Interview: The Head

bill bodkin interviews the power pop trio out of the ATL as they perform on the east coast for the first time …

They aren’t signed to a major label, but the Hot-lanta based power pop trio The Head should be in heavy rotation on your iPod. The band evokes memories of great mid-’90s post-grunge acts with their fun, upbeat, guitar-driven sound. Interwoven with top flight production and a music sensibility that is wise beyond their early college years, you will be blown away by just how good The Head is.

Currently on their first tour of the Northeast, The Head’s Jack Shaw spoke with Pop-Break’s Bill Bodkin.

Pop-Break: When and how did you guys come together and why did you decide to form a band?

Jack Shaw: We formed our freshman year of high school [the second half of 2007]. We all started out as best friends — my twin brother Mike [Shaw] and I and our friend Jacob [Morrell]. We always hung out together, did stuff together. Mike and I always played instruments and we found out Jacob played guitar. So we decided to jam together and see what we could make of it. And then from there, we grew up into this band that’s been playing ever since.

PB: What’s the story behind the name of the band? Any reference to the cult film written by Jack Nicholson and starring The Monkees?

JS: The name doesn’t have anything to do with the movie, but there are several myths behind it. We originally just wanted something that was short and brief and evocative but also very weird sounding. We wanted something traditional so we went with the quote unquote The at the front of it like all those ’60s bands had. So we just came up with The Head and we stuck with it.

PB: What are the myths behind the name?

JS: One of them is that it derives from That 70s Show. There’s an episode where one of the characters inherits a record store and they name it The Head. Some people think it refers to the toilet, some people think it’s a gross sexual reference. We don’t have an exact answer.

PB: You’re pretty young guys and your sound has this cool, retro influence — not exactly a sound that’s currently big amongst your generation. Why go with this sound?

JS: It’s just that type of music we grow up listening to. Bands like Big Star, The Stone Roses, The Beatles. We chose to go with that style because it’s natural, it’s where we tend to go when we write music. We like making happy music and songs that evoke happy emotions. It’s been natural for us.

PB: Your album Hang On is a fantastic collection of power pop. You have a few previous records [Puckered, Stockwood], but how have you matured as a band since the first few?

JS: I definitely think Hang On is more of a collaborative effort. Puckered was more guitar oriented. Here there’s more piano driven songs, more mature songs. There was 100-percent collaboration on this album. Everyone really brought something to the table on this album.

PB: Why chose the song “Lady Lovely,” a slower, more piano-driven song as your lead single off your album and not something more in the power pop that is all over the record?

JS: We went with that because it’s the songs that sticks out. Most of the album is power pop guitar-driven songs. This shows our diversity. It’s a longer song, it’s a sweet ballad with a haunting, carnival-esque quality. It doesn’t stick to just one genre.

PB: You’re touring in New York and will be performing up and down the East Coast this month. Is this the first time you’ve performed up North before?

JS: This is the first time. My brother and I are originally from New York, so it’s exciting. This actually the first time we’ve ever played outside of Atlanta before. One of our favorite bands, The Feelies, are from New Jersey, which is cool. We’re excited — this is a different scene and we’re looking forward for all the new things that await us.

PB: You guys are in college now. Are you going to the same school? If not, how hard does it make being in a band? It’s got to be frustrating because that distance must kill your momentum.

JS: We’re separated, and it’s difficult for us as a band because we can’t play live together that much. It’s the one disadvantage not being together. But we’re always writing, promoting the band’s name, trying to reach new fans.

PB: What can we expect from The Head in 2011?

JS: More polished live shows. We’ll also have a live drummer, so Jacob can play guitar more and do more soloing. I can also sing more because of this too. We’re also always cranking out new songs and putting them in our live sets.

The Head will perform at Pianos on July 6, Arlene’s Grocery on July 7 (both in New York City), Lilly Pad (Boston) on July 8, Comet (Washington DC) on July 9 and a slew of dates all over the East Coast. For more concert dates, check their live events page.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites