Q&A with Second Head

Photo Credit: Alex Pyper

Hey there Emma and Wim – It’s really cool to have the chance to touch base with you both and find out more about your band.  Your latest EP Children of the Revulsion (Love the wordplay!) is out now and it seems to be heading in a more laid-back, thematically cohesive direction than your previous EP Gift Horse and debut album Disease comes in Waves.  Is this the path you’ll be following for future releases?

Emma: I’m glad it’s more cohesive and I think that’s something we’ll continue with, but I prefer a heavier sound, especially when playing live.

Wim: We were by no means trying to be more laid back. The songs might seem softer and less in your face but lyrically they’re just as fierce. Children of the Revulsion was just me and Emma, recording in our home studio.

You formed Second Head in May 2010 after the demise of the band Arrows of Love and you feature a rotating member line-up.  Who else is in the band at the moment?

Emma: Arrows of Love is still going. Dr Will Connor is our main drummer but we’re currently playing with Mo on drums, who used to be in Ozric Tentacles and Dream Machine, and our friend Dan Glean on guitar.

I didn’t realize when listened to your tunes that you’re based out of London.  For some reason your sound and lyrics give off a NYC vibe, with shades of Sonic Youth before the band became a household name.  Have either or both of you resided in NYC or its environs?  What are your musical influences? 

Emma: I’ve visited NYC but I’ve never lived there. Our influences are very varied.

You released your 9-track debut album in the autumn of 2011.  Was it ever released as a physical CD or just as a download or on 12” vinyl?   Why do you refer to it as a mini-album when it has 9 songs on it?

Emma: It’s very short. Exactly 20 minutes long. Yes, it’s only available digitally or on vinyl.

Wim: Records are so much bigger and better.

I love the cover art for Disease comes in Waves with its pink versus black ‘n’ white color scheme and the juxtaposition of photography and graffiti.  It’s all gritty spray paint art contrasted with the pic of Emma in a sweet babydoll dress.  What was the inspiration for this cover?

Emma: Wim did the cover! I’m glad you like it!

Wim: Our friend Allessandro Bergonzoni took the photo, I remember the gig as a bit of a mad one, Emma was in tears by the end of the night but the energy on stage was electric. The photo was the inspiration really, the record’s really quite heavy and I love the fact that Emma looks so fragile and vulnerable, the bright pink was a happy accident and the black and white prints were inspired by the things you look at when you go see a shrink.

Children of the Revulsion is actually your 4th EP.  You released your debut EP on your own record label, Panda Soup.  Are you still running that label and releasing your music on it and/or other artists’ music?

Emma: I’d love to release other artists on Panda Soup, maybe one day. Until we have some money, it would be easier if someone else put our music out.

I’m taken by the blend of off-kilter art-rock noise, prominent bass lines, and sing-talking to shouty vocals on your debut album.  Emma, I’m especially into “Starglow” where you sound like a hybrid of Kim Gordon and Bjork.  Some of your vocals take me back to the days of the Riot Grrrl movement.  Do you have an affinity for certain Riot Grrrl bands from the 1990s?  I’m partial to Bikini Kill and Jack Off Jill and other bands like Babes In Toyland, Huggy Bear, Skinned Teen, and early Hole that were lumped together even though they weren’t necessarily 100% Riot Grrrl…

Emma: Thank you, I’m glad you like it. “Starglow” is one of my favourites too. Yes, I do feel an affinity with some of the Riot Grrrl bands, I really loved that music as a teenager and yes, it does show through, though I rarely listen to any of those bands nowadays, same with Sonic Youth really.

Wim, I noticed that you sing-talk in an emphatic Johnny Lydon-like style on certain songs like “Baa Baa” from the Gift Horse EP and on “Trees” you and Emma sound like Bjork and Einar Orn from The Sugarcubes days.  Are those bands/artist touchstones for you or am I way off base in thinking you sound like them?

Emma: I like Björk but I only have one of her albums. I’ve never really listened to the Sugarcubes, but I probably should.

Wim: Ha, ‘If I was a poor man I wouldn’t have to pretend that I was punk rock like all my friends’ – that line sums up this question perfectly.

Photo Credit: Alex Pyper

Wim, I noticed you sporting an animal skull necklace in a photo, and Emma, the artwork for your newest EP features you in a helmet with an animal skull on top.  Did you create these pieces yourselves?  Are they for sale by any chance?

Emma: Wim made me the helmet for my birthday. I’m an Aries and I really like sheep and rams. We are currently working with our friend Glo Riggioni of Arterial Designs on a Second Head jewelry line. The cat skull necklace is by Ivory Jar, our friend’s label. Rebecca, who is the wife of our old drummer, Lee, made it specifically for me when I modeled for them.

What’s next for Second Head?  Are you playing gigs now or planning a 2nd album? 

Emma: We’re playing Pagan Pride in Nottingham and the 1234 Festival in Shoreditch again in September, we’re working on new material with new members, seeing where that takes us.

Wim: We’re excited to get using more electronics in the band, whilst we were between members for a while we used a drum machine.

Lastly, where online can we find out more about you?