Ahhh memories…. listening to HLAH reminds me of a youth spent cruising the streets of New Plymouth in a mate’s old Datsun ute complete with plastic skull blu-tacked to the dashboard and tracks like ‘Hootenanny’ distorting the one remaining speaker.
It was great news for New Zealand rock n roll when HEAD LIKE A HOLE announced they were reuniting in 2009. Since then they’ve done a sixth album ‘Blood Will Out’, supported the likes of ALICE COOPER, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS and AEROSMITH, and recently released the first music video from their ‘MONSTA’ trilogy.
August 2013 sees HLAH hitting the road for six shows around NZ on the aptly named MONSTA X tour. Frontman Booga Beazley is here to tell us what’s going on in the world of HLAH and provide a little band history too…
NZRock: HEAD LIKE A HOLE’s music video ‘MONSTA X’ is pure doom rock n roll which is awesome. You’re playing the part of Jesus Christ in it and those are some pretty big sandals to fill! Was it fun to make?
Booga: Yeah it was actually, the guys that did it, Duncan Nairn – they’ve got a company called Bent Cornea – they have done a few videos for other bands with really small budgets for like a couple of hundered bucks. They were good for what they were and I just had a feeling that they could produce something that would be good. So I said how about we make a video for $1000 and I had the idea of doing judas, running from his peers, he hangs himself and Jesus is there… and for 30 pieces of silver he betrays Jesus to the romans blah blah blah. And I said let’s do it in Otaki forest down the road from where we live. So Duncan got his crew of about 8 people together, we dragged everything into the forest, got a few extras and came up with ‘MONSTA X’ which, for $1000 with the location and the people involved, I think it was bloody excellent you know. It’s a bit of a weird one because the song is really heavy and when you first watch it, you know all the stuff with Judas running there’s a bit where the song stops and the guitar is going and the romans are talking, it’s almost like an old intermission in an old movie. I think it works really well you know.
NZRock: So that video is one of three you’re doing. What are your plans for the other two?
Booga: Well we’ve done ‘Hardest Battle’ (MONSTA Y) but it’s not up on Youtube yet. We’re just going to wait a little while. So that’s the second part to the trilogy and that’s also got a Judas running from his peers feel to it. And ‘MONSTA Z’ which is ‘Blood Will Out’, we’ve yet to work out what we’re going to do for that and how we’re going to shoot it, but I’m sure something will come to us. And we’ve got to finish the trilogy. I mean who does trilogies these days you know.
NZRock: At the end of last year HEAD LIKE A HOLE was busy writing and recording songs. Is there a new album on the way soon?
Booga: We’ve recorded a couple of new songs and we’d love to get some more done as soon as we can so hopefully in summer we might have a new release on offer. We’re always writing new stuff and we’ve actually got a bit of a library of songs that we go back to. Nigel Regan our guitarist has got like a library of songs that he’s recorded and done demos of and we constantly refer back to them for ideas and bring out songs.
NZRock: ‘Sometimes The Wolf’ is a great song, could it make it onto a future album?
Booga: We did that for the last record ‘Blood Will Out’ but we just ran out of time and money and I wasn’t happy with the vocals on it so we left it where it was then I went back and did it. It won’t be on the next album, it’s just like an in between song that’s a digital download. Maybe if we did something on vinyl we could add it on there or something.
NZRock: Speaking of vinyl, are you guys still planning on re-releasing ’13’ on vinyl?
Booga: Oh I’d love to mate. We got the tapes of ’13’ and you know there’s a whole process. We had to go through all the different tracks and make sure everything is running sweet. And now it’s the case of mixing and mastering and having enough money to put it on vinyl. If we could get it all sussed and release it on vinyl I’d love to do a ’13’ tour, that’d be awesome. Just doing the whole album from front to back with all of the singles and b-sides as well would be great.
NZRock: If you ever re-released ’13’ on CD would you consider adding a bonus CD of the ‘Shitnoise’ tape on there? I’ve been trying to track it down for years and it’s a mission to find.
Booga: Yeah we’ve been talking about that because ‘Shitnoise’ has got the origial version of ‘Never Mind Today’ and I actually prefer that version over the ’13’ version. We’ve got another one on tape called ‘The Berlin Stench’. That was when we were in Europe in 1995 and did a tour over there. We did this recording and called it ‘The Berlin Stench’ and we did some stuff with SHIHAD where they played various instruments and did vocals. That’s where we got the ‘Bixby Blues’, that song which is on ‘Double Your Strength, Improve Your Health and Lengthen Your Life’. There’s only a limited amount of that tape and I don’t even think I’ve got it. I’d love to hear that on CD.
NZRock: While I was studying in Wellington I mananged to pick up most of the HEAD LIKE A HOLE EPs by paying visits to Slow Boat and Real Groovy. You guys have a huge back catalogue of EPs and singles, more than most don’t you reckon?
Booga: Yeah we do have quite a bit of stuff, we’ve got five albums, a best of sort of thing, and then there’s an album length EP ‘Spanish Goat Dancer’ and then there’s a whole long list of stuff like ‘Faster Hooves’, ‘Cornbag’, ‘Hootenanny’, ‘Beelzebeats’, ‘Fish Across Face’… yeah we have got quite a bit of stuff eh. I think back in the 90s it was sort of the done thing if you weren’t doing an album because an album took a lot of time and money to create. An EP was a good option to get your music out there if you couldn’t afford to do the full album. It was your only option really. Doing a single release was actually viable back then. We didn’t have digital downloads so you could walk in to a music store and buy a CD single but now it’s just not viable. I mean people still do it, I think it’d be cool if you could pick up a 7″ or a 12″ on vinyl. I suppose it’s just a matter of moving with the times you know.
