LAWNMOWERS AND DOING IT YOUR WAY:
An Interview with Martin Cock of AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE
Interview by Ray Van Horn, Jr. - March 2005
As seemingly wild and kinetic as their sound, American Head Charge is back with a leaner aggression on their current album, "The Feeding." The difference between this album and the Rick Rubin-produced debut, "The War of Art," is that American Head Charge sounds like it had a rollicking good time recording an album that clocks half an hour shorter this time around.
His full name is Cameron Martin Heacock, better known to his fans as Martin Cock. A riotous interview given in the snow as Martin made preparations to prank tour mates Candiria on their show with Otep, I can only imagine the hilarity that went on that evening, given what transpired in the following transcript:
What's happening, man?
Martin Cock: I'm in a thrift store trying to find stuff to fuck with Candiria! It's their last night on the tour, so …
RoughEdge.com: (laughs) Beautiful, man!
Martin Cock: I just bought a bunch of bouquets of flowers and I just found a cool little thrift store with a bunch of weird, like, nurse smocks and stuff. I'm going to have everyone in the band come up and give Candiria a bouquet of flowers and smocks and stuff.
RoughEdge.com: (laughs) Right on, man. You're in Long Island right now?
Martin Cock: Yeah, Farmingdale.
RoughEdge.com: How's the tour been going to this point?
Martin Cock: Wow … dude! I just found this like, you know those old metal lawnmowers?
RoughEdge.com: Yeah, yeah, more than you know, ugh!
Martin Cock: There's one sitting at this thrift shop! I'm going to have to buy it! I'm sorry …
RoughEdge.com: (laughs) No, that's cool! I used to have one of those pieces of crap. Rusted up really quick and became useless. How they used them in the '50s and such is beyond me! Are you going to pull that out onstage?
Martin Cock: I might, man!
Martin Cock: (laughs) All right, say the question again, man. I totally spaced out.
RoughEdge.com: Totally cool, man. You're on tour with not only Candiria, but Otep?
Martin Cock: Yeah, totally. We're finally just heading south out of this northern fucking cold! We went all the way from California along the north, I guess, through Minneapolis … we've played a bunch of places. It's been sick, but now we're finally getting out of the cold and then we go down to … shit, where are we tomorrow? Actually we have a day off tomorrow and then we're in North Carolina. So we're steadily heading south. I think we're in Florida next week.
RoughEdge.com: Right on. I think some people might look at this tour with American Head Charge and Otep as an appropriate blend of thinking man's metal gorge.
Martin Cock: Yeah?
RoughEdge.com: Yeah. So how's it been going with Otep?
Martin Cock: She's awesome, man. I think it's a really cool bill. Candiria unfortunately drops off tonight, but the next show Dry Kill Logic, who are also friends of ours, are going to be there, so it's going to be a cool tour still, for sure.
RoughEdge.com: Right, right. I want to talk about "The Feeding" for a minute. I think it's a killer slab, which is not to say that "The War of Art" isn't cool, but I think you guys are one of the first bands to actually prove Rick Rubin wrong!
Martin Cock: (laughs)
RoughEdge.com: You believed in these new songs and you gave them a leaner continuity while still keeping true to the lunacy that underscores your songs from the first album.
Martin Cock: Right.
RoughEdge.com: So what do you feel made you want to go for a 41-minute album versus a 70-minute album? I mean, I support the decision.
Martin Cock: Just a lot of people saying that "The War of Art" is a little hard to listen to. A lot of people said it's hard to sit down and listen to in one sitting, you know? I think with our budget from our new label and time constraints in the studio, it was deemed the best course of action to pick just twelve really fucking solid songs and have every song be really fucking to the point and they kick ass as far as I'm concerned. More than that, I don't think there are anymore premeditated thoughts about it than that.
RoughEdge.com: Yeah. Now, by choosing Greg Fidelman to produce "The Feeding," who happens to work with Rick Rubin a lot, as I mentioned, you had the fortitude to stick to your vision. It's not often a band gets someone of Rubin's reputation for their debut album, so what was it like for you getting him for "The War of Art?"
Martin Cock: It was really fucking amazing, man. It all really came about because of System of a Down … actually, it was Shavo (Odadjian) who told Rick about us.
RoughEdge.com: Okay, cool.
Martin Cock: He didn't really want credit for it and we didn't want to really publicize it, but it's Shavo's fault!
Martin Cock: Blame Shavo!
