8 Feb 2011

The Heads - H.O Morgan Interview (Part 1)

Mission Control will be publishing a long interview with The Heads bassist H.O Morgan, it will be posted in 4 weekly parts, over this coming month. We thank Hugo for his in-depth answers & many never seen before photo's.


How do you feel about the re-issue of relaxing with & are you happy with the finished article, all the bonus material & hearing yourself in the studio in the extra hidden track? Does it force you to revisit the music from that period & become more critical of it?

I think the final article is what we would have liked to release initially but at the time we we’re still very wet behind the ears. Also all our efforts were made to make the vinyl the item to have and the cd was more of an after thought, something that Cargo wanted to release, hence the original cd release without any extra artwork to the vinyl.

The re-issue has a great booklet, lots of photo’s from the period and Simon Keelers’ take on us at the time, which hopefully is as amusing to everyone else as it is to us and the bonus disc with single and session versions of that time. Regardless of the music, the packaging and attention to detail is just what someone like me (pretty retentive) likes to purchase. You and Pricey did a grand job. The extra disc gives people a good reason to buy it again, you won’t have to pay e-bay prices to hear our early singles,you get some amusing anecdotes from Keeler to read and pictures to look at whilst listening to us. What more could you want?

Seeing the photo’s made me revisit that time much more than the music. The excitement of going to Foel studios, believe it or not, working really hard to make sure we we’re up to scratch to record our first album, which we all thought might get us out of playing toilets round the country but doing the Peel session is my proudest moment , something I had dreamt of doing for many years.

With the single versions you get better renditions, simply because they we’re recorded closer to the time that they’d be written they sound fresher, more vibrant. But you have to way that up against the better production we got with Foel and Corin.

The hidden tracks were us farting around in the studio the last night we were there. Earlier Dave Anderson had told us when the Ozric’s had been there, they picked bin bags full of mushrooms, which were in season when we recorded ‘Relaxing’. We went out into the fields to pick some, thinking we’d get a years supply but after much fungi foraging we returned with 30. We brewed them up,drank the rest of Priceys gin, had a technicolour pool tournament, understood Cans’ Aumgn for the first time and marvelled at Proff’s Chuck Norris’s videos before heading into the studio next door with Mark Homeyard on the record button. I have very little recollection of it, although i’m glad ‘Take Five’ didn’t make it onto the disc.

(Wayne Maskell.......Technicolour Pool)


The Heads were always outsiders & when Relaxing With was released it certainly didn’t fit into the British trends of the time (Vox 0/10 review), what happened at that time that made you tap into the MC5 & Stooges rather than sit nicely into the cliché rock/indie of the time & how did the band feel about 0/10 review?

Obviously we’d have preferred 10/10 but 0/10 is alot better than a 4/10. Our music must have rubbed them up the wrong way to get 0/10 and in response I was quoted in Venue (local listings mag) that it must have been a vegan lesbian who reviewed it. How could she possibly understand our quest to the library of Cock Rock? Vox was a pretty safe mag and was the same as most mainstream media at the time, if it wasn’t trip hop or dance then it wasn’t properly ‘Bristol Sound’ and therefore not worth taking notice of.

I don’t think we set out with the idea of tapping into MC5 and Stooges, we’re a guitar rock band the same as them but we played to our individual strengths rather than attempt to emulate a favourite band. You’ve got to make your own moment not try to recreate someone else’s, although we had a pretty good go at Monster Magnet. At the time Grunge had gone overground, Brit pop was at it’s height and fortunately Stock Aitkin and Waterman were on the way out. Thinking in retrospect it wasn’t innovative or groundbreaking, it was yesterdays papers, just four blokes enjoying creating their own brand of low brow rock.

Mind you if it were the only review we got then perhaps it might be a whole lot shorter story.


Looking at the contact sheet photo’s of Richmond Road in the Relaxing With booklet, what memories have you of The Heads at that period, & what part did Fat Paul & Redg Weeks play in the early days?

