28 Feb 2011
Crawling Chaos – Berlin
(Bside of the Sex machine 7”...Thanks to the Fish from Gnod for this one, they played it on a radio show recently...awesome psych new wave mantra with filler fuzz guitars)
Black Tempest – Secret Astronomies
(Really good fuzzy kosmiche soundscapes...read what Dave W said about Black Tempest previous album Proxima here
Sunburned Hand of Man – No Man
(An American Gnod....up there (nearly) with Jaybird)
Thought Forms – Bees
(Nice limited reissue of this CDR they released late 2009...more improv than their Invada album this gives glimpse to the all expansive Thought Forms live sound)
Rudimentary Peni – Death Church / Farced
(Amazing 80’s fuzz punk still sounding really fresh, and still the Death Church LP has one of the best sleeves ever, a major influence on us here in Mission Control)
Roy Harper – Me and My Women
(Taken from his masterpiece album Stormcock...this track, a mix somewhere between Forever Changes and Blue Afternoon has been getting a lot of plays)
Miles Davis - On The Corner
(Metronomic & hypnotic drums with electronic madness)
Radiohead - The King of Limbs
(Similar to 'In Rainbow's' in style, but creeps up on your more as its the subtly of the rhythm section who take centre stage)
Gum Takes Tooth - Untitled
(Radiohead mets Steve Reich - future Rocket Collisions)
Lubricated Goat - Meating My Head / 20th Century Rake / Play Dead / Prayer For Blood
(Australian Noise Sub Pop single's)
Geoffrey Jones - Locomotion
(1975 - History of British Railways - illustrated through an accelerating frenzy of rhythm)
What other projects have you been involved with over the years?
Would love to do a Pete frame style rock family tree of The Heads one day. For now though here’s a brief history of my musical career.
At the age of fourteen I was in The Orgasmic Banana’s. A typical just got our instruments band. Phil Cowley on drums - Now a political correspondent for Radio Five and sometimes seen on the television. Mark Phillips, nickname Hedgemo, a school friend on Guitar. He made his own flying V guitar and was obsessed by Queen as was Phil.Last I heard of him he’d lost his sponsorship from BT for his electrical mechanics degree, as he was spending far too much time sampling mild in Aston. We went down to SAM studio’s by the SS Great Britain in Bristol and recorded hours worth of terrible cover versions and arguments, with one of Phil’s mates Geraint on vocals. Also hung around with a guy called Lee who made his own four track mixer and learnt the violin with guitar tuning. Last saw him in 1988 on a student march in London on a bridge wearing purple loons and big star of david earrings. Got tapes of it, fortunately no tape player for me to hear them.
Then a couple of years later I did the school music competition with Jase and the Jitters. We came second, only to be beaten by the not very inspiring named Smiths who covered a Smiths song. Jase came on stage on a scooter, very Rob Halford but he’d fallen off said scotter recently before and had one of his legs in cast. Jeremy Dix was on keyboards and drum machine duties and Alan Chapel on guitar. He was very good, could hear something once and play it. Think he went on to be in Big Time and did the late 80’s early 90’s cover circuit. We did a pretty good version of Steppenwolf’s ‘ Born to be Wild’.
Then I resurrected The Orgasmic Banana’s with Dan Westleigh and two girls on vocals, one of whom was Chaos from Chaos Uk’s auntie. Don’t ask me how she was even though she’s 10 years younger than him. Did one gig at Easton-in-Gordano comprehensive in Portishead. I was found drunk in a ditch minutes before we were due to play a two bass and drum machine version of Pop Will Eat Itself’s version of Sigue Sigue Sputniks F-1-11. Many years later when we released ‘Under the Stress..’ through Invada I found out that Geoff Barrow of Portishead fame was there.
The next band was Chairhead, first proper band. Asked by Tom Adams who I was at school with to join after seeing me play with Jase and the Jitters (he was in the Smiths). He’d been in The Perambulators who had played the local scene a bit, I think supporting such bands as The Coltranes (featuring Alex Lee and Joe Allen). They’d disbanded but Tom and guitarist Chris Brown, who i’d end up going to Bower Ashton art college with and went out with my sister, wanted to start a new band. Went along to Tom’s parents house in Winterbourne for the first rehearsal. Met Chris,Guitarist, Jaysun Daniels, second guitarist ,Martin Naylor, vocals, for the first time and along with Tom on the kit, we seemed to gel and within a short space of time had a set written. We we’re a one gig wonder playing one gig at The Tropic Club supporting Thrilled Skinny who Martin arranged to come down from Luton to play. Unfortunately all our friends had to go home once we’d played so only about 10 people stayed to watch Thrilled Skinny. Influenced by Dinosuar Jnr, The Fall, Pixies, Pussy Galore, Wedding Present and my obsession with Shimmy Discs. Remember Chris was very nervous and disappeared shortly before going on stage only to be found drunk in a pub round the corner. Could’ve gone on to do a few more gig’s but nothing happened. Made some very good friends and hung out alot, it was good times.