NZRock: The vinyl thing is cool for sure, I just ordered STICK FILTH’s new 7″ so people are still doing it.
Booga: Oh yeah, STICKY FILTH would be awesome on vinyl, they’re brutal band.
NZRock: HEAD LIKE A HOLE played in Sydney with them back in the day didnt you?
Booga: Yeah we did actually. I think it was in South Sydney, it might’ve been the Lindale and it might’ve been just a one-off or maybe two shows. And we’ve played with them in New Plymouth as well.
NZRock: I was meaning to ask you about that because that era sounds quite interesting. I’ve heard stories of people being stabbed in the buttocks, fingers being bitten off. Do you have any memories of similar experiences at HLAH shows?
Booga: Yeah there was lot of stuff happening like that. Nothing too drastic at any of our shows. I remember in Auckland, I can’t remember where it was, near the bottom of the Parnell Rise and I got dragged off stage and punched and kicked in the head but apart from that… yeah.
NZRock: Going back to your Europe trip and Noise Records, did you guys ever hope that it would turn into something more than what it did?
Booga: Yeah we were hoping. When we got there and when we got up to the offices I remember quite well that it wasn’t very encouraging to begin with because we just didn’t find what we wanted to find basically. Their promo was bad, they were more interested in SHIHAD, it was all about SHIHAD basically and we were sort of pushed to the side. But as soon as we started playing they realised holy shit, SHIHAD should be playing before HEAD LIKE A HOLE and HLAH should be headlining. They asked us to swap at one point in the tour and I just said no way, we enjoy playing before SHIHAD and they can take the honours, we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing. We honestly thought that something more would come out of it but I remember we had a sit down with the guys from Noise International and Gerald Dwyer and SHIHAD were there. Gerald, our manager at the time said oh, HEAD LIKE A HOLE boys you don’t need to be here because the news is that you’ve been dropped from the label. You haven’t lost any money, you don’t owe any money, you’re just going to be going home at the end of the tour and SHIHAD are going to continue on and go to the States. And we were like oh well, we didn’t lose any money, came to Europe, played some great shows, see you later.
NZRock: Mind you ultimately nothing great happened for SHIHAD being on Noise either…
Booga: No, it wasn’t very encouraging. Noise International, all the work they did for us, it just wasn’t right.
NZRock: When the Wildside website was online there was a trivia page which mentioned something about Mark “Hidee Beast” Hamill punching one of the Noise A&R guys. What happened there?
Booga: Haha! That was the first night we were in Berlin. Yeah Thomas Reisbeck and his “work associate” (that was his partner) took us out to a pub to get to know each other. Mark obviously had a few too many beers and Thomas the A&R guy was listening to Mark talk and he thought that Mark was a bit of a spoiled brat. And he said to Mark in his German tone: “You are like an English private schoolboy at a boarding school” and Mark was like, “What the fuck did you say? And he went “You are like a spoilt English brat”. Mark was like “Take that back mate” and he said, “what are you going to do Mark?”. Then all of a sudden Mark went to headbutt him. It looked like he headbutted him but when he did the headbutt he actually just missed at the last moment and one of his big fat dreadlocks swung forwards and slapped him in the face. We sort of pushed Mark off to one side and said What are you doing you egg? He swore at everyone and went, “Fuck you guys I’m going home” and he ran off outside. We looked at each other and were like what’s that all about? And then we all laughed because he’d said he was going home. I said how’s he going home, he’s in the middle of Berlin, in Europe. Then half an hour later he came back in and went “I’ve just realised I can’t go home because I’m in the middle of bloody Europe,” haha! So things didn’t start off on the right foot really haha!
NZRock: Back to the present, you’ve got a new bass player in the band now, Simon Nicholls (LUGER BOA). So what happend to Andrew Durno and how did you get onto recruiting Simon?
Booga: Well Andrew just thought it was time to leave the fold you know. He was doing a lot of hours at Weta beause he worked there doing all the props and art stuff. Most of his time was spent there and commuting back and forth he didn’t have much time for anything else apart from that. So one day he said to us “Look, I don’t know if I can do this anymore” and that was that. I thought it’d be a real shame if because Andrew left the band would wind up and we wouldn’t continue so we didn’t really mention it to anyone and just carried on. Then we had a rehearsal with this guy called Terry from SLAVETRADER on bass, then we had a couple of jams with Simon and just realised that Simon would fit in really easily. So it was a natural progression really once we got onto him.
NZRock: So HEAD LIKE A HOLE has been reunited for a few years now. Other bands like WETA for example have done the same but then and parted ways again. What has kept you guys going this time?
Booga: Well, we just think that we’ve still got something to offer and as long as we’ve got good songs coming out of the band and everyone has got that fire in their belly to do it, we should keep going. I mean there’s probably not many years left in us. Personally I don’t want to be in a rock band and be too old. There are a lof of bands that do that. I mean we’ll know when the time is right to stop. If no one wants to come and see us anymore then that’s it, we’ll stop.