Eight years ago, a new DIY act , JuiceheaD, was born out of the windy city. With an aggressive, expressive sound, it didn’t take long before the band caught the eyes (and ears) of legendary punk act, The Misfits. While on a whirl-wind tour for with the legendary horror-punk band, we caught up with JuiceheaD to see what the ruckus was all about.
How is this tour treating you, and how is it different from your other tours?
The tour’s been going really well—I guess the only way it’d be different…we’ve kind of already done the same run with The Misfits, but now people are starting to know who we are. That’s what touring is about: getting your name out there, getting your face out there. We have a brand new record out, so we really getting the word out through all our websites and the record label. It’s starting to pick up for up. This JuiceheaD thing is starting to pick up this way.
What’s it like touring specifically with The Misfits, and are there any tips you take from touring with such a legendary band?
Oh absolutely, you learn something from these guys every day. But they’re a lot of fun, we get along with all of them, we’ve known them for years now, so really it’s like getting back together with family every time I see them.
You guys are going to the UK soon on tour? Is this your first international effort? Is there anything you’re looking forward to, curious about?
I’ve been to London before, but I’m curious to see the logistics of an oversea show. How the crowd responds, how they do it over there. I mean the whole thing is going to be brand new to me. I’m looking forward to everything.
You guys music-wise give off an interesting flair—in reviews I always read that you guys have this “old school punk” flair but you’re also wildly yourselves—which is great! What do you think makes it possible that you can keep the spirit that everybody loves about punk, but you can still give classic JuiceheaD?
I don’t know. When I write a song, I just know that it sounds good to me. I don’t try to achieve anything, it just comes naturally. I think that I have a very distinctive voice and a very distinctive way of playing the guitar and I think it all comes together. [When] you have the right musicians playing with you, then you’re going to stand out. I hear that a lot—that’s good stuff. From my point of view, I’ve heard the song so many times and although I love them, I don’t have the outsider’s point of view. It’s hard for me to say where the spark is in JuiceheaD; I just know it’s there and I can’t put my finger on it. But as long as I’m writing music I feel that I’ll be able to achieve the same type of thing.
In your newest album you guys took the liberty of serving up cello and bagpipes. In some reviews, I’m getting people screaming, “That’s not real punk; you don’t do that in punk!” –but I love it! Are we going to see more of that type of innovation from the band?
Reviewers are going to put labels—people are going to put labels on things; labels are way for people to help themselves cope with what they’re listening to. We’re not trying to do anything but be JuiceheaD. So really anybody can say whatever they want, but I think those two songs—“Black Roses”—would not be complete without the cello, and it really makes it a stand out track that can appeal to anybody who likes music. A lot of punk bands can’t achieve that so effortlessly. It wasn’t something that I thought, “Ah, I’m going to write this radio hit!” It happened, and that’s just the song it is. There will never be another “Black Roses.” There might be some songs, if you’ve hear that kind of rival it in certain ways, but I can’t say from one day to the next how I feel when I’m writing. Everything kind of happens sporadic and naturally. The cellos were John Cafiero’s idea originally; he’s got a perfect ear for this stuff, and it worked. And then the bagpipes, you gotta think a little bit outside.
Lastly, one thing I have to congratulate you guys for is your cover art—which is not something that a lot of people pay a lot of focus on, now that we have iTunes and easy downloads and all that. Dying Scene, the online punk community, even featured “How to Sail a Sinking Ship” in their October “Cover of the Week” contest. Where do you find the artists to do these things?
Once again, the people you work with are very, very important! I think we both know that cover art is important. When I was a kid, I used to go to Tower Records and spend two hours—if I was out of ideas I’d just pick up an album ‘cause I liked the album artwork. Eight times out of ten, I actually liked the record, and three out of ten times I actually loved the record. The album art always had a feeling to me; when you listen to album you kind of feel the art too, the colors and how it was all packaged. And like you said, the art is kind of lost these days. But once again, John Cafiero, got a great imagination when it comes to how we can make this the best it is. I kind of came up with a premise for “How to Sail a Sinking Ship” and he contacted Shepard Fairey, who kind of pushed Joe King in our direction, and he nailed it. He did our 45’ and he did our full-length album. It’s actually a two-parter. If you look at the 45” art, it’s from the squid’s point of view and if you look at the album art it’s from the boat’s point of view. The first album was done with David Burrick and he runs a website called Monster Fetish. It was the luck of the draw, but I don’t think there’s a whole lot accidents going on. Everything came together exactly as it meant to be.