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Fucking Howdy is Fuckin Awesome: A History of Pittsburgh Rockers Triangle and Rhino  

Holly Coleman

Ever heard of Triangle and Rhino? Nope? It’s your loss. TNR is a Pittsburgh two-piece comprised of Matt Rappa on drums and Jake Lexso on guitar. They have been “blowing the ‘welfare’ glasses off of hipsters’ faces” for the past 10 years throughout Pittsburgh and the country.

If you haven’t ever seen TNR play live, it’s intense. The subdued attitudes of both Matt and Jake contradict with their passionate and explosive talent. Matt plays the drums with the swiftness of a hummingbird’s wings. It’s so fast that if you blink, you miss EIGHT beats. Ryan Andrews of Red Teeth says of Matt’s drumming: “I want to play like you….hitting every drum at once.”

To say that Jake is impressive on guitar is an understatement. “I swear to God he has six fingers,” says TNR super fan Beth Roberts.  Indeed Jake’s domination of his guitar is mind-boggling. The speed and precision of his licks are almost too much to take in. Triangle and Rhino commands the stage.

Matt and Jake have known each other for 15 years. They played together in a high school band called Fogo Jr. in Meadville, PA.



From 1999 to 2007 Jake and Matt formed various bands with various members and went on various tours. They formed Warlocks which was straight up NOISE and featured members from Northern Spy, Noumena, and The Fantastics. “[Warlocks] wasn’t incredibly musical. It was more noise…fires…fighting people,” says Jake. In spite of this description, Warlocks went on a cross-country tour in 2000 and played with Men’s Recovery Project and Thrones. 

After they returned from tour, Warlocks dismembered and Matt drummed for 100 Movie Rebels.  Jake began to develop Triangle and Rhino as a solo project with a drum machine. During this time, Matt and Jake reformed with Eric Yeschke (Dreadnots, White Guilt, Raw Blow, Expensive Shit) to create a noise project called Boda P’Nodo, which played the 2001 Avantronics Fest in Columbus Ohio.

During a menacing Pittsburgh winter, Jake suggested writing pop punk songs and going on tour in the upcoming summer. “[We] just wanted to have fun. We were listening to a lot of FYP (Five Year Plan) at the time.” Jake and Matt say.

Triangle and Rhino’s first show was in the summer of 2002 in Johnson City, Tennessee. They were joined by Erin Deasey who played trumpet and sang lead vocals for the tour. When they returned to Pittsburgh, Deasey left TNR.

TNR began playing shows and collaborating with the experimental hip-hop crew Dreadnots. They also played with Shipwrecked, I Promise, and Normalcy. Local shows were held at venues such as The Shadow Lounge, The Pub, Project 1877 and AIR. It was during this time that TNR appeared on WQED’s “On Q” for a “punk” segment which featured them playing at The Roboto Project.

Their first titled CD, Take Out Your Knives, featured Eric on sax and electronics.  TNR did another East Coast Tour with Breath Mint Records to promote their double LP with Sword Heaven and R.L. Stein. When they returned from tour, Eric left TNR. “We always lose people after we finish touring,” Jake states.

TNR has gotten kicked out of every bar they played on the Southside for being “too loud.” “The Southside’s supposed to be wildest neighborhood in Pittsburgh…but apparently not,” Jake grins.

TNR’s new CD, Fucking Howdy was launched at a release show on April 2, 2011 at Gooski’s with Lucid Music and RJ Myato.

The title for the CD came from an autographed Ferlin Husky picture. No one knew who he was or could read Husky’s signature, so they guessed at what it said. Jake’s interpretation was “Fucking Howdy.”

“It’s real good. Ya’ll should buy it, right quick,” Matt declares.  The CD’s art features photos of the TNR practice space: “Chaotic photos with understated text,” announces Matt, “it’s a window to our world.”

“It’s nothing like they have done before,” says fan Matt Puskar. “I have [TNR’s] earlier CDs and Fucking Howdy is definitely their most experimental.”

The CD begins with heavy tech rock. It’s very beat oriented with samples and sounds Middle Eastern to me. “I was inspired by Middle Eastern pop music,” Jake reveals. It then becomes way heavier and you can I.D. the liberal use of electronics and oscillator. “The entire album’s lyrics are anagrams of song titles. Lyrics, to me, no one gives a shit about what I have to say. Lyrics are poems and I don’t want to write poems,” Jake informs me.

Fucking Howdy contains electronic percussion and I find it to be psychedelic. There is use of ebowed guitars and a synthesizer. Jake uses a screwdriver on guitar (breaking super fan Beth Roberts’ heart).  There is also usage of 202 samples of tom drums while Matt plays his kit over the samples.

We also hear instances of the signature TNR sound: self declared “controlled A.D.D.-bludgeon rock,” which features many rhythms and fast paced drums and showcases the six finger guitar style of Jake.

“Am I That Easy to Forget?” is the first-ever TNR cover track. “I was listening to a lot of U.S. Maple while creating this cover,” Jake admits.

The new CD also features Brian Pitt of Switchblade Cheetah on vocals and Eric on electronics. “When we like something we try to rip it off and then we fail at ripping it off,” reveals Jake. “It goes through the TNR sifter and comes out a different way, “agrees Matt. 

Matt says his influences were “street drumming, M.I.A., and Congotronics.” He uses samples, vocal loops, sticks on folding chairs, doorbells, and, of course, cowbell.

There is also a remixed TNR track with Dreadnots and samples from Golden Mean featuring a drum machine and live drum samples and keyboards.

I love the final track. It’s surreal and ominous, like a scene in a movie where a guy is driving cautiously at night and is a little ‘noided out. “It’s a good song while watching Ultimate Shark,” comments fan Susie Puskar and I agree.

I am in love with Fucking Howdy. I wish I could marry it. I wish I could fly over the city and drop thousands of Fucking Howdy CDs on everybody and declare with a bullhorn “THESE GUYS ARE FROM PITTSBURGH! AMAZIIIING!!! RECOGNIZE AND SUPPORT!!!” 

This CD is the most experimental and diverse of TNR’s CDs, yet it is also very accessible. A fan review on Facebook says, “Fucking Howdy is fuckin awesome.” This is nice, but also the understatement of the century.
If you want your mind blown to bits by an astounding musical spread, buy Fucking Howdy at and visit them on facebook and myspace for more info.


Holly Coleman lives on Troy Hill and chills at the water steps.  She can often be found MC-ing “The New Yinzer Presents.”