Nik RAEL, Steve PETRONE - Interview - July 21th 2008
Central Park / New York
Well, it sort of chose us, we had a group called Fish HeadSoup for a while, and there's a lot of other bands called fish this and fish that, School of Fish, so we decided to just trim it down and go Headsoup. It all started because a friend of mine used to tell a story about having fish head soup for dinner, when he was poor as a kid. We would always laugh about him, about eating fish head soup and that's how it all started, now we get rid of the fish and now it's Headsoup.
Three words which can symbolize Headsoup... (looking at Steve)
you've got one ?
Steve : (laughing) no.
Nik : I would say, freedom, roots and soul.
Oh influences... go back to..of course it was the Beatles, prior
to that probably Jimi Hendrix Experience and the Faces with
Rod Stewart years ago...also the Rolling Stones, I listen to
a lot of Ray Charles music, a lot of rock and soul.
Nik : Yeah rock'n'roll, I emphasize the roll part of it. I really like the music which came out of the late 50's and 60's and 70's because I think it had a swing to it, a lot of rock'n'roll, a lot of rock music today doesn't have, and it seems the main place you find that swing and feel is in blues today in some jazz and that's one of the elements that I think is really missing from most of rock music today, that feel, that soul, you know, in the rhythm of it. I was raised on rock'n'roll music and a lot of soul music, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, lot of blues and jazz but what we do is pop, so you just add that to it.
What makes the success of a band. Boy ! if we had the answer to that
Steve : Well, my answer to that always is the songs. Of course you
could have great songs, they may or may not be appealing to everyone
but if you have great songs that are appealing to the masses, then
I would say that makes you a success.
Nik : it is a cliché to say that it's all about the music, and that's really what we're about. To us success is a good show, a great song, to perform in touching people with our music, there's a lot of people that have been really moved by our songs and really tell us about it, and tell us, you know that it's been an important part of their life. To be able to write a song, the words, the melody whatever it is and have it means so much to somebody - that is success, as a songwriter, as a musician, you know, and there is a lot of other forms of success - money and fame, but, and those will help you along, but before you can have any of that, if it's gonna last, you have to have quality and the depth of the music...and feel connected with somebody.
Here it is. (holding up a copy of the disc) We're very proud of it. It was produced by my good friend, and Steve's good friend John Platania , who is not with us today, he is, I am sure most people are familiar with Van Morrisson, and all his great bands and John Platania played with most of those bands and recorded particularly Moondance, that record, that's John Platania and a lot of his bands, and he produced this for us and played all the guitar on it, he is a lead guitar and it's been a wonderful, I mean talk about success, this is success for us, because this is a record that everybody who has been involved with can be proud of, and so, as an artist you make something that you can work on and look at.... we're really proud of it, that's success, that's what this record is, it sort of sounds like a Van Morrison album record too, it's sort of soul, folk, good rhythm, maybe a bit of blues in there...
Nik to Steve : You have a favourite one ?
Steve : My favourite ? I must say "Thank you".
Nik : Most people like "Thank you" a lot, it's definitely a favourite, it's one we perform a lot. When I listen to this (looking at the disc) I really like "Worlds Fade Away", it's the last song and particularly John took that song, I've written it and it was done and I gave it to him and he came back to me, he was very nice about it and he said : "Nik, I have an idea for your song I want to see if you like it, I've changed it a little, let's see if you like it". He was real polite about it, you know, he is this great producer, and I listened to it, he put a couple touches to it, that really just made it wonderful, and then he also played a special guitar, he plays a special guitar he plays with an Ebow which is this device that mimics the bow like on a violin string makes this real sort of whiny sound almost like you are bowing a guitar, it gives a kind of spooky sound and that song has a great atmosphere to listen to it, to hear... it's fabulous.
