoying your favorite music live. Dancing is meant only to be done at a club or rave to recorded music. Dancing is annoying to everyone around and can cause moments of embarrassment to you and your friends. Save the energy for the applause.

3. If a beach ball is coming your way, Don't hit it. A beach ball is a distraction to the musician and audience and should be popped immediately.

4. Don't crowd surf.  Crowd surfers may look like they are having the time of their life riding the wave of collected fans;however, much like the Beach Ball, crowd surfers are dangerous and distracting  and should be dropped immediately.

5. Don't ever wear earplugs, louder is better, get as close to the PA as possible and scream. The ringing in your ears will only last between a few days and the rest of your life.

6. Don't ever plan for a show or festival by learning the line up and set lists. Surprises are always better.

There you go, now you are ready to conquer the live music scene. If you are an avid show-goer and you think I may have forgotten some important points Leave a comment below this amazing picture of The Black Keys.
The Black Keys- Edgefest 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Shins - Port Of Morrow

Port of Morrow
Listen To - Port Of Morrow
The long waited fourth album by the universally respected and recently reassembled  Shins offer the customary cryptic lyrics layered over airy guitars, familiar folk progressions, and hints of twang.  The album at times can be lulling but never boring, loud but never obnoxious. Producer Greg Kurstin sends specs of Sixties style gold and Nineties indie pop through a folky psychedelic digital blender producing a very drinkable embellished concoction.

 Mercer, lead singer and songwriter, explains "Every single story is a story about love, and with that love comes the give and take." On the stand out tracks "Simple Song" and "Port of Morrow" Mercer and company give the substantial expected amount of "New Slang" sound, satisfying fans and critics alike. These tracks will find their ways into iphones and ipods of climbers, yogis and hipsters with open arms. With all the giving, The Shins also take, they take their audience and fans to poppy twangy places that can test the durability of the average attention span and elasticity of loyal followers. Once put into perspective, the songs trigger clear sentiments of love,appreciation, nostalgia, and general melancholic discontentment. With a few glittery peaks and glossy interludes, obscure lyrics, and mellow dramatic mood,  the album insists on its presence without explanation of where it came from or where its going.

In Conclusion
  • The songs are not up beat enough to accompany a hard climbing session.
  • Songs are not mellow enough for meditation
  • The lyrics are ambiguous as ever which can be both familiar and annoying.
  • Well produced sound.
  • Replay-ability -  

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Dusty Desert Dream

I had the unexpected chance to climb Hueco Tanks over spring break this past week. I dropped everything, packed up, and set out to find myself in the desert mountains of El Paso. I left the jobs, the gyms, the schools, families, cars, beaches, concerts, traffic, internet, cell phones, and everything in between for a pile of choss and the chance to temporarily live the luscious "dirt-bag" lifestyle. Living in the city is not enough. I had to take from the barren land of west Texas to fulfill my void. My comfortable bed and close local gyms were not enough for me. There had to be more to life.

Dr. Chris, Big Sam, and Keller "the strong one" were my allies on the hunt for more. Twelve hours later we had arrived fully prepared for our stay at the five star hotel "Impala by the Gate". If ever there was a masochistic initiation requirement to touch the sacred native volcanic formations of Hueco, sleeping at the gate in freezing temps was our baptism. Three hours later we awoke fresh and ready with twinkles in our eyes as we sat shivering cold watching the east spur as the sun devoured the horizon. As the rangers allowing access to the park like bouncers at a club approached our car the hope in our hearts immediately sank as we were snaked at the gate by some curly haired old guy who had just pulled up. As he opened his car door and set foot on the soil our hearts arose as we realized who snaked us, the one and only unpretentious Fred Nicole. We would occasionally see Fred throughout the week. Starstruck, giddy and frozen, we watched as our uncanny idol swept by like a mythical bird in the dusty wind.

Sleeping at the gate, parties at the ranch, climbing ultra classic problems and spending a day with friends and pro climber Jason Kehl (who was looking unequivocally similar to a certain dub step DJ  whose name rhymes with skillets)could only be topped off with an aggressive consumption of cervezas and El Pasitos' burritos. That was our agenda for the insufficient five day stay in Hueco.
The unexpected presence of Fred Nicole gave us the focus to forget our egos and climb with self. We threw our hands in the air in praise of those topping out and laid our selves on the line to catch one another. We found the addiction to climbing on another level. If gym life is caffeine then Hueco is Crack.We found our potential and lost limits. We came Loaded with Power, found our Blood Line and barely got out of there alive. Putting the experience down in a readable blog is as tedious as trying to completely climb the copious amounts of problems in Hueco.

As far as grading a place like Hueco Tanks there are many factors to take into consideration.


  • Ranch hands, Park rangers, and locals are friendly and welcoming.
  • Local eateries(El Pasitos) are epic.
  • High concentration of classic problems and new problems being put up.
  • Potential of seeing pro climbers and legends.
  • The Hueco climbing community is gravitating.
  • The "V" rating system was started here, gauge yourself!

  • Advanced Reservations is recommended as Access to North can be difficult.
  • Tours, camping, and day passes combined can be pricey.
  • Desert weather is unpredictable
  • Can get crowded fast
  • Closes at 6 p.m.
  • Requires vigorous hiking, squeezing and scrambling to a access climbing areas

So here is the end of a first impression on Hueco Tanks. The only way to leave is to know you will return next season, stronger,fitter, and more prepared to send harder and to temporarily live the dusty desert dream.


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