So, I understand that Jeff put together Bullethead in 1991, but the band broke up soon afterwards, to be reformed again years later in 2008. Can you tell us the story behind Bullethead’s return to the music scene?
Oh boy, you’re making me sound old. I was one of the founding members of Bullethead while I was in high school along with my brother and two friends. Just coming out of the 80’s I had the arrogant “I’m gonna be a rock star” attitude that was synonymous with the scene at the time. Well, that didn’t happen, and being in a band with my brother, who I love dearly and who can write great lyrics, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I quit before the band’s first and only show live on WBRS in Waltham. The band broke up shortly after that, and Bullethead was no more. I’ve always loved the name and some of the music, and tried several times to reform the group minus my brother — sorry Erik — but was unsuccessful. So it lay dormant. Fast forward to 2007. I was tired of playing acoustic covers in bars, and decided to get off my ass and put a band together. I was playing with a drummer, Mike Dunny, who was still in high school, and we started looking for a bass player and lead guitarist. I found Rodney Tankis playing guitar in a cover band at Pepperoncini’s in Framingham, home of Boston Garage Bands. All we needed now was a bass player… but not just any bass player. I wanted a female bass player. I think there should be more female rockers. I had gotten to know some great female bass players from great local bands like The Ale Marys, Eyewitness and The AndWutz. No luck. Then one night, the girl I was dating turned to me and said, “Teach me how to play the bass.” “You serious?” I asked. “Ya. I wanna learn how to play and I’ll be your bass player.” I lent her my bass, amp and gave her a copy of the demo and left her alone for three nights. I went over to her place a few nights later and she said, “Hey, listen to what I’ve learned.” She picked up the bass and played me three of the songs: “FCC,” “Election” and “About Irene.” Are you kidding me???? She learned to play the bass in 3 days!!!!!!! I love this girl!!!!!! I had my bass player. Bullethead was now back.
The name Bullethead is a reference to an unreleased Van Halen song. I’m wondering, is that track one of your favorite Van Halen tunes, or did the sound of the song’s title just appeal to you?
I’ve always been a huge Van Halen fan. “Jump” was the whole reason I started played music. When we, the original Bullethead, were trying to find a name, as anyone will tell you finding the right name that defines your sound can be harder than trying to find Bin Ladin. I had this live bootleg Van Halen cd with some unreleased tracks on it, and Bullethead spelled “Bullithead” was one of the tracks. I brought it up in practice and everyone liked it. So we decided it was a cool name and no one would think we
were a Van Halen tribute band.
I know that “Election” is one of your most popular songs – can you tell us the story behind what inspired you to write it?
2007 was flooded with more political coverage than I’ve ever seen. It was also the first year I ever voted. I’m a bad American, I know. Everyone had an opinion about who was the best person and why. Celebrities were coming out of the closet, feminists were rallying in the streets and everyone was voicing their opinions every chance they could. Well, you know what they say about opinions — trying to not be influenced by the media or listen to what most of these dopey celebrities say because they think we care about what they think. I remember watching some of the debates, and no one was answering the
questions being asked, no surprise. I just kept thinking, while each candidate was spewing their bullshit answer, ya, that’s great but “why should I vote you”? The line just was stuck in my head and I picked up my guitar and started writing. “Election” is about what I care about and wanted in the coming leader of the greatest country in the world. It’s about being true to yourself and your beliefs, not just following the pack like sheep because it’s the cool, in thing to do. I hate people like that.
What’s your general songwriting process? Is everyone involved?
Our first cd “The Pain of it All” was already written and recorded before the band was formed. It was undecided whether it was going to be a Jeff Royds solo cd originally titled “Doesn’t Play With Others.” After putting a band together to start playing the songs out live, I thought it would be a shitty thing to do to the rest of the band, who work just as hard to learn the songs. I decided to reuse the name Bullethead, make it a real band and give everyone their say. If you listen to us live vs. the cd you’ll notice that some songs sound different. Everyone brings in their own sound and style to the band, and it sounds great. Our next cd will be a collaborative effort by everyone and will have a different sound, but still staying true to what Bullethead is.
You’ve had some personnel changes on lead guitar recently – how are you feeling about how the current band unit works together?
I couldn’t be happier. Not to take away from what Chris, Rodney or Mike brought to the band, but Kim, George, Rob and I just click. When you have the type of
connection that the four of us have, you’ve got something great. We can go into practice with only an idea of a song, and by the end of the night we’ve got four songs done. It’s what being in a band’s all about and it makes it all worth it.
What are your plans for the album you’ll be working on this year?
There will be more collaboration between all of us this year. I’ll bring in the general premise of the songs and we’ll just go with it, vs. handing them a cd with all the songs already completed. It’ll have a slightly different sound naturally — but it’ll be all Bullethead and what makes us who we are.
What artists inspire you, and who would be your dream band to play with?
Jeff: Van Halen, Motley Crue, Foo Fighters, Johnny Cash, Billy Joel, Powerman 5000, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Mozart and Waltham inspire me. My dream band to play with would be the original Bullethead lineup. I never did a live show with them, and I’d like to share the stage one night with my brother.
Rob: Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Foo Fighters, Led Zeppelin. Alice in Chains would be my dream band to play with.
Kim: Blink-182, Green Day, Kill Hannah, Metallica. My dream band would be Blink-182 or Metallica.
George: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Candlebox, Iron Maiden and Van Halen. Dream band to play with is Red Hot Chili Peppers.
What do you enjoy most about playing live?
What’s not to enjoy? It’s a toss-up between sharing the stage with great bands like Drunks Don’t Lie, Clear the Way, Jake and the Jakes and The AndWutz, seeing the crowd reacting to our music, and being a part of something amazing. Walking into an empty room before anyone gets there and looking out at the room – then as the night goes on, seeing the crowd fill, so by the time we take the stage, it’s electric. Feeding off a live crowd’s energy make us play harder. It’s a great feeling. Nothing beats playing live.
What’s your opinion on the current state of the Boston music scene?
It’s an exciting time to be a local band all over Massachusetts, not just Boston. We’ve been very lucky to have made some great contacts with clubs and other bands that have asked us to play shows with them. It’s hard getting a club to call you back, and some of the promoters don’t want to talk to you if you’re not going to bring in 200+ to their event on a Thursday night. The scene is changing, and the up and coming bands need to change with it. The city has a law where you can’t post flyers anymore without fear of you or the club you’re playing getting fined. It takes time to build an audience, and everyone needs to start somewhere. A lot of places don’t want to offer a new unknown band that chance. We have some of the greatest undiscovered talent out there, more than ever before. I feel this will be a big year for the local scene, thanks to Boston Garage Bands Radio bringing attention to more local bands than any other medium out there. I predict you’re going to start hearing more from the Massachusetts music scene than ever before.
Jeff, you founded bostongaragebands.com – tell us about the site and why local bands and music fans should check it out.
If you’re in a local band, love indie music or like hearing new music before anyone, then Boston Garage Bands is the site for you. In addition to the show calendar, the band profiles, podcast interviews and classic arcade, you can now listen to BGB Radio. The first 24/7 online radio station devoted to playing the music of the bands that have been interviewed on the BGB website. It’s free to all and doesn’t require any signing up or special downloads, and it doesn’t come with all the B.S. and advertisements every time you click your mouse. BGB is about the local music scene and not about what Ashton Kutcher’s favorite movie is, like what some of the other sites focus on. All you need is an internet connection and a love for indie rock.”Listen Live! Listen Loud!”
For more info on Bullethead visit: http://www.bostongaragebands.com/htmlfiles/bullethead.html