WHEN THREE OF EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS OPEN FOR THEMSELVES YOU GET HEADLINE MANIAC AND AN IDIOT ME
Roger Berzerk Fauske
You know what it's like... sometimes the only way to get something done right is to do it yourself.
When the original Hot Rods line-up reunited for a series of 40th anniversary shows in mid-2015, current and long serving Hot Rods Ian "Dipster" Dean (bass/lead vocals), Chris Taylor (guitar/vocals) and Simon Bowley (drums/vocals), put a band together to open for them, basing their setlist around a batch of new material which Dipster had recently presented to the contemporary Hot Rods.
Although jamming the songs had revealed they weren't quite right for Eddie And The Hot Rods, it also led Dipster and co to realise they were far too good to give up on and Headline Maniac was born – initially as a side project but it has grown into a lot more than that.
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More live shows followed and the band took that energy into the studio in late 2015 to record the tracks and the result is their debut self-titled album which sees the light of day on July 8th, via Rod Hot records (no prizes for working out that is the Hot Rods label). A single lifted from the album 'Idiot Me' was released on July 1st.
If you are expecting a clone of The Hot Rods then you will be disappointed but, given that all the members of Headline Maniac are also in The Hot Rods, why would they want to copy themselves, personality disorders aside. Sure there are aspects and attitude of their "other" band but the range of material on display is quite an eclectic one.
As drummer Simon Bowley says: "The three of us have quite a different range of musical influences. Chris was hugely influenced by Thin Lizzy and is a real rock-head, Dipster was more into his R n' B bands like Dr Feelgood and the Pirates and I was into punk, but also love the classic rock sound of Bad Company and The Who. Headline Maniac has all those influences in its sound."
Eddie And The Hot Rods were always a band which a large crossover appeal and somehow, somewhere along the line they got labelled as punk but to my ears they always mixed that with a fine example of the archetypal pre punk pub rockers and I mean that in a good way. What they did, and still do, have is attitude a plenty and they could scowl with the best of them and that probably gave rise to their labelling. The point is there was always a lot more to them than industry labelling suggested so the musical diversity of Headline Maniac shouldn't surprise anyone.
True to Simon's words there is a right royal mix on the album, from the first strains of 'Idiot Me' with its brash in your face mix of rock with punk current and attitude broken up by some effective and stomping drum breaks. 'Give Me One More Chance' has its roots in blues but this ain't no melancholy trip but loud and rocking with a nifty bassline and crunching guitar solo to boot.
'Someone Like You' and 'Don't Stop What You're Doing’ rock with the best of them and with 'Hero' they have hit the nail firmly on its shell like with a melody as infectious as a dose of the clap but one you will want time and again.
If you want some well-crafted and stomping blues rock then 'You're The One For Me' is the one for you with its cool bass beginnings and Foxy Lady-esque guitar. Classy stuff indeed, and if that doesn't get your blues fuse ignited then the foot tapping chopping rhythm of 'I Want All Your Love' will.
'Millionaire' is one that I guarantee will be a live staple for as long as the guys are at it – it just has that feel to it and the thumping rhythm and big chorus will have those on stage and in the audience smiling for at least those few minutes.
'14 Days' is probably the one that is closest to what most Eddie And The Hot Rods diehards will be familiar with but anyone with functioning ears will end up in the same boat. It is fast, never ceasing and packed with the pop punk sound and attitude that just works so well, an attitude that when mixed with a portion of sleaze works just as well on 'I'm Bad (Rotten To The Core)'.
'Gotta Get Away' brings it all to an end and what a way to do it. Another one that will get people leaping around with all the control of a rabid dervish, the drums starting it off and continuing the theme with a beautiful raucousness, the full on backing vocals its perfect foil.
This is about the fifth time I have had this album on and it gets better every time – it is just a damn fine piece of work and even better the mix is about as perfect as you can get. Fortunately that nowadays familiar path of over mixing music to death has had a big no entry sign slapped on it for this one.
Hot Rodders will love it, everyone else should do too, but at the very least stick it on, crank it up and party like it's going out of fashion – a couple of bottles of JD and as big a grin as the guys obviously had whilst recording the album will do nicely.
I spoke with drummer Simon Bowley on the Heavy Rock Rapture Show recently and you can listen to that interview right here:
Friday 15th July: Southampton - Talking Heads (with Class of 76)
Saturday 6th August: Brightlingsea Festival
Sunday 14th August: Metalworks,The Monarch, Camden, London
Thursday 25th August: Horns, Watford (with Class Of 76)
Friday 30th September: Dublin Castle, Camden Town, London (with Class Of 76)