Joshua Corum of Head With Wings shouts really loudly to give us the answers to our questions as he’s all the way over in the United States…
We’re from Connecticut, U.S. Currently, Brandon and I reside in Meriden, CT, which is about 20 minutes north of New Haven. Much of our debut album was recorded in Wallingford and Bethany and we held rehearsal space in New Haven for 6 years. We just recently moved out of New Haven and are looking for the next ideal place to work.
How did you meet?
The way I see it, fate brought Brandon and I together. This part of our story actually runs parallel with how I met my wife in 2007, but for now, I’ll keep it about Brandon. I remember this moment vividly because it involves two people that mean so much to me. After just becoming acquainted with my future wife Tricia, on our first day of hanging out at school together (knowing nothing about each other), I told her that I was a “singer” and she responds by saying that I should meet her friend Brandon who was a “really good guitarist.” Naturally, this was off-putting because I was attracted to her and the first thing she brings up is another guy that I should meet (I later found out they dated briefly in middle school). So, for some time, I wanted nothing to do with Brandon and when I heard that he might be joining the military, I was all for it. The first time I met him in Tricia’s dorm room, I insisted that he join just to get him away from us.
How long have you been playing as a band?
Now that you know that Brandon and I met in 2007, it took until some time in early 2009 or so before we would start to jam together. I was still finding my way on guitar and Brandon was playing keys at the time (although he’s played guitar since childhood). I mark 2009 as the initial phase of Head with Wings and this was short lived. Brandon went “his own way” for a few years but ultimately came back in full force in late 2011. I had just done an album with Frank Sacramone (Earthside) called Burning Sideways, Feet of Clay and Brandon was a fan of that work. With Frank as producer, Brandon and I on guitars, me on vocals, Joe Elliott on bass and Andrew Testa on drums, this was the conception of the Head with Wings sound as we know it. We wrote and recorded the Living with the Loss EP over 6 months in 2012 and that really helped solidify a working philosophy for us.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
Our band name comes from the song “A Head with Wings,” by the great 90s “low rock” band Morphine. Morphine was a band that dwelled on the darker side of life, but in doing so, helped a lot of people understand their own pain. We’re not so much connected to them musically, but more so lyrically or thematically. We hope that people perceive the band name as a statement on having the willpower to be above the things that hold you down in life.
What are your influences?
On guitar, my influences would be Jonny Greenwood, Steven Wilson, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Billy Howerdel and Omar Rodriguez Lopez to name a few. Brandon lists me (I swear I didn’t put him up to that), Steven Wilson, Tosin Abasi and Tony Iommi. Vocally, my list is extensive because I try to incorporate as much warranted influence into my musical DNA as possible while still having my own identity; Maynard James Keenan, Steven Wilson, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Serj Tankian, Chino Moreno and Ian Kenny to name a few.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
Our music is dictated by a consistent philosophy that governs the work. Brandon and I created our own rules and set the parameters by which the music comes to fruition, then oftentimes, Frank and Jamie will step in and help cross check the work, because they too believe in the philosophy of how Head with Wings functions in modern music. When you work on one band long enough and with the same producers for so long, just like any great film director would, you learn what’s in your wheelhouse and how to play that up to full effect. The types of themes that you dwell on and the different ways you can portray them. The options can truly be limitless but that doesn’t mean they’re all worth pursuing. Having an idea filtration system is important.
