Head Of David Interview

Interview with Head Of David
by Rock A Rolla Magazine – Issue :May/June 2009

In a year that’s already seen the unlikely return of Faith No More, The Jesus Lizard, Thorr’s Hammer and Goblin, the most surprising reunion is of industrial metal legends Head of David. Back in late 80s/early 90s, the West Midlands outfit ruled the roost, their pummelling Throbbing Gristle meets Suicide meets Sabbath combination setting the blueprint for bands like Godflesh, Fear Factory, Pitchshifter and numerous others. Frontman Stephen R Burroughs, once staunchly opposed to anything in the way of a reunion, finally succumbed, an offer from the folks behind Supersonic Festival too good to pass up and his long-term steadfast refusal eventually transforming into genuine enthusiasm.

“It’s something I swore, personally, that I’d never do” Stephen tells us of the reunion. “I swore I’d never play in this band again, however we got the offer from Supersonic – it was a good offer and it’s been 23 years since the original line up has played together, and we thought that was quite fitting so we decided to do it. Simple as that.”

So was there any particular reason he swore he would ‘never’ do it again after they split in 1991?

“No particular reason, I just went off and did other things. Dave (Cochrane, bass) and Sharp (Paul, drums) continued to play, Eric (Jurenovski, guitars) hasn’t played live – his last gig was with me in America, that was in Houston. I just didn’t wanna do it – I think bands getting back together is highly tasteless to be honest, but I’m joining the ranks of the tasteless (laughter).”

Since the band’s dissolution, the band members have variously gone on to do other things, musical and otherwise, the most high profile of course being Justin Broadrick’s Godflesh, Jesu and numerous other ventures. Dave Cochrane worked with Broadrick on a number of projects including Jesu, God, Ice and the upcoming Grey Machine, as well as The Courtesy Group and Transitional, while Eric, Sharp and Stephen all but retired from music. “I continued to write” Stephen says. “I’ve done a lot of things you see, but nothing that’s surfaced. The last time I recorded was actually last summer for the Alan Vega tribute, the 10” singles on Black First – that’s the first time I’ve been in the studio for years”.

One of the original outfits on the industrial metal scene, the Black Country foursome were operational between 1986 and 1991 with a varying line-up, producing three albums and a handful of EPs on Mute’s Blast First label before calling it quits. Appearing at this year’s Supersonic Festival, which is fast shaping up to be a sort of Dream Comeback Festival this year (see also Thorr’s Hammer and Goblin), 2009 marks the end of an almost two decade hiatus, with the bad appearing in their original 1986 guise.

“That’s the original Head of David” Stephen confirms. “Me on vocals, Eric Jurenovski on guitar, Dave Cochrane on bass and Sharp on drums, and that’s the band that recorded (the band’s 1986 debut EP) Dogbreath.”

And what about Justin Broadrick? Was he considered for the reunion?

“Justin, he’s locked away in his studio in Wales somewhere. We did suggest that he might like to do something with us for this, but he’s a busy man and simply couldn’t come along to rehearse – he’s doing too much studio work so sadly he won’t be involved. The initial idea was to get him involved and I think he was quite keen to do it as well. He played drums when Sharp sadly had to leave – Justin took over and he played on Dustbowl, the second album.”

So how was it playing these songs for the first time in twenty years?

“It was surprisingly good fun actually. It feels very different. The good thing about it is it doesn’t feel like it’s some ‘friends reunited, let’s all be self indulgent and try and live out our past’ kind of thing. It does feel quite relevant because I think with maturity over time, in ourselves, we’ve approached it all differently and it does feel quite fresh and it’s sounding very good. I said initially: let’s rehearse, if it sounds good, if we’ve still got the same sound, we’ll do it. And we plugged in and away we went and it was really quite easy. As I say, it does sound good.” Presumably, though, energy levels aren’t quite the same as when they were all younger? “(laughter)  You’re joking! No…that’s a categorical NO, and I certainly don’t shout with the same nervous energy that I used to”.

Like so many bands that would eventually prove to be influential, during their active phase Head of David were largely acknowledged only by those in the know, remaining underground while bands like Godflesh, and later on Fear Factory (who covered ‘Dog Day Sunrise’ on 1995’s Demanufacture), took this sound to a wider audience. Stephen, for one, is unperturbed by their lack of tangible popularity the first time round, nor was it ever part of the plan.