Whilst at Bower Ashton did a couple of non starter bands. Out of Chairhead remnants, Tom, Jaysun and Me teamed up with Dom Lane and a guy known as Potato Head, who was a couple of years younger than Tom and Me at school. We we’re to perform at the Filton Tech’s battle of the bands competition as three of them went there. Dom had come up with the name ‘ Myra Hindley’s Creche Facility ‘. We didn’t play, we had a modified Chairhead set, little under rehearsed, think they got threats at the Tech because of name. Jed Smart though that Tom and Me were in his ‘ Party Sqaud’.
The next live event I did was in the front room at a party in Hanham, can’t remember the name, just that the band had Scott and Jamie who later went on to form Secret Shine. Didn’t pursue it , I was too influenced by Dinosaur Jr at the time for them.
Around this time I was hanging out loads with Tom ( I owe him a pub ) and he was introducing me to people of the local music scene ( including Fat Paul and Ludwig) having been on the live circuit for longer . He’d heard that Steve Yabsley had left the local next big thing ‘ Rorschach ‘. He was looking to form a new band, Tom was going to audition and said i’d ought to try out aswell. Meet up at the student union bar, was introduced to Steve and Andrew Woodward ( brother of Davey of Brilliant Corners fame and had just left the Sex Monkeys with Steve Dew ). We rehearsed, Steve Yabsley had already written alot of material, and because of Steve and Andy’s contact’s managed to play quite a few local gigs, local radio and Ashton Court ( check you-tube ).Self funded by Steve and Andy, we released an album which was produced by John Parrish on The Moonflowers label Popgod . Quinton ran it’s course but made some good mates and had taught me the basic rudiments of being in a band both live and in the studio.
Bristol's very own Fat Paul!
Whilst Quinton fizzled out I had already had a few jams with Simon, Dave and Mel so the same day Quinton played Ashton Court it was The Heads first gig at the Fleece supporting Babes in Toyland. Not content with being in 2 bands, Wayne had approached me when I worked in HMV and I was rehearsing with Soundhouse, his and Steve Ropers band, who had both moved up from Exeter. Think we did a couple of gigs and some recording but in a few months we we’re committed to The Heads.
Sat in for absent bassist’s in Mark Hymas’s Family and when a later version of Rorschach supported Flowered Up at the Bierkeller. Whether these were before The Heads or in Heads ‘down time’ I can’t remember. I know early in the Heads, Chubster had asked the Heads to play at the Pineapple behind the council house in Bristol, Pricey and Dave couldn’t do it but it was £50 each. We made a few phone calls and managed to get Davey Woodward on board and we did play a made up on the spot gig. Surprisingly to an appreciative audience. The landlord was drunk and gave us half pints of whisky. Doing the Hacker stuff round then aswell but that was still embryonic and was on and off for a long time. Remember I was on the dole and had alot of spare time but that this was all before we had found Paul and quickly realised with him we could have a go at making it. At which point we we’re all fully focused on the job in hand of trying to ‘Make It’ with our brand of late 60’s early 70’s guitar rock along with Simon Keelers enthusiasm and contacts, we had no time for side projects. Relaxer catches us determined, straight after recording we went to record our Peel Session, felt like we were on the crest of a wave.
Whilst in the Heads and post Everybody era I was in the Rollbars with flatmate Latch, Tan, Matty Dread and Jay, including a gig with Rob Merril on drums. More of a straight forward stoner rock band, playing live was a very important part of the band. A couple of just rehearsal and demo things, Hefner with Andy Woodward and another thing with Delwyn, both with Wayne. Spent a while jamming with drummer Steve Swan ( the Swan-a-gram ),influenced by the Minutemen and Boo Yaa Tribe ! Wrote a good hours worth of material, just drums and bass but when we tried to incorporate Marcus on Guitar and Maddy on vocals it just didn’t click. Around this time Hacker was on going eventually morphing into the Mongolian Emmin Hut High Strikes.
Was asked by Fat Paul if I’d sit on bass duties for Spleen, the bass player they had lined up had worked with Captain Beefheart so was very honoured. It was a great experience, 10 days of straight rehearsal before playing two gigs. Rob Ellis and John Parrish were very patient with me, hard work but very rewarding. Think there is a recording of us live at the Thekla floating around but i’ve not heard it.
After Rocket re-issued Thee Hypnotics 7”, Wayne and Me started to work with Jim Jones. After a series of 24 hour writing and recording sessions we had a 7 tracks, a bit dadrock but none the less good, tried to get a live set together. I had some backing vocal duties and wasn’t confident at all with it live. The organisation was haphazard and I felt that I couldn’t commit myself wholly to it, so handed in my notice. Jim went onto form Black Moses then the Jim Jones Revue.