Aside from the band’s infrastructure, of course at the end of the day, what truly matters is how it sounds and does it have the potential to resonate with people? I’d be lying if I told you that I have the proof of that right now in a global sense, but what I can tell you is that we work with people who’ve made it their job to make sure that we put forth music that best portrays our artistic potential by any means necessary. I’m also very proud of the fact that we have such a large sound with a relatively minimalist setup. From the production perspective on the upcoming album, Frank’s intention was to merge the live band sound with an atmospheric studio effects sound. For guitars, Frank printed a lot of effects and pedals while recording with different stereo amp setups. Nothing was programmed. We’re very happy with how this translated.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
On our very first work, Living with the Loss, we focused on loss as the overarching theme and how that related to loss of innocence, childhood, family and friends. Each song focused on one particular area of loss, with some crossover. With From Worry To Shame, we set out to tackle loss once again, but this time, as just one element. The current work tackles loss, grief, despair, longing, hope and pretty much any other melancholic theme you can imagine. We’re proud that the album can function as a concept piece but can also be analyzed on the basis of individual songs, because they zero in on unique chapters of our protagonist’s life that have varying degrees of color and emotions. Our debut album can really be seen as an evolution of the EP but going way further down the rabbit hole.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Since 2012, Head with Wings has played around 75 or 80 shows. We’re now entering a new phase of the band, as Brandon and I are rebuilding the ensemble to a certain degree. In the past, our set featured me on guitar and vocals, Brandon on guitar, Joe Elliott on bass and Andrew Testa on drums. This year, I’ll be exclusively singing, with another guitar player handling my parts from the album. Our electric sets have been described as moody, atmospheric, intense and demanding of your attention. You can’t have a conversation with your friends during our set because our sound takes over the room. The stage really brings out a different character in me and I handle it like an actor would. In each song, I’m portraying a slightly different role, oftentimes in a different mindset. The real test is if you can maintain your identity as a vocalist through this process. As a performer, it doesn’t get much better because the set is always fresh and you have to put your best foot forward each and every time. Brandon and I occasionally perform as an acoustic duo, which has even more of an intimate vibe and features unreleased songs and alternate arrangements.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
When I was 17 at the Ozzfest that System of a Down headlined in Hartford, CT, a woman on the lawn blew a line of coke off of a credit card and offered me oral sex.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
Since Brandon and I are both guitar players, I’ll just stick to this portion of the question. I write pretty much everything on my Gibson J-45 Acoustic. It’s been my most prized possession since my good friend Paul Oneto (The Social Anxiety) sold it to me in 2010. It’s been played on all of our recordings that have called for acoustic guitar. I currently play an Ibanez S Series electric guitar through of a Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb. Brandon plays a 7 string PRS SE SVN and a 6 string Schecter Diamond Series C1 Elite through the combination of a Fender Supersonic head with a Mesa 2×12 cab and a Mesa Triple Rectifier head with a Marshall 2×12 cab.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
Our first single and music video “Goodbye Sky” was just released! The video is streaming on our YouTube channel and the single can be purchased through iTunes or bandcamp, and of course, streamed on Spotify. “Goodbye Sky” is the first single from our debut album From Worry To Shame. I believe that the song covers a large emotional territory and has the potential to entertain old school rock fans and those looking for something modern and progressive. As of now, we’re releasing the album independently on June 1, 2018. Digital/CD pre-orders and digital pre-saves are up for the album at bandcamp and Spotify. There is another single and video on the horizon as well!
What are your plans for 2018?
We’re on a quest to make sure that as many people get the opportunity to hear our music as possible. At the very least, this will serve justice for those that have worked so hard for many years to get this album completed and off the ground. We’re considering the logistics of touring on From Worry To Shame but it’s to be determined where. When we do, we’ll make sure that you know about it!
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
This is a great question and a welcome opportunity to plug some of our peers! The bill would be Black River Union first, Head with Wings second and Earthside third. Black River Union is a piano/guitar driven alternative progressive band from CT that we love to gig with. There’s even talk of working with a few of their members in the Head with Wings live ensemble this year. Earthside is a band whose music and ambition really moves us. These guys are driven by an insatiable musical curiosity that is a lifelong journey. We’re very thankful that their fans have been embracing us and you can bet that we would tour with them if the opportunity came up.
From previous Band of the Day Stone Theory: What do you think of the relation between social media and being a band in this day and age?
Hello Stone Theory! I felt a shift happen in real time. There are certain expectations of musicians now, that have grown out of the human attachment to social media. In the past, it was welcomed if a band had a sense of mysticism. The sense of wonder came from the feeling that you’d never truly know this person and you could only hope to one day meet them. If you’re coming out as a band in 2018, the boundaries are perceived as different.
I was a fan of music before I ever played music. I’m also a consumer of music and have been for a long time now. I’ve sold music as a sales associate at FYE, I’ve created music and have been tasked with selling said music. These are all different experiences and I try to compartmentalise them and take it for what it is. Working retail for many years kind of spoiled my own sense of mysticism, as you’re forced to engage with many different people every day and many of the interactions can be less than desirable and emotionally draining. When you repeat this monotonous experience so many times, you begin to forget that there are really people out there that might not take you for granted.
So as an artist, if you’re so fortunate to have fans in this day and age, you have to make a choice between engaging a conversation or ignoring it. At this point, I couldn’t really fathom anyone looking at me with that classic sense of wonder, even if they really loved my music. All in all, I look at it like, if I have the time to talk with someone and it’s about music, I absolutely will. I’ve had many conversations that were much less interesting than that in my life thus far but it can’t be at the expense of being productive.
From another BotD, Vanity: If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
Hello Vanity! If I were to go back in time, I would tell my younger self to never expect more of anyone than they do of themselves.
And from Regulus: What’s your pre-show ritual or what’s the weirdest you’ve heard of?
Hello Regulus! Our pre-show ritual is usually to “partake” in drinking “some” Jameson Irish Whiskey. I’m looking at you, John Wesley!