“It was never a consideration at all, and it’s something I never expected, that we’d be a big band. I do think that we were overlooked but I said at the time, back in 1986, that we’ll be more popular in 30 years time than we’ll be in a year’s time. That happens with a lot of bands, when people re-discover a band. I wasn’t expecting any fame then at all, I didn’t particularly want it either. But yeah, I think with any band it’s recognition they want more than anything, and I think that recognition started to seep through various channels, the ones you just mentioned, the rise of that genre of music, when Ministry mention us in dispatches, and lots of other bands have. So I think that’s brought our name to a few people.”

“But to be honest” he continues, “all we did at the time was we just played what we listened to and liked, we didn’t really think ‘oh, this is industrial metal’. We were certainly conscious, coming from the Black Country, the Midlands, of our heavy metal roots, with Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. But at the same time we didn’t want to be a heavy metal band – we wanted the overwhelming sound of a heavy metal band but at the same time we were listening to Throbbing Gristle, Boyd Rice and all the early industrial stuff, so it’s just a natural seepage of all those influences and that’s where the sound came from. It wasn’t necessarily concocted, it was purely instinctive.”

So with the band revving up for their performance at the upcoming Supersonic Festival in their natural surroundings of Birmingham, UK, the reunited combo are about to make their full comeback, with a swiftly widening plan to resurrect their name for a new (and for that matter old) audience.

“The back catalogue should be reissued later this year, hopefully in time for Supersonic, but I’m not sure when that’s gonna happen. As for recording new stuff, it’s now become apparent that we would like to record something – more of a continuation of what we were doing back then and put-the-record-straight kind of record. That’s what we’d like to do. Something with a bit of feeling. So hopefully we will record, but we’ve got Supersonic in mind, and that’s it at the moment. There have been a few offers already to do other things, and there’s a good chance that we’ll do other things. I can only be as vague as that at that moment”.

Catch Head of David at this year’s Rock A Rolla sponsored Supersonic Festival

To listen to tracks by Head Of David check:

Tickets available from:
24 hr order line – 0844 870 0000 – Calls cost max 5p per min from BT landline


Supersonic Festival meets Home of Metal

There is a strong metal presence at this year’s festival as Supersonic embraces Birmingham’s musical heritage.


Home of Metal is a project that has been raising the profile of the West Midlands region as the birthplace of Heavy Metal, citing Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Napalm Death and Godflesh as key players within this genre who all came out the area.

Festival goers will witness the torturous Japanese ‘funeral doom’ band Corrupted who have embraced their heavy metal influence while twisting the genre to a parallel universe where guttural roars follow extensive harp pieces and atmospheric doom accompanies all out head banging sludge. It is fitting that the first UK show for this now cult band will be in the place where Black Sabbath originally discovered their dark ominous sound which still resonates in the haunting heaviness of Corrupted.

The reformation of Head of David is another reminder of the diverse interpretations that can be born out of Heavy Metal. This Black Country band were one of the first industrial metal bands, the tempo is slowed down and distorted. They create a heavy haze that subsequently poured into the sounds of Godflesh and Ministry.

Ex Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris will be playing the festival as industrial dub act Scorn. The sounds of Scorn take those dark, heavy sounds of Heavy Metal and strip them bare, creating a uniquely mucky minimal sound.

The influence of West Midlands’ Heavy Metal can be made out through the thrashing and pummelling of Kylie Minoise. His hectic bursts of noise a reminder of the early Napalm Death tracks that pound into submission. Kylie Minoise’s reinterpretation of the one second long Napalm Death track ‘You Suffer’ was released in 2007 – it’s over an hour long.

Other Heavy Metal influenced performances at Supersonic 2009 will include grunge doom from Thorr’s Hammer, thrashcore from The Accused, power grind from Iron Lung and a wealth of bands embracing dark, psychedelic and experimental sounds – whether they linger gloomily for eternity or smash into you briefly as a burst of noise.

In addition to these crushing sounds, a number of Home of Metal events will be taking place over the weekend. Catch Kerrang! Radio DJ Johnny Doom in discussion with Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley of Sunn0))), discussing the influence of West Midlands’ Heavy Metal. Dr Niall Scott of the University of Central Lancashire will be lecturing on the ‘monstrous male figure’ with Heavy Metal and their will be a screening of the Vice film ‘True Norwegian Black Metal’.

