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Q&A: Head. plays its debut show next weekend

Gage Emmerson of Head.

Detroit-based “neo-alt punk” band Head. plays its debut show next weekend at The Shelter. This is the third year of Home for the Holidays – featuring Boys of Fall, Plainview, Our Vices, and Head.

With already over 8,000 monthly Spotify listeners, the band has created quite a buzz around their two singles, “Spent” and “Chump.”

This September, the music video for “Spent” was released. The song’s catchy punk-rock sound and relatable lyrics make it instantly infectious and easy to fall in love with.

We caught up with vocalist and founding member, Gage Emmerson. He tells us about the start of the band, the inspiration behind it all, and what we can expect from their debut set this weekend.

Take me back to the start of the band! What was it like bringing everyone together to create it? 

I had been working on the core idea for the project since [around] 2019. I didn’t really know what it was going to become or what I wanted it to look like. I was just kind of writing material for myself as an outlet, you know?

At that point in my life, I had kind of lost a lot of my drive to pursue music. But, my producer, [Marc McClusky] really encouraged me to step back into it. It just kind of grew from there, I suppose.

I realized, “Hey, this is what I love. So, I guess I’m gonna go for it.” I went through member changes here and there. [I was] trying to find the right group and ended up with some guys I’m really thankful for. It’s mighty neat having other people on board to help bring the idea to life.

What does your writing process look like? Who do you draw inspiration from lyrically and sonically?
Oh,  the writing process … hahaha. It’s pretty different for each song, honestly. For “Chump,” (the first song I wrote) I had a lyrical and melody idea formed around this bass line I was messing with. The original demo of that track is literally just bass and vocals.
Everything else came together in the studio – it was weird. Like the song just found itself. That’s how a lot of these “year one” tracks were written. I just kind of go about my day with a little skeleton of a tune in my head [and] then try to put some flesh around it.
I try not to “finish” songs before they hit the studio because I find that’s where they really take their shape. There’s about a million different ways any song could go from conception and I’m an over-thinker. I just get the basics of the idea out, then build it up in production.
As for my influences, that varies heavily depending on my mood that day, haha. I was raised on 90s grunge and punk so that “wall of sound feel” really sits in my brain. [This also includes] the dramatic inflection and attitude of a lot of the emo bands in the early 2000s. I like to think of myself as playing a character when I’m writing and performing the tracks.
You note in your bio that one of your goals is to evoke nostalgia. What are some ways you do that musically?

I like to take themes from music that really had a special place in my heart growing up. I don’t really know how to explain that in more detail. It just kind of is what it is to me.

What makes art so interesting to me is how I think most artists are a culmination of everything they see and hear that resonates with them.

[I like] seeing how people’s minds work when they find something they identify with and how they’ll outwardly express it.

On the note of nostalgia, who are some artists and songs that are nostalgic for all of you?

There are FAR too many songs for me to pick specifically, but as far as artists go, the number one is My Chemical Romance. I mean, all of us in the band grew up as metal/punk kids. So, it’s a funny combination.

Metal has always stood out to me because of the theatrical aspect of it. For example, Slipknot is one of my all time favorite artists. I love a good visual accompaniment to the music I’m listening to. It really helps paint the picture of the track, as a whole. I know we’re all into Nirvana, Gorillaz, Beck, The Used, etc.

What was some of the biggest inspiration for the music video for “Spent”?

Honestly, the biggest inspiration for “Spent” was contradicting the ‘vulnerable’ and – at times – “self deprecating” content of the lyrics with scenes of people having fun. I wanted to illustrate what it’s like to be the overthinker in the room. Feeling like the focus is on you when it’s really not at all.

It’s really really weird to me how depression and anxiety can make us self-centered in a way. Personally, I often relate things back to myself – even when they’ve got nothing to do with me. “How does [this] make ME feel?” “What would I do if [this] were happening to ME?”

I don’t like that about myself, but I also know it’s not narcissistic or malicious in nature. I guess I wanted to bring that to life a bit. Things seem easier to understand or less intimidating when you can visualize the concept. Like, “Oh, this is just a part of life sometimes.”

Between “Spent” and “Chump” – what song resonates with you more and why?

I cannot choose! They both stem from a very raw place, so to put one above the other is something I cannot do myself, hahaha.

How are you preparing for your first show in December? In addition to your two songs, what can we expect for your set?

We’ve been busting ass at practice and just trying to get our set as tight as can be. We’re all perfectionists, so it’s been painstaking in the best way possible.

Obviously, the first two singles will be in the mix. But, we’ve also got a handful of tunes that haven’t yet seen the light of day. It’ll be fun to let those out of the box on stage. The live reaction is always different than through recording. We have a couple of stage ideas as well, but I can’t give away too much. It’s still taking shape for me.

What is something that you want fans to get from listening to your work?

Your feelings are valid. You’re safe. Your intrusive thoughts and anxieties aren’t indicative of reality.

You’re loved. You can be yourself. Life is a precious thing. Though the human experience is daunting at times, it yields reward beyond explanation. I’m glad you’re here.

What does the future of the band look like? Is there anything you can tell us about the upcoming year?

To be honest, we don’t know! Hah, we’re still finding our way and the project itself is still taking shape. We have some long-term and short-term goals set, but it’s all kind of a blur right now. We do know that you can expect a steady stream of tunes throughout the season and into the new year!

You can stream both singles on Spotify and follow Head. on Instagram.

Tickets are still available for the third Home for the Holidays next Saturday at The Shelter. You can reach out to the bands for tickets, or purchase them online here.

Curious about what Gage has been listening to lately? Check out our first “Listening with” playlist below.

 Photo by Paul Raymond
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