Martin Cock: And, you know, I admire Shavo … he didn't really want to be like 'I discovered you,' blah blah blah., all that shit, but it was amazing, man. Our A&R guy had the time to, you know, come to Minneapolis … he wanted to come to a show, but he came to see us practice, you know what I mean?
Martin Cock: He sat in the middle of a rehearsal hall, not a hall, really …
(interference of horn honking in background)
Martin Cock: Jesus Christ!
RoughEdge.com: Damn, dude!
Martin Cock: Come on, people! As you can tell, I'm standing out in the fucking snow right now! So there's this lady BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! lays on her horn for fucking thirteen seconds! (laughs)
Martin Cock: So anyway, he watched us practice, he sat in the middle of a concrete room while we practice and he said "Play me some new stuff." I think we played like five songs. Four of them were brand new songs and one of them was off our original record "Trepanation."
Martin Cock: So he goes back to his hotel room and I pick him up later because we were going to go out, eat and stuff, and he sits me down and says "Look, we want to sign you and Rick wants to produce your record." We were like, 'Holy ... shit!' (laughs) At the time I tried to play it cool and I was like (laughs) "All right, we'll talk."
RoughEdge.com: (laughs) Twist my arm, man!
Martin Cock: We were … regardless of the deal and having Rick produce your first record, it's kind of a … it's a win-win situation regardless of the deal, you know? Everybody gets fucked on their first deal and our deal was no different but it was an honor to work with him and as far as describing what it's like to work with Rick, I really can't because it's … it's pretty surreal, you know what I mean? There's so many things that go into working with a guy like that.
RoughEdge.com: Right, right.
Martin Cock: It was amazing and I appreciate that opportunity for sure.
RoughEdge.com: Right on, man. Staying in this theme, how hard of a decision was it for you guys to ask for your release from Def American? I mean, some people might say you guys are nuts, but at least "The Feeding" shows why you guys made that decision.
Martin Cock: Yeah. It really just came down to … Rick was our producer and he wasn't willing to make the record that was "The Feeding" and we probably had 40 to 50 songs for the record … maybe not that many, about 30, almost 40?
Martin Cock: "The Feeding" is 11 of those … there is actually a twelfth song recorded that is getting added in the UK, I think. It's called "Downstream."
RoughEdge.com: No shit? Cool!
Martin Cock: And it's a fucking amazing song and it may be a single or who knows, because it's really weird; it's really kind of hedgehodgy, which is why it didn't go on the record, but the song "Downstream" is kind of like a hint of what's to come, maybe …
Martin Cock: Or one of the facets of what's to come, because we pretty much do all across the board stuff. It's drawing from all of our influences and "The Feeding" is pretty broad in terms of what sort of musical stuff we go into. It's straight-ahead, but it's like … do you know what I mean?
RoughEdge.com: Yeah, no doubt, man.
Martin Cock: We kind of go all over the place.
RoughEdge.com: That's what I like about this new album; it's almost like no song is the same as another.
Martin Cock: Yeah.
RoughEdge.com: It's a wide representation of what you can do.
Martin Cock: Yeah, I don't we'll ever make a record where one song sounds the same as another! (laughs)
Martin Cock: As much as we can, I doubt we'll ever make a record where … that annoys the shit out of me when a record is like a rehash of the same song eight different ways!
RoughEdge.com: Yeah, yeah!
Martin Cock: It's not a record to me at that point! It's a single with a bunch of remixes!
Martin Cock: You know what I mean?
RoughEdge.com: Yes! There's a thousand death metal albums alone like that. I love them, but …
Martin Cock: Yeah.
RoughEdge.com: Let's talk about Karma (Cheema), man. Dave Rogers is your former guitarist, while Karma was your guitar and bass tech at one time, right?
Martin Cock: Yeah, he was kind of our monitor and stage manager guy, and he and I and Chad (Banks) started a side band during the break. I mean, we were writing music the whole time we were on break! I did a whole record with another band called F.O.R., which Paul, the bass player from Slipknot's in?
RoughEdge.com: Killer, man!
Martin Cock: And it's fucking amazing. Paul just got back from Europe with Slipknot, so we're going to try and get F.O.R. signed. The F.O.R. is even two years old right now.
Martin Cock: And nobody's ever heard of it, but it's fucking awesome!
RoughEdge.com: Sounds cool!
Martin Cock: I mean, I'll try to be humble, but like … (laughs)
RoughEdge.com: (laughs) Whatever, dude! It's all good.
Martin Cock: I'm almost annoyed because I love the record so much and nobody's heard it!
