UK Festivals
August 2009
Questionnaire: Steve Bateman

“Like the morning after the best night of your life, Sweethead, the new project of Queens Of The Stone Age guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen, is a potent reminder of the sheer thrills in after midnight, rock ‘n’ roll decadence. Best known for his participation in QOTSA, Van Leeuwen is joined by Serrina Sims, Norm Block on drums (Mark Lanegan Band, Plexi) and Eddie Nappi on bass (Mark Lanegan Band, Handsome) in his second ensemble. Named after a Bowie b-side, Sweethead may well be a hit with purveyors of West Coast sultry rock as the band ride the star power of the vampish Sims, who belts out her seedy glam tunes with a seductive assurance on par with Chrissie Hynde and Kleveland’s Stephanie Smith. ‘Slashed tires and a cut of vampires left you open to a right-wing malevolence’, she hisses enigmatically amid Van Leeuwen’s seesawing chords and a sinisterly insistent Stooges piano lurking just below the waterline of The Great Disruptors. It’s that modern rarity – a straight-up hard-rock song that’s not ironic or stupid, infused instead with plenty of glittery atmosphere and sexual danger. Sims maintains her cool allure even on faster, punk-style rave-ups like We Turned Our Backs, raising expectations all the higher for the album - Falling James, LA Weekly. Produced by Troy, The Great Disruptors EP is like a night out on Hollywood Boulevard with a Jack and Coke in your hand; all rock and roll swagger and a fantastic taster of what’s to expect on their forthcoming album, set for a September 21, 2009 release.” OFFICIAL SWEETHEAD BIOG

“Sweethead are like The Kills but with a sunset strip sheen.” NME

“Together, the four members make music that is hotter than July in The City Of Angels... Their songs might all add up to being the feel good hits of the summer.” KERRANG!

Part of LA’s ‘Californian Desert Rock’ stable, not only is the super-stylish Sweethead comprised of seasoned musicians, but at its centre, lies a smokin’ hot newcomer named Serrina Sims. A stunning sexy siren, who has been described as “a femme fatale with vampish looks and sultry vocals.”

Musically, the quartet’s songs are like an undiluted, mind-arresting wrecking ball of sound, with lust for life cut-loose vibrant energy, lupine fuzz-pedal driven guitars and rapacious steel-plated serpentine grooves – incisive sonic collisions that are full of sweet venom and will batter your speakers! Not only flooring you in the process, but seizing your imagination by evoking filmic images of barren landscapes and driving across arid dusty highways, as the scorching sun sets and bleeds into the night sky, dragging dusk into darkness.

As well as releasing The Great Disruptors EP (Strange Addiction Records Ltd.) – putting the band on the musical map and of which only the title track will appear on their debut LP. Sweethead have also covered the song, Life In Laralay, for New Tales To Tell: A Tribute To Love And Rockets.


Only playing a small number of shows since forming in 2008, Sweethead will be performing at the Reading And Leeds Festivals in August, before then supporting their buddies, the Eagles Of Death Metal on their European and UK Tour in October and November. But just before these dates, Serrina has very thoughtfully filled in a Q&A for R*E*P*E*A*T, in which she gives us the lowdown on this exciting new venture!

So get ready for Sweethead to R.O.C.K. your world, because they are need to know and this is going to turn into an unshakeable attraction…

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

1.At what age did your love of music first begin, and when did you decide that music was something that you wanted to be a part of?
“My first memories are of songs, of artists and their mystique… My mom was in ‘The Industry’, so I was surrounded by music all the time from day one. It’s as natural to me as air is.”

2.As a band, how did you all first meet and how would you say your personalities and musical ideas blend together?
“I met Troy a long time ago… I stalked him because he’s one of the best, most angular and yet soulful guitarists around. Through Troy playing in Mark Lanegan’s band, I met Norm Block and Eddie Nappi, who was also Troy’s bandmate in ENEMY. All of us in this band have a dark side that’s predominant, and I’d say dark humour as well, so that’s a uniting factor musically and in terms of personality for our group.”

3.If you were to compile a Spotify Playlist for me featuring some of your favourite music, what songs – including one of your own – would you definitely add to it?
“Of our songs, I think The Sting, which is on our debut album (set for release in September 2009), because it’s deceptively simple but biting and sexy. In terms of other artists… I think Hang On To Yourself by Bowie, Champs by Wire, Charborg by Pinback, Needles In The Camel’s Eye by Brian Eno and from T.Rex, The Slider. On our last tour, I was listening a lot to this new band from Sweden called The Flare Up. I love all their songs, but particularly Whip ‘Em Hard, Whip ‘Em Good. I love Swedish Rock!”

