-Interview- Giant Head Collective (11/4/21)

Giant Head Collective talks about the current Rock music scene, upcoming plans and much more.


From: Scotland/USA
Sounds like: Rock

1. How did you get started with music and how did you develop your sound? Who thought of the name “Giant Head Collective" and is there any meaning behind it?

I have been playing guitar since I was 16 and have been really fascinated by studio craft since I got my first 4 track recorder. The ability to laydown layers of instrumentation just opened up my mind to where songs could go. We are restricted by the amount of chord progressions available and the fact that we are 60 years into electric music where just about anything you can come up with will have been done before. The only thing you can do to create a unique song is give a chord progression a different feel through timing and instrumentation etc. Even then you are restricted by what the modern listener is acclimatised to.

For years I have always loved the 50’s and 60’s kitsch Tiki vibe. Then around the early 2000’s John Hiatt released his album “The Tiki Bar Is Open” and it blew me away. I always loved his songs, but on that album, he was back with the Gonners and they were all at the top of their game. From there I started collecting Tiki heads and Moai. I just loved the simplicity of the Moai from Easter Island, its like looking at Mustang vs a Model T. Pretty soon Moai are all around the house.

When I was helping other artists record their demo’s and there was a constant flow of musicians in my home studio during downtime, they would ask to hear what I was writing. Suddenly they’d say. I can do X on that and quite a few songs were taken from ideas to finished songs. Some songs ended upon with the artist that took the idea and ran with it, others were kept for GHC. Some released, quite a few are still there to be recorded and put out. When it came time to put out the songs, I was scratching my head on what to call it. At that time, it wasn’t a band, it was music created by a group of musicians who passed through the studio. I looked around at all these Moai and saw a collection of giant heads, so the name Giant Head Collective came from there. I would like to point out that it’s not in reference to inflated egos!

2. What do you want people to take away from your music?

I honestly want our music to become a soundtrack to peoples lives. I want our songs to pick them up when they are feeling down, or comfort them when they feel lonely. Or just remind them of a great night.

3. How would you describe your sound to the average listener?

Music is like a great food. There are certain elements that make the dish what it is, but it’s varying the ingredients that make it taste so good. In a nutshell I’d say Rock. But its so much more than that. Ingredient wise take some Tom Petty and mix it with a bit of ZZ Top, add a dash of John Hiatt a pinch of Big Country and a slight garnishing of New Order. Mix it up and depending of the feel of the song, certain ingredients will rise to prominence.

4. Who are three bands you’d like to tour with?

Of all time, Tom Petty, ZZ Top and The Dirty Knobs.

5. How has Covid affected what you do as a band?

When it hit, we were in the writing phase, so thankfully we didn’t have gigs to cancel. That said everything had to be done remotely. I was writing songs and sending them to Grant Barbour to see what he thought. Some he would pick up on right away and within’ days I’d have these wonderful vocal takes back and they just nailed what I had in my head. Some of the songs were a different flavour and not being able to sit in the one room and write makes it hard to get the idea across. I knew they were good. Definitely filling the missing sound that I have been trying to achieve and that forced me to look further afield to find a collaborator. In doing that I came across Scott Mulhearn of The Righteous Saints in Jackson, Tennessee. I instantly loved his voice, it had that sound, that Southern Rock/Country style that only someone from the States can do with authenticity. Ironically, he caught Covid a few weeks past and we are still waiting on his voice to get back to its peak before we can finish the last two tracks on the album. As soon as they are done, we will be unleashing Pandora’s Box on the world.

6. What’s your take on the current state of Rock?

It's sill there, but the most interesting stuff I have heard is all from independent artists rather than from the big stars. It's hard to listen to the big Rock radio stations in the UK because all they play is same songs by the same artists. It’s like the programmer bought a top 100 rock song CD at a petrol (gas) station and put it on repeat. There are 1000’s of great independent artists out there, some might only have one hit, others might have an album full. The only way to make music relevant again is to unblock the system. Let’s get back to it being all about the song and if that song is 5.45 minutes long then so be it. If a band has a great song get it out there, let them be heard. I’m sure the public could survive without hearing Sweet Child of Mine or Sweet Home Alabama for one day. In fact, let’s turn the tables. Programming should all be about new songs being played, instead of new music hour, just make it classic rock hour. 90% of the public don’t actively seek out new music, they don’t hunt don’t blogs or playlists. They consume what they are fed and a no matter how great pizza is, every day for 40 years is enough to put you off pizza.

7. What’s the current music scene like there locally?

Glasgow has a great music scene, there is a lot of talent and great venues that are just starting to open back up. We are also lucky enough to have a few great local radio stations that really try support the independent artist.

8. What’s your take on the royalties that streaming services pay out to artists?

It’s really poor. The amount of time, effort and expense that goes into creating music see’s a return that most artists realise as a loss. Unfortunately, the music industry has been incorporated into the entertainment and social media industry so the big artists see music as incidental to their revenue streams because they earn more through just being a celebrity. When you whittle that down to small independent artists the don’t earn anywhere near enough to cover their expenses let alone invest in their future or even eat. As a result, they have to work day jobs just to survive and then find time to create music. These restrictions can affect the volume and quality an artist over time. I think streaming royalties should be scaled where the first 10,000 plays get a rate of X, then 100K Y and so on. It still won’t make music profitable for independent artists but it will help keep them motivated.

9. What’s next for Giant Head Collective?

We are already planning gigs for next year. It would be awesome to be able to bring Scott over to play with us on some of the dates. In addition, I will be doing some writing and guitar playing for the Righteous Saints. It’s looking to be to be a good year.

10. Any shoutouts?

A huge thanks to our producer Stuart McCredie who constantly gave us advice during the remote recording and did a fantastic job of mixing and mastering our tracks. To our families who had to listen to take after take, something that they are usually sheltered from when we are working in the studio. At one point we were going to call the album “Well, At Least My Wife Likes It”. Finally, to our friends and supporters, it’s because they enjoy what we do that keeps us going, Thank You so much!