RoughEdge.com: Well, with Paul back, are you going to make a big push for it? Do you have anybody who's expressed interest in F.O.R. yet?
Martin Cock: Yeah, I think what's going to happen is … actually, I can't really get into what's going to happen.
RoughEdge.com: Okay, man, no sweat.
Martin Cock: But there's a few labels that want it.
RoughEdge.com: Right on.
Martin Cock: I'm pretty sure it's just a matter of time.
RoughEdge.com: Cool. Well, what's cool with Karma being in the band now is, you're keeping it in the family, so to speak. You don't have to go through this lengthy replacement process. I think you cited Dave's departure as being due to family obligations, so do you feel a little freer as a result of this changing of the guard with Karma?
Martin Cock: I don't know about freer, it's just that Dave decided to do the family and the home thing and because of that, he has a certain amount of money that he could live with getting, you know what I mean? And there was a certain amount he couldn't live with. I make about a fifth of what he needed to make. We just can't afford it and Karma did the F.O.R. record, he's an amazing guy and his life and his responsibilities in life are such that he can afford to be making … I mean, everybody in the band makes $140 a week. $20 a day, that's it.
Martin Cock: Everybody in the band doesn't get paid shit!
Martin Cock: But you know, it's the potential of … I'll get money from publishing and writing the songs, or … obviously I didn't write all of them. It's a much more collective effort than …"The War of Art" was mainly me and Chad.
Martin Cock: But Bryan Ottoson and Justin (Fouler) our keyboard player and Bryan's our other guitar player …
Martin Cock: Yeah, it's definitely much more of a collective effort this time. I don't think this record would even be if not for Bryan staying on my ass so much about I gotta do this, I gotta do that. He would come over and I remember writing … you've heard the new song "Loyalty," right?
Martin Cock: I remember writing that … I had my 16 digital track in the closet of the apartment I was staying in …
Martin Cock: He came over and that laugh in the middle of it where it's this really high-pitched laugh right before the da-da-da …
Martin Cock: That's me laughing into Bryan's guitar!
RoughEdge.com: (laughs) Pretty wild!
Martin Cock: From inside my closet.
RoughEdge.com: No shit?
Martin Cock: In Minneapolis, yeah.
RoughEdge.com: Nice reverb, man.
Martin Cock: We sampled it off the 16 digital track.
Martin Cock: Yeah, it's fucking … I don't know … it definitely wouldn't have happened without everybody in the band. I mean, Chris (Emery) was definitely fucking … we're all kind of keeping each other in check and balancing each other out, you know what I mean?
RoughEdge.com: That's awesome, dude. As you say, you can hear that it's more of a collaboration this time.
Martin Cock: Yeah.
RoughEdge.com: Now, you and Chad obviously met at a rehab facility and you guys were supposed to write a song together as part of the treatment, which essentially gave birth to American Head Charge.
Martin Cock: Right.
RoughEdge.com: Of all places, man! How therapeutic was it to find two like minds capable of producing, if you'll excuse my wording, lunatic fringe art?
Martin Cock: (laughs) I don't mind that! Chad and I meeting was … I don't know … pretty destined, I guess.
RoughEdge.com: I'd say so! Now, I want to talk again about "Loyalty" and I saw the video on Headbangers Ball this past weekend and I watched it again online this morning …
Martin Cock: What did you think?
RoughEdge.com: I loved it, dude. What I like is that you brought in your mascot from the album cover for "The Feeding," I like to call her a mutant nurse who looks a little like that character Zhaan from Farscape and John Wayne Gacy!
Martin Cock: Absolutely! You know what it is? It's a painting that my roommate Dusty did, and it was in my living room while we writing the record, literally for a couple of months or so. The whole thing where the director superimposed its face over mine … I'm weird, because when I was looking at that painting I felt that some way I was in tune with it. I don't know if it's the look on the face … anyway, how that painting ended up being the cover was really cool and I felt good about it because my roommate Dusty, who's actually selling our merch right now and doing our drum-teching …
Martin Cock: He's a struggling artist just like I am, so it was cool to like … I don't know, it was just fitting and it was cool to bring his artwork into the public eye like I've been able to.
Martin Cock: So I don't know if I've answered your question or strayed away from it …
RoughEdge.com: That's part of it, but what I was going to say as far as the video itself is that it was filmed inside an army barracks. I'm assuming you're commenting on the insanity of this ridiculous war we've got going on?
Martin Cock: In some respects I definitely don't like to get political or anything. As subliminal as that is, you can take it like that. That's fine if we're viewed like that, but it's not like an intentional thing. We were trying more for it to be a hospital than an army thing. I mean, it was really weird, actually. When we were filming it, we were in these empty rooms and what you can't see is that while all this filming was going on, there were cadets outside, probably at least three or four hundred of them.
Martin Cock: They were in groups of twenty or thirty and they were marching out in this whole yard. So every time the song would start, you'd hear this fucking … this music over the P.A. like fucking Nazi Germany or whatever … da da da da da ... da da da da da da!
RoughEdge.com: (laughs) Oh, shit!
Martin Cock: I swear to fucking God we have it on like, a VHS tape video!
Martin Cock: We all just stood there in awe! Everybody doing the video, every time we would stop everybody would look out the window and it was like, the parallel between us and this sick ass video and what going on outside! It was funny too, because the cadets would like, they'd start getting into it, they'd start bobbing their heads because we were blasting it in this open hall!
RoughEdge.com: Right, right. (laughs)
Martin Cock: You know what I mean? Over the P.A., so they fucking heard it louder than their P.A. was going!
RoughEdge.com: Nice, dude! (laughs)
Martin Cock: So it was a fucking great experience. I'm really happy considering what we paid for it. I mean, I really feel it looks professionally done and it looks better than our first two videos. Literally, it's probably a sixteenth of what we paid for either of them!
Martin Cock: It says a lot about like, the waste that major labels fucking do to themselves, you know I mean?
RoughEdge.com: No doubt.
Martin Cock: You do not need to spend as much money to do this, especially in this day and age where it's like … you can get an awesome fucking video done really fucking well if you have somebody who knows what they're doing, who knows how to work things to their advantage and how to get things a bit cheaper than they normally would and figure things out. You know, get a place to do it where it's free, where you don't have to use a soundstage that's $1500 a day … like our two things in LA were … I'm starting to rant now, but you know what I mean.
RoughEdge.com: It's totally cool, man. There's a couple of other songs from "The Feeding" I want to single out, "Pledge Allegiance" and "Cowards." I referred to them in a review I did as "hellagood psychotic rockery that calls to mind the metal feelgoodness of Snot mixed with hillbilly huckstery that make these tracks as fun as a game of Can-You-Take-It Texas Chili version."
Martin Cock: (laughs) Cool!
RoughEdge.com: You guys really do make it sound like The Feeding was a lot of fun to write and record …
Martin Cock: Ah … yes it was! (laughs)
Martin Cock: I mean, I'll give you these lyrics as a perfect example. Track 7, "Walk Away," the bridge goes: "We're dirty and hungry and broke and bitter and tired and battered and bruised," something like that, and at the very end I say "So happy!"
RoughEdge.com: Right, right, right!
Martin Cock: And then I say "I've been here way too long." I mean, there was a lot of those two years where I was mind-numbingly fucking annoying and pissed off and we felt we were fucking worthless and nobody believed in us and we suck and wah- wahhhhh …
Martin Cock: And then we stuck it out and we fucking … I'm really proud of the record we made and I think it's very true to where we were at and we are at and hopefully it's a sign of what's to come, you know?
RoughEdge.com: Right on.
Martin Cock: I think from our first record to our new record we've definitely moved and had some growth and I'm sure our third record will show even more growth, because we're getting older, so we're probably … I don't know what's going to happen, you know? (laughs) We may get more adolescent as we get older!
Martin Cock: Who knows? We were pretty adolescent on the first record!
RoughEdge.com: (laughs) Let me wrap up by asking this: Ozzfest 2001 and your famed shotgun blast and the pig's head haulings … now it's 2005 and you pointed out, you might be maturing a little bit. What do you feel is the band's motto this year?
Martin Cock: Its motto? (laughs)
Martin Cock: (sings) WE … ARE … FAMILY!
Martin Cock: (sings) I GOT ALL MY BROTHERS WITH ME! Something like that! (laughs)
Martin Cock: When we were … the three years that ran from the last record, a lot of us kind of went our separate ways like a chaos symbol?
Martin Cock: It's kind of cool to be friends with everybody again and be sitting next to them on the bus and you're in a box with them. We're definitely enjoying playing some fucking shows and we're really stoked about the feedback from everyone, so we're just fucking rocking, dude, you know?
RoughEdge.com: Right on.
Martin Cock: We're trying to keep each others' heads above water, man! (laughs)
RoughEdge.com: (laughs) Hey, man, thank you for your time.
Martin Cock: Thanks for the interview.
RoughEdge.com: No problem, man.
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Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:09 -0400.