4.A couple of important figures in The Music Business are trying their best to help up-and-coming musicians. Firstly, Radiohead’s Manager, Brian Message, has just launched Polyphonic – an artist-friendly record label that helps artists keep their copyright. And secondly, Trent Reznor recently posted a lengthy essay on NIN’s Official Forum, advising young artists / bands how to best deal with the industry. Do you think this is a positive step and what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“It’s like the Wild, Wild West in music right now. We’re all cowboys. It takes a lot of balls to enter an industry that’s in such transition, but if you want to make music, you don’t care, and you just charge forward like a bull. I think anyone that advocates for artists’ rights are taking a positive step. And the best advice I’ve ever received is that “no one knows anything.” It gives you infinite freedom.”

5.When it comes to Sweethead’s music, do you have complete artistic control / creative freedom + what was the first and last song that you recorded for your debut album?
“I wouldn’t dare let anyone tell me to change a lyric or a melody… You shouldn’t second-guess yourself, nor should you let the people working with you. Bertrand Russell once said something that always resonated with me which is, “Between the artist and the bureaucrat there must always be a profound mutual antagonism.” I love that. So you wanted to know the first song we recorded for our album… I think that was a track called Other Side. The last song we recorded I actually mentioned before, which is called The Sting. We recorded it last week. It’s still fresh and sweaty.”

6.Do you think the days of album releases being an ‘event’ are over, and growing up, was there ever a record that you just couldn’t wait to buy and listen to?
“Maybe ‘event’ releases could be over, but so what? Times change and that’s alright. None of us know anyway what’s next and it doesn’t matter, because it will change no matter what, and right itself eventually, if need be. You know, I liked so much music when I was younger that I couldn’t possibly pick out something I was excited for… It was all rapturous and titillating!”

7.Some people feel that the significance of lyrics is being lost through downloading, due to a smaller number of music buyers looking at CD booklets, or incorrect words being posted on websites. Are lyrics important to you and what are the main themes of your songs?

“Lyrics are like the vertebrae of the vocal melody… They don’t always have to mean something super profound, but they should have a good structure. I, personally, like to write lyrics that follow a thought, a path, a storyline… I would never want to print them, though! I think people should listen to a track and learn the lyrics in their own way. If they learn them wrong, then that’s their own subconscious putting in the meaning. And THAT means something. In terms of the main lyrical themes running through the album… I would say I mostly write about disgust, disbelief, triumph over stupidity, and lust.”

8.What inspires you outside of music?

“Travel… The world… People in the world… And people’s art and their passions.”

9.A lot of musicians talk of how playing live on stage, fills them with feelings of being both “vulnerable and invincible.” Is this the same for you and which songs do you most enjoy performing?
“I’m relatively new to performing… I’ve been playing shows on and off for about seven months… But it’s an incredible experience… I understand the “vulnerable” part, but for me, I just let that go and try to feel comfortable with the audience, maybe even a little naughty, but I would never say “invincible.” I think you always need to feel humble and excitable. I like playing all of our songs for the audience… I’m too new to this to be bored by anything yet!”

10.If you could put together a fantasy Guest List featuring musicians, producers, writers, poets, artists, actors, film directors – anyone that you admire really – with the guarantee that all of these people would turn up to watch one of your shows, who would you most like to invite?

“That is a HUGE question! Oh, for poets, maybe Goethe, if he was still alive. For artists, assuming you mean musical, I am inspired by all my friends in the QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE camp, so all of them, plus so many other artists that I would want around that I’d make you cry if you had to read the list. I don’t have any interest in actors, and for film directors: I would like to raise Kubrick from the dead and have him be there. I like Scorsese, too.”

11.Sweethead have a classically cool rock ‘n’ roll image, but who for you, have been some of the sharpest dressed bands and artists over the past 50 years?
“Bowie, Blondie, shit… the Ramones!”

12.And as the NME sometimes asks, Who Is ‘The Coolest Rock Star Of All-Time’?

“David Bowie. Or Keith Richards, I suppose. I don’t know. Everyone’s ultimately human.”

13.There’s a real youthful energy in Sweethead’s music, but of all your favourite artists / groups, which songs do you feel best capture both the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll and the invincibility of youth, e.g. The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks?

“I know this sounds so horribly self-serving, but I like our song called The Great Disruptors, because it was written in that “who gives a fuck” frame of mind. It’s about getting out of your narrow-minded environment and out from under the influence of losers and fucking doing your own thing, which I find to be at the core of Rock ‘N’ Roll. Yeah!”

14.Can you tell us what we can expect from your debut album, and what your biggest hopes are for Sweethead long-term?
“World domination, of course. On a less cocky note, I’ve seen Troy’s other band, QOTSA, slay the world with their live shows, and I’d love to experience some of that! I wanna travel with the band for years and years and make videos and short films and art and loads and loads of music!”

15.Lastly, chips or cream buns?
“Ohhhhh, no question: chips! I prefer savoury over sweet any day. Salty is where it’s at.”

A very special thanks to Serrina, and to Mike @ Charm Factory, for all of their time and help.



“We Can Be The Great Disruptors”

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