Dada Masilo

The Meaning of Punk with Bloody Head

25 August 17 interview: Paul Klotschkow

Since getting together sometime last year, Bloody Head have spent no time messing around. They’ve knocked out two collections of dirgey yet groove-heavy hardcore punk in the same amount of time it takes most bands to work out what filter they want to use on their Instagram photos. Plus, their live shows feel like being run over by a bulldozer of noise and discordant energy. In short, they’re easily one of the most exciting bands in Nottingham, which is why we nabbed Dave (vocals) and Andy (guitar) for a chat to find out more…

Whose idea was it for you all to form a band?
Dave: My memory’s shite and I can’t exactly remember; I think our bassist Steve and Andy wanted to do summat new and punk-ish. Steve wanted it to be called Starship Poopers! Haha. We quickly f**ked that off and let it all hang out for a bit. Bloody Head happened somewhere down the line.

Andy: I realised that for the first time in about fifteen years, I wasn’t doing a band with Henry (drums). We roped in Steve on bass and tried to play some noisy d-beat. It was fun, but I wasn’t feeling it; it was too close to my other band. A couple of months later, Steve wrote some dirgey riffs and asked us to start something up. The three of us had been saying that Dave needed to be in a band for some time, so we asked him, and here we are...

For anyone reading this who may not have heard you, how would you describe the band and the music you make?
Dave: In my mind, the band are two lovely dongs making lowdown rumbles, one mean f**ker going crazy with feedback and electricity, and one shaky waster laying out his inner demons. That’s how it sounds to me, at least.

Andy: Raw power, broke-brain blues.

Can you give me an idea of how the songwriting works with the band?
Dave: It’s pretty loose. For the first tape (July 16) you just couldn’t stop the wonk and chug pouring out of Steve, he had “the grace” or some such thing, so everyone else scrambled blindly after that. More recently, I’ve been trying to get Steve to rip off Bowie, Roxy and Leonard Cohen bass lines and that; to no avail, I must say. I think being in this band is making Andy actively forget how to actually play the guitar. Henry is a thug who can’t count. I seem to say “Make it weirder” a lot during practice. Things seem to find their own place and pace.

Andy:
It’s all pretty raw and immediate. We try not to overthink things. If you’ve seen or heard us, you’ll understand that everything is kept pretty loose. Steve and Henry lock it down and keep it heavy. I try to keep my guitar “playing” as harsh and regressive as possible. Dave brings the existential angst, the energy, love, and violence. When it all works, it’s horrific and glorious.

There can be a tendency for a lot of bands to bang on about how they’ve always got “something coming up” or “they’re in the studio”, especially on social media, without ever producing anything. Yet you’ve released two albums in the space of six months. What’s your secret?
Dave: I guess if it’s fun, just keep doing it. Fast and loose, baby, till the wheels fall off...

Andy: A lot of bands can f**k off.

Dave, you drag yourself around the stage and into people, and it’s often a physical performance. What is your state of mind when you are performing?
Dave: Pill-blind. Totally in love with the world. Almost completely absent. Speeding my tits off.

I sometimes worry about your health when I’ve seen you, that someone might get hurt. Has that ever happened?
Dave: Thanks man, that's nice. The odd black eye or broken nose – nearly always mine – here and there is an appropriate price to pay, I think. None of us are getting any prettier.

What’s the hardcore and punk scene like in Nottingham at the moment?
Dave: Bloody lovely. Just the best and worst folks doing the best and worst stuff. It is church and religion to me for sure.

Andy: I think we could do with some more good bands. It would be great if some gnarly new punk bands started up. The time is right, the world is pretty f**ked right now. Make it happen, kids.

Stuck on a Name has become a sort of home for a lot of bands in that scene. What is it about that place?
Dave: Ah, Saint Ian Boult and his magic shoebox. There’s an almost complete lack of regard for health and safety and the square world in general. Just the best place and dude ever. Long live Boulty!

Andy: That place and Boulty have done and continue to do so much for Nottingham DIY. From being a space for people to rehearse, record and make some music, to offering a truly independent and alternative space for gigs, to sorting out crash spaces, equipment, sound engineering, or other stuff, at short notice.

Andy, can you tell me about your record label, Viral Age…
Andy: I started Viral Age to release the debut album by Endless Grinning Skulls, one of the other bands I play in. I had no intention of doing anything other than release that one record. I was about to become a father and had some free time and disposable income, so I figured “now or never.” I quickly realised I needed to get a distro on the go and trade records to get it out there, and I’m still doing it six years later.

I’ve done twelve releases so far, and about half are bands that I play, or have played, in. The other half are mates’ bands. I’m not interested in doing loads of releases; there’re plenty of great labels out there. Viral Age is mainly a platform for me to release my stuff how I want and to sometimes help out mates whose bands I dig. Lately, I’ve been busier with the distro side of things and I’ve been getting in some killer international underground music. I have nothing else lined up at the moment, well nothing definite. Catalogue number VRLG 13 is reserved for something special.

What’s the DIY scene in Nottingham like?
Dave: Almost completely void of pretension. F**king great.

Andy: Lots of good folks doing lots of good stuff for the right reasons, ie for the love of it, rather than money or status. Great.

Who else do you recommend we check out locally?
Dave: Pretty much everyone, man. Endless Grinning Skulls, X-RAYS, Slumb Party, Bismuth and everything Tanya has a hand in, Moloch, Society, Kogumaza, Shit Hippies, Beast As God, We Wild Blood, Shjrunken Heads, Casual Sect, Sheer Attack, Sievehead. They’re not all local, but I heartily recommend them all. Anything with a bit of swagger and lurch...

Where in Notts do you like to hang out when not making music?
Dave: Various bits of wasteland scattered about, making skate ramps and falling over and that. The King Billy – best pub – and Forever Records.

Andy: I like walking my dog and being away from the city.

What does “punk” mean to you?
Dave: F**k knows. The Velvet Underground. The Germs. Questioning what you’re being sold.

Andy: Making stuff happen yourself. DIY. Doing what you want, how you want, without compromising. Community.

Bloody Head’s latest cassette, Failed Experiments in Kindness, is out now.

Bloody Head on Bandcamp

Jay Rayner