I like to work with other people, you know, what I like to do is to look at some ideas somebody has, just a chord, a baseline or a riff and then I try to sing along with it and some words just start popping out and after they come out, I look to see if they mean anything and then I'll sort of nudge it along, the song sometime writes itself in that way. I don't think of a concept first, I just let some things come out, but I like to have other people involved you know, because it just gives the extra energy and most of these songs (looking at the CD cover) were co-written with guys who don't even write a lot of songs, just whatever other musicians I'm around,I turn them into songwriters (laughing). It's terrible...
Steve : Well, I think the smaller clubs and stages are a little more
intimating, you feel closer to the audience, you can feel the reaction
a little better than you can in a very large place, but either ways it's
great, I mean when it's a good crowd and it's a good size crowd it's
always an extra, feeling the excitement that you get.....
so either way is good but I tend to like the smaller ones better
personally, probably because I grew up playing in small clubs, that's
really where my heart is.
Nik : The big shows are very exciting but you almost don't even remember them, you play them and there's so much energy and then if you watch it back, wouah okay that was great, but much more often we play in smaller clubs, I'm very comfortable in doing that, you know, I love singing and playing songs for people, anybody... you gotta have to stop me... I'll stand out on the street playing (laughing).
That "is" the job, that's a million dollar question, it's the hardest thing to do because
I think most musicians are born crazy about music. I mean, I know for time, I was a little,
little kid I used to hate looking at the Beatles records I wanted to be a Beatles, you know,
but at the same time I always wanted a family, everybody I think needs and wants that sort of
a family and it's a hard thing to make work, I think everybody does it differently.
Steve : Yeah, having the support of your family is really critical, having someone behind you, who believes in what you do and wants to let you do it and wants you to do it, this and that, and take on the other roles that have to be taken on your family wants you to succeed, so that's kind of critical too but it's not always essential, it could be done either way, we're always up.
Nik : Yeah you always up, and sometimes the musician who tends to get exciting about his work, you know, need someone there to keep the feet on the ground. I know that's what my family does for me. You know I'm not a rock star when I'm at home, that's for sure (laughing).
Nik : I do.
AM : Do they play music ?
Nik : Well my daughter has just started to sing now and she's quite talented. So she used to talk about being a lawyer now she talks about singing, and I say oh well (laughing) ! I can't help but support her because she's got lot of talent.
Steve : I'm a bicycle rider. I like to ride bikes and I'm very into auto
races, an auto racing enthusiast so I watch Nascar races, any kind of
auto races or motor races.
Nik : Here we go. I'm a baseball freak. I love, I follow baseball and I'm really interested in politics, I read a lot about politics, I just find it fascinating you know. In America politics is almost like an entertainment you know, we're just obsessed with it day after day, I read about thirty column articles a day, it's just something I'm very interested in. That's about it. And music is...
Steve : listening to people.
Nik : Yeah.
Nik : Prefer as to what ? Just in general : past, present or future. Well,
if you put it that way, I say present. One thing about this band is that we
live for spontaneity, for things that happen that we don't expect, and that
can only happen when your mind is in the present, you know what I mean,
so we'll have a rehearsal and work things out but we'll get on the gig
the music can go all different places and you let it go because that's
spontaneity in the present you can
pull miracles out of there, but in terms of rock music I tend to prefer a lot
of stuff from the past I gotta say (laughing). I don't just want that to be the
official line, you know, but it's true, I have a special affinity for the sixties.
Steve : Yeh...I think music is living at the moment for everyone.
Nik : It is...really is...
Steve : For the people who make it, the composer, the people who listen. The people who are listening to a song really understanding or relating to that song they are living in the moment right now.....
Nik : Absolutely, you know what happens, you may have a song that you've played so many times, I mean any artist whether if it's their own song or a song that you like to play, and when you are sitting around the house you may not be interested in playing it but if there is one person in that club and they're listening and they're loving that song then you're playing it like it's the first time. It's no longer old path for you, because you are channelling that person's love for that song through you and you gonna do that song as best as you can because you know they are enjoying it, and in that way you keep coming back to the great songs because people love them and because they're great, and so I would hope that in this life time I would add a couple of great songs, to the list of great songs you know and I would be proud to have a couple of songs that people like to play after I'm gone.