Tickets – Weekend tickets – £70 / Friday Ticket – £15 / Saturday Ticket – £35 /Sunday Ticket – £35

available from: www.theticketsellers.co.uk
24 hr order line – 0844 870 0000 – Calls cost max 5p per min from BT landline

Also available from
Polar Bear + Swordfish – Birmingham
Rough Trade East – London
Plugd Records – Cork


Marnie Stern confirmed to play Supersonic Festival

We’re delighted to confirm that MARNIE STERN will be performing at this years Supersonic Festival in July  – New York native Marnie is described as a Guitar Hero showdown between Don Caballero, Hella and … Van Halen

Confirmed line up:
Friday: Army Of Flying Robots / Atomized / Drum Eyes / Kylie Minoise / PCM / Scorn / Taint / Venetian Snares

Saturday: Bobby Previte / Corrupted / Diaganol / Flower/Corsano Duo / Growing / Iron Lung / Kim Hiorthoy / Light Trap / Marnie Stern / Master Musicians Of Bukkake / Monotonix / Nisenenmondai / Remember Remember / Rose Kemp / Skullflower / Tartufi / The Accused / Thought Forms / Thorr’s Hammer / Tweak Bird / Zu

Sunday: 65 Days Of Static / Arbouretum / Caribou / Chris Herbert / Earthless / Goblin / Head Of David / Jarboe / Khyam Allami  / Nancy Wallace / Pontiak / Pram / Pre / Theo / The Memory Band / ZzZ

Tickets available from https://www.theticketsellers.co.uk
24 hr order line – 0844 870 0000 – Calls cost max 5p per min from BT landline


Rock-a-Rolla interview: Thorr’s Hammer Return!


Rock A Rolla – May/June 2009

Thorr’s Hammer, the cult doom outfit featuring Sunn0))) duo Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, have reformed for a very special performance at this year’s Supersonic Festival in Birmingham, UK. The band, active for a total of 6 weeks in 1994/1995, produced an EP and a demo, and disbanded once vocalist Runhild Gammelsæter aka Ozma, returned to her native Norway, ensuring their cult status and remaining the stuff of legend – until now. Runhild fills us in on underground metal’s unlikeliest comebacks.

How did this reunion happen?
We have talked about doing a reunion on and off for the last 10 years. Earlier I was negative, as I didn’t like new versions of bands who did ‘reunions’ years after. Sometimes the imaginary, epic memory of an old band can be disturbed by waking it back up to life – and the once handsome musicians are now old and wrinkly. But I am older now, and a bit more flexible in my thinking, and perhaps more nostalgic. Last year, Stephen brought up the reunion idea and all of us felt it was a good idea, that it, most of all, would be fun to play together again. Stephen really likes Supersonic festival and approached them about it. So it’s not like we had offers to play for big money or anything. Actually, I would like to point out that we are making no money on this.

It’s almost the same line-up: yourself, Stephen, Greg, Jamie Sykes and Guy Pinhas. What happened to original bassist James Hale?
Frankly, I don’t know. I lost touch with him when I left the states.

Why, do you think, given such a short lifespan and hardly any recordings, did the band go on to be such cult favourites amongst the extreme metal underground?

Four things. One: the music is quite good, if I may say so. Our stuff was different from other metal bands then and I can’t think of another band with the same sound since. I don’t believe we would be cult today if people didn’t enjoy the music. Two: a small teenage girl with very long blonde hair growling like a man is very noticeable amongst the bands composed of dudes in black t-shirts. Three: being in the right place at the right time. TH is a child of its time, and a cross-cultural band. We made a new mix of different genres: grungy doom, which was born in Seattle at the time by bands like Earth and Tad, together with Norwegian vocals about Vikings, which was used by the Norwegian black metal bands. To sum it up, we were into Norwegian black metal, from all parts of the world, and lived in Seattle when grunge and doom were born. Four: Steve and Greg went on to become big rock stars with Sunn0))), so people started looking into their other projects. That being said, the surprising thing for me is that the record has sold evenly through all these years. It hasn’t sold a lot, but we keep selling copies after 15 years, without any promotion or touring, which I think is quite rare. I am very grateful to the people who like our music and have kept the word of mouth of TH alive for all these years.

Are you planning to do anything more after Supersonic? Any new music maybe?

We might make some new music, I don’t know yet. TH is friends having fun; we’ll do whatever we like. But we will never be a tight band doing tours. Our jobs and other projects don’t allow it, and TH is and always will be old school and low key. I like that we are cult, it makes me proud.

Thorr’s Hammer play Supersonic Festival on Saturday 25th of July alongside Corrupted, The Accused, Iron Lung, Monotonix, Skullflower and many more
Tickets: https://www.theticketsellers.co.uk
24 hr order line – 0844 870 0000 – Calls cost max 5p per min from BT landline


Tonight: Sing Hallelujah Reverend Billy is coming!

Sing Hallelujah Reverend Billy is coming!

Friday 29th May, 5.30 – 6.30pm – FREE
Outside Ikon, Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2HS

Suffering from shopping overload? Concerned about a world rife with global advertising, multi-national control, global warming, packaging and supermarket domination in a profit driven and dirty world? Help is at hand! Reverend Billy and his Gospel Choir of Life After Shopping are coming to Birmingham as part of his ‘UK Shopocalypse Tour’.

Reverend Billy, the infamous New-York based performance artist and activist who is banned from every Starbucks in the US, makes his only Midlands appearance. This event is presented as a collaboration between Ikon and Fierce! Festivals year round programme.


Sublime indeed

omar_1A massive thanks to all of you that turned out to see Omar Souleyman + Group Doueh last week as part of the Sublime Frequencies tour, it has to be one of our favorite shows of the year and I was particularly enjoying the fact that so many of us non dancing types were unable to stop ourselves shimmying – the music was just so infectious.
I urge anyone who gets the chance to try and catch the tour:

Wed 27 MANCHESTER, MINT LOUNGE (Promoted by Faktion)
9pm-1am / £8 adv/£10 door (£9 NUS concession on door only) / 0161 839 8008 / www.boomkat.com / www.faktionmcr.blogspot.com
8pm-11pm / £10/£8 concessions / 01603 660352 / www.norwichartscentre.co.uk
Fri 29 LONDON, TUFNELL PARK DOME (Promoted by Upset The Rhythm)
8pm-2am / £10 / www.wegottickets.com / www.upsettherhythm.co.uk
Sat 30 CAMBRIDGE, UNITARIAN CHURCH (Note – change of venue)
7pm-11pm / £10 adv / www.fadedwords.co.uk / www.palimpsest-festival.co.uk

A huge well done to Qu Junktions for putting the tour together and bring these guys over to the UK, it was very much appreciated and well worth all your hard work planning!


Even more bands confirmed for Supersonic!!!

super_eflyer_09We are delighted to add a few more extraordinary acts to perform at this years Supersonic Festival, including Japanese all girl band NISSENMONDAI, a 10 piece collaborative project in the form of DRUMIZE (feat. DJ SCOTCH EGG + ex members of the BOREDOMS + TRENCHER), TWEAK BIRD a brother duo who produce heavy experimental prog and psych-infused rock (a definite one for fans of the MELVINS), LIGHT TRAP which is the latest project of Nicholas Bullen (original member of Napalm Death + Scorn) in collaboration with none other than Johnny Doom and the drummer from Una Corda.

Full line up:
Head Of David (first show in 23 years) / 65 Days of Static / The Accused / Arbouretum / Atomized/ Bobby Previte / Caribou / Corrupted / Chris Herbert / Diagonal /Drumize /  Earthless /Flower  Corsano Duo / Goblin / Growing / Iron Lung / Jarboe / Khyam Allami / Kim Hiorthøy / Kylie Minoise / Light Trap / Master Musicians Of Bukkake/ Monotonix / Nancy Wallace / Nissenmondai / Pontiak / Pram / PRE / Remember Remember/ Rose Kemp/ Scorn / Skullflower/  Taint / Theo / Thorr‚s Hammer / Tweak Bird / Venetian Snares / Zu / ZzZ

Tickets – Weekend tickets – £70 / Friday Ticket – £15 / Saturday Ticket – £35 /Sunday Ticket – £35

available from: www.theticketsellers.co.uk
24 hr order line – 0844 870 0000 – Calls cost max 5p per min from BT landline


The Paragon Hotel has already sold out over the weekend of Supersonic, as such we have just negotiated an additional deal with Nite Nite hotel, which is conviently located in Birmingham city centre and in walking distance or short cab ride away from the Custard Factory. We suggest booking this asap as they only have a limited number of rooms available.

Nite Nite
(20 mins walk from the Custard Factory, It’s just a 5 minute walk from New Street Station)
Quote ‘super09’  for room  – Tel: 08458 90 90 99
rate £39.95 per night (Double room only) with WIFI
offer available until 19/07/09

For a really cheap deal we recommend the ETAP
1 Great Colmore Street, Birmingham, B15 2AP
T : +44 (0) 121 622 7575

1.5 mi – about 30 mins walk

£38/45 per room per night – includes 1 single bed & 1 double bed in each room 1-3 people per room – BARGAIN!!! works out £13 each per night. Rooms book up very quickly! £2.95 for a continental breakfast. Approx 150 rooms available.
They have free parking if you’re driving to Birmingham.

Also worth checking out Late Rooms