After the first Gonga UK tour Will the bass player had decided that life on the road wasn’t for him so again Fat Paul asked me if I wanted to replace him. Rehearsed frenetically with George, Tom and Joe learning the set ready to go out again on tour. They’d had lots of press but was back to the playing everywhere to no one. Dismaying but worse for the rest of the band, especially when on George’s 30th in Liverpool, when they started to sweep the floor half way through the set. It was good to tour with High On Fire, Matt, Des and Joe Preston were inspirational . I gave it a good 18 months but promises of earning a living from it hadn’t materialised I decided it was time for me to go back to the Heads and start recording Under the Stress. Managed to play Glastonbury in the new band tent and at Download where we were blown off stage by a bunch of 14 year olds, think the night before’s intake didn’t help.
We’d recorded the most of Under the Stress when Jello Biafra got in touch with the idea of getting something together. You and Simon kindly let him stay at Hotel Hawkwind and working on ‘ Jello time’ we set about writing an albums’ worth of material. Mostly Jello had already written the tracks but a couple of ideas did come from the whole of us. Remember going to Taunton with him to have a look at a studio to do some recording, I got the train times wrong and we ended up hanging around at the station for a couple of hours, where he preceded in doing vocal exercises on the station platform, then on the train ! Some of the tracks he’s used recently but we do have on 8 track tape about 4 or 5 tracks.
Played with Fuzz Against Junk when they supported Comets on Fire at the Thekla a few years back and recently joined them as Billys' left. We've done a couple of gigs, more jazzy prog, Soft Machine orientated, with Paul on a crappy old electric organ he poicked up at a car boot sale. Paul and Me though are now concentrating more on The Heads, seeing as Paul and Wayne have now got Pro-tools. Not sure if Steve Dew is drummng for the Fuzzers anymore but Ian and Aaron are soldiering on, flying the Fuzzers flag.
Paul and Me also teamed up with Jess (who now plays with Gareth in the Big Naturals) and formed Cardinal Fuzz a power trio. Rehearsed lots and have plenty of recordings but we didn't manage to do any gigs before Jess joined the Big Naturals.
Fat Paul & Hugo - many years of Djing!
Why did you retire Hacker, and tell us about some of the more legendry shows you did?
Retired itself by constantly breaking down and me knowing very about electronics. Been at the Bailey Brothers for years now. Started from having too much time on my hands. Bored one afternoon and armed with vodka, Hacker dancette at 16rpm, Wah, Distortion, Kettle,Television and mic, recorded a complete improv over three 90 minute tapes. Sat down with Delwyn and edited it all down to a usable 60 minutes, with an idea to release it on his Crawling Eye tape only label. We both had an earlier idea of doing a label were we’d just scratch old charity shop singles and make a simple die cast sleeve for them, so you’d get scratch/noise/ruin your needle sound, not an earner in any way. This new idea of a tape label meant we might not lose any money, perhaps make 20 cassettes and cover costs. He’d done the artwork, Ludwig transferred it to dat, although only in one channel. Think Fat Paul might have it somewhere, I know I don’t, but he did release 666 Squadron on a Swarfinger Compilation and from that teamed up with you guys to do those two 7”s.
Played at the Green and Gold cafe a couple of times, that pissed off a few straight laced people. Then there was the SK8 & Ride where I supported LillyDamWhite, played to no one, engineer thought it was a sound check. Five friends saw it, that was enough for me. More sympathetic was the Cube, they’d asked me to play a couple of times aswell as an interactive bass installation. Chis and the others there were open minded but still think Dyl went a bit far when naked he urinated on stage whilst I was performing Hacker at the side of the stage to an 80’s Green Goddess fitness video, narrowly missing the headliner’s double bass that’d been left on stage.
Brought Hacker back with the Mongolian Emmin Hut High Strikes, teaming up with Neil and Mike smith, Gurhka and Walrus brothers ! We did a performance at the Cube and at the Blackout tent at Aston Court. It was good fun doing a live mash up utilising cash converter style equipment. The gig at the Cube has some really good bits, then at the Blackout tent none of my equipment was working and it was obvious to me It was time to retire it.
Would like to one day put together the 7” sides along with an unreleased track that made Waynes nut’s ache when he mixed it and some live outtakes.
Hacker - Live at the Cube
Early Rocket 'Hacker' single's mix.
Tell me why you joined The Heads, and why you have stuck with the band for 20 years after little commercial success?
I was asked by Simon to have a jam with him and Dave Spencer ( both from the Spasmodics ), at the time I wasn’t a permanent fixture in a band and felt a bit side lined coming into line - ups where I had to just learn the songs and didn’t have any creative input. After a couple of jams and the introduction of Mel on kit duties it felt really good being able to have an input along with the more guitar worship aspect of the Heads. At that point had not played with the Hillage lead style of Dave Spencer, it was apparent we had a different quality to most of the local bands around at that time, even though we were going against all things fashionable in the early 90’s there was a sense of excitement of being outsiders on our own mission.
I’ve spent 20 years with the Heads, from my 20’s to my 40’s, done my growing up with them. We’ve shared so many exciting times and low points, I almost consider Simon, Wayne and Paul as brothers. Don’t get me wrong, we can wind each other up like any siblings.
We’re not in the premier league of rock echelons more the conference, middling to bottom. We’ve won a few trophies in our time though, Peel and Radio One sessions, Man’s Ruin, playing Europe with Motorpsycho and America with Nebula, working with Jello Biafra, supporting Mudhoney even being offered mushroom tea by Gibby Haines. Don’t forget too meeting liked minded people who have opened our minds up to new ideas and being in a position to start up Rooster, our own label again under the watchful gaze of Simon Keeler. So I like to think we’ve had success. Relaxer was our big push at trying to be accepted in the music press, which at the time couldn’t comprehend why anyone from Bristol would make our kind of music. In retrospect it seems that if it didn’t have a Seattle connection then it wasn’t valid.
As Keeler mentions in the Relaxer booklet we played everywhere to few people, hampered by the whole Talking Heads debacle, with them reforming without David Byrne under the moniker of the Heads. Remember turning up to play the upstairs at the Garage only to find out they’d had loads of enquiries asking if Shaun Ryder would be appearing, also being quite dismayed when local boy Roni Size did a remix for them. This pretty much nudged us out of the play offs to be promoted into League 2.
By the time Everybody was hurriedly cobbled together we had resigned ourselves to staying in the conference and armed with experience on the road with Motorpsycho in Europe, realised the U.K. was not the only country with an appreciative audience We soon decided we were quite happy with a few loyal fans enjoying our own particular take on psyche rock . We dream of playing in the premiership and the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel sometimes keeps us going, even though with our seratonin bypass we know it’ll never happen. We’re passionate about our music, passionate players never hang up their boots, it might just be a local five-a-side kick about but we’re still there.
What is the written formula for The Heads, you can be as abstract as you want?
For Relaxer it was pretty much verse / chorus / verse / chorus / middle 8 / chorus and make sure you can play it after 4 pints. I don’t do abstract, everything is real.
Thanks to Hugo for his time & detailed answers, Johnny O (Dec - 2010)
25 Feb 2011
Mecanica Celeste begins with the track, "Fobos" which is the most Hawkwindish track on the album with guitar work that is heavy on sustain and is a real jaw-dropping fret work-out. A lot of the focus is on the drum-work of Aldo Castillejos as he supplies drum-rolls, cymbal smashes and all this adds to the overtly cosmic vibe. Nearly all the songs on "Mecanica Celeste" follow a similar path, starting slowly and constantly climbing the atmospheric scale. "Fobos" is a great opening track but the album gets even more impressive from here on in. The following tune, "Sangre De Grado"is a Acid-Rock freak-out and quite frankly the drumming can only be described as "insane". This mind-bending hodge-podge of a tune melts right into the title track and this is where the album hits its highpoint and stays there right to the end of the album. The title track is like a "Ash Ra Tempel meets Hawkwind" frenzied piece of glorious psychedelia and it never loses its driving force throughout its 8 minutes. The rather long-titled "Imaginez Quel Bonheur Ce Sera De Voir Nos Chers Disparus Ressuscités!" is the shortest track on the album and serves as a creepy interlude to the album. Translated from its French to English and you get "Imagine What It Will Happy To See Our Dear Missing Risen!".
