Head: The Life In A Bungalo InterviewPart I
Until about a year ago, I assumed Head broke up. Turns out they’ve been pretty busy over the past two years: new LP, new 7″, CD anthology, South by Southwest 2006 in Texas, Insubordination Fest 2007 in Maryland, Gonerfest 2007 in Tennessee… “Who the hell is Head?” some may ask. The greatest band from Seattle—ever. They never toured or put much effort into promoting themselves. Word of mouth, probably started by Ben Weasel (Screeching Weasel, the Riverdales) in his old Maximum RocknRoll column sometime in 1995, brought Head into my home in New Jersey. Imagine Metal Mike from the Angry Samoans fronting the Ramones. Hell, they were more Ramones-core than any other band that cited them as an influence. I got the chance to interview the band in early 2008.
When did No Hugging No Learning actually come out? I just assumed you guys broke up. About two years ago I wrote you guys a letter, but I never heard back.
No Hugging No Learning came out at the end (November) of 2006—we never broke up, just lazy! Thanks for picking it up, sorry about the non-response before… the mail is picked up at the PO box and we never did respond. Always meant to, but then we’d drag our feet and felt it would be more insulting to respond after so much time has passed. We were probably getting one or two pieces of mail a year and with email and the power of the Internets, it has dropped to nothing. We’re keeping the box though.
How did the Insubordination Fest show come about?
The Groovie Ghoulies broke up, big bummer, and somehow our name came up in relationship to filling the open slot. We were contacted, and to the surprise of the folks back in Baltimore, and us, we were able to go for it. The bigwigs at Evil Clown Records and Flunky Publishing finally loosened up the purse strings and let us travel back East! Unfortunately, we blew, and Touch fired himself as his own guitar tech.
Touch: Phew! I sucked, and apologize profusely to the four people who came out to see us!
How did the Gonerfest show come about? Did Head ever tour or are these the farthest away shows you’ve played?
These are the farthest away shows we’ve ever played, other than Austin (South by Southwest) in early 2006; the Goner guys were responsible for that one as well. Eric Oblivian liked us from the get-go. He wrote us after Street Level Assault came out to say he dug it, and he maybe put us on the Oblivians’ guest list when they came to Seattle. Unfortunately, they had to cancel the show so we never met him back then.
Cut to 2005 when we were offered to play the Rockening Halloween weekend in New Orleans, by one M. Bateman. Then Hurricane Katrina cancelled that show. The outcome of that was Eric emailed us through the promoter of the Rockening (M.Bateman). Eric probably thought we had broken up along with everybody else. Then the Goner show at South by Southwest led to Gonerfest. Goner has the “eye of the tiger”! Phew! The closest thing to a tour we’ve done was we played Sacramento and San Francisco in 1995.
I noticed at Gonerfest that Touch had a stain on his pants leg. You guys looked kind of scared on stage – is the stain related? How come in some pictures Touch looks taller than Tulu?
Touch is extremely focused, but a pussycat at the same time; he is technically taller than Tulu, but in real-life application Tulu out-heights him by about an inch-and-a-half. Go figure that one out, we can’t! As to your question’s first portion: yes, very sharp-eyed and observant of you! It was a difficult 1 p.m. time slot, and Touch was so nervous (the truth must come out now), that we can officially confirm Touch did pee his pants. It’s a tough topic to talk about, related to Touch and his temerity, but for the fans out there worldwide, maybe this will help other problem “nervous-wetters” deal with their situation with the same strength and fortitude that our own Touch has. Okay, we better move on.
Tulu: Stain on pants from fear… sounds like a fantasy. I don’t know who is taller, but one thing I know for sure is that we are all slouches… in more ways than one! So how are we to really measure up, you guys?
How was it working with Goner Records on the new 7″? Any other upcoming releases?
Awesome—like we said earlier, the Goner guys are top-shelf, and we were honored to be asked to do a single for the Goner label. Nothing planned currently, although we did recently release a CD of all of our releases up to The Monkeys. Heil Head! CD—31 great songs, 50 great minutes. We’ve done way more in the last couple of years than we normally do.
What’s a typical day-in-the-life for Head? What are your day jobs? Any one or all have a family?
Tulu splits atoms, Ree Ree delivers wonderful corporate messages on paper for various clientele, and Touch…. well Touch is just nice, he collects bottle caps. Tulu and Ree Ree are happily married, while Touch is not, is currently single with a painfully wide-open social calendar, but however due to his past life as a Soldier of Fortune, has a large extended family of illegitimate children all over third world port cities.
Outside of work, physical fitness takes up a big part of our time. We also try to keep our minds sharp by expanding our memorized multiplication tables and practicing the FOIL method. No paper or other forms of cheating. Regimentation and discipline are constantly applied to our daily routine. We know Tulu has a centrifuge, and keep trying to get him to clarify butter with it.
When did Head form? How do you know each other?
Head formed in 1989-1990, first practicing in 1990. But one could argue (and historians do, with a couple even writing their doctoral theses on this topic) that Head truly “formed” as young teenage roustabouts, growing up in the poor, nitty-gritty hardscrabble neighborhood of Queen Anne, in Seattle. Tough streets that weaned even tougher lads. Those salad days were rough, boy. We all met in preparatory school, and from there it’s been downhill ever since.
Evil Clown official: Giggles bought his guitar in summer of ’89. Ree Ree bought the drum kit Tulu still uses that summer as well. Touch saw the writing on the wall and bought his first guitar, a Les Paul copy that sounded like a banjo, in the fall. Ree Ree bought his first bass, a Rickenbacker 4001 with “ric-o-sound” and a badass bridge in January of 1990. The first practice was February 1990. Ree Ree and Touch have known each other since 1975, Tulu since 1978, Giggles since 1986. Staff photographer Kenny the Gardener since 1974. All of us, except Giggles, grew up on Queen Anne Hill. Ree Ree met Giggles in printing school. Giggles grew up in Port Orchard, which is across the water from Seattle.
Is everyone in the band a rabid music fan/collector? How did the members get into music? What are Head’s favorite bands? What are Head’s influences?
Well, in a way of sorts. Touch really likes Heino, while Ree Ree amuses himself with a massive brass attack, and Tulu is into the growing “camp” genre of popular music. Otherwise, you somehow have nailed down with accuracy Head’s other influences above—I don’t know if you’ve got a crystal ball or something, but that’s impressive! Seriously, though folks, the Ramones is the most obvious influence. They personally meant more to Head than any other band did. The Ramones first album is without a doubt our favorite album of all time.
The Angry Samoans were another influence for sure, more for their obnoxiousness and also we always liked that they didn’t fit the normal punk mold. Metal Mike’s an accountant and Gregg Turner is a math professor. Another big influence in the songs Ree Ree has written is television, SCTV especially. Letterman back in the old days on NBC when he was funny, Conan O’Brien. Ree Ree doesn’t think of himself as a rabid music collector but he probably is. He goes to record stores all the time and record conventions. He’s sold off more than half of his collection though. Says Ree Ree: “Who needs it?”
You’ve said Head has abandoned the “meet the Ramones” sound but Head still sounds very Ramones-y. After seeing you live, I think Head is more Ramones-y than many of the Ramones-core bands.
Well observed. The “meet the Ramones sound” moniker refers to the stylistic stereo channel-splitting approach both the Beatles and the Ramones took on their first albums (Beatles’ first Capitol American release). It involves separating out the instrumentation as to which channel (left or right) it is heard through. Moreover… uh-oh, here comes the Smoking Man, we’ve said too much. Suffice to say, despite all of the relative advances in technology, there are some things which to us appear to have been forever lost in the sands of time, and humankind is regressing, or devolving… say, that second one has a pretty good ring to it.
Ree Ree: Yeah, none of the Ramones-core bands sound anything like the Ramones to me. Screeching Weasel, Queers, Riverdales? I don’t pick up any Ramones connection at all. That isn’t a bad thing. It should be a compliment. They probably weren’t asking to be lumped in with the Ramones. The ones that are trying to sound like them don’t. To me, they usually sound more bush league, Blink 182, Sum 41-type shit. Mall punk. We just do what we do. I think I said this in the CD liner notes, but we probably sound more like the Ramones after we stopped trying to than we did earlier.
How come you guys never got as big as Screeching Weasel or the Queers?
Don’t know. Ben Weasel was a great advocate of ours, and we certainly appreciated it at the time. It’s hard to say. For one thing, we never toured, and so that perhaps was part of it, who knows, the fickle tastes of society. We’ve never met Ben, but think we maybe saw him in Baltimore, maybe another time we’ll have the chance to shake his hand! We’re yesterday’s news. Yes, people are fickle: here today—gone today. Skullduggery owes us money by the way.