Richmond Road isn’t there any more, or ‘The Heads House’ as it was known when 3 of us lived there. Infamous doss house for us and our jobless mates. Good times but I wouldn’t want to go back to it, i’ve done my time as a soap dodger. When Pricey was there it wasn’t too bad, even Wayne’s parents visited, his Mum bringing her own mug and Simon’s brother witnessing a photo of ‘Arse Fanny Bollocks’ on the mirrored wall. Pricey had left by the time the ‘Quad’ 7” had been released, that’s when Richmond Road became more of a late night drinking den after the ‘Cadbury’. Redg Weeks had got us our first gig and helped us alot at the start, getting laminates sorted out for one gig, we were going to be bigger than Kiss. He was useless in the Grog Squad though, bailing out on the first weekend. He was a frequent visitor to the ‘eating the back of our jeans’ sofa after missing the last bus home to the valley. Fat Paul i’ve known for ages, even before Redg, through my involvement in Quinton I got to meet lots of the people in the Bristol Indie scene and he was one of them. I remember sweeping floors in P.I.J. (Fat Paul’s rehearsal room’s) for lunch. He helped in getting gig’s a bit further out of Bristol, we played for his Cheesy Club that he was running with the Brilliant Corners, in Bristol several times and Exeter. Let us demo in his studio, recorded the first two singles and for his sin’s lived at Richmond Road for 6 months (when the roof had fallen in in the toilet, a make shift bin bag was used but Paul still loved to spend a good 45 mins for a movement in there).

(The Heads Mk1 - Richmond road photo-shoot)

Quinton Live (you tube clip of Quinton at Ashton Court)

(Clockwise: H.O. Morgan, Wayne Maskell & Redg Weeks - Richmond Road)


All the early bands artwork seemed to have a much more DIY approach, those days were different without computers & has something of the punk ethos about it, photocopying is too good quality nowdays so we can never have that ‘made at home’ (where the ink toner runs thin) look any longer, did you spend many hours cutting & pasting?

We’d all pitch in on doing posters but Simon Price mainly did the artwork for the releases and that was no different for Relaxer,although we did all do an A4 sheet each for the LP A3 insert. I was more of a networking person, you know meeting people in pubs, trying to get gigs etc. mines a guiness. Simon would stay in doing the bulk of cutting and pasting, we would all help with the folding of sleeves though. Think you can still use those techniques to create a d.i.y. style or home made look, your just not trying hard enough ! The cd cover for the original Relaxer was a bit of a disappointment. Admittedly we didn’t have much of a budget and the artwork was primarily designed round the idea of it being in a vinyl format, it was obvious it didn’t transfer well to the cd cover format. It looks very much of it’s time. Whereas the d.i.y. approach that Simon used on the early singles have stood the test of time. Not so much punk ethos more his interest in 7” US rock imports, such as early Sub Pop, Sympathy for the Record Industry, K, Pavement and perhaps even early Fall singles helped inspire Simon. Working in Replay you had a pretty amazing and diverse library of sleeves to take ideas from. It was pretty important that we strived for a ‘cool sleeve’, not only to distance ourselves from the Bristol Trip Hop scene but to make sure that from the sleeve you’d be more akin to it being of an underground grunge/rock scene than 90’s dance hall reggae. Simon managed this, and after his first album cover, with You of course, created ‘Everybody’. We all appreciate decent artwork and understand the importance of enticing listeners to our music.


How many packets of handmade king size Rilza did you produce for ‘Quad’ & as in the booklet, where they a variety of colours?

Remember making them round out Pricey’s in Bedminster with Nick Benson, using gold marker pens that had a habit of over squirting and ruining the packet. Made them as promotional skins for our Swervedriver gig originally I think. Gave them out at Ashton Court festival wearing red jumbo cords and a green tea cosy hat. These versions had roaches with a little picture of a cock roach pointing to under the flap where it was, usually with some op art design on them. Know there were different colours, red, green, blue, pretty sure it was just red in the first 100 of the Quad 7”. The Rizla’s and ‘Thurston’ sticker was our attempt at promotional gimmicks. Shortly after it’s release we saw a Rizla copy of the Quad 7” in a 50p bargain bucket in a record shop in Exeter.


Delywn used to do your lights, my first show seeing you was Wayne’s first gig at the Bierkeller supporting Swervedriver, I think it incorporated live oils. I hadn’t seen rock bands use visuals before & this was something that stuck with me for years, how important was it to tap into that whole 60’s visual side?

That Swervedriver gig was pretty ramshackle affair lights wise. Just two basic slide projectors, one projecting slides the other older projector with a crude sandwich of two and a quarter inch glass frame mounts,red and green inks along with some Uhu glue. The older projector gave an oil light wheel effect which lasted for about 20 mins and the other slides of albums and ‘cool’ (or what we thought was ‘cool’) images. Think Delwyn (as in Delwyns’ conkers) operated the slide projector with pint in hand, think it was the one and only time he did the lights. Shortly afterwards Neil ‘Orange Peel’ would be doing our sound and lights for a bit.

(The Heads Mk1 ) (Above - Gig at the Bierkeller supporting Swervedriver - with lightshow)

I had developed using these style lights as a cheaper junk shop alternative to expensive professional lights which we’re well out of our price range. Initially using them at The Love Cage (60’s style club I used to run with Simon James, fellow worker at HMV, with an enormous northern soul knowledge and collection) upstairs at the Louisianna before it became a national venue, by the time of the Swervedriver gig we had developed them using images of our own artwork and fast spinning gels. My Dad had helped a mate out who did the lights at the Granary in Bristol back in the late 60’s and he taught me all the basic techniques. We used to have hours of fun messing around with lights at Richmond Rd, bouncing them off the mirrored wall so that the whole of the open planned downstairs was moving with shapes and colours.We marvelled at the Vanilla Fudge and Santana 3 album covers, the credits at the start of ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’ , ‘Altered States’ and many others,wondering how we could come up with similar effect. And of course there was the infamous Magnet gig in London, which I didn’t go to unfortunately,but had a massive influence that we needed lights.

Would have to argue about it being exclusively 60’s visual side that we tapped into. In Bristol you had the Moonflowers who were involved in the Dig In and Popgod, their events and nights always had a creative use of junk shop style lights. Also small raves using cine 8 scratched film, Fat Paul put on a Cheesy Night at the Lakota which we played and had managed to amass a handful of freaks and their projectors to do the light show, we had our eye’s open for new idea’s that we could use or felt that would fit in with our music. Going on the road, expense and general unreliability meant that lights were overlooked for quite a while. It was only until Wayne acquired some more professional lights that we were able to bring them back.

We’re often referred to as librarians so it’s nice to give the paying punters something more animated than us to look at , bit of a safety net/comfort blanket. Although it can be a double edged sword when you can’t see your fretboard.


What’s the best experiment you ever did with Sound & lights? Didn’t you use some of your mothers visuals?

Thought you had my Mum’s visuals ? Or was it John Minton I gave them to?

Anyway, i don’t know about sound and lights but just lights, we did have a good one which we used on Redg and a Dave Wyndorf look-a-like. It was a projector with a little hand held electrical fan stuck to it with red and green gels on. After a psychedelic night out at a grunge night at the Bierkeller we set it up. The Dave Wyndorf look-a-like scarily stared into the white/red/green void of the projector for ages. Whereas we’d wake up Redg on the ‘eat the back of your jeans’ sofa with a healthy nostril full of poppers to then have the multi-coloured void of the projector shined into his retina’s. Wayne, The Dave Wyndorf look-a-like and Me found it hilarious. You’d have to ask Redg if he’s still mentally scarred from it.

To be continued.......