"Ai Apaec" in places sounds so much like Hawkwind you could swear Dave Brock himself is the one making the cosmic guitar noise. This and the closing track "Sendero" both have a darker, more doom-metal vibe about them while still retaining the spacey jam-rock band feeling. "Sendero" is a real stand-out track probably because it is the easiest track to remember the next day after spinning the album. The dark, militaristic drumming with the guitars following the oppressive vibe it creates is mesmerizing but they also have the compulsory acid-drenched freak-out bit in the middle section. The tune builds nicely to a massive crescendo at the end finishing up what is a highly orgasmic moment in the history of "Space-Rock". As a bonus there is a short untitled track a few seconds after the noise has settled down, it is nothing special but an interesting conclusion to "Mercania Celeste". This album is certainly heavier and darker than the previous "Nothing To Say" album, the second half of the album especially so. Psychedelic and Space-Rock fans will surely dig this album as will fans of the free-flowing jammy rock of the 70's prog-rock variety. The musicianship is top-notch and the production is about as close to flawless as you can get. The songs are expertly crafted while the general cosmic atmosphere is nothing short of electric. This should be your next purchase if you are a musical psychedelic cosmonaut, highly recommended.......................9/10
A simple repetitive drumming pattern from the stand up drummer and electronics drives the four song set along, allowing the bassist/trumpeter to set the melody. The overall sound at different times takes elements from King Crimson-esque prog, space rock, drone, goth, metal, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Sonic Youth, Earth, Black Sabbath and electronic glitchiness, and is far more than the sum of its parts. They are far more organic than many bands that trudge a similar path, playing all the sounds live rather than padding their set with pre-recorded electronics, and are a superb, if an odd choice for BSP's support. Whereas kindred spirits Factory Floor pummel you into submission, Teeth of the Sea entrance and enthral and on this form blow BSP away. A quote from a BSP fan behind suggests that Teeth of the Sea are the wrongest looking band in the world, "gloriously wrong". I would suggest they are gloriously right.
21 Feb 2011
It's almost impossible to take in everything on offer in this body of work in one or two listens, which is where the patience is required. Initially sounding akin to an unholy racket, the melodies and hooks are there, they just need to be carefully unravelled. Opening track “Transfinite” lulls you into a false sense of atmospheric, serene security before the squally, feedback drenched “The Ambassodor” kicks in to reveal the true nature of the album. This is an uncompromising piece with simple rhythms providing a backdrop to guitars and keyboards, which shoot off at tangents, creating a psychedelic nirvana.
There are reference points, especially early 70's prog rock and “Cemetry Magus” has elements of Pink Floyds “On the Run” within the vocal samples and initial keyboards and I also hear particles of Tangerine Dream and Mogwai, but these are literally just tiny snippets in an incredibly fresh and exciting sound.
Stand out tracks are A.C.R.O.N.Y.M, with it's Vangelis like intro, and stunning guitar that builds and builds until it hits full rock out mode. “You're Mercury” employs melodic brass to create an ambient vibe before it's drowned out, once again, by guitar dragged from the depths of hell and last track “Hovis Coil” is once again brass based, but with an ending that is so sudden and unexpected. It’s as if the band have reached the point where you’ve been privileged enough to be allowed into their world and now it’s time for you to leave, with the door slammed shut behind.
The journey into the Teeth of the Sea is turbulent and tempestuous, but in the eye of the storm, it can also be tranquil and serene. Beware however, as just below the surface is an evil just waiting to surface when you least expect it. I doubt however that once in, you'll be in any hurry to return to the safety of the shore.
Your music has shifted gear over the years, gone from the less garage songs of Relaxing to more drawn out almost abstract, what influenced this shift?
‘Relaxing With’ and the singles before was us trying to be more commercial to some extent. We realised, or thought, to be taken seriously, releasing records and getting airplay we had to make our tracks 3-4 minutes long. People said no one will ever listen to a 15 mins track and I suppose when you first start out you’ve got to try and encapsulate every aspect of the band in to a succinct 3 mins soundbite. We had initially began with the first line up playing 10 minute jams based around a couple of riffs, obviously very self indulgent but we figured other freaks and heads would get what we were on about. Coogan’s, the last track on Relaxer gave the listener an idea that we could go for extended jams. And yes you’re right Relaxer is more a garage rock album.
After ‘Relaxer’ we had a few more ‘ commercial’ type singles, ‘Spliff Riff’ was brought back as frenetic jam at the end of the live set. Then with ‘Everybody’ we had the opportunity to make a double album and also decided to use our budget on buying our own rudimentary recording equipment so we didn’t have the constraints of only having a week in the studio, hence the long wait between the two albums. Recordings were more lo-fi but mixed in with conventional 3-4 minute tracks we were able to use live jam recordings. These live improv’s captured the spontaneity of us playing, hitting off each other which only comes after playing together for a few years, intuitively knowing when each member is going to change and take the jam into a different direction. So in a way ‘Everybody’ was a return to what we really had set out to do. It was only possible once we had settled down in our present line up. Some people got it, most didn’t.
You’ve also got to remember we’re avid music fans always on the look out of new ideas and sounds. Touring the ‘Relaxer’ album we got to meet lots of music types who introduced us to many varied genres. Exploring the rich vein of Kraut and Jap rock, taking on board more ethereal sounds of field recordings and soundtracks, going back to more classic rock, enjoying leftfield electronica and even getting to grips with spiritual jazz. All these influences helped to shape the next direction we took, away from the predominant garage rock sound of ‘Relaxer’.
Some off your best versions of tracks I’ve heard are just jams recorded without the intention of capturing them for the public. These recordings often while running through your set list or just improvising in the practice room. Its like its just for your own pleasure & the best version of the band is never to be heard in public, why retreat to the practice space rather than play out live?
I’m not sure what you’re trying to get at in this question, are you insinuating we’re lazy or selfish ? Perhaps we are but there are quite a few reasons that the best versions will never be heard in public.
In the small practice room which you’ve sat in for a few times you can get a really intense sound which is near impossible to recreate in a live venue or professional studio. We each feed off this intensity. Admittedly when we’ve done a tour and have got more comfortable being on stage it’s easier to take risks when we’re all confident in our surroundings. Unfortunately we rarely do tours and more than likely only play one off’s when we do play.
Also improvisation means it’s off the cuff, never to be repeated and if it’s not recorded it’ll only be us that’ll ever experience it. Often we’ll jam, come up with something, try to play it again and the initial spark of creating something on the spot had has gone. The second run through often sounding bad so we never return to them. We do have tracks like KRT 5-1, Heavy C, #’75 and several others which’ll appear in our live sets from time to time but will vary greatly each time they’re played even if we do them on consecutive nights.
We try to record every rehearsal even if the levels are way out and make it unusable it’s something we can refer to at a later date. However if the recordings good and it doesn’t metamorph into a ‘proper’ track, generally it will appear on a recording somewhere down the line.
I think I can understand what you’re saying but would you expect a visual artist, like say Pollock for example ( abstract and chaotic, bit like us, yeah I know punching well above our weight here ). Would you expect Pollock to recreate the exact same picture over and over again ? His canvas is like our recording, captures a moment in time. You can create a variation or continue the theme but you’ll never be able to recreate an exact version.
Who finishes last in the battle to squeeze the last of sounds from your instruments at the end of a long freak-out jam?
We all try to but if it gets stupid I turn my mini disc recorder off as it’s a waste of time if you ask me. Usually it’s between Simon and Paul, having said that i’m just as bad. When Wayne did a ‘Raspberry’ at the end of one jam that sums up my attitude towards ‘ Squeezing ‘ those last sounds out.
Nowadays you are lumped into the Stoner Rock scene which you weren’t really a part of, bar Black Sabbath, there probably isn’t that much ‘Stoner Rock’ we go for as a label, why has that become a tag that has followed you, especially when you go beyond the riff thing?
Relaxer being more song based I suppose could be considered ‘ Stoner’, especially with the naked lady, bong sleeve artwork, which I think Kozik tried to recreate and update to the 90’s with the Fu Manchu Godzilla sleeve. Add to that the German Stoner compilation we were on with other like minded bands. It’s just a broad out dated tag, it doesn’t really bother us. At the end of the day we’ve all been stoners.
Now that the stoner scene has died down and splintered into many different directions we’re more referred to as heavy psychedelia,which better describes our music. Although when we first started out we considered ourselves more Cock Rock.
Why didn’t you get to Geffen when they showed interest & contacted you from NY back in August 1996?
You’d better ask Keeler about that. I can remember getting the letter sent to Replay and Pricey opening it and us all getting very excited about the prospect of getting signed to Geffen. We passed it onto Keeler and he dealt with them. Don’t forget though we were on Headhunter UK and Headhunter in the States had the early Blink 182 albums. I can just see MTV coming round to the Heads crib at Richmond road and not entering the house due to the filth inside.
Anyway in retrospect though I wouldn’t have thought a major label would release ‘ Everybody’, even though Geffen had released Sonic Youth’s Goo they wouldn’t gone for the lo-fi ness of our second album. We’d have probably got a development deal, been given super shitty pay to play support slots, had lots of music rejected, ended owing thousands, disbanding and have no rights to our name or music.
I once heard Sky Sports 2 used some Heads music in a montage, why haven’t the doors been bashed in with advertising agencies demanding Heads sell their clients products?
Question we ask ourselves. Don’t think we’ve received any money for the Sky Sports 2 usage. Publishing and music rights are very complex and unless you earn enough money from it to be able to afford to pay professionals to organise and collect it for you, you’ll see very little. Our PRS statements each quarter are usually less than a tenner.
Having said that I think if advertising weaponry was legal then I could see the flood gates open !
What scene in a film or Television would you like to see your music used for?
Don’t have any specifics but we do share a common love for soundtracks and incidental music. Taking repetition, variation and returning to a main theme in our playing. Through Simon Keeler at Forte we’re sorting out our own publishing company which’ll hopefully lead some of our music being used. Paul and Me have toyed with the idea of doing a Heads Library Mood Music album targeted towards film and television.
If there’s anyone out there interested in doing anything, it’s something we’d definitely want to have a go at.
...to be continued
16 Feb 2011
Cage and Aviary (Walls have ears / DFA)
Rik Motör (Rocket Recordings)
**Plus special guest: DJ Cherrystones**
Friday 4th March 2011
The Alibi (91 Kingsland High Street, Dalston, London E8 2PB)
8pm to 3am
Entry is FREE
14 Feb 2011
....continued from part-1
On the Relaxing with Insert, all your equipment seemed to be broken or in repair, what did you manage to salvage & did the DIY Gaffer Distortion survive?
Still have the Gaffer pedal but don’t use it live. Originally I think it was Jeff Smiths’ of Nailsea’s finest ‘Reich Stag Fire’ fame, a school mate of Delwyns’ and had Fat Paul on the drums.
Only just sold my 18” cab, first cab I ever used but the rest went awhile ago. The Peavey broke, probably due the very damp conditions we practised in. Burman combo was superseded by a Burman 200 head and 4 by 12” cab. Used the combo as a practice amp. Burman amps are great don’t know why they’re never held in the same esteem as Hiwatt or Orange.
Rickenbacker was stolen in Germany the first time we went to mainland Europe. Over partying and the excitement of playing abroad I didn’t pay too much attention to my bass on our first night, fortunately they didn’t take all the guitars but Proff did have a go at the German nutters on a radio interview the next day. Didn’t realise it had gone until we arrived at the next venue (Hannover I think), I thought it was a joke. Motorpsycho’s driver was really kind and let me use his Fender for the next few dates until I managed to buy the Guild, which is a great simple no frills reliable bass.
Sold the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Big Muff to Pricey not so long ago. Hadn’t used it for ages after getting an Electro-Harmonix Switch Blade splitter but it started the whole idea of splitting the signal to two different amps for me.
(Hugo's Insert for 'Relaxing With' vinyl)
The Heads, like Rocket share a love for the sound of Fuzz & Distortion, what is it about that particular vibrations of amplified air once its passed through a simple effect box that is so attractive to our ears?
Having experimented with several sorts of fuzz / distortion pedals to find a good one for my set up, I think that i’ve found an overdriven valve amp sounds the best, not necessarily a pedal, just turning up the amp and pushing those valves. But when you’re in the controlled situations of recording or on stage the engineers tend not to be on your side, we’re constantly being told to turn down whereas in the rehearsal room you manage to get the volume and overdriven sound, admittedly this can lead to a volume stand off between the guitars, drums get lost in the mix and if keyboards are involved the piercing sine wave will penetrate every thing else.
I’ve used a 90’s re-issue of a Fuzz Face, original Big Muff and Deluxe Big Muff and although great pedals they seem to lose a lot of definition for the bass in the overall mix of the track. Whether this is because they are primarily guitar and not bass pedals I don’t know. The Gaffer pedal is so basic it seems to distort all frequencies and the CBS Arbiter Octaver / Distortion pedal because of it’s octave function gives a wide variety of tones and sustain with the fuzz. I also use a Rat distortion for the top end.
Remember my first proper stereo I had, managed to plug my bass into either the mic or headphone socket and it sounded awesome, especially loud. That lasted for a bit 15 mins before I blew up the stereo. Didn’t do that again. When you first get a guitar and amp the first thing you do is turn it up and play loud, immerse yourself in the sound, gives you a feeling of trying to tame an almost uncontrollable sound. Also perhaps it stems back to being an adolescent and annoying your parents / neighbours, how could they possibly understand that you need to get that sound, how could they comprehend the rebellion of youth ?
Don’t forget though it’s a great turd polisher, covers so many little mistakes, our tracks played clean would mean trying to record them would be an almost impossible task. It’d be interesting to hear your take on the attractiveness of distortion.
Billy Fuller from Beak> uses a Russian Bass Fuzz Pedal, made from old USSR tank parts, what recycled military hardware would you utilise in the Heads arsenal?
Suppose some people may say we play intense Space Rock, so a bit of military space hardware would be good but can’t for the life or me think of any U.K. space hardware. Also might be made of too light a material to be durable. Would like it to be British. My grandparents used to have an ashtray made from a First World War shell, so perhaps some First World War tank hardware or even from a Dreadnought. I know you wanted me to say something from a German Tiger tank but I think I ought to stick to my British roots.
I remember Lemmy mentioning that he was once wheeled on stage to play when he was in Hawkwind because he’d overdone brainstorming into the void. Have you ever ‘taken off’ too much while you’ve been playing?
