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The Headmen

Regular readers will probably know that I used to be in a band (“The Headmen”) in the early 1990s. Thanks to Facebook, I’m back in touch with Simon, the singer/songwriter, and we’ve been busy converting all of our old cassette tapes to MP3.

I’m so used to “digital” now that’s it strange to think that all of our studio recordings were done on reel-to-reel magnetic tape. The only time the word “digital” was ever mentioned was when the final studio mixes were sent off on a tiny DAT (Digital Audio Tape) to get pressed onto vinyl.


(L-R: Dave, Matthew, and Simon)

Anyway, back in 1991 we recorded what was going to be the follow-up EP single to the “Reach the Sky” EP — “Bridge to the Stars”. “Reach the Sky” had got good airplay during the summer, even sneaking onto Radio One’s playlists…

reachthesky reachthesky2b

Sadly, “Bridge to the Stars” never got released. Not too long after the tracks got their initial mix, Beaumont Street Studios in Huddersfield was destroyed in a fire and all of our master tapes went up in smoke. The following year we parted company from Positive Records and, a couple of years later, played our final gig as part of Bradford Festival 1994.

Only 3 people were present for that initial mix — Steve Whitfield, our drummer Matthew, and myself. At the end of the evening, Matthew and I walked away with a cassette tape each of the mixes. Within a couple of weeks, I’d lent my copy to someone and never saw it again.

Fortunately, Matthew was a little more careful with his copy and, only 17 years too late, I’m proud to give the EP a semi-official release!

1. Bridge to the Stars

Download:

2. We All Fall Down

Download:

3. Weird

Download:

4. Song 52

Download:

The tracks are also available on Last.FM.

Listening to the tape, it blew away a serious amount of cobwebbage — I had to listen to “We All Fall Down” 3 times before I could even remember playing bass on it!

When we went into the studio, “Song 52″ was a new song to me and one that I really struggled to get to grips with quickly. In the end, Simon had to stand next to a flipchart and guide me through the song whilst I played the (fairly minimal) bassline — “V C 8″ standing for “verse”, “chorus”, and “middle 8″…

The Headmen - Simon Eskriett - studio_01
(Simon’s telling me to play the chorus!)

“We All Fall Down” features some “more cowbell” ;-) The cowbell, which I think was clamped to a chair in the studio, kept coming loose, so I ended up risking life and limb by holding it steady for Matthew to thwack…


(sadly, the cowbell was just out of shot in this photo)

I remember there was even talk about filming a cheesy video for “Bridge to the Stars”, with cardboard cutout spaceships and tinfoil spacesuits.

At the time, both Simon and I worked at the Tesco supermarket in Brighouse and, one lunchtime in the staff canteen, Simon doodled the artwork for the EP. As you can see, I then managed to spill my coffee over half of it!!!

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back

Curiously, the artwork doesn’t mention “We All Fall Down” and I’m guessing “Wish Time” was the official title for “Song 52″?

If you’ve stumbled across this blog post looking for information about “The Headmen”, then here’s some links…

- Flickr photo set
- Last.FM
- Facebook

I mentioned that I used to be the bass player in a band (“The Headmen”) a while ago and it was great to hear that one or two people still listened to our stuff!

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Partly prompted by the fact I’ve been in touch with Simon (vocals/guitar), I’ve converted some of the old recordings into MP3 format and created a “fan” page on Facebook yesterday:
www.facebook.com/pages/The-Headmen/24224123641.

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It’ll soon be 20 years since the band formed (t’was in Oct 1989), so maybe we’ll reform for the anniversary? ;-)

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Just wondering if anyone out there has a HighBeam Research account? If so, is there any chance you could look up the following article for me (pretty please!)…

- A quartet that was just briefly a trio!

…I’ve absolutely no idea why the Huddersfield Examiner would want to reprint a 14 year old photograph of the band I used to be in …unless it was a very slow news day!!!

I can vaguely remember having to jump on the bus to Huddersfield after work (I used to work at the old Tesco supermarket in Brighouse) to have that photograph taken with Simon and Matthew — it was taken in the original Beaumont Street recording studio.

Douglas Thomson (the pop writer for the Examiner) seemed to like us and wrote several flattering articles:

The Headmen - newspaper_03 The Headmen - newspaper_04 The Headmen - newspaper_01

Eeeeek — I’ve been tagged by Brian Kelly, so here’s 5 things you didn’t want to know about me (with lots of links)…

1) For the last 8 months I’ve been raising a farm of mealworms to feed the birds in our garden, and there are several thousand of them wriggling around boxes in our spare bedroom as I type this.  Occasionally some of the mealworm beetles escape (I’ve yet to find out how they’re doing this) and you’ll spot them making a painfully slow bid for freedom across the floor… presumably with the insect equivalent of the theme to “The Great Escape” going through their tiny heads.  The garden birds love eating the mealworms, and it’s incredibly cheap to raise them.

2) I spent Christmas 1994 touring Bangladesh, playing bass guitar in a bhangra band.  Over the course of about 7 weeks, we played around a dozen shows (starting in Dhaka and working our way up to Sylhet).  Lizards, cockroaches, and spiders with bodies the size of your fist were de rigeur in the majority of hotel rooms we stayed in.  We were even filmed playing for a TV show, although someone forgot to bring the backing tape to the studio (we had planned to mime), so we had to feed vocals, guitars and keyboards through one tiny practice amp… it probably sounded like a slightly tuneful 5 minute long fart.  Plus I came out of the make-up room with a face the colour of a ripe orange.

3) Prior to all that, I was the bass player in a band called “The Headmen” during the early 1990s.  We were signed to a local label (Positive Records) and released a demo tape (“The Happy Shoebox”), a single (“Kissed to Pieces”) which got quite a bit of Radio 1 airplay, and a 12″ EP (“Reach the Sky”) — the demo tape was supposed to named “The Magic Shoebox”, which was the name of a shoe shop opposite the “4th Wave Records” shop in Huddersfield.  Most of our studio recordings were engineered by Steve Whitfield, although all of the master tapes were lost when the recording studio was destroyed by a fire.  The highlight (for me at least) was getting to play support for “The Wedding Present“.  If anyone asks nicely, I might even try and convert some of the recordings to MP3 ;-)

headmen1
(from http://www.vinyluk.com/search_result.php?vartist=headmen…)

4) When I was a young spotty lad, I used to do computer game reviews on Pennine Radio‘s “Chips” programme (as in “computer chips”) — I vaguely remember reviewing “Tir Na Nog“, “Atic Atac“, and “Skool Daze“.  I also got to review an early model of the ZX Spectrum+ and “yes”, the keys did fall off when you turned it upside down ;-)

5) I can’t stand touching cotton wool, and the mere thought of any cotton wool touching my teeth sends shivers down my spine.  Fingernails scraping down a blackboard I’m fine with… but not cotton wool!


I think most of the bloggers I know have already been tagged, but here’s who I’m planning to do…

1) my partner Bryony
2) my good friend Iman Moradi
3) the one and only Ben Ostrowsky

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