The Head - "It Ain't Easy" (audio) (Premiere)

by Brice Ezell

28 April 2015

Atlanta trio the Head explore the relationship between Newtown school shooter Adam Lanza and his father in their latest single, "It Ain't Easy".

The Atlanta-based rock trio the Head, comprised of Jacob Morrell (guitar) and brothers Jack and Mike Shaw (drums and bass/vocals, respectively), has been dubbed with the title “Atlanta’s youngest rock ‘n’ roll veterans” by Blurt. These chaps may all be in their early 20s, but what they lack in years they more than make up for in their energetic brand of ‘90s-inspired rock music.

The Head are also not one to shy from thought-provoking topics in their songwriting. Below you can stream “It Ain’t Easy”, a tune which finds the trio exploring the sensitive and troubling topic of the Newtown school shooting. For more on this, read the band’s statement on the song.
Drummer Jack Shaw tells PopMatters, “This time around, we took a much more crude approach. Unlike our older stuff, we didn’t bury Mike’s vocal with tons of layered harmonies—his singing is the primary vocal and it’s at the forefront of the song. We also experimented with grittier guitar tones and explored darker lyrical themes. Our lyrics on a lot of our old records are about love, and these lyrics are more fragmented. They delve into current events, and stream-of-conciousness thought and Southern Gothic imagery.

“This is also the first time we’ve self-produced. Until recently, we’d always recorded in professional studios with multiple producers, but this time out, we felt we owed it to ourselves to make a record without any outside influence. It was definitely the most natural and relaxed we’ve ever felt making a record. We set up camp in Jacob’s basement and recorded completely live in no more than three takes. Jacob set up a web of microphones in the basement stairwell to record the vocals. We all got creative and we allowed mistakes to happen, which gives the recording this raw energy.

“We use a lot of saturated, shrill tones on ‘It Ain’t Easy’ to coincide with the song’s lyrical content. Each verse focuses on the life of Newtown school shooter Adam Lanza and his relationship with his father. Andrew Solomon of The New Yorker wrote an article last spring about the emotional impact Lanza’s shooting spree had on his father. It’s a pretty disturbing story, but we drew some inspiration from it. We weren’t trying to make a political statement—we were just channeling lyrics through a tragic event.”

Splash image of the Head by Valheria Rocha Photography.

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