A few times i’ve ‘taken off too much’. Probably the worst time was our first appearance at Ashton Court Festival with The Heads. We came on at least an hour later than we had been billed either because of previous bands over running or as I blamed at the time on the Montpelier Bongo Collective doubling the length of their set. I had planned a concoction of H.S.L and weed to be at just the right levels for when we we’re scheduled to play but due to the extra hour of hanging around was a wasted mess, the sort you’d equate with a resident of Turbo Island, not nice. Playing the wrong songs, on footage (yes it was videoed) although some of the poses I were pulling look very Cock Rock, Wayne, who was stone cold sober as he was driving the van that day, was staring daggers at me all the way through. Can’t blame him at all as he’d stayed sober for a good performance only to be ruined by a drunken, stoned messed up knob jock - Me ! Worst thing was it’s the first and only time my parents have seen The Heads. Got the usual response of ‘you’d be disappointed if we said we enjoyed it’ and my Dad was paranoid that he’d get mugged for his Nikon camera. Although he did say he was impressed I didn’t stand on my shades which had fallen off within the first minute of the set.
From that point I tried to keep that kind of inebriation till after the gig, just four cans of HSL and a few smokes before setting foot on stage.
What’s is the weirdest experience you had playing on stage?
There’s been a few. One of the earliest I can recollect was in the basement at the Rummer with Dave Spencer on guitar, there was a girl with dreads wearing dungerees just running round in a big circle in front of the stage throughout our set, with about 5 other people there. Then when we toured with The Mice, on the last night in Worcester they came on behind us with ladders, again to an audience of about 10 people this time.
Two other times youd’ve been doing lights for us in mainland Europe. First at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, your light show made us ‘ disappear’ from the stage utilising strobes with the lights, same night turning round to watch Wayne and seeing him playing in slow motion. Second was in Leuven, in Belgium. We were playing, Simon Healy at the back of the venue with his merch table when the Maastricht Anarchy Posse turned up with an enormous wooden rainbow they had made specially for the event, they even had to saw off the ends to fit it through the door. They decided the best place for this was above Healy and the look on his face was priceless, it certainly wasn’t that of joy. However we did seem to locate the European cousin of the Meakin / Greeny hybrid.
The last one I can think of at the moment was when we played ‘ Pink Altamont ‘ in Newcastle. A small festival in the backyard of a pub down by the waterfront under some railway arches. Jazzfinger and the Sandyford Stooges played and we headlined. Things that stick in my mind is the woman in the ‘ enjoy cock’ t-shirt, lack of stage and us playing an hour improvised set to some very big drunk geordies giving it some down the front, literally a foot in front of me. But what really took me be surprise was when the fire breather started up right behind me. I didn’t see him set up whilst we were playing, first I was aware someone was fire breathing behind me was when I heard a big whoosh of flammable liquid ignite in the air just over my head. After the initial shock and getting a red hot head I calmed down only to find the three pints of Guinness i’d purchased and secreted in a safe place for after our gig had been tainted with paraffin. The bar had closed once we’d finished so I had no choice but to drink them. Paul however had an adverse effect to a little bit of paraffin in his drink. So he got to sit in the front of the van all the way back to Bristol that night even though we had a lady travelling with us. Manners hey - only joking Paul, don’t get paranoid.
(On tour with 'The Mice')
One a number of occasions Ive seen the live monster that The Heads can be, where the rhythm section locks into a Krautrock Motorhead & the guitars conflict sonic weaponry on the senses in a succession of layered Fuzz, this has tended to happen when the sound man has understood what you are about, how important live is it to have someone manning the sound desk as a 5th member that can turn it into the powerful force it can be?
It’s very important, which makes the next statement even worse, we’ve never really had one. Neil ‘Orange Peel’ used to do our sound in the early days. Gareth and Latch have done it a few times in the past but we’ve never had a dedicated sound person. Means it’s a complete lottery if we get a good sound, depending on venue and which night you’re there.
Had a bad experience in Nottingham Rock City on tour with The Mice. Set up in the back room, lugged all our equipment in, only to have the soundman take all my amps apart trying to get rid of the buzzing sound in a very condescending manner. Who the fuck is going to notice a little buzz in the background when we start playing ? But Mr. Soundman was adamant and in the end I had to just d.i., ( direct inject - the instrument is plugged straight into the mixing desk without using an amp and microphone) which sort of defeats the whole point of us playing live.
You live and learn so now I split my signal and d.i. it aswell. I’ve also found being friendly to the in-house soundman helps too, they’re not going to give you a great sound if you rub them up the wrong way, they’re only doing their job and some days you don’t want to go to work. Having said that you can play venues and the sound is amazing
Other thing you’ve got to take into consideration is that we don’t hear what’s coming out the P.A. we just hear the monitors on stage and our amps when we play live. These can be very different, we can come off stage thinking the sound was awful only to be told the sound was awesome. Or the other much worse way of having a great sound on stage to be told it sounded shit out front. We have tussled for years trying to get a good live sound but have never been in the position to be able to pay someone to do it, it’s very much in the Lap of the God’s. Think that would be one of the things at the top of our wishlist, to transfer perfectly our sound in the rehearsal room to the stage.
To be continued.....