Trying to describe the Head Set we wanted to avoid the catch phrases that litter today's reviews. Post-punk, "the new Strokes"...you get the idea. It's hard though, with this band, because they are those things, in the best way imaginable. We don't usually do this, but listen to them right now, then come back and read the rest.
So there you go, they're post pop and brit rock fused with what you might hear echoing out of a garage in Brooklyn, if there were garages in Brooklyn. They turn a different corner when other bands right now are going the way of disco rock and give us a new NY indie pop sound. Something different but something we are familiar with. A sound we love, taken to another level. This may be why they recently won the 5-Borough Battle of the Bands and will be opening for Sonic Youth tomorrow at the CMJ kick off party @ Irving (see details below).
The Head Set are Jordan Blaugrund (vocals), Mike Blaugrund (drums), Eliot Wadsworth (guitar) and Brett Sherman (bass). Jordan recently took some time out to answer our questions...
Let's get this out of the way, where did you band name originate? And if you had to change it to something else what would it be?
Our drummer, Michael, misheard a Belle & Sebastian lyric ...he heard "the head set, "as in 'the in crowd', but they were actually talking about the headmaster of a school - "the head said". Anyway, we thought that The Head Set would be a nice play on words for a band name. Turns out it's been a hassle for people to keep straight, but ah well, we made it our own.
How was the 5-Borough Battle of the Bands experience? Will this be your first year at CMJ?
The people at CMJ have been very good to us. We didn't really know what to expect going into the competition, but it turned out to be a great experience.We had played with some of the bands before, and it was great to meet all the others. Last year we played CMJ at Luna Lounge, which is a club we have a lot of respect for. They gave us, and a lot of other bands, their first show in NY. Unfortunately due to the exponential rise in rent in the L.E.S. Rob Sacher is going to have to relocate the club. It's really too bad because it's one of the only places that doesn't charge a cover to get in. Rob is really committed to emerging music and all of the young musicians out there appreciate his efforts.
What is your first conscious memory of living in New York?
I moved to NY when I was 17 to go to NYU. I remember the first week I got here NYU put together an orientation week concert featuring Moby. Most of us didn't really know him well at that point, 'Play' had just been released. The show was at Irving Plaza and I remember at one point Moby stood on his keyboard and struck a crucifixion pose while a strobe light bounced off his pale, shirtless body. I remember thinking that this was one of the most ridiculous, self-righteous things I had ever seen. I also remember thinking thatI would love to play at Irving plaza. On Wednesday, we will be.
What is your favorite/least favorite memory involving New York?
My least favorite memory involving NewYork was when my roommate ran in to wake me up early on a Tuesday morning saying that planes had hit the World Trade Center. I remember thinking in my groggy state, how could two planes accidentally have hit buildings? I was living on 12th St and 1st Ave at the time,and when Iwent outside shortly after the towers fell, there were thousands of people streaming up 1st Ave covered in gray dust anddebris. As the wind changed that evening, the smoke from the ruins downtown was pushed into the village.
My favorite memories of living inNewYork are all the days when I wake up and feel like the city is bursting with energy. I think it's the collective consciousness of all the people that believe new york will be their ticket to fame and fortune. Probably less than 1% actually realize their dreams, but the belief in the possibility of extraordinary things in New York is infectious. When we came back from playing in LA recently, we were all so happy to be home.
What is your favorite place to drink in NYC? Whats the best night of the week to go out in the city?
The Head Set LES pub crawl typically begins at the Magician. From there, we walk past Welcome to the Johnson's--it always smells like feet in that place--and hit The Dark Room, a new spot on Ludlow. We frequently end the night at Lolita, our favorite spot south of Delancey. Any night is a good night to go out - it just depends who you're with.
What is your favorite/least favorite thing about playing shows in New York? Is there a difference between shows in Manhattan and Brooklyn?
The best part about playing in New York is that there are so many serious music fans here. They're constantly looking for good, new music and it's great to play in that kind of atmosphere.
By far the worst part about playing in New York is dealing with getting gear to and from shows. It's expensive, time consuming, and the majority of guys that you can hire to shuttle gear to and from shows in their vans are crazy as hell. One time we had a guy spend the whole trip from 38th & 8th to Mercury Lounge telling us how he used to be a heroin addict in Alaska - this is the same guy who once side swiped a mailman's pushcart in NY and dragged it for blocks hooked tohis rear fender. Have you ever been expecting something in the mail and it didn't show up? That's why.
Do you think your New York connection shows in your music? If so, how?
If it does, I think it does in a very organic way. I write about experiences, so it would only make sense that I write about New York. I think we're also influenced a lot by bands that made it big in New York, like Talking Heads, Television, Blondie, Pretenders, Velvet Underground, but there's also a big UK component to our sound. Musicians like The Police and David Bowie had a big impact on us. Recently there's been a big new wavy, disco-punk thing going on in the New York music scene, and that's NOT us at all. We don't have a keyboard player and no one wears eyeliner in The Head Set.
Now its time for some fill-in-the-blank action:
You know youve made it when.
someone else moves your gear to and from each show. Or when your Paris Hilton tape is leaked.
Itll be time to pack up the gear for good when.
it's not fun anymore.
And finally, lets have some fun with word association. Give me your immediate feelings on the following (if you've got no discernable feelings, make something up that wont embarrass you in the morning):
Go Sox! (this sentiment is not shared by all members of the band)
There's always next year...
[ed. note: isn't this the same motto for the above mentioned Boston team?]
Bridge & Tunnel
Love bridges, hate tunnels
Bloomberg/Smoking Ban/Noise Laws
Smokers can go outside -fresh air wont hurt them
Questions inspired by movies...
If you will, a brief justification of the ontological necessity of modern man's existential dilemma (in less than 10 words). (Reality Bites)
What? Abstract objects (e.g. dilemmas) supervene on ontologically contingent conventions.
What came first, the music or the misery? (High Fidelity)
They've both always been there.
A few quickies on the music tip:
Who would be in your ultimate music supergroup, your all-star Olympic team of rock?
Drums: Stuart Copeland
Bass: James Jamerson
Guitar: Jimi Hendrix
Vocals: David Bowie
Songs by Lennon
If you released a 7 what would you put on the cover?
A naked woman holding a monkey wrench in one hand, a frayed rope in the other.
What was the first/last album you bought on the day it was released?
First: Michael Jackson: Bad
Last: Brian Wilson: Smile
You can catch the Head Set during CMJ on Wednesday October 13th @ Irving Plaza. 7.30 pm sharp. Part of the CMJ Opening Night Party w/ Sonic Youth, Moving Units, RJD2 and more.
And if you miss that you'll have no excuse to not see them in November because they'll be doing a residency at Pianos on Nov 10, 17, and 24.